The Next Step

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by grizzly228, May 24, 2012.

  1. grizzly228


    Feb 11, 2011
    I've been playing on and off (mostly on) for the last ten years. I started in an all-original band with friends/family and had fun, but never progressed as a player beyond root notes and very basic fills. After a year or more away I began backing a singer/songwriter in small bars and coffee house-types. That led to playing with some wannabes in a basement for two years (they never made it out of the basement but I learned a lot of songs!). That led to joining my first real locally successful band playing modern/rock covers; which has finally led me to another (better) Alternative/Modern/Classic rock band.

    So long story a little shorter, I know a bunch of songs and a ways to fake songs I don't know. I'm comfortable on stage. I can sing (moderately) and play bass at the same time. I have learned how to be a good bandmate and have great timing. I am constantly told I do a good job and always have a gig lined up...that being said, I don't feel I've progressed as well as a bassist. My music theory knowledge is minimal; my technique is unusual but passable; to the lay-person or average bar patron I am a really good bassist. But I know, and I feel like every musician that watches me knows, that I am really limited and low on the bass player food chain.

    Other than simple answers like "practice" or "take lessons," what can I do to take that next step? I feel like a fraud some nights entertaining a room of people and not really knowing what I'm doing other than regurgating basslines I've heard and played a million times.

    Maybe lessons are the key and practice will help, but WHAT should I be learning? Music theory; I'm starting and have a great guitarist friend who I can refer to, but I don't see how that will directly affect my technique. I am already doing some decent fills and can move between octaves okay. I guess every skill has its levels and I feel like I've peaked; I need another "AHA" moment to put me into the next stage. Any specific advice would be extremely appreciated!
  2. Music Theory in my opinion would be a milestone for you....
    Point is if you don`t....feel it it will be tedious and no fun....
    Music theory will expand your music vocabulary....
    Will show you new ideas...
    I can`t say how much it helped me when I started to actually study it..
    First I was just reading it as it was written in some foreign language I couldn`t understand...
    But after a while it started clicking in....
    When you have some idea about music Theory start analyzing songs you already know in that context...
    Ask yourself what and why bass player in that particular song is doing....why he couldn`t do it another way...if he could...what way in your opinion is better?

    I don`t know if what I said will actually help you....Especially that I`m playing only for about a year... But I experienced how music theory can help and it can help a lot!
    Good Luck!
  3. A good teacher, and Carol Kaye's stuff has helped me get through what you're looking to do.
  4. grizzly228


    Feb 11, 2011
    Thanks for the ideas. I definitely need to expand my musical vocabulary and theory knowledge. I was actually working on that last night. I know there are things I am not great at like slap-and-pop, which sounds great at Guitar Center and might impress a few people, but in the music that I play and would like to continue to play it is rare. So If I'm going to put the time and effort into improving, I definitely want it to be in my technique or knowledge of the scales; so I think I'm going to work on that.

    But I'm still open to other suggestions if anybody else reads my message!

    Thanks guys!
  5. grizzly228


    Feb 11, 2011
    Thanks for the link. I will take a look at that. I was flipping through Bass for Dummies (aptly named in my case) and it has a lot of similar points. Between the book and your link I should be able to figure it out. Thanks again.
  6. AFRO


    Aug 29, 2010
    1) To me, this 2nd paragraph is telling..(I feel like I can relate to this to an extent) Feel like a "poser" or a "Bass Player" and not a Bassist, or Musician? (who plays the Bass as primary instrument) ... Do you know all of the notes on your bass? if not your closer to the "Bass player" than the "Bassist/Musician" -IMO-

    to be fair, a "Bass player" can be in a band, do shows, get paid just as well as a Pro-Bassist..but there is an obvious differences; for another conversation...

    2) Do you think "Practice" and "Taking Lessons" will make you a better Bassist? the short answer is yes. the long explination is..your technique can improve with Concentrated, SLOW! specific, practice. work on speed after technique is sound.. Taking lessons will help to evaluate where you are, and help to point you in the direction of the things you want to know more about. (an experienced teacher can lead you to the wells you need to draw from, and will most likely have a structure you can progress through to more challenging things)

    3)"Aha" Bold; This to me says I want to know more but dont know how do go about it.
    to do this you probably should study music theory. then apply it to your music library you already know..(splash in the new techniques you will be discovering with all that practice..)

    This thread to me.. sounds like you know how to play, you know how to do it on stage...but arent confident in your "Musician" abilities..Sort of like you have the bass persona, but not the musician's cred you feel you should have yet (for ten yrs in and not much to throw a party over..)

    You dont HAVE to get a teacher/lessons.. you can learn on your own. they will however, make the journey much smoother. DVD, and Books count toward learning too. the pianist at church? counts..aunt used to play piano or clarinet? counts..rap with them talk music with them.
    Get around other musicians with musical "cred" and start rapping with them about their craft.. take notes.

    Finally start growing your ears. it is your largest asset as a musician. when you can start identifiying what you are "hearing", -Minor Triad-; the way you identify Red/Yellow/Green when you "see" a stop will be further down the path you are seeking..

    Get a keyboard. Get some sheet music and start your path of being a musician. you can apply what ever you learn theory-wise to any insstrument.. (so learn to read both G and F clefts) It is a painful start ESPECIALLY IF YOU SET OUT ON THIS COURSE ALONE...
    Intervals first..quality/quantity; from there move on to Chords/(triads, then 7ths) then there is more, but later, one thing at a time..

    keep asking! the answer is out there for you to find..
    overall have some fun with it..there will be growing pains but the end result should be you having fun playing music.

    my $0.02 cents. may not be all what you wanted to hear, but you asked..

  7. grizzly228


    Feb 11, 2011
    Thanks. I have been working on my music theory and have a very good friend and bandmate (guitarist) that is becoming very fluent in music theory. He's taking jazz classes and plays at least 6 nights a week (often 7). I have decent resources around me for music and believe you are right when you suggest music theory as the way to go.

    Generally when I see other bands, I am impressed with their bassists. Rarely do I see a bassist and feel I am better than them. I would like to lose this feeling of inferiority. I am constantly being told how good I am but I know I haven't even touched the tip of the iceberg at how good I could be. Now I'm going to go home and work on my E minor scale again...
  8. You know what I find odd, there is a guitar (theory based) forum I used to hang around and whenever this question came up. The “I can play, but I don’t believe I can” vibe, everyone recommended a book written by a BASS PLAYER. Now I’m on a BASS forum and I rarely see it mentioned.

    I haven’t read it myself but I understand it deals with a lot of this stuff. It is a work of fiction by Victor Wooten (heard of him?) The Music Lesson. I think it is less than $20 but is allegedly a gold mine for musicians with self-doubt.
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