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Feeling like its time to quit bass...

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by tjnkoo, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    First off, hopefully this is in the correct forum/thread if there is one for defeated rants.

    Second, this will likely sound pathetic and rant-ish, so forgive me. I'm just feeling specifically low about my music/career path at the moment and could use some wisdom if someone in the forums would be kind enough to offer it.

    Basically, I've invested everything I have into music. Time and money. I spent all of high school playing bass. I didn't do exceptionally well academically because I was do so much music and everything surrounding it. I played in orchestra, a couple of local bands, taught here and there, even played some musical theater gigs during senior year. I then moved from Atlanta to Boston to pursue Berklee College of Music, then realized all of the "Berklee work" was keeping me from practicing (I did get "Dean's List" during my time there). So I dropped Berklee, and am now studying exclusively under a mentor in Boston. I started practicing up to four hours a day (certainly not enough I'm sure, but for a start) and eat slept and breathed music. Yet here I am, feeling defeated to the point where I can't even pick up my bass anymore.

    I've never gigged more than two or three times a year. I only had one good band, which kicked me out after a year because I was "just too good", and after a couple of years decided to just join a friend's terrible band so I'd have someone to at least play with. In three years I played about 4 or 5 non-high school related shows. That's about it up until this point.

    At Berklee I only found one guitarist who I played with constantly, but he turned out to just be too flaky to deal with most of the time. I "jammed" with a few people and thought it went fantastically, but then I never heard back from anyone more than once. I'm very very humble, and I am typically extremely careful of over playing. I've even been told by a professional musician friend that I'm extremely personable and easy to deal with as a person. Its like I have every part of being a professional musician in the works, but yet nothing has come of it. I don't get any opportunities, and on the only time in probably a month and a half I've even had the chance to "jam", I just felt so awful about my playing and everything else that I didn't play well and got off on a typical blues, which I've been playing literally for 6 years now.

    I've been practicing and playing more than ever in my life and yet I don't sound half as good as people who don't even practice regularly.

    I signed up for an online music class while I'm home for the summer and have felt so horrible about the bass that I'm not even keeping up with that.

    I have wanted to be a studio musician and gigging player in Nashville for as long as I can remember, and that's why I've done everything I've done. I wanted to play and teach and exist off of that. I moved to a new region of the country and even left college now to realize that dream. People around me in the same situations have all kinds of success and I have nothing.

    I guess I feel like maybe being a musician isn't meant to be for me.
    fraublugher and carsbybigd like this.
  2. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    I feel your pain
    I feel like that too after all these years.
    30 years of playing and studying music off and on and nothing to show for it-
    and the irony is this-
    if you listen to some of these isolated studio bass tracks on YT-it is a wonder there isn't a bigger demand for studio players.
    MovingPitchers likes this.
  3. canteenboy


    Jan 30, 2007
    Honestly, music sounds like a huge chore in your life. I make choices that have an affect on my life out of love for music, so I feel good about all of it. I see it as a long path that I walk towards the promise land. If I never reach my destination, I've definitely enjoyed the journey.

    Sorry, that sounds cheesy. I find it to be true for myself though.
    pastorjamesc, zontar and REMBO like this.
  4. It sounds a bit like you may be battling depression or some other psychological issue. You need to give yourself a break here! You have to have fun playing or it will adversely affect your music. Whatever you do, don't quit entirely. But perhaps getting some other line of work, even temporarily, will give you some breathing space to re-engage with music in a way that will make you happy. It sounds like you would be a natural for many, many different bands or projects. Don't make this an "all or nothing" kind of decision, try differentiating into a more modular approach for now. You have plenty of time left- you are young.

    I am surprised you weren't playing enough while studying at Berklee, I thought people there got plenty of time to play. They *had* to play a lot just to pass their classes. Maybe there is something I was missing about that? Either way, you're past Berklee now, you need to reintegrate playing into a more positive outlook and lifestyle, then I think you'll be turning things down left and right. I wish you the very best going forward. Again, don't quit entirely! If you need a small break or a loosening of tension, by all means give yourself that space, but keep a bass and a decent amp because I think you'll eventually want to come back to music.
    Dug2, carsbybigd, Pet Sounds and 2 others like this.
  5. Sounds like a few "bad decisions" perhaps along the way. First one I see is dropping Berkley because their school work got in the way of practicing. I hear 2 things there: First, you don't accept the fact that someone else has something to teach you (I know you're denying that right now but hear me out). Just because a school has "other work" for you to do beside what YOU think you need to be doing does not mean that it's useless, nor does it mean that they don't know what they are doing. Second, in this world of ours, credentials have meaning and they're worth money. Finishing school and getting that degree shows people in a moment (with that piece of paper) that you know enough to have earned recognition by "experts" in the field. Is that necessary? Well, it can save you countless hours, days, months proving yourself to EVERYONE you meet along your musical journey.

    Another thing I see is that this idea that the boring school work is worthless goes back to your highschool days. Bottom line is that a formal education IS worth your time. To put it plainly, bro, you need to grow up about it and realize that making a career out of ANYTHING isn't always going to be just about the fun and games part of it. You're going to have to do some boring stuff that you don't want to do or may not see the need for right away.

    It could be that you haven't played many gigs because your not easy to get along with. If the band said, "you're just too good"--well, to me that sounds like a nice way of saying "you over play and don't fit in with a group very well". You know how to play the instrument but do you know HOW to fill the ROLE of the bassist in a group?
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Take a break if you need to, but don't give it up. If you enjoy music, play it for that reason.

    I think you need perspective, and maybe some time off will help. If you are lucky enough to make it your career, fantastic. Just like athletics, only a small percentage of those with talents manage to make it their career.

    Long ago, I decided not to try that route, because of the long odds. For me, I play because I love music. The fact that a hobby makes money for me is just icing on the cake.

    Remember why you started playing in the first place - I doubt it was because you wanted it to be you career.
    twocargar, REMBO and BigRedBassPlayer like this.
  7. People can feel discouraged without having "psychological issues" or clinical depression.
    Remyd likes this.
  8. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    You'll be fine.
  9. RattleSnack

    RattleSnack Supporting Member

    Sep 22, 2011
    This is a tough time to be pro musician. I have read interviews with Lee Sklar and Nathan East and other pros, and they agree that you need to gig, do session work, teach, do promo, sell merchandise, etc in order to survive.
    Don't give up! Lower you expectations and rise your work energy, and things will fall in place.
  10. That is true, but merely being discouraged doesn't usually entail abandoning one's entire life's pursuit.
    SeamzKing likes this.
  11. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Listen to Mellowman - check out the babes he gets - he is a wise man.
  12. Funkinthetrunk

    Funkinthetrunk Registered User Supporting Member

    I've been there...I gave up the bass for many years. But I didn't give up music, I learned how to play the keys. It made me a better song writer and kept my mind refreshed. It also made me a better bassist as I learned to fit the bass line within my songs in a much more melodic and inspiring way. Try a different instrument for a while...I started on trumpet, then guitar, then bass and went on to keys. As it's been said.."You'll be fine."
    snoopcat and carsbybigd like this.
  13. QweziRider

    QweziRider Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Northern Nevada, U.S.
    The one thing there youve said that stands out to me. Right there. Why aren't you in Nashville? Not to make it sound simple, but if that's what you want, then there you should be, working what needs to be done in Nashville to get to the jobs you want. It won't be easy and there are thousands of bassists there. But getting the job you seem to want won't happen if you're not there.
  14. Sure it can. His life's not over yet so as far as we can tell, he's been feeling like giving it up for about an hour now.
  15. aprod


    Mar 11, 2008
    You had an opportunity to graduate from Berklee and squandered it? Do you know how many bassists here would love to have that opportunity? You sound like a spoiled child.
    TuneIn and totallyfrozen like this.
  16. Nobody said music was easy. It never is. There is always something to learn, even if you feel like you know all the theory, notes, scales, chords, lessons, etc. There is always something you can learn that you haven't heard of before.

    Like a lot of people said, take a break from it. Obviously the passion isn't there anymore so there needs to be some time to rekindle that spark..whatever that may be. Hang gliding? Bungee jumping? Parachuting? Do something unrelated to music?
    ImNotJoel likes this.
  17. danstans


    Mar 31, 2014
    I think there is some great positive and critical feedback here. Some of it might be tough to consider but you need to be honest with yourself to have an accurate assessment of where you are really at. Some of the things you have said, some here on the thread have read between the lines and I think I agree.. lines like you're 'just too good' sounds like a polite way of saying you overplay etc. Mixing things up and trying different instruments is definitely a good way of fallling back in love with music. OR JUST HEADING TO NASHVILLE and making it happen.

    It seems the the biggest thing through your comments is that you seem really isolated. Music after all is about a network, it doesn't matter how good you are without that. Throw yourself into a scene.. any scene.. get out there and check out lots of gigs, meet people. meet more musos, play in more bands, any bands, any poopy bands, things always lead to other things. The other thing that might help is to not put all your eggs in one basket. get a job unrelated to music. Any job. it might help you feel positive again about music.

    Either way... as the great man said.. you'll be fine.
    totallyfrozen and MovingPitchers like this.
  18. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012
    I gotta tell ya man, I can't help but read a lot of myself into this, whether it's there or not. I think we're about the same age, I probably have a year or two on you, and I've basically been in your state of mind for that long. Only difference is I went to "normal" college, had a "normal" major. But the whole time I was thinking about how this was just the crap I was getting through so I could start my rock star life. After college, I joined as many bands as I could, spent every spare moment practicing/rehearsing/writing, playing multiple shows a week, still just thinking "Alright, just gotta earn my stripes here, then I can start the rock star life."

    As more time goes by, and I hear about guys who opened for us a few years back getting spots opening for national acts, guys who we opened for becoming national acts, and meanwhile my bands treading water at best in the local scene, dealing with lineup changes and botched tours, it's easy to get discouraged.

    The best I can figure it shakes out like this: When we're young it's easy to paint the future as two dimensional, that one day you'll just shift gears and your life will be completely different. The sad truth that we spend our childhood denying is that if you want your voice to be heard, you've got to have the support of the voices that are drowning everyone else out. Industry it a horrifying concept - it's a systematic way for the guys in charge to keep you down so they can keep themselves up. But while the guys at the top are the beneficiaries, they are not the architects - industry is simply the result of the collective inertia of human ambition. The only way you can feed your own is by playing into the long game, play hard, play to win, and have patience, because that's what everyone else is doing - yes, THAT is what an industry is, everyone trying for themselves at the same time the only way they know how. But the only way to break the status quo is to play into their game. Unfortunately, just because you play the hardest, the most strategically, or the longest, is no guarantee of victory, nor even insurance against losing. But anyone who has ever won at all, has done so by playing the long game.

    So, now I have a "normal" job (can't complain too hard on that, I can at least post longwinded rants on TB from work). I spend what little time I have left after "normal" time to feed my stake in that long game. But I no longer think that one day I'll simply wake up and the world will make sense. No, even if I attain my goals, the reality is that there will still be work to do, probably harder work than there is now, and just like achieving any goal, the satisfaction of success never lasts longer than the thirst for the meaning behind it. Which is why you must always, always, always, remember why you want your voice to be heard in the first place. Remember that spark of the divine that music gives you, and what sharing it with others means. That's really all you have, so if it's not enough now, it never will be, because it only gets harder. Let that spark guide your way through these moments that seem darkest.

    TL;DR: Listen to the album Wish You Were Here, by Pink Floyd.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014
    elBandito, smeet, REMBO and 1 other person like this.
  19. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    You sound like a young guy.
    Life is a series of ups & downs. Like a rollercoaster sometimes. Things get better with time.
    At the moment you're on a down. Don't get too discouraged.
    Like many have said, don't quit music. But remember - the world don't owe us a living. You need to make your own way. Nothing is handed to us (in my reality anyway)

    If it was my dream to be in Nashville, I'd be there right now.
    If you are in a position to move there, do it!
    Music is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. If you find it's not, you have some soul-searching to do.
    etherealme likes this.
  20. There's a reason why a lot of professional or famous musicians tell people to play with others. Bedroom musicians are not the best way to improve your playing. It's all about networking; actually...everything in life is. You'll know someone who knows someone who knows someone who is close with someone in the film industry who happens to be married to an audio engineer...etc...etc...
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014

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