Where I’m at after week 2 with the Fender Play app!
Ok, it’s starting to look like this Fender Play blog is going to be a three parter, as 2 weeks in and I’ve only got a third to go before completing the entire Bass guitar rock pat! And here are my thoughts after 66.6% of the way in.
In my last post I criticised the pacing of the lessons, as after reaching the end of level 1 and a handful of courses into level 2 I didn’t believe that I’d learnt all that much, and questioned if I’d be more advanced in my journey if I was learning through a different mode of course delivery. But yeah, I take it all back! Haaha. Yes, in level 2 things were still pretty basic and slow, but there was a noticeable difficulty level step up by Level 3 and more and more advanced from there onwards. So yeah, if it feels kind of slow after Levels 1-2, hang in there as it gets more fast and furious in subsequent levels.
And I think we’re all sceptical about online learning, work puts us through e-modules, and we’ve all watched our fair share of Youtube ‘how to’ videos- but do we actually learn anything from just watching and perhaps clicking on the occasional interactive button? But I’ve found that I’m genuinely learning things with the Fender Play app, reasons being, I’m actually holding the instrument in my hands- and I’m doing the doing at the same time as the instructor! And the pacing of lessons, I previously criticised that it was too slow, but reflecting back the pacing is actually perfect. As each lesson they just show you enough while not too much to overwhelm you, and the next time they just hsow you a little bit more. The initial learning increments might be small at first (2.5% increments), which might seem too slow at first, but if you persist with the lessons it actually all comes together in the end! Like a 10,000 piece puzzle. Like you needed to learn and master ABC, before you’re ready for XYZ etc. So, after 2 weeks and 4 and a bit levels (there are 5 in total), I’ve really shown improvement in my bass playing. Like I’ve been playing now for 17 months (almost 1.5 years) and the past 2 weeks I’ve progressed my bass playing by 50%, I think. My improvement curve has been dramatic!
Sure, you can learn the bass guitar (or any instrument that matter) for free on Youtube, there are enough channels out there that you can eventually put everything together. However it’s the fact that Fender Play leaves no stone unturned, and it is delivered in a systematic highly structured way which makes it money worth spent. Like in learning new things, sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know! After a year of bass playing, I wanted to improve my playing as I knew there was a huge skill gap between me and other players. However I just didn’t know what I needed to learn to get better, what was I lacking? And what are the names of the techniques I needed to know, that matter what key words did I need to use to find these skill gaps of mine? I had no clue! But Fender Play takes you through each step of the way, honestly I thought Levels 1-2 were too basic for me, but I ended up learning all these basic fundamentals which I wasn’t aware of, just because I picked it up on my own with little formal pointers from others (or I just didn’t listen to my wife when she told me I had to use more than just 2 fingers on the fretboard). But through Fender’s repetitive methods and showing you a very small step at a time, I’m confident that I’m learning all there is to know to become a solid bass player with correct technique.
Different Instructor styles
And I hope that I’m giving you a balanced opinion, so I’ll also include some negatives of the experience thus far. And one is the teaching styles of the different Instructors. I think there are 5 instructors in the Bass guitar rock path (3 male and 2 female). However there is one dude who I don’t like much. Once I hear his voice I literally drop the f-bomb in disappointment, as his teaching style I find quite hard to learn from. It’s like he is impatient in teaching beginner learners? So, he explains things less detailed than others, or speaks at a rate faster than others which makes it hard to follow, or he just sounds impatient for being made to go so slow? But I find each time it’s his turn, I don’t master that technique as quickly as compared to learning with other instructors, or I just can’t wait until his lessons are over. While the other 4 instructors are great! One other little critique is that sometimes the lessons seem to be too similar to each other? It’s like the 2 instructors were both assigned very similar lessons, and their unique approaches of delivering their lessons just end up being too similar. Or it also feels like behind the scenes they’re not coordinating their respective lessons as well as they should. But hey, each lesson is around 5 minutes, so it’s not a huge waste of my time.
By in large the Fender Play app functions very well, but the one peculiar thing is that it doesn’t allow you to re-watch a lesson, which I’d think would be a pretty fundamental aspect of learning- the whole repetition aspect. So as the lessons have been getting harder and harder since mid-way through Level 3, I’ve found there are more occasions where I needed to re-watch the lesson again. But once the lesson is over, there isn’t a replay (or play) button. And just exiting that screen/lesson isn’t enough to re-start the video when you tap back into it. But you need to check that you’ve completed the entire course (even if it has 4 other lessons within it which you haven’t completed), then exit the course, and then tap back into the course and select the lesson which you want to re-watch. So, it takes 5 taps on your phone just to re-play a segment. Not a deal breaker, but just a little bit annoying if you have to re-watch things multiple times.
Simplified versions of songs
And perhaps this has been my pet hate thus far, the courses in each level have ‘feedback modes’, where after you’ve learnt a technique, then they teach you a popular song which uses the technique which you’ve just learnt. But to keep it manageable for new learners, they teach you a simplified version of the original song. Sure, I understand what they’re doing here, as they want you to walk away feeling like you’ve achieved something, like you’ve just played the famous riff to a Green Day song etc. However, to make it achievable, they have simplified the riff/verse/chorus, and I think oftentimes placed it in a different key which is easier to play. So yeah, you’re learning a riff/song, but then when you pull up the song on Spotify, you can’t play along either, as they’re different enough that a few times I couldn’t even believe that I’ve learnt the same song! This is annoying, because I thought the reason why people are learning instruments at a mature age, is to be able to jam along with their favourite songs, not just so you can play a riff alone in isolation, but to find what you’ve learnt is not transferable to the real thing, this has been annoying. And the one video which I did see from the Song library, the instructor also started by saying that what she was going to teach learners, was a simplified version of the song. Like hello, why would I want to learn something which isn’t the original?
So yeah, there’s my thoughts after week 2 and 66.6% of the way through the Bass guitar path. Although my cons might have seemingly outweighed my pros, but in the end I’ve been loving the whole experience! From what I’ve been able to learn, I’ve been able to apply it straight to songs I’ve always been wanting to play. So, it’s now enabled me to just take a song from Spotify, first play along on the piano to determine what key its in. Then I play the corresponding scale on my guitar, so I can lock in on which potential 7 notes I need to play. And by listening to the song 3-4 times as I find my root notes on the bass and find my groove, I’ve been able to self teach myself a new song a day. Thanks to Fender Play! For more info about the Fender Play app, please click HERE! Play on baby, play on!