​Professional Bassist & Teacher

​Making ​Better Music 

for audiences, creators and students

Lessons

About Al Swainger

​As a​ teacher Al ​uses improvisation techniques to ​explore Making Better Music. His method features bite-sized theory and creative play to keep pupils motivated and inspired.

​​My goal for my students, and myself, at every stage is to be making better music. I spend my whole life thinking about methods for doing that. 

As a performer and teacher it never stops because there's always a new wrinkle to ​keep things fun and interesting. Whatever stage of your music making you are at there's ​always great conversation waiting to happen.

3 Easy Steps

to

​Making Better Music

1

​Get in touch

  • ​Everyone is unique. There's no one size fits all, off the shelf method, that is effective for everyone.
  • A free short consultation session will help identify ​your specific needs as a student.
2

​Book a lesson

  • ​Work with a real person that performs music for a living
  • Together we'll make learning information fun, directly relevant to you and show you how to use it in the real world​​.
  • I'll explain everything in a way that is ​clear, simple and ​engaging.
3

Enjoy learning the thing you love

  • ​​​Find that you are more confident in yourself
  • ​​Find that you are excited to practice
  • ​​Find that you know how to focus your time to learn faster

​Kimwei

masterful – no hint of awkwardness or embarrassment and complete clarity – absolutely what I can imagine any student would want. I was very impressed and thought of your comments as an ideal…there was no real feeling of “good” or “bad”, simply that the student’s performance was evaluated in relationship to what the student had wanted to achieve. The discussion was about how far the student had achieved their goals and what courses of action my lead them further on their path.

My Teaching Background

I have been teaching for over 25 years and spent many years composing and arranging for varying ensemble sizes professionally. Beyond my ongoing provision of private tuition I have lectured improvisation and arrangement at Exeter College and taught musicianship skills and composition for South West Music School. I have also lead and worked collaboratively on a range of workshops and residentials for both. Since moving to Bristol I have been engaged in small group workshops for Bristol Pre-Conservatoire and with the Tommaso Starace Quartet as well as coaching Masters students for the Exeter Academy of Music and Sound.

My instrumental specialisms are bass guitar, double bass, piano and french horn but I welcome teaching musicianship skills to any instrument. As a bandleader, arranger and composer I enjoy encouraging groups of players to develop their ensemble skills through workshop situations. For specific composition and arrangement coaching I am an experienced user of paper and pen, Sibelius, Cubase & Ableton.

I received a BA (Hons) degree in Music from Colchester Institute in 1993 and subsequently a PCGE in Secondary Music from Bretton Hall in 1994. I have taught both privately (1994 – ), for Devon Youth Music (1994 – 2004), Devon County Council (2004 – 2009), Exeter College (2007 – 2016), South West Music School (2008 – 2014) and Exeter Academy of Music and Sound (2018 - ). I have also been engaged for freelance ensemble coaching by Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra, Bristol Pre-Conservertoire and as part of various touring jazz ensembles including the Tomasso Starace Quartet.

Testimonials

  • "I loved your playing and your deep understanding of music. Thank you for the time and help you gave.” – Helen Sheppard (Vocal Tutor)
  • “Al was the musician who gave me my first confidence boost. Brilliant, straight-forward, supportive teaching. Al Swainger will get you moving towards where you want to be. I highly recommend him.” – Becky Brine (Professional Vocalist)
  • “Al’s lessons taught me what it meant to musically say what you want to say. His feedback was always honest and grounded with his vast musical knowledge. A very inspiring educator and musician.” – Frazer Kerslake (Former bass student now on the jazz course at Leeds)
  • "The few lessons I had from you certainly changed my bass playing and musical understanding tremendously." - Ivan Andrews (Recently completed an MA in Composition at Bristol)
  • "Thanks for all the help - even on hectic tunes like Donna Lee my playing now sounds a lot more in the pocket!" - Adam Stokes (Professional Jazz Guitarist)
  • "I can recommend Al’s lessons. I have been feeling in a rut with my playing for a while so am having some online lessons with Al. He’s giving me lots of things to think about starting with basic stuff that can be expanded. Great!" - Saffron Young (Professional Bassist and Tutor)
  • “If you want to learn more about music and improve your playing and musicianship I would definitely recommend Al Swainger. Lessons are tailored to the student and are taught in a friendly relaxed way. A great teacher!” - Jim Rintoul (Professional Bassist & Tutor)
  • "​​A wonderful teacher who has a true love of music, which makes all the difference to students. Gave me the confidence to go to my first open-mic night too." - Kiera Osment (Professional Singer Songwriter & Multi-Instrumentalist)
  • "I highly recommend Al for any musician looking to refresh & develop their music theory skills. Enjoyable sessions with a top class musician who has given me a fresh & creative approach. His take on composition & improvisation fits so well with taking the anxiety out of it (which is a big interest of mine personally and professionally!)" - Jehan Malak (Professional Saxophonist, Session Musician & Tutor)
About Al Swainger

​As a​ teacher Al ​uses improvisation techniques to ​explore Making Better Music. His method features bite-sized theory and creative play to keep pupils motivated and inspired.

​​James Rintoul

​Professional Bassist & Teacher

​“If you want to learn more about music and improve your playing and musicianship I would definitely recommend Al Swainger. Lessons are tailored to the student and are taught in a friendly relaxed way. A great teacher!”

​Learn killer time :

Learn to solo :

​Areas of study

  • ​​Rhythmic Security
  • Harmonic Security
  • ​Improvisation
  • Sight Reading
  • Ensemble Skills
  • Postural Awarness

​Create custom exercises :

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