Defining a method


During my research and reflecting on my own teaching and the way I was taught, I realized that the concept of a method book was too limiting for my final goal; how to teach Jazz double bass in the 21st century. So therefore, I first explored the definition of the concept ‘music method’ and I found some definitions that helped me form an idea of the basic purpose of my research.

First, I looked up the traditional definition of a music method:


Method (music)

In music a method is a kind of textbook for a specified musical instrument or a selected problem of playing a certain instrument.

A method usually contains fingering charts or tablatures etc. scales and numerous different exercises sometimes also simple etudes in different keys in ascending order as to difficulty (= in methodical progression) or with a focus on isolated aspects like fluency rhythm dynamics articulation and the like. Sometimes there are even recital pieces also with accompaniment. Such methods differ from etude books in that they are meant as a linear course for a student to follow with consistent guidance whereas volumes of etudes are not as comprehensive.

As typical instrumental methods are meant to function as textbooks supporting an instrumental teacher (rather than to facilitate self-teaching) usually no basic or special playing techniques are covered in any depth. Detailed instructions in this respect are only found in special autodidactical methods.

Some methods are especially tailored for students on certain skill levels or stages of psychosocial development. In contrast a 'complete' method (sometimes in multiple volumes) is meant to accompany the student until he or she becomes an advanced player.

Methods of certain authors or editors have achieved the status of standard works (reflecting regional and cultural differences) and are published or reissued by different publishing companies and in divers (new) arrangements. The Suzuki Method is probably the most well-known example of this.1


This is a description of the traditional classical method books. An elaborate exercise book that takes a student through a linear process of learning.

A more abstract definition, explaining the difference between method and methodology is found in this quote (translated from Dutch):




The concept of methodology refers to the set of theories that are used to achieve a certain goal.

Methodologies do not consist of one way of doing things (such as a method) but are a combination of different ways. Methods are often confused with methodology. However, a method is a separate part of a methodology. The boundary between methods and methodologies is sometimes difficult to draw as no method is completely out of the blue - i.e. completely independent. Methods just like methodologies are also theoretically founded. Whether a particular approach is a method or a methodology therefore largely depends on the context and the way in which the user himself looks at it. Methodologies are often created by the emergence of certain problems through an overly one-sided approach. The method used is then extended with other theoretically proven methods that together effectively solve the problem that has arisen. When an effective mix of methods has been found a new methodology can be created. Methods are used in all conceivable disciplines. Examples are education research and care. 2



This definition opens up to my idea of a more modular approach of teaching. Serving the different kind of students.

Looking at the definition of a teaching method (as opposed to a music method) this next definition of Wikipedia confirms my direction of this modular, tailored to the student’s individual needs, approach.


Teaching method

A teaching method comprises the principles and methods used by teachers to enable student learning. These strategies are determined partly on subject matter to be taught and partly by the nature of the learner. For a particular teaching method to be appropriate and efficient it has to be in relation with the characteristic of the learner and the type of learning it is supposed to bring about. Suggestions are there to design and selection of teaching methods must take into account not only the nature of the subject matter but also how students learn. In today's school the trend is that it encourages a lot of creativity. It is a known fact that human advancement comes through reasoning. This reasoning and original thought enhances creativity.3



jazz double bass

in the

21st century

By Tony Overwater