Roy Vogt on Teaching and Teachers

“I WAS TRYING TO FIND A GOOD bass teacher in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, and one of the top studio players said he was too busy to teach me!” says Roy Vogt. “I’ve since made it my business to never be too busy to teach anyone who wants to learn.” Now a wise professor of 53, Vogt chairs the Bass Department at Nashville’s prestigious Belmont University, where he’s taught for 26 years. But his educational commitment started when he left jazz-oriented North Texas State for the University of Miami (“North Texas State in the 1970s didn’t believe the electric bass was a real instrument, but Miami did”) and became the first electric player to achieve a Bass Performance Masters Degree in the U.S. He’s culled his ideas into a stunningly comprehensive 10-DVD/20- lesson course called Teach Me Bass Guitar [www.teachmebassguitar.com], a program he designed to take someone from newbie to groovemeister at his or her own pace.
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“I WAS TRYING TO FIND A GOOD bass teacher in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, and one of the top studio players said he was too busy to teach me!” says Roy Vogt. “I’ve since made it my business to never be too busy to teach anyone who wants to learn.” Now a wise professor of 53, Vogt chairs the Bass Department at Nashville’s prestigious Belmont University, where he’s taught for 26 years. But his educational commitment started when he left jazz-oriented North Texas State for the University of Miami (“North Texas State in the 1970s didn’t believe the electric bass was a real instrument, but Miami did”) and became the first electric player to achieve a Bass Performance Masters Degree in the U.S. He’s culled his ideas into a stunningly comprehensive 10-DVD/20- lesson course called Teach Me Bass Guitar [www .teachmebassguitar.com], a program he designed to take someone from newbie to groovemeister at his or her own pace.

Then there’s Vogt the player/composer. His new CD, Urban Legend, skillfully combines elements of jazz, fusion, R&B, and even “film-noirmeets- gangsta-rap” for the slinky title track— teaching listeners a bass lesson on the strength of the music alone. Plus, Vogt the sideman has worked all over the stylistic map, with Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed, Engelbert Humperdink, and the Allman Brothers’ Dickey Betts. Sounds like his students are getting their money’s worth.

What kind of bassist generally attends Belmont?

My students are drawn to the proximity of the music business in Nashville, with many of them interested in touring or studio work in the contemporary Christian or country fields. We’re one of the few schools in the Southeastern U.S. that still awards Commercial Music degrees on the electric bass.

What’s your “mission statement” as a professor of the bass?

I want my students to become well-rounded, versatile players who can gig in any style on electric or acoustic bass, as well as specialize in any area that interests them. They should be able to sight-read, know standard tunes, create a solid, grooving bass line on a session, and be dynamic stage performers. The bottom line is that I want them to leave Belmont fully ready to deliver the goods.

Who are your three main influences as a bassist?

Stanley Clarke—my first bass hero. Jimmy Haslip—one of the kindest people I know, who never stops reinventing himself as a musician. He continually inspires. And Victor Wooten—a good friend who has radically remade how I feel about music and teach it.

How difficult is maintaining a playing and recording career while teaching fulltime at this level?

You have to be a master of scheduling. You also have to realize that months at a time on the road won’t be practical if you’re teaching full-time. However, that opens up all sorts of [local] opportunities. One day I might do a jazz gig on upright, the next a country recording session on electric, the third a singer/songwriter project on both as well as producing. I can also do short tours, but it’s nice to know I don’t have to.

What are you studying right now?

I’m working through the New Technique for Contrabass Vol. 1–3 by François Rabbath [Leduc]. Also, A Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony and Melody by Dave Leibman [Advance]. Leibman’s book is like a very rich meal. One example will keep me busy for a long time.

CAN BE HEARD ON

Roy Vogt, Urban Legend [RVM, 2009], Simplicity [Shroomangel, 2003]; Jerry Tachoir Group, Travels [Avita, 2008]

CURRENTLY SPINNING

Return To Forever, Returns [Eagle, 2009]; Victor Wooten, Palmystery [Heads Up, 2008]; Donald Fagen, The Nightfly [Warner Bros., 1982]

GEAR

Basses Carvin IC6 Icon 6-string, fretless Carvin LB76W Claro Walnut 6-string, Conklin GTBD-7 Bill Dickens 7-string, Carvin B4 (for teaching)
Live rig Eden WT600 or WTX260 heads, Eden 210XLT cabinet(s), or WT390 Time Traveler 1x10 combo w/1x10 extension (small rig)
Studio rig Eden WP100 Navigator preamp
Effects Behringer V-Amp Pro
Strings D’Addario, Carvin, or La Bella nickel roundwounds; Snakeskins on 7-string

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