Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Recommendations: (Bass Players) Norm Stockton Grooving for Heaven Instructional Videos

I was able to connect with Norm Stockton (@normstockton) at a bass guitar clinic at, and picked up all four of his Grooving for Heaven instructional videos. I just wanted to post my overall thoughts on the first three videos, (I am still working through Vol. 4).

Just a note that I have a good background in theory and technique, (BA in Music from University of North Texas), so I am making these statements as a help others make a decision on which of these videos to purchase.

1. If you get any of the videos, purchase the accompanying exercise transcription book, (the single book covers all four volumes, and includes drum transcriptions). I always try to save money by not buying these type of books, but the fact is that they are almost worth more than the videos themselves.  They are useful in your practice time as both exercises through which to work, and rhythmic and sight-reading practice.

Vol. 1/Vol. 2:

2. The best feature of Vol. 1 and 2, are the "meat and potatoes" intervals and rhythmic examples.  This is the first time that I have seen straight-up examples of need-to-know intervals and rhythms through many different styles. I realized that most of the instructional videos focus on soloing, and Grooving for Heaven gives us concepts for playing in an ensemble as a rhythm section player.

3. I found that much of the other material was presented, but not supported with 'why', or 'how' we use them. This is a difficulty that I have in my own teaching, so am not criticizing, but letting beginning players know that they may feel overwhelmed or somewhat lost with the amount of material presented in Vol. 1 and 2.

Bottom Line: I would recommend buying the transcription book and working through the exercises in Vol. 1 and 2, and bypassing the videos. I would really start with Vol. 3.

Vol. 3:

1. I would consider Vol. 3 to be much more solid in pedagogical presentation. I felt that the material was presented, and then supported. Clearly, this was done in response to feedback on Vol. 1 and 2, and Norm did a great job of assimilating the feedback.

2. The addition of drummer David Owens really helped me to understand the actual breakdown of bass and drum interaction in each style presented.

3. The playing examples were superb, and both Norm and David were very clear and concise as to the note and rhythmic choices for each style.

4. In addition to the note and rhythmic descriptions, they also discussed how to react to different playing styles within each musical style. For example, if the bass guitar is playing a lot of notes, the drums tone it down. Alternately, if the bass guitar is leaving a lot of space, the drums can play more to help propel the music.

I really see Norm's Grooving for Heaven series to be a bridge between more stylistic instructional videos, (ie. how to pop-and-slap, how to play like James Jamerson), and more philosophical videos, (ie. Victor Wooten's Groove Workshop). I think that you could have a great bass playing future if you were to only be armed with Norm's Grooving for Heaven Vol. 3, the Grooving for Heaven transcription book, and Victor Wooten's Groove Workshop.

1 comment:

  1. That's a great analysis of the package for us beginners. I'll heed your advice. Thanks!