Austin Alfano – Bass Teacher

Electric and Double Bass, Piano, Guitar, Cello
Montclair State University
Rock, Contemporary, Jazz

440E90DE-2FFC-4EF9-B2F6-C9C28DE5964DI am a multi-instrumentalist specializing in Bass (electric and upright), Guitar, Piano, and Cello. I began teaching myself how to play guitar when I was eight, after my dad introduced me to the instrument. Since then, I have mastered many other instruments. At fifteen I discovered my love for the bass and when I was sixteen I began to play both electric bass and upright. In college, I played in the Montclair State University Jazz Ensemble and combo led by Jazz guitarist Dave Stryker. At Montclair State I was given the opportunity to study with incredible jazz legends such as Dave Stryker and bassist Bill Moring. Along with Jazz, I have played in several rock and indie bands, and I currently play bass in the bluegrass band Dan O’Dea and Eagle Ridge.

 

When did you begin playing music, and why?
I began playing guitar when I was eight years old. My dad knew enough to get me started on some chords and I fell in love with playing. My parents were always playing music, so I was constantly hearing new sounds and it wasn’t long until I wanted to make music myself. Once I became acquainted with the guitar I began to pick up other instruments like bass, piano, and cello and wanted to take part in making music anyway I could.

What instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
I play guitar, bass, piano, and cello. I have been playing guitar since I was eight and have learned the roles of lead and rhythm and how to play both solo and in groups. I picked up bass to fill the role in a band and fell in love with the instrument. It was through the bass that I began to learn and understand all the fundamentals of music theory and harmony. I began teaching myself piano at 10 years old but did not take serious lessons until high school. Piano has also served as a way of learning and understanding theory and harmony. I learned to play cello in high school while I was learning how to play the upright bass. In High School I was able to play in small groups and large ensembles with both instruments.

What are your personal goals as a musician?
My personal goals are to always be improving my musical abilities and to serve the music. Another goal is to pass down the knowledge that I have discovered or have been taught to others so that they can find joy in playing music as I have done.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?
I remember learning about the circle of fifths in a High School theory class and beginning to understand how much information the circle gives us. This has helped me with fundamentals and advanced theory and has helped me understand how harmony manifests within music.  

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
Discard your ego and always serve the music. Every note played should be played for a purpose and to contribute to the music as a whole.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
I think the most challenging moment I had learning was learning to play the piano and read both treble and bass clef together. It was like using two different parts of my brain at once. Practicing both hands separately certainly helps, but I can remember my first attempts being very difficult.

What is your biggest musical achievement?
My biggest musical achievement has been being primarily self-taught and being able to audition for and secure a spot in Montclair State University’s top big band and combo. It took a lot of hard work get where I am now as a musician and it is amazing for me to see how my progress has led me to study under the great teachers at MSU.  

Favorite thing about teaching?
My favorite thing about teaching is passing down the knowledge and skills I have been learning my whole life. I love being able to facilitate someone’s musical journey and help them to play and create.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
Never lose the child-like aspect of your personality that drives us to create and experiment.