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Musical Depression

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Artisticbassist, May 23, 2019.

  1. Artisticbassist


    Apr 28, 2019
    Im 17, been playing bass for about 3 yrs and it’s always been one of my favorites things to do. I love learning and practicing on my bass. But for the past few months I’ve been feeling like I can’t play anything anymore and that I suck. I want to learn and get better but I’m not progressing at all. I can’t get the slap technique down no matter how hard I try. I just feel no motivation to play anymore and it makes me really depressed because my bass is a part of me. I’m not sure what to do at this point, I keep trying but I can’t get out of this slump or whatever you’d call it. If anyone can give me any tips or help me, it would be greatly appreciated.
  2. bigswifty1


    Dec 8, 2011
    I feel for you. I don't know your situation but I've found a few things can sometimes rekindle my interest:

    * A new piece of gear, doesn't have to be anything expensive or special

    * A lesson

    * Heading out to a public jam where you're thrown in at the deep end and you just don't have the brain cycles to spare for worrying about being a bit jaded or your playing. Also, depending on the jam, it can sometimes make you feel a bit more motivated about your playing because you see:
    (a) Someone much better than yourself who you can watch and learn from and at a level you can aspire to
    (b) Someone a bit worse than yourself who can show you how far you've come, because we were *all* beginners at one point

    Speaking personally, a side interest helps me. If I live and breathe bass, I can end up a bit jaded. Finding another interest is good for me. In my case it's hiking but it could be anything really.
    GregC, Ellery, Nevada Pete and 17 others like this.
  3. twinjet

    twinjet AJ, you're the MAN! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Listen to different music and see if maybe there are other techniques you pick up along the way that might be better suited to your abilities. I have played thirteen years and for some reason, every time I go back and try to learn slap bass it just never goes anywhere. It's one of those things I just keep shelving for later because I have other techniques and learning I can work on to keep me busy.
    bassbrad, nbsipics, dralionux and 9 others like this.
  4. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    I've been playing instruments for a long time and I'll tell you, reaching a plateau is normal--and feeling bad about it is also normal. A good teacher can help, as can shifting your focus from practice and technique to playing music you are comfortable with with people that you like. Through it all it's important to remember that it's not about trying harder, it's about trying again and again and again.
  5. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    If you are depressed, you won't feel like making music, period. It's hard to know what comes first in this situation. Is it just loss of interest, or are you actually depressed on a clinical level?

    I go through this sometimes and when I do I have to take stock of what's going on, whether I'm taking good care of myself, and if not, I have to do things to make it better. That's assuming it's actually depression.

    If it's just loss of interest, then you might want to find some things that challenge you and work on learning them. Usually I start losing interest when I don't feel like I'm being challenged to do something new.
  6. Artisticbassist


    Apr 28, 2019
    Yeah I’m also having trouble finding new stuff to learn, I feel that there is so much to learn and I don’t know where to start.
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  7. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    Well, what I do when I feel like stepping outside my comfort zone is find some music that I really like and try to break it down into manageable pieces that I can learn, bit by bit. Who do you like listening to? Is there music you enjoy but think you would never be able to play? You could start with something simple from that artist and move forward from there.
  8. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Supporting Member

    Put the bass down for a couple days.
    Go to the beach.
    Go see a movie.
    Hang out with some friends.
    Live life outside of music for a bit.
    Think about a small goal and plan on reaching it.
    Come back feeling refreshed and ready to go
  9. *find people to play with
    *work on a new genre
    *work on singing or playing by ear
    *learn a new scale
    *pick a slap phrase you want to learn. Make that the only slapping practice you do for a week or 2.
    *take a lesson. Or online lessons. Scott's is great, 2 week free trial.
    *keep a journal. Write goals, what you work on each day, how it went.
    *dont sweat it! You're young and plateaus are normal ;)
  10. I agree with Les...
    Step away from playing for a time. Physically and mentally.
    Groove Doctor, Sixgunn, Helix and 5 others like this.
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I grow organic carrots and they are not for sale
    join a band with some musicians who are better than you and who will challenge you to grow
  12. oZZma


    Sep 13, 2018
    This. Technique/theory is a mere tool, if you don't start making music everything will feel pointless after a while.
  13. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    What I have done is listen for something that really sounds good to me and is well within my abilities and learn it. It may just be a 4 or 5 note line but learn it and play it a lot with a feeling of relaxation.

    I was just doing that with some Lee Sklar lines on a James Taylor song. I'm relaxed, can easily play them and they sound so good.
    Artisticbassist likes this.
  14. DanGroove


    Apr 27, 2017
    I can’t really speak to the depression aspect of it. As far as feeling lost and not making progress, it happens. Sometimes you just need to find the thing to bust you out of the rut.

    Playing woth people more talented than myself is one thing that has always gotten me making progress again. It can be very intimidating at first, but then one day you realize you are keeping up.

    Also finding a new concept or technique to learn can open up a growth spurt as well. I remember when I first discovered (on guitar) that I didn’t have to play barre chords or open (cowboy) chords for every chord. I started working with triads and their inversion and it completely opened up the neck for me, as well as more nuanced playing.

    Do you know your cycle of fourths? Maybe getting your head around something like that, or diving into functional harmony.

    I know you specifically mentioned wanting to slap and feeling frustrated and unable to get it. How many different instructional videos have you looked at? Sometimes you just need to find the one that reaches you the way the others don’t. Also, maybe consider some in person private lessons. Sometimes having a teacher who can evaluate what you are doing and show you exactly what you need to change is invaluable.

    And sometimes you are just in the rut for a little while. But you won’t stay there for ever if you are indeed putting in the time practicing. Just use some of the above, or other methods you can think of, to make the time spent pay off more effectively.

    You’ll get there.
    Haroldo and Artisticbassist like this.
  15. Chrisk-K


    Jan 20, 2010
    Maryland, USA
    You can pretty much play the root and fifth and become famous and rich.
    Artisticbassist and DJ Bebop like this.
  16. My lecturer says that musical frustration can mean you're on the verge of a breakthrough, keep trying!
  17. Jon McBass

    Jon McBass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2017
    South Carolina
    I think most of us experience these down times, feeling stuck, low energy—not just with music, but other aspects of life. Humans have natural cycles.

    Anyway, I don’t fight it, but consider it a good time to take a break, like others have said. Get my mind off music and do other stuff fo a while, rest, until I start getting so restless for playing again that it’s compelling. In the meantime, let the unconscious mind work in the background. I’m always surprised that when I get back to playing the musicianship and learning have continued to progress on their own! I play better than before. Counterintuitive, right?

    Also, nothing reenergizes me or lifts my spirits like just getting out and playing with other people. Especially really good players. And even more, in front of an audience.

    I would try not to stress about this. I think you’ll find these down times pass. There are many good suggestions from other members here in this thread; try the ones that appeal to you and let us know how it goes.
    Artisticbassist likes this.
  18. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    For slapping, it might be worthwhile to take a lesson if you haven't already, or if you're approaching the technique without an understanding of the fundamentals. There are a few different ways to approach the technique, and you may have chosen a style that doesn't work for you without even realizing it. (This is what I did and I didn't know until I found a teacher.)

    As for the music - try to work through it. Sometimes it's good to try to pick up a new instrument, which will make you a better musician (I suggest drums, for timing and rhythm, piano, for theory and chording, or guitar as an extension of bass) or try writing or recording music. It's okay to feel a bit of fatigue in one instrument - but music is so much more than just playing a single instrument. Explore the other aspects - listening, writing, playing other instruments, exploring different genres. You'll always come back to your instrument.

    Good luck.
    Cliff Colton and Artisticbassist like this.
  19. Darth_Linux


    Oct 12, 2002
    Spokane, WA
    get a teacher who will teach you actual musical content - not slap, not tap, not pop - solid music theory. Then, you'll have the knowledge at your disposal to teach yourself those techniques as needed.
    Haroldo, interp and Artisticbassist like this.
  20. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Do you have a good teacher?
    Are you playing with people that are more experienced than you?
    If not...I'd say get onto it.
    Good luck!

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