I am a young african american bassists..and pretty good.....what......

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by billybo, Sep 15, 2003.

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  1. billybo


    Jul 18, 2002
    steps can i take to be an actual musician...i know it will take a lot of luck but i would like to be with a jazz band or play the bass as a career and make money off it...what can i do now??i do play for a band..and am looking for a church..but im bout to go to college soon..so help me out ..ty
  2. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    my best advice would be to find a good teacher. i would stress a good one because otherwise it can be a waste of time. i played electric bass for years before i decided to take up the upright as well. i did that for a while and i got tired of not getting anywhere. the best approach is to learn how to read and write music and of course theory. it can be done on your own but it may take a lot longer. i guess its obvious but having good practice habits is the most important to me. practice doesnt make perfect... good practice makes perfect! always try to do something new that you cant do and dont waste a lot of time playing things you can already play.

  3. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    also... it wont take luck if you practice hard. christian mcbride played as hard as anyone in his early years (and still does) and he can probably be in any jazz band he wants. it all boils down to hard work.

  4. billybo


    Jul 18, 2002
    i mean luck by someone important actually noticing you...you be as hard a player as you want...if no one hears you what good is it..?? thats what takes the luck.getting noticed..right??
  5. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    true but players that are outstanding get noticed easily. have fun with all that practicing...!

  6. bill h

    bill h

    Aug 31, 2002
    small town MN
    Get out there and play as much as possible. Play anywhere that will have you. go to open mike nights, play with you band as much as you can. If it's a gig take it. (all within reason)
  7. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    That is the million dollar question. I don't believe that there is any sure-fire way to get what you want. If there was, everyone would be a star! ;)

    But anyways, I would say you need three things to have a chance to make it:

    Practice - You should be proficient with your instruments and music as a whole.

    Diligence - It is going to take a lot of hard work to make it. There is no free lunch!

    Patience - Even for the great musical giants, it usually took time for peope to recognize their potential. You gotta keep at it.

    Good luck.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    It just doesn't work like that though and I'm pretty sure that there are shed loads of great musicians who have never made it - just sitting,waiting for somebody to come to them! :(

    So - the great British composer, Havergal Brian wrote vast amounts of innovative, extraordinary music and just put it in a drawer. It wasn't until he was over 70 years old, that his music was recognised and his wonderful symphonies performed - there are now many CDs of his music - several of which I have - and his music is performed by top Orchestras at the big London concert halls.

    But he died of natural causes, before he was really recognised, near where I live, in a council house, in obscurity and relative poverty!

    Like many other musical geniuses before him... :meh:
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well - the original question was about how to make money and a career out of music - my view is that to just concentrate on the music and hope, is not likley to be a very successful strategy and mostly trusts to luck.

    I'm not a success in this respect either (I make money on other ways) but I do notice that the people who manage to make money our of Jazz (which was mentioned in the original question as well) - are usually good "networkers", good communicators and get on easily with anybody.

    I would suggest that apart from the music - a good plan would be to try to improve your communication skills and dealing with people - to the point where you are comfortable conversing with anybody and can talk or write to anyone.

    I aso notice - having been responsible for recruitment policy in a large organisation - that this is usually the area where young people are lacking - that is, they may have Marketable technical skills - but these are worthless, if they can't talk to, or communicate with anybody else in the organisation!! ;)
  10. weldon


    Jan 3, 2003
    Denver, CO
    I don't think that success in music is much different than success in other fields or careers. The difference is that in music the spread between being successful and being competent is several million dollars a year. :) I never pursued a working music career (I'm not good enough), but let me share some ideas taken from my real world work experience and applied to working in music.

    You need to be good at your craft, but you also need to understand how to market your wares. You (the bass player) are a product and very, very few products sell themselves. You will need to figure out how to sell yourself so that people will take a chance on you. The best way to sell anything is to be confident about the value that you have to offer. Confidence comes from competence, knowledge, and experience.

    You need to understand who your customer is... the band leader. Once you get past being able to play the tunes well, they are looking for someone reliable, easy to get along with, honest, flexible (practice times, set changes, etc.), and musically - someone who helps make the rest of the band sound better.

    There's always a tension between making your boss look good and making sure that other people take notice of your value so that you will get better offers. You need to work with that tension and navigate those treacherous waters skillfully.

    Everyone gets opportunities to move up in their careers, some people are actually prepared to take advantage of them. You prepare by stretching yourself, taking on new challenges, and practicing your craft. Try working with the sound engineer on some gigs. Learn how to set up the entire PA system and break it down. Watch and learn from the business side - how to find gigs, get paid, hire players, fire players, etc. Find other ways to add extra value beyond your bass playing. Lead vocals, backups, sing in harmony, etc. Learn to get different tones so you can blend into different environments and styles of music. Learn some other instruments well enough that you can recognize what other players are doing just by looking at them across the stage.

    Again, this doesn't come from any experience I have making it in the music scene, but from making it in the corporate world.
  11. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    If you want riches and security, angle for a job as a record company executive...

    However, bear in mind that position could come crashing down in a fairly short time frame ;)

    I'd suggest making music, pursuing excellence and taking every opportunity to use your skills. You may or may not get fame but you'll certainly grow as a musician.

    Wulf (pro webmaster but able to afford to do music for the love of it)
  12. ColonelZulu

    ColonelZulu Not Impressed By Those Who Flaunt “Authority” Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    Tip 1 - Be professional in everything you do.

    Tip 2 - Practice and become proficient in all aspects. Focus on your ability to play ALL styles (even country, punk, rock, funk, hip-hop, jazz, pop, etc). You'll get more studio work that way than if you only focus on one style of music.

    Tip 3 - (And let me be the one to notice the elephant sitting in the corner chair - so don't take it as an attack, but I think it is important to the topic) Be aware of who you are, and your background, but you ultimately can only take pride in what you as an individual accomplish with the opportunities available. If I were to describe myself as an old Hispanic bassist, or Army officer, or father, or MBA, or hockey player...is that a good thing, or a bad thing? The answer to that in my mind is that it has no bearing, because I am ME.

    I am not Che Guevara, Tito Puente, Jorge Lopez, etc etc., and I probably have more in common with some Japanese woman somewhere than I do with any of them. My suggestion would be, if you don't want anyone to make an issue out of your ethnicity (which you shouldn't) the best way to start is to not make it an issue (or appear like an issue) to yourself. Because loading that into the description of yourself introducing the thread makes it appear that you feel it has some bearing on your goals as a professional musician.

    If you think being a "young african american" makes you a potentially better or worse bass player for some reason, then you're justifying the rationale for anyone else's negative stereotype of "young african americans" and subject to any of the limitations or false expectations they may have of you. Don't perpetuate the system. Acknowledge your ancestry, and your perspective in life, but to be a great musician, you need to be able to break down the status quo and surprise people. Not merely substantiate their presumptions.

    4 - To paraphrase P-Diddy, be willing to do things you don't want to do 80% of the time.
  13. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Hi there, I'm an old I-have-no-freakin-idea-what-my-true-ethnicity-is-'cause-I'm-adopted-but-most-likely-Scandanavian-or-European-American bassist, and I'm going to attempt to lurch this thread back on topic...


    Man, I think I busted a gut on that one. Thread's gettin' kinda heavy...dig?

    My advice to you would be to do the following:

    1) Find a teacher.
    2) Learn everything you possibly can about music in general and playing bass in particular.
    3) Play with as many bands and in as many styles as is possible.
    4) Go to college and get a degree in ANYTHING.
    5) Stay until you GRADUATE.
    6) Continue with steps 1,2 and 3 (while doing 4 and 5) until you develop a very PROFESSIONAL attitude.
    7) AFTER graduating, move to New York or Los Angeles.
    8) Be in the right place at the right time.
  14. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    7b) or Nashville
  15. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Actually Nashville tends to be an after-LA or NYC place to land. Usually. That's why I left it off. Unless you're coming from the whole country thang already.
  16. Good advice.

    But you know, sometimes, depending on what the goals are, there's something to be said for not *necessarily* inevitably heading for NY or LA or Nashville. For example, I have a friend who makes a nice little living in the Pacific Northwest, based out of Seattle. He gigs regularly, self-produces and sells his own records (profitably), gets regional radio airplay, owns his house, and does all this playing pretty much the music he wants to play (i.e., sorta smooth jazz mixed with blues and more straightahead jazz). Not a bad life at all, and I'm sure there are people in other American midsize cities who've done similar things. It doesn't always have to be about the East Coast or the Left Coast.;)
  17. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    I agree you can eventually make a nice living in lots of mid-size urban areas, but I think Ty has "bigger" notions in mind. When you are young and unencumbered by things like relationships and mortgages is the time when you should dive head first into the cold, strong currents of the "big" markets. In fact, I might just eliminate LA from the list and say "get thee to New York, young man".

    That's why I recommend getting a degree, in a computer-related field if possible, so that you can move to NYC and get a job that will pay enough so you can live with as little as 3 or 4 other people in a semi-safe neighborhood and possibly even afford to eat now and then while you pay your dues on the way to the big time.
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I don't know about that, Craig.
    Some of the locals who opted for Nashville over NYC & LA are doing pretty well-
    Vic & Roy Wooten, Keith Horne, Glenn Snow, J.D. Blair. Trust me, none of those guys were coming outta the Country bag. Thing is, New Country is basically being played by guys more into Rock/R&B/Jazz(except for maybe the fiddlers). ;)
    Branson, MO was another place to ply one's wares.

    Both places were once 'virgin soil'...nowadaze? I dunno.
  19. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Another major reason why many opted for Nashville.
  20. Kelvin


    Apr 30, 2000
    Singaporean Chinese bassist here. :D

    Here're some suggestions: Find a good teacher. A good teacher forces you to play the styles you don't normally like. We don't get to play jazz and funk all the time as bread and butter musicians.

    Also, hang out with other musicians. Jam together. Having a teacher who's part of a music school is usually a good starting point. What this does is it gets you into a musician's community. You'll start off by subbing the odd wednesday evening at some gig, and pretty soon, you will be noticed. If you're good enough, you may also be sessioning occasionally at this point.

    Playing in church also helps. I landed a gig once playing at a church concert.

    Get used to reading and improvising from fake books. Know your standard progressions (e.g. 1-6-2-5 turnarounds, circle of fifths etc), they will be very useful when you run out of ideas.

    Play whatever comes your way, even if its for a few bucks. Good luck.
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