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Frequently Asked Questions About The IIB's Courses


Do the IIB online bass courses really only cost $24.95, or does each weekly lesson within each course cost $24.95?

All of the courses offered through the IIB are priced at an extremely affordable rate of only $24.95 per course. This single, one-time fee includes all 12 weeks of lessons. There are no additional hidden costs or fees.


How do the courses work?

On the first Monday of every month, a new session for each course offered on the IIB begins. Over the span of 12 weeks, a new lesson will be posted for you every Monday. As soon as a new lesson has been posted, you will be contacted by e-mail to inform you that new lesson material is available for viewing and download. You can then view and download the latest lesson at your convenience anytime throughout that week. You should expect to spend approximately 3-4 hours per week practicing the lesson material. More or less practice time may be needed based on your experience level before enrolling in a course. The material that is contained in all of the IIB's courses has been developed through proven methods over many years of teaching, live performance, research, and analysis. Depending on the course and the particular concept being discussed, lesson material may consist of text, exercises in both standard notation and tablature, images, diagrams, audio tracks, play-alongs, or video clips. You can learn more about the format of the IIB's courses by taking The IIB Course Tour.


What are the advantages of learning online through the IIB?

Why waste transit time and money on gas while driving to and from private lessons when you can study bass online directly from the comfort of your own home? If you live in a remote area and are unable to attend one-on-one lessons with a private instructor on a regular basis or you maintain a difficult schedule due to work, family, etc., studying bass online at the IIB is the next best alternative. Through the courses offered by the IIB, you can learn at your own pace, on your own time, in the privacy of your own home, at a cost that is much cheaper than the price of most one-on-one private bass lessons from a local instructor, and you can easily archive the lesson material for future reference. If you are self-motivated to practice and complete assignments, work well independently, and can dedicate at least 30 minutes per day to practicing the course material, you are ready for online learning through the IIB!


How are the IIB courses different than other online music programs?

First, the most significant difference between the courses available through the IIB and other online resources is cost. At a rate of only $24.95 per course, studying bass on the IIB is very affordable for everyone. Second, unlike programs offered elsewhere which operate on a seasonal schedule with four terms spread out over the duration of a traditional academic year, a new session for each course offered on the IIB begins the first Monday of every month so you won't have to wait 3 or 4 months to begin studying bass online. Another notable distinction between IIB courses and those offered elsewhere is accessibility to the instructor. Other online programs generally only provide you with access to the instructor while the course is in session or maybe for up to a couple weeks after a session ends. When you take a course through the IIB, you will have access to the instructor of that course via e-mail or toll-free phone support for up to 1 year after the conclusion of a session. Plus, the IIB makes it very easy to download all of the course materials such as text and notated exercises as PDF files along with any play-alongs. Some online programs may allow you to access your course material for a period of time after a course session ends, but you still need to have access to a computer and the internet in order to retrieve those files. With all of the IIB courses, it takes just seconds to download all of the text, notated examples, and audio tracks in each lesson which you can then print off or save to recordable CD or DVD media for future reference.


What do I need to do in order to enroll in a course?

It takes only a few minutes to enroll in a course, and it can be done completely online through the IIB. You may enroll in a course by going to: http://www.instituteofbass.com/courses/. On that page, you will find a list of the courses available through the IIB. Simply choose the course you wish to take, click on the appropriate links, and follow the instructions. Within 24 hours of receiving your payment, you will be notified by way of e-mail to confirm your enrollment in a course.


Which forms of payment do you accept?

PayPal is the preferred method of payment, especially if you are located outside the United States because you won't have to deal with foreign currencies and exchange rates. With more than 117 million accounts worldwide, PayPal is the global leader in online payment solutions. PayPal is available in 190 markets and 25 currencies around the world. It is offered at over 100,000 web sites and enables global ecommerce by making payments possible across different locations, currencies, and languages. You do not need to open a PayPal account in order to pay for an IIB course. After you choose a course and click on the payment link, you will be redirected to PayPal's web site where you will have the option to use a credit card without being required to activate a PayPal account. PayPal will provide us with all of your contact information including your e-mail address.


Can a personal check, money order, Western Union, or MoneyGram be used to purchase a course?

Yes. In addition to PayPal, you may also purchase a course with a personal check, money order, Western Union, or MoneyGram, but please contact us for further details before submitting payment.


How long does a course session last?

Each course offered through the IIB runs for 12 weeks. A new lesson is posted every Monday which you can then view online and download for practicing.


Who instructs the courses?

Cliff Engel, founder of the IIB, authors the entire curriculum and teaches all of the courses. Since 2000, Cliff has been instructing students located around the world through his bass lessons by correspondence program. Now, Cliff brings his online teaching methods to the IIB in the form of dedicated courses. His primary objective is to offer the highest quality bass lessons available anywhere at an extremely affordable rate. His courses are aimed towards any aspiring bassist who needs assistance in taking their playing to the next level. Through a systematic approach, he will guide you through a course of directed study that will be conducive to your goals.


What are the requirements for the courses?

The requirements which are needed to take any of the courses on the IIB are very minimal. In addition to a bass, practice amp, and instrument cable, you will need to have access to a reliable computer with an internet connection, browser, and e-mail. To listen to the audio clips and play-alongs or view streaming videos, you will need a media player such as the Windows Media Player, iTunes, or a similar program. To view the notated examples in standard notation and tablature, you will also need the Adobe Reader. The Windows Media Player, iTunes, and the Adobe Reader are free downloads from the Microsoft Windows, Apple, and Adobe web sites. If you don't already have these programs installed on your computer, you will be able to download them at: http://www.instituteofbass.com/courses/requirements/. If you would like to submit notated examples of your work for critique at any point during a course, you will need a basic notation program such as Finale Notepad, or if you would like to send an audio excerpt to demonstrate your understanding of the course material, you will need a program like Audacity. Both Finale NotePad and Audacity are available for FREE download from their respective web sites. Further explanation of these additional programs is outlined on the Requirements page.


How much time will I need to spend on the lesson material each week?

If you can devote a minimum of 30 minutes per day to practicing the material, you should have no problem at all with completing the coursework. An hour of practicing the material per day would be ideal, but 30 minutes of organized time should be sufficient to cover the material in a thorough fashion. The key to obtaining the maximum results with these courses is consistent practice on a daily basis. If you have a couple hours available per day to practice, you will definitely experience a more dramatic improvement over a shorter span of time. Realistically, the vast majority of people are not able to make this kind of time investment due to work, family, etc. If you can set aside 30 minutes per day for practicing the lesson material, you should do well, and you will see your skillset as a bassist improve significantly within just a few months.


Do I have to be online at a specific time to access the lessons?

No. One of the greatest advantages of online, web-based learning is that it can take place anytime, anywhere. Without compromising your personal and professional commitments, you can assimilate the course material into your schedule. Although the course material will be challenging and require you to keep up with the assignments, you get to choose the place and time that you work on that material. Once a new lesson is posted every Monday, you can view and download that lesson material when it's most convenient for you.


Do I need to know how to read standard music notation to enroll in a course?

No. In addition to standard notation, nearly all of the lesson material will also include tablature. There are many benefits and opportunities to be realized by learning how to read music notation, but your learning process shouldn't be halted just because you can't read standard notation. Many of the world's most renowned virtuosos can't read a single note of music notation.


Are there any additional textbooks, software programs, or equipment that I will need to purchase before enrolling in a course?

No. You will be provided with everything you need to complete each course unless you would like to submit notated examples, audio excerpts, or video clips for critique to demonstrate your understanding of the course material.


What music-related software programs can I use in conjunction with the courses?

There are many great free and inexpensive software programs available that you can use including Audacity, Finale NotePad, Band-In-A-Box, and Transcribe!. All you need to record your playing is a 1/4"-to-USB cable that will permit you to plug your bass directly into your computer. A free software program such as Audacity can be employed to record your performance and e-mail it to the instructor. If you would like to submit notated examples of your work for critique at any point during a course, you will need a basic notation program such as Finale Notepad which can be downloaded for FREE from Finale's web site. It's easy to use, and it will permit you do notate examples that you can then e-mail to the instructor. To simulate a band setting to play alongside, you should consider checking out Band-In-A-Box. With Band-In-A-Box, you can enter different chord changes, pick a style and tempo, and then practice improvising bass lines and soloing over chord changes. You can use Transcribe! to transcribe bass grooves and solos from your favorite recordings by slowing down the tempo without changing the pitch, or slow down a song's tempo to practice passages that are just too fast to play. If you have a basic web cam, that can be used as well to capture a video performance of your playing. Please note that all audio or video files submitted for review must be less than 20 MB in size.


May I notate or record exercises from our lessons to submit for review?

Absolutely! Although it is not required that anyone submits recorded passages or notate exercises to demonstrate the assimilation of the course material we have covered, it is highly recommend. This allows the instructor to review and critique your playing and offer possible suggestions.


How long will I be able to access the course material?

You will have access to all of the different materials presented throughout the 3-month session of that particular course. During the final week of each course, you will be sent a reminder via e-mail regarding the approaching conclusion of that session so that you can download everything you would like to keep such as the notated examples, text, audio tracks, and play-alongs. You can then continue to review that course material for as long as you'd like. E-mail support will be provided for the duration of 1 year after the completion of your course.


How much overlap exists in the content between the courses?

Each course offered through the IIB has been written in a comprehensive manner which includes all of the information you need in order to successfully complete that particular course. In other words, every course has been setup to function as a separate entity, and you are not required to finish one course before moving onto the next. For example, the courses featuring jazz bass lines and soloing will contain similar theoretical content such as intervals, triads, chords, and scales because you need to understand that information to become proficient at improvising jazz bass lines and soloing. However, the application of those fundamental building blocks will be very different in each of those courses.


Can I enroll in multiple courses at the same time?

Yes. You can take as many courses as you feel your schedule will permit. A minimum of 30 minutes of practicing per course each day is recommended.


Is it possible to repeat a course?

Yes. You can retake a course as many times as you'd like. Since all of the text, notated examples, and play-alongs are downloadable, you really shouldn't ever need to repeat a course unless unforeseen circumstances force you to miss several weeks worth of instruction.


Do I need to be within a certain age bracket or be at a particular playing level to benefit from these courses?

Absolutely not. The IIB courses are structured for bassists of all ages, playing levels from beginner to advanced, and all styles of traditional and contemporary music. Cliff has taught students from grade school level to age 80.


Can students located abroad enroll in these courses?

Yes. As long as you have access to a reliable computer with an internet connection and meet the technical requirements, you can study bass online at the IIB regardless of your location.


What if my computer crashes during a course and I lose all of the lesson material?

Practically everyone's computer crashes at some point in time due to a virus, power surge, or some other reason beyond their control. If this occurs at any point while the course is in session, you will be able to simply download everything again. After a course ends though, you will be expected to backup all of the material on recordable CD or DVD media.


Who should I contact if I am having technical trouble in accessing the course material?

You can contact the IIB any time via e-mail at: InstituteOfBass@Yahoo.com. All course-related e-mails are responded to within 24 hours.


How long will it take to receive a response to my questions?

Every effort possible is made to reply to all course-related questions within 24 hours, and e-mail is responded to 7 days a week.


If I enroll in a particular course but then later decide that I would prefer to take something else, can I transfer to a different course?

Yes. As long as the session has not started, you can easily switch between courses by sending your request to The IIB.


What would happen if my course gets cancelled?

The cancellation of a course would rarely, if ever, occur. If a situation would ever arise that would necessitate the cancellation of a course, you would have the option to receive a full refund, apply a credit to the same course for a session starting at a later date, or apply a credit to an entirely different course.


What if I decide to withdraw from a course?

You may withdraw from a course and receive a full refund as long as the session you are enrolled in has not started.