"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.
Edith K Bassist
"I would say just go for it!"
You've given me the tools this year and the understanding and the confidence. It's been terrific, really, terrific.
You’re a totally inspiring musician… top... and you're a great teacher, which often doesn't go hand in hand. [If you’re thinking about the program] I would say just go for it!
Louise Shackelton Violinist, London Symphony Orchestra
"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 amazing 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!
"This programs teaches 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 Japan
There's a lot of mystery around why some musicians 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 most brilliant technique [Yes, we need to have great control over our instrument — but technique is only a vehicle for delivering our musical ideas, and that is influenced more by what we hear than how fast we can play.]
It's not about spending 8 hours a day in the practice room [For every great musician who spend eight hours a day practicing, there are countless others who get further with only one or two hours of practice. It's about optimizing your time, focus, and being efficient away from 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 musicians 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 or repertoire 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
It's no secret that it's harder than ever to be a professional musician these days.
Whether you're a classical, jazz, pop, or even Balkan-folk musician, the demands placed on you are already overwhelming enough:
... to play with flawless technique and perfect intonation
... to sight-read well, even if it's atonal and in an odd meter
...and to be able to get outside of your own head, playing 100% in the moment while supporting the other musicians around you.
That's a tall order. And let's be real:
To be a competitive musician at the highest level, that's just the start.
On top of playing with a high level of expression and authenticity, there's also the daily practice: scales, arpeggios, etudes, learning repertoire... you know the drill.
Easy stuff, right? 🙄
It's almost as if there's not enough time to work on our ears, or focus on "creative" activities like composing and improvising...
(or maybe you believe it's *just* for jazz musicians)
Either way... there's just so much to digest!
Not to mention mastering repertoire for the big orchestral audition, rehearsals with your band, finishing that composition commission... or memorizing jazz standards for your next gig.
We're constantly spinning our wheels... and worse, even when we follow our practice plans to a T, the individual pieces often don't come together and give us the freedom to play that we want.
In fact, all of the practice we do mostly leads to more thinking on the gig — and LESS freedom.
And if there's one thing we want, it's the ability to play without worry.
What's ironic is that the one thing that will help us the most — saving time and playing with more confidence — with this is the thing we actually neglect:
Of course, there are shortcuts: the iReal pro, an iPad full of notation, or just avoiding opportunities that would force you to rely on your ear.
And then, it inevitably happens where you don't have the sheet musicand are forced to play something entirely by ear.
Maybe one tune is okay, but eventually you get 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.
Your sound suffers and you lose confidence, clearly broadcasting your discomfort. Fear blocks your listening skills.
Yeah... everybody knows.
And then on to the next piece.
It doesn't matter if it's at a coffee shop gig or on stage with the New York Philharmonic... this can and DOES happen to a lot of musicians.
Maybe it's already happened to you, or you have your own version of this story.
(I know I've TOTALLY been in those situations.)
Often times, these experiences encourage people to finally confront their aural skills.
They'll try memorizing chord changes with flash cards, learning more theory, use ear training apps, or even take classes at a local school.
(And I applaud these efforts!)
But somehow, these things just don't translate to being more comfortable and confident when actually performing.
It's like music only makes sense when you think about it... but not when you play or listen to it.
And, it makes it feel more impossible to get to a point of better ears.
Maybe you're asking "What's wrong with using sheet music? Do I really need better ears?"
The issue is that the using an aid like the Real Book, or constantly relying on sheet music turns our ears off... and we never learn to engage them the way we need to.
It stops our creativity. Our flow. Our ability to connect to the musicians around us.
Learning music solely from notation 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 issue.
You can practice those skills until you're blue in the face, but they won't ever translate to live musical situations.
Focusing on intervals and other broken-down skills to develop your ears is 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.
You need a path that doesn't delay learning music, or offer bridges"to learning repertoire when you're ready.
Rather than spending nine months with an app studying intervals and chords... imagine learning and a concerto by ear, or learning 50 jazz standards from recordings without notation OR your instrument.
Now, imagine performing them in front of a full audience, knocking 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
Would I recommend a moderately talented bass player whose native language is not English to attend Danny's First Call Bassist program? Yes, absolutely.
But I would immediately add, "Do it again, but a little bit slower," as sung by Jon & Robin (1967).
I started transcribing the replay videos after the course. Now that I have gone through the first two weeks of the course again and at my work pace, all I can say is: Wow, so much information! And yes, the second time I start to hear things, I can work with the Solfege syllables, I suddenly succeed in doing things that I would not have dared to do half a year ago.
[Original German Text below]
Würde ich einem mittelmässig begabten Bassspieler empfehlen, dessen Muttersprache nicht Englisch ist, an Dannys First Call Bassist Programm teilzunehmen? Ja, unbedingt. Aber ich würde gleich noch anfügen: "Mach es nochmals, aber ein kleines Bisschen langsamer", wie von Jon & Robin (1967) gesungen.
Ich habe nach dem Kurs damit begonnen, die Replay-Videos zu transkribieren. Nachdem ich nun die ersten beiden Kurswochen erneut und in meinem Arbeitstempo durchgearbeitet habe, kann ich nur sagen: Wow, so viele Informationen! Und ja, beim zweiten Mal beginne ich die Dinge zu hören, kann ich mit den Solfege Silben arbeiten, gelingen mir plötzlich Dinge, die ich noch vor einem halben Jahr nicht gewagt hätte.
Franz Neff Bern, Switzerland
Let's pivot for a second.
I want you to imagine that your ideal, musical self just played the best performance 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 ...
Played with unshakable confidence — performing a solo recital at Lincoln Center, or playing next to your jazz hero Chet Baker.
Nailed all the music in real time without any rehearsal — playing all the tunes by ear on the gig (no real book or iReal pro app!), or sight reading everything with ease.
Were put on the spot, being asked to improvise something in front of an audience for the first time... but you were in the flow and played without any fear!
Were able to lead your musical partners, broadcasting a clear vision for the music.
Got lost occasionally... but you were so confident in your ability to listen, it didn't matter — you still felt in complete control, and without fear...
Come back to the present. Does this seem that 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 MUSICIAN PROGRAM
The 9-Month transformation happens
from October 2, 2023 through July 1, 2024
You've found your community for the next nine months.
My goal is for you to hear a piece of music once and know all of the harmony, the melody without your instrument. With this skill, you can play confidently with any musicians anywhere, regardless of genre, level of preparation, or having sheet music.
Together, we're transforming your fundamental musicianship, giving you the freedom and confidence to play without being glued to the notation. Your musical confidence will stem from your ability to listen, and your willingness to take chances. Go from "I can't do this" to "BRING IT ON!"
To facilitate this big goal, I've designed a curriculum for online-group training, focusing on the following:
Systematic listening and repertoire absorption with daily practice plans
Individualized, client-selected tracks
Long-term goal planning and weekly accountability check-ins
A complete curriculum from beginning to advanced aural techniques
Long-term professional goals and musical career planning
9-Month Master Experience Project
Every Monday we dive deep into the topic of the week. With my specially designed curriculum, packed with valuable handouts, recordings, and resources, we go beyond a mere 90-minute lecture. Together, we actively engage in skill-building exercises to ensure lasting results. You'll walk away with a clear practice plan and understanding, guiding you along a transformativepathway that takes you from point A to point B!
On Wednesdays, bassist and coach Casey Lipkawill lead guided practice sessions, reinforcing topics from Monday. This includes practice breakout groups, individual coaching, and other activities. There you can discuss any issues that came up in your practice, and have opportunities to brainstorm with other members of the group. This is 90-minutes of personalized attention, making sure you stay on the right track.
[NEW: Individualized Tracks]Tailor your journey by selecting from a range of individual tracks: Bass, Composition, Classical Repertoire, or Advanced Listening. Each track offers a distinctive set of monthly requirements and projects, empowering you to achieve your unique goals. Engage with esteemed guest experts who provide captivating experiences and feedback within your chosen track. Bass players receive exclusive benefits, including monthly masterclasses with me and access to my comprehensive library of books. Embrace the opportunity to thrive in a supportive community while pursuing your personalized musical aspirations!
[NEW: Master Experience]Imagine learning a concert movement in just nine months, completely by ear, without ever glancing at the notation. Dreamed of arranging enough tunes to complete your own album, and then having your dream musicians perform on it? In our group coaching program, you'll have the opportunity to select a personalized Master Experience that I will supervise throughout the program. Think of it as your own exhilarating graduate recital or thesis, but with even more excitement and joy. The possibilities are limitless, and the sky's the limit!
[Guest Sessions] Each month there will be a special guest from a wide array of fields: recording engineers, physiotherapists, instrumental experts, etc. By tapping into my extensive network of leading experts, I ensure you'll receive a well-rounded and enriching experience. Prepare to be inspired, gain valuable insights, and broaden your horizons as you engage with these exceptional individuals.
[Bonus Material Library] Gain access to my complete library of previous workshops, private teaching videos, books, and other supplemental resources. This includes nearly 50 hours of recorded workshops and 500 pages of published text to help supplement your journey.
[Video Recording] Can't make it to the workshops? Live participation isn't necessary! I design the classes to be viewed for replay from home, and video record everything. 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 an hour of each session finishing.
[Support Team] The First Call Musician program is a team effort. There's also a full-time administrator and supervisor, along with coach Casey Lipka. You'll get the best of three minds, not just one — and we are always accessible.
[Organization & Private Group] 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! Everything is organized through the First Call Portal, giving you one central place to access all important links, replays, and handouts.
I've led nearly 80 people through my programs, with 25% returning for the next course. Some have been a part of this since the beginning. And that's because there's no other program like this, online or offline.
Simply put, 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 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
>> Check-ins through our private Facebook Group
>> Supervised 9-Month Master Project
>> Scheduled breaks at regular intervals to prevent information overload!
>> Monthly Guest Artist workshops
>> 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 and recording with some of the top jazz musicians, including Jorge Rossy, Sheila Jordan, Wolfgang Muthspiel, Andrew Carroll, Jeff Ballard, Danny Grissett, Wycliffe Gordon, Bobby Militello, Bill Dobbins, Nancy Kelly, Harry Allen, Matt Wilson, 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'm also a lifelong teacher; I've taught extensively at universities, workshops and private lessons. As a teacher, my goal is to help the students gain confidence in their technique and musicianship so they can fully express themselves. I believe in creating a nurturing environment where students can thrive.
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. I've worked with hundreds of diverse musicians.
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 performances.
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 published six books — including four on bass playing, one on ear training, and one on teaching.
I currently teach Jazz Ear Training, Jazz 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 produced three video coursesfor Discover Double Bass.
I studied Music Pedagogy [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 for over 20 years.
I designed the First Call Bassist, one of the most innovative online programs where bassists completely transformed their playing and supercharged 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 performance opportunities
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].
I know what you need to become successful, independently strong musicians.
And that's why I developed the First Call Musician program, to help musicians embrace their 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…"
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 deep listening for the first time, 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... What's the investment for the program?
The program costs $9,500 which can be broken down into many different payment models.
03...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. In fact,many music universities charge nearly four times that amount per semester (3.5 months) and still don't leave you with the tools you 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.
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, 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. In fact, it's where I feel I do my best teaching. 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 other 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 with the top orchestras, perform regularly in NYC jazz clubs, remember loads of tunes, and feel comfortable sounding your best in even the worst conditions, yes, this program is STILL for you! Every musician, 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 performance opportunities 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.
9... Can I just take private lessons with you instead?
Sorry, this program is the only way to study directly with me. I no longer offer private lessons.
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.