I suck at bass… Or at least, I think I do.
As a self taught drummer turned bass player (around 24 weeks now, practicing on and off) I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed. Where to start, what to practice. Is my hand at the correct angle? Am I hitting the strings correctly? Why does my pick keep falling out of my hand? My timing is off! Ughh my shoulder hurts again, my arm isn’t comfortable… Fucking Hell I Should Probably Give Up Already, This Isn’t Going Anywhere.
Aaaand boom now I haven’t touched my bass in eight weeks…
On the 3rd of April I went to see Sungazer, an elektrofunk-fusion-and-then-some band. The two consistent members are Adam Neely and Shawn Crowder, you might be familiar with one of their youtube channels, and for this leg of the tour they took a keyboardist and saxophone player with them. I almost didn’t go because I thought I’d be too busy with writing papers. I was impressed by how beautifully all of them played. For some funny reason, after meeting and talking a bit with the band members, a little light in my head started shining again. Inspiration? Fascination? A spark of hope? Light at the end of the tunnel? Maybe a bit of all
Needless to say, I was humbled by the fenomenal performance. But, I have also been inspired. Not in the way of ‘I’m taking that chord progression to use it for a new song’, more in the way of a little breeze in my face; a wake up call. I really went about bass playing the wrong way and need something else that works for me. It is springtime after all: out with the old, in with the new.
(Maybe I should also just find myself a teacher instead of stubbornly trying to figure everything out by myself.)
It’s probably my numbing fear of failure I struggle with the most. I set standards so high I’m almost always failing the expectations I set for myself. This leads to me holding myself back from reaching certain goals and doing a lot of things I really want to achieve, like becoming a better bass player. If only I could do this, if only that would be improved then I’ll be better.
Only after years of practice can you finally reap the benefits of frequent practice. Learning an instrument takes at least a thousand hours plus a thousand more. I keep having to remind myself that this isn’t like other things in life that can be done relatively well within the first few tries. I won’t do it correctly, I will make countless mistakes, the ‘perfect’ technique won’t just flow out of my hands like tears trickle on my cheeks. I have to keep going, keep practicing, consistently. Not two hours in one go, rather ten minutes a day. For me it has been a slow journey into eternal improvement, but I’m happy to say that it has been getting better over the years.
It’s important to cut yourself some slack, to not let yourself drown in expectations before even executing the plans you made. Give yourself a break. It will be okay, you’ve barely reached your twenties. Loads and loads of time in your life to do the thing you want to do. Start slow, little bits, baby steps. From there on, in a few months, you will notice the progress. This, of course, applies to all plans and goals people set for themselves. To you, reading this, do the thing you have been wanting to do, the only thing holding you back is yourself.
I’m incredibly thankful for myself not skipping this show. It’s a little moment like this that ignites a tiny spark of motivation. It makes me believe in myself some more again and inspires me to put more effort into becoming the person tiny Janna would have been very proud of.