John Simons

John S.

Encinitas, CA

Lesson Details



John delivers an exceptional lesson experience and ranks in the top 15% of our teachers nationwide.
Teaches students:
Ages 1+

Teaching since:
February 2014

Born in Omaha, NE, I have played bass for 25 years - and began teaching bass 15 years ago. I play and teach many contemporary musical styles, and have lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Denver, Colorado, Austin, Texas, and currently reside in San Diego, California.

I began studying Bass in 1987 under guidance of David Valentine and Jim Vaughn (both Principal Bassists with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra), and quickly began performing with the Colorado Springs Community Jazz Big Band, and other local artists and jazz swing small groups.

In the early 1990's and after moving to Denver, Colorado, I joined the Neil Haverstick Band which often featured popular area vocalists such as Charla Bevan and others. While with the group, I played the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, and opened for Coco Montoya and Maria Muldaur. The band was versatile enough to perform a dizzying array of styles - afro-cuban, blues, country, funk, jazz, metal, and rock - and often featured a 45-minute set of original microtonal music, performed on custom built instruments (guitar and bass) fretted with 19-divisions (frets) per octave or 19-tone (equal tempered scale).

When not exploring alternate musical realities, I toured with one of the region's most popular Top 40 Country Cover Bands - Ty Taylor & The Powder River Band. I also performed and recorded with Australian born singer/songwriter Leighton B. Watts as well as other local groups.

I moved from Denver to Austin, Texas in the mid 1990's, and upon arriving met up with singer/songwriter Jim Stricklan and performed at the Austin Music Hall - sharing the stage with Toni Price and Joe Ely. Also while in Austin, I performed and recorded with the Dave Sebree Band, Laffing Sam, John Ussery, Lee Person, and many other local groups...

In the fall of 2000, I relocated to San Diego, California where I currently live and enjoy a busy schedule of performing, recording, and teaching. While in San Diego, I've performed and recorded a variety of music with local and regionally touring bands (cover and original material) with styles ranging from Acoustic, Blues, Contemporary Christian, Country, Flamenco, Funk, Fusion, Gospel, Hip-Hop, Improvisational, Instrumental, Jazz, Latin, Motown, R&B, Rock, and many Singer/Songwriters... these bands have opened for Elvin Bishop, Chris Botti, Tommy Castro, David Sanborn, Earl Thomas, and Walter Trout.

I've been blessed to have the opportunity to perform with Blues/Soul Singer Songwriter John Nemeth, Harmonica Wizard Rob Paparozzi, and Legendary Drummer Bernard Purdie.

I've also been very fortunate to play on many local recording projects and to work with recording engineers/producers Alan Sanderson, and Ray Peterssen.

*** Lesson Details ***
Like most teachers, I enjoy seeing and hearing students’ progress. I have found that students progress faster by not only learning mechanics, technique, songs, styles, and music theory, but also understanding how to modify their thought processes with respect to overcoming physical and conceptual barriers; in other words, and musically speaking: learning how to learn.

This involves breaking down and isolating every aspect of playing the bass - instrument stability, left & right hand placement, finger positioning, rhythmic concepts, fret-board familiarity, reading skills, patterns, and choice of notes. It also involves honing other important aspects of playing music such as concentration, determination, observation, patience, problem solving, and repetition. I have been applying this approach since I began teaching electric bass in 1998.

I teach classical & jazz music theory (scales, arpeggios, chords), improvisation, meter, rhythmic patterns, sight-reading, and ear training. Specifically, I help students learn to read music (notes), develop left and right hand finger strength/independence/dexterity, and provide transcriptions of pizzicato, & slap bass-lines as exercises; for all musical styles. I encourage students to create and play their own bass lines - conveying as a skill set a fundamental understanding/interpretation of chord progressions and composition. I also help students learn specific songs and styles they request.

I try to split each lesson roughly 50/50 as far as structured aspects (exercises, reading, technique building, etc.) and working through song requests. I also highly recommend students be open to acquiring a fundamental skill set for playing a variety of generic styles and forms - for example: 12-bar blues, I-IV-V rock, shuffle, 2 beat, waltz, walking jazz/blues swing bass lines, funk pizzicato technique, and funk/slap technique. These are simply guidelines though - ultimately it's up to you how we spend our meeting time.

Essential Items:
Most people get started with the obvious basic items (listed in order of importance):

- a bass, strap, tuner, instrument cable, and small practice amplifier/speaker combo.
There are a few other items that will facilitate faster progress (again listed in order of importance):

- a metronome*, music stand, bass method books and/or other exercise and bass clef reading material.

For learning songs, having access to an audio playback device with enhanced bass response and easy, well designed mechanism for fast-forward and rewind within a specific song is very helpful. Your computer, phone, or .mp3 player, by themselves may or may not be ideal for picking out and hearing the bass part unless combined with an significantly upgraded audio system (i.e., sub-woofer, stereo, docking station, etc.).

*The one item that will immediately challenge and push you to a higher level of musicianship is a metronome. Listening to, playing with, and counting with a metronome will facilitate development of your internal sense of time. Learning to become comfortable with the metronome will have a direct impact on how well you are able to synchronize with other musicians when playing together. This is especially true for bassists and drummers as they are responsible for maintaining the tempo/groove of a tune.

You will need to practice between lessons...

How much? The most important first step is to try to get the bass into your hands every day - 15 minutes every day is a great starting point for new students, with the goal of eventually reaching 30-60 minutes daily.

Try to find a quiet place where you can focus and concentrate without being interrupted or distracted by family, friends, neighbors, room-mates, phone, television, etc.

For practice time spent in the seated position, find a sturdy straight-back chair (without arms) - stay away from couches, recliners, beds, etc. Standing during a portion of your practice sessions is also a good way.

*** Studio Equipment ***
Gallien-Krueger GK800RB, SWR Goliath Jr. (2x10)
Gallien-Krueger MB150E-III

*** Travel Equipment ***
Fender American Standard Deluxe Jazz 4 String Bass

*** Specialties ***
Electric bass, Upright Bass, Bass Guitar, Music Theory
Fretted & Fretless 4-5-6-7-String. All musical styles including, but not limited to: Afro-Cuban, Acoustic Singer/Songwriter, Blues, Country, Flamenco, Funk (Specialty: Pizzicato & Slap Styles), Jazz, Instrumental, Latin, Pop, R&B, Rock (Classic, Hard, Metal).

+ Read More

Photos & Videos

Photo by John S.

Photo by John S.

Photo by John S.
+ 2 more

7 Reviews

Write a Review
Marcie S. Jun 4, 2014
Upright Bass · In studio

John is a phenomenal instructor, coach and mentor. He met my son at his level and patiently encouraged him to grow as a musician. His easy-going manner makes him approachable and his vast knowledge, as well as experience, helps the student to expand their musical skills. We like John:)

+ Read More
SusanS Mar 27, 2011

John has been great for Cameron (our son) Cameron had to take a break for reahearsals for a musical that he was performing in.

DanielK Jan 21, 2011

exactly what I wanted

Great teacher. Tailored the lesson to my wants and needs. Explanations are easy to understand. Just a very relaxed and cool guy. I left my lesson very inspired to practice and meet again.

GregoryG Jan 30, 2009

John S review

I've been working with John for five months. I have not played an musical instrument in over twenty- five years. He is a very patient and thorough teacher. Mixes music theory, technique, bass lines and entire song nicely in various genres to keep it interesting. He has an acute sense of student progression and is always ready to provide the necessary tools keep me moving ahead. His instruction and his personality are conducive to my learning style, and the fastest hour of the week is the lesson.Greg

+ Read More
AnthonyT Jan 23, 2009


Great teacher. Real accomodating to your specific needs whether it be theory or jamming. Best teacher Ive ever had for sure

UrsulaG Jun 21, 2008

Great Teacher

My son really enjoys his lessons. John is a great teacher and a great motivator. Thanks a lot!!

JamesK May 17, 2008


if he wasnt my teacher, i would have quit...but he is such an amazing teacher and person and friend. BEST teacher ive had EVER! no joke :] always understanding and gives me tips always and encourages me and just makes the hour fly by like it was only 10 minutes..^_^

+ Read More

You may want to revisit

Previously viewed teachers: