Folks ask me, “do you teach?” The answer is “yes, I do”. I teach individually tailored lessons to students of all levels on electric and acoustic bass, as well as Moroccan sintir. Whether you’re just beginning or are a seasoned vet looking to break out of old habits and explore new areas, the focus is on Groove, hooking up with the drummer, and developing a good Sound.
I teach all styles, with special expertise in Old-School Funk, Soul, and R&B, as well as odd meters, World Music styles and Squarepusher-style drum’n’bass. Playing with effects pedals and non-standard techniques are also specialties. My focus is on traditional areas such as good time, scales, theory & reading, but we can also explore improvisation as well as avant garde techniques like prepared bass. I also stress learning to play with your whole body to help avoid repetitive stress-related problems, using stretching and exercises from traditions such as Qigong and yoga.
I teach out of my studio in Lincoln, MA but if you’re not local, Skype lessons are also available. In some cases I can travel (travel fee extra). Former students include Sean Hurley (John Mayer) & PJ Goodwin (Debo Band). Get in touch through the contact page for rates and schedule.
“Mike Rivard made me totally re-examine my approach to rhythm and accuracy. It was a privilege to be able to study with such a creative artist and it made me a much better musician.” – Harry Hussey
“I have to admit, as a total beginner bass player, I was a little intimidated about taking lessons with someone as accomplished as Mike Rivard. I wondered if he only accepted students with some more background on bass, but was pleasantly surprised when I approached him and agreed to take me on as a student. It’s one thing to be as an accomplished musician as Mike is, but to be a skillful teacher is another thing entirely. Fortunately, I soon discovered that Mike had both going on and was also a wonderful teacher. He is patient and humble, with a great sense of humor, and has a way of explaining things that makes the material entirely accessible. He was also sensitive to my interests as a musician, and tailored the lesson material to keep me interested and engaged while learning the fundamentals. I think this is all a testament to the quality person that Mike is, and I imagine that students at all levels of experience would benefit from his teaching.” – Rachel Koppelman
“I have nothing but praise and thanks for Mike as my private teacher. When I was not getting what I needed from other teachers, Mike delivered. He has an outstanding ability to assess and diagnose opportunities for growth as a musician. His passion for the bass and the connections between elements of music that are essential to playing with others is infectious and inspiring. My intonation and precision in all aspects of music continues to improve as a result of techniques and strategies that Mike has taught me. As a teacher of Music elementary and middle school students it is important to me to keep progressing and not forget what it feels like to learn to play. In some ways, every lesson with Mike made me feel like a kid again. The patience that Mike has displayed with me has been monumental in my learning to be patient with music. If you are serious about playing bass and sounding like more than someone who plays for a hobby, Mike Rivard may be the right teacher for you.” – Matt Boynton
“There are lots of great bass players in the world but not many great bass players who are also amazing teachers. He opened my ears to the music of Morocco and I can’t thank him enough for that. Any musician looking to further their knowledge and be taught by one of the best in the biz should contact Micro”. – Jonathan Granoff (Ellis Ashbrook)
“I very much appreciated Mike’s approach, as it felt like my lessons were specifically tailored to meet my needs — they were not just cookie cutter lessons. I believe that he has the sensitivity and deep understanding of music to present exercises and lessons that actively address areas in which the student needs to improve. I appreciated the tough love in the lessons. Never did I feel negatively judged or that I was failing, but held accountable to a standard nothing short of excellence. In regard to the double bass, I felt that I could ask Mike anything about pizzicato, arco, jazz, funk, classical, Eastern European and Indian styles. He possesses strong abilities to explain musical ideas by breaking them down on paper, demonstrating them on the instrument or providing recordings. I can even remember him showing me an exercise in which I would vocalize a rhythm, snap my fingers and move my feet — challenging, but deeply rewarding.
His deep commitment to the bass and sintir have been very inspiring to me. To study with a teacher who pursues his curiosities in music the the fullest extent reinforced my personal commitment to music and personal study. As one who is pursuing a career in music, I find myself wrestling with doubt and the uncertainty of this lifestyle, though studying with Mike offered me a comfort. He was always genuine in his responses and very candid when sharing personal experiences, all the while encouraging me to stay committed and keep playing and practicing.” – Anthony Leva (Jaggery/Bury Me Standing)
“When I decided to take up playing bass, I knew finding the right teacher was important. I wanted to learn from the best, someone I wouldn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of by slacking off, and someone not only serious about their instrument, but serious about creating music, and keeping it fun. I happened to discover Club d’Elf during this time, and shortly after, discovered the man behind the music. When I learned that Mike Rivard was both the founder and bassist of d’Elf, former band mate of the legendary Mark Sandman, and a Boston local, I knew he was the teacher I was looking for. He didn’t disappoint. I studied with him faithfully for two years. He started me off with two fundamental exercises, which I’ll admit were a bit tedious to practice in the beginning, but I kept at it and it didn’t take long to realize that they had laid the groundwork for my fingers to adapt quickly to play whatever piece of music came along. Over the rest of those two years I learned a great deal. Reading, transcribing, technique, and more, and I was already working on advanced bass pieces in just the first year. I feel that I developed a solid understanding of the instrument, and can now tackle whatever challenges might come my way in my journey as a bass player. I still practice those first two exercises every time I pick up the bass, and thanks to my lessons, I have a great time playing bass and writing music with it. I give Micro the highest recommendation as a teacher, and feel lucky to have studied with him for the time I did. Thanks!” ~ Anthony Cotter
– Susanna Quilter”I came to Mike after playing electric bass for a long time and wanted to learn double bass. Mike got me started with the fundamentals of proper pizzicato technique and bowing. He’s a patient teacher and understands how to motivate you if practicing gets tough. I liked his holistic approach to teaching, which incorporated stretching and breathing exercises along with technique and theory. I still use his alternating finger warm up exercises and practice my scales with a Shruti box drone!” – Walt Blazewicz
“On a personal level, I found Mike generally agreeable, funny and easy to get along with. On a practical level, I can say that I still use many of his exercises in my practice, even though our lessons have ceased to geographic inconvenience. He was also a teacher with high standards, which I applaud and strove to meet; as a bassist his pedigree speaks for itself” – Chris Jones
“I learned so much from Micro. He’s a true professional and a bad-ass bassist to boot.” – Michael Veit
“Mike will praise your strengths and patiently work out your weaknesses with you. Seasoned with many different styles of playing, he will take you in the direction you’d like to go with your music while teaching you to build a solid foundation for yourself. I’d recommend him to any student who wants to expand their overall musicianship.” – Daniel Scavongelli