"The quality of the teaching and presentation is really off the charts. Danny is a terrific bass player and just an amazing educator."
I really felt that even though I was a beginner, I could grasp what he was saying and apply it to my own playing.
"I love working with Danny... I feel like an actual musician now."
If you are patient, and put the work in, you have a lot of 'aha!' moments... I can't tell you how many I've had....This has been life-changing for me.
Bruce B Springfield, IL
"I'd love to play with my musical heroes, but whywould they call me...
...when they can play with [insert name] instead?"
If that feels familiar ⤴
Then this program is for you! ⤵
Whether you're at the beginning or deep into your journey, looking to unlock the mystery behind ears
Or you’re a teacher, trying to help students develop the long-term skills you know they really need
Or you’re purely in this for the love, curiosity, and joy of making music...
The fact that you're here shows me you're a dedicated and curious musician, looking to play at the highest level. And the good news is, you can!
"First Call Bassist contains things I don't think I could learn anywhere else — certainly not in a mainstream university educational system."
There were a number of things which I thought I already knew — but with Danny's perspective, that part of my playing has been totally revamped.
I've gone from visualizing chord charts to hearing them. That's a huge benefit to me. I'm also able to hear the chord progressions from tunes I don't really know in a way I couldn't before.
Shawn Graham Los Angeles, CA
There's a lot of mystery around why some jazz players get ahead and why others don't.
We might think it's about having a natural & untouchable talent... but that's simplynot true.
It's not about having the fastest chops or brilliant technique [For every great bass player who solos with monster chops, there's one who rarely plays anything more demanding than quarter notes... and sounds amazing!]
It's not about having "perfect" time[For every great bass player who plays ahead of the beat, there's one who plays behind, or in the middle. Time is flexible, and no one has perfect time]
It's not about playing everything in 12 keys or transcribing tons [There is a lot of wasted time following this standard advice, as there are FAR more efficient ways to develop your ears and skills on the instrument]
It's not about having a music degree OR natural talent [Even those with music degrees often miss out on building the skills that sustain a long-term music career. And natural talent? Every professional started as a beginner, period]
We know that superior results are the accumulation of doing the right things every day.
Conventional wisdom often makes what the great bass players do seem mythical and unachievable.
[News flash: They learned the same way everyone learns— with time, dedication, and great mentorship]
Even worse, this draws attention away fromwhat reallymakes them great.
The asset that...
...makes them first-call players,
...drives all of their playing choices,
... builds their musical confidence,
...and is 100% achievable by everyone:
[After all, no matter what you practice, how many tunes you memorize, or courses you take... how can you expect to play your best if you can't recognize what's happening with the highest degree of accuracy?]
"Don’t hesitate. Go ahead and jump into the deep end of the pool — you’ll be surprised at how fast, and how well you’ll be able to swim."
Working with Danny has been a joy. He's humble, patient... it's like you're working with one of your best friends. The program becomes like one big community. You'll definitely be happy with the end results.
"This is the class. Trust me — I've taken all kinds of other classes and private lessons. None of them compare to this."
Working with Danny is a joy. He has this way of making every class fun and very informative. The lesson plans are written perfectly. He'll rewire your brain if you take this workshop. He did mine — and I've been playing a long time.
Ric Vice St Louis, MO
"Do you know the tune _______?"
We’ve all been there.
A bandleader calls an unfamiliar tune and we immediately thumb through our iReal Pro app for the changes.
And sure ... we can play the changes and sound okay, even though we don't know the tune.
With this amazing technology, it's never really a problem if you don't know the tune.
Then, it inevitably happens where you don't have the app or real book, and there's not a chart in sight...but you still have to play and sound confident.
Maybe one or two tunes is okay, but then it finally happens — you get totally lost... and it's totally obvious to everyone.
And of course, we all know that when the oh s**t feeling sets in, it becomes even MORE difficult to hear what's happening and support the musicians around you.
The time suffers, your sound suffers, and you clearly broadcast your discomfort.
And then there's the next tune which you don't know either.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Maybe this experience motivated you to finally develop these skills.
Maybe you tried memorizing the chord changes with flash cards, or used ear training apps to help strengthen your listening skills...
But somehow, the things you practice just don't translate to being more comfortable and confident on the gig.
It still feels impossible to get from Point A to Point B.
The issue is that the using the Real Book and charts turns our ears off, and we never learn to engage them the way we need to. It stops our creativity.
[And truthfully, you don't see your heroes using real books or learning tunes that way, right?]
Using the Real Book is like using a dictionary to learn a second language. It tells what to say, but it doesn’t tell us how to comprehend, listen, or interact — the most critical pieces of playing.
And the ear-training apps, YouTube lessons, and flash cards? They're only treating symptoms without actually addressing the root problem.
In fact, you can practice those skills until you're blue in the face, but they won't ever translate to live musical situations.
It's like learning to recognize the taste of cake by eating flour, sugar, water, oil, and eggs separately...
There's good news, though. Just in the way that everyone is wired to learn a language, everyone can learn to listen at a deep level...
... at the level needed to create music that is stimulating and fun.
You need a path that breaks down things the right way from the beginning... and doesn't leave any gaps throughout the journey.
Imagine being able to play an entire gig's worth of music without the aid of notation — even tunes you don’t know — and being able to knock it out of the park.
Even if you feel like it’s too late for you to achieve goals like that, or that you’re “just an amateur” so top bookings are never going to happen for you... it's never too late.
"The result I'm most thrilled about is the progress my ears have made."
Danny provides a place where the teacher is committed to success as much as you are.
Also, if you're thinking about working with Danny but live in an awkward time zone, I can say from personal experience that as long as you are willing to put in the work... it doesn't make a difference in the long run where you're located.
Ryan Molloy Japan
Let's pivot for a second.
I want you to imagine that your ideal, musical self just played the best gig of your life with a cast of dream musicians.
How great did it feel? Probably incredible!
What was the first-call version of you able to do?
Maybe you could...
Totally NAIL any new song by ear — on the gig, being fully in the moment, even with Chet Baker playing along beside you!
Leave the real book at home, even with a three-hour gig ahead of you
Influence the music with just a few specific note choices... leading your bandmates to new places.
Take chances and confidently land each one. Odd meters or new keys? Bring it on!
Play with rock-solid, grooving time, and make the music feel amazing ...
Stay one step ahead of your bandmates, intuitively recognizing exactly where they're headed...
Now, return to the present moment. Does this seem far off?
Whether you're aseasoned professional, adult-learner, college student, or lifelong hobbyist...
These skills do not have to live only in your imagination.
[*If you're there already, kudos. Let's talk because we can still take things further!]
"Get where you want to be"
You're going to have your mind opened up to to choose your path, and to follow your path to get to where you want to be. Unlike a lot of these other courses where they just try to teach you things or promise you the world, the only world that you're going to be promised here is YOU — you are that world.
Chris Northington Rochester, NY
Let's see what happens inside the
FIRST CALL BASSIST PROGRAM
The 9-Month transformation happens
from September 5, 2022 through June 1, 2023
My goal is for you to listen to a jazz standard once and know all of the chord changes. Imagine the FREEDOM you would experience in the music with those types of skills... and have the confidence to say GOODBYE to the Real Book for good!
To facilitate this big goal, I've designed a curriculum for online-group training, with private lessons, focusing on the following:
Systematic Listening, Tune Learning, and Solfege Foundation
Your musical identity [your voice, sound, and journey]
9-Month Master Experience Project
Every Monday, we’ll dive deep into the topic of the week, from the curriculum I designed [complete with loads of handouts, recordings, and supplemental resources created specifically for the program].These isn't just a 90-minute lecture — we're actively working on these skills together so they stick.
On Thursdays, we'll reinforce concepts from the Monday training with additional activities, breakout sessions, and Q&A. We can discuss any issues that came up in your practice, and have opportunities to brainstorm with other members of the group. There's also plenty of opportunity for Q&A with me. This is 90-minutes of personalized attention, making sure you stay on the right track.
Every participant receives four private lessons with me,where we monitor your progress and I can coach you through anything that comes up in your practice.
[Master Experience] Have you always wanted to arrange enough tunes to finish an album of your own, and then hire your dream musicians to play on it? Or maybe transcribe an entire record? Book a mini tour? Each participant will decide on one Master Experience, which I will supervise throughout the duration of the program. Think of this like your graduate recital or thesis... but even more fun. The sky is truly the limit!
[Personal Coaching]Music Coach and Bassist Casey Lipka will offer one group coaching session per month, adding maximum accountability to your experience.
[Piano Masterclasses] Expert pianist and educator Jeremy Siskind will be providing monthly jazz piano workshops, geared specifically to bassists to help you expedite your listening skills.
[Video Recording] Can't make it to the workshops? No worries — I record everything for you! In fact, my last program had participants spanning 16 different time zones without any issue. You'll have download access to all of the videos and handouts, which are uploaded within 30 minutes of each session finishing.
And did I mention the personal attention you’ll be getting?! You’ll be a VIP member of our exclusive Facebook Group, where you’ll get inspiration and encouragement from your peers, and I dive in daily to give you extra support! Even better, you'll be part of a global community — your new bass family.
Plus, there are monthly guest artists scheduled to speak about a variety of topics: live equipment, spinal and muscular health, recording, bass maintenance and luthiery, etc.
This innovative program is designed to put you in the ranks of top musicians anywhere.
9 FULL Months of Daily Expert Mentorship & Accountability
>> Two live topic-based workshops per week with me, from my advanced listening and ear skills curriculum
>> Weekly Q&A sessions with personalized feedback
>> Hundreds pages of supplemental handouts, downloadable audio exercises, and supplemental videos
>> Daily check-ins through our exclusive Facebook Group [I moderate it daily!]
>> Four Private Lessons
>> Supervised 9-Month Master Project
>> Monthly piano sessions with award-winning educator Jeremy Siskind
>> Monthly coaching sessions with Casey Lipka
>> Scheduled breaks at regular intervals to prevent information overload!
>> Monthly Guest Artist workshops
>> PDF copies of my entire publication series
>> Ability to download all videos and handouts [lifetime access!]
"I have not only become a better player, but I have gotten a greater ear — because in jazz, a good ear is worth much more than many other parts in the music."
Danny loves to teach, and it's very easy to to get the knowledge that you need and to get the knowledge personalized for exactly what you need.
I would really recommend you to get in contact with Danny and take the First Call Bassist Program.
Nisse Palm Gävle, Sweden
"Danny's way of bringing us through different elements of music, understanding, reliance and training of the ear has been hugely beneficial for me"
Overall I could not be happier with the class with Danny as a fabulous instructor, and with the members of the class of that shared I this time with.
Bob Pizzutiello Rochester, NY
But hold up! If we’ve not met before, maybe right about now you’re wondering …
“Who is Danny Z? And why should I trust him with my musical future?!
Hey! I'm Danny Ziemann
I've built my professional career playing with some of the top jazz musicians, including Jorge Rossy, Sheila Jordan, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Danny Grissett, Wycliffe Gordon, Bobby Militello, Bill Dobbins, Nancy Kelly, Harry Allen, and loads more.
In every situation, my ears are the reason I repeatedly get called back for gigs. Even if there's no sheet music [common on every gig] and I'm unfamiliar with the tunes, I know I can learn the tunes and nail them—in real time.
I've also spent an equal amount of time practicing and researching the art of teaching... in order to make music learning possible for everybody.
Why do I practice these skills? And why should you, too?
Because frankly, it's what's expected of us.
And being good at it leads to better, more fulfilling gigs.
It wasn't always this way for me—having the total freedom to understand everything I hear—but I'm here to show you that it's a skill anyonecan learn.
Why should you trust me to help you?⤵
Truthfully, there aren't as many people who are as active in the teaching space as they are performing space. You know my playing credentials, but we know that not every great player is a great educator. Here's a shortlist of my teaching qualifications...
I've written four books on jazz bass playing and co-wrote one on teaching.
I produced three video coursesfor Discover Double Bass.
I currently teach Jazz Ear Training, Solfege, Theory, and Ensembles at the University in Graz — one of the leading jazz universities in Europe — using my self-designed curriculum.
I've also taught at major institutions including the prestigious Eastman School of Music, SUNY Oswego, and Eastman Community Music School, and guest lectured all over the world.
I studied Music Education [with a focus on Curriculum Design & Research] and Jazz Performance at the Eastman School of Music, earning both a Bachelor's and Master's degree.
I was mentored by the leading aural skills pedagogues (Dr. Dave Stringham, Dr. Steve Shewan, Dr. Chris Azzara, Dr. Richard Grunow) for nearly 20 years.
I designed one of the most innovative online bass teaching programs called the First Call Bassist, where bassists completely transform their playing and supercharge their ears.
I have tirelessly researched the absolute heck out of jazz bass pedagogy.[Think long nights reading dissertations and articles, analyzing method books and videos, designing research studies, you name it...]
Few things in teaching are fact. However, based on my experience teaching, performing, and researching, I can say with 100% certainty that...
Great hearing can be learned
Your ears are the ticket to high-quality, better gigs
The right roadmap for you is a complex puzzle — but can be made clear with a master teacher at your side, every step of the way
To sound like a first-call player, you have to practice like one. And, you'd be quite surprised at what many of the top players actually practice. [Hint... it's nowhere near as complicated as you might think... but it is extremely effective].
Simply put, I know what jazz bassists need to become successful, independently strong musicians.
And that's why I developed the First Call Bassist program, to help bass players embrace their solo potential - and elevate their entire musical experience!
“I’ve been studying for four decades...and I’ve never found a teacher that has more of the complete package of how to be a total musician… not just a better bass player."
Jim Talaga Seattle, WA
>Here's another fact I know<
Even under the most ideal circumstances it's hard to stay committed to practicing.
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
It's easy to stay motivated for a few weeks... but then that feeling eventually fades out.
I love to play music — but it worries me that I can't feel 100% committed to it all the time. Is this normal?
I'm not sure if what I'm practicing is actually helpful.
Maybe you've thought about signing up for some lessons... but trying to connect with the right teacher is exhausting. Plus, how do I know that they're 100% invested in my progress like I am? Can they help me sustain my motivation?
Finding motivation doesn't have to be a major task—and you shouldn't ever feel like you're doing the wrong thing. There are much healthier ways to more forward with your practice.
If you're ready to take the leap into your musicianship and make great things happen, schedule a call and let's chat.
Still have questions?
I understand! I'm not psychic... but I imagine these thoughts crossed your mind.
01... I'm not a beginner, but I'm not a full-time professional. Should I still consider this program?
Absolutely! Your level of experience is all relative. We'll have many chances to discuss all of your thoughts, goals, and experiences together — and I'll be overseeing your progress throughout the entire program. My main concern is that you have the best chance at success, however I can make that happen.
If you're curious about the group makeup, each program has had equal balance of: musicians approaching jazz for the first time (with perhaps experience in classical music), life-long learners who don't consider music their primary profession, and professional musicians who graduated from conservatories. In all cases, each participant is musically active and loves music!
02...The investment sounds like a lot of money. How do I know it'll be worth it?
Many of my clients have already invested quite a lot of money on equipment, lessons, or music degrees, and are still struggling to feel the confidence and freedom in their playing that they need.
My intention for the program is to help save you time, money, and energy that would otherwise go towards future study, and allow you to experience the type of progress that has eluded you. With a nine-month foundation, you can expedite your future progress unlike any other experience.
03... I'm not a bassist but am interested in developing these same listening skills. Could this program work for me?
Yes! Let's talk. I've opened up the program to non-bassists in the past, and the results have been very positive. While a lot of what we do focuses on the role of the bass in an ensemble, the principles covered affect one's core musicianship, regardless of instrument type or genre.
04... I am a total beginner, will this be too difficult?
The program is designed for musicians with technical experience on their instrument and a foundation in the traditions of jazz bass. However, I am opening a small portion of my studio to work with dedicated, enthusiastic, beginning-level musicians.
05... Can I really make great progress online?
Yes! Zoom is a fantastic platform that guarantees a high level of support. I've been working with students online, creating video courses, and studying the medium for years. It may feel strange to not have a teacher in the room with you, but it otherwise wouldn't be possible to have the same level and regularity of classes.
06... Are there payment plans available?
Yes! Please contact me directly to discuss this.
07... I'm already a professional. Do I need to still take lessons and study the basics?
Even if you play swinging bass lines, know your fingerboard like your phone number, remember loads of tunes, and feel comfortable sounding your best on the "bass du jour"... yes, this program is STILL for you! Every bass player, regardless of their success and experience level, benefits from filling the gaps in their fundamental knowledge.
I've worked with full-time music professionals from all throughout the world, including musicians with graduate-level music degrees from top institutions. In each case, we were able to make great breakthroughs in listening and take their playing to new heights.
As I always say, if you want to break through to the next level, always look back first!
08... I don't necessarily want to be a first-call player, but I do want to get better. Is this right for me?
Think about the characteristics a first-call player embodies: commitment, diligence, and tenacity. This process is not solely about getting gigs with the best people—It's about transcending the limits on your playing and experiencing new levels of joy in music making. Think of what a gift this experience will be to your musicianship.
In any ensemble—at any level—one musician absolutely has the ability and authority to elevate the entirety of the performing ensemble. You can become that influential musician, exuding musicality at an infectious level.
09... Can I just take private lessons with you instead?
Sorry, this program is the only way to study directly with me.
10... Do I need to join the Facebook group?
Nope! If you're not in the Facebook crowd, the private group is just an added bonus. I'll still send pertinent updates through emails.
11... Will this program really enable me to hear chord changes to a song once and know it?
For some this is a reality, depending on the type of tune being learned. For others, this process may take 18 months, 24, or longer. There is no set timeline.
However, after nine months, your hearing will be transformed—enough to make a considerable difference in your playing and confidence! This time is about establishing a solid foundation that you can then use to continue teaching yourself.
12... What's the daily time commitment?
I can't decide this for you, but whatever you would expect from yourself if you were to commit a considerable amount of energy to mastering a task. In general, people start by committing one hour a day. As the program progresses, their ability to work for longer periods of time grows.
It’s time to choose
You know, most people will take a look at this page … bookmark it and think about it …
And then carry on, hoping their playing will somehow change.
9 Months from now, they’ll still be:
>> Wondering what to practice
>> Wondering what to do with all of their method books
>> Wondering how to stitch everything together
Instead of playing with joy, authentic self-expression, and a sense of total ease.
Let me ask you this:
If you’ve been doing the same thing for the last five, ten, twenty years — and nothing’s changed …
How can you expect the next five, ten, twenty years to be any different?
I’m not trying to make you feel bad, I promise!
I just know that change comes to those who really want it.
So it may feel risky … but the real risk is doing nothing and expecting different results.