Feeling Technically Challenged

playingbassI have a confession to make, sometimes I wonder why I continue to play.  I think I may be technically challenged.  I feel like no matter how much I study or practice, all I am really doing is maintaining my current level.  I study theory for a month then move on and forget 95% of what I learned, I work on scales and triad for a while then move on and forget 95% of what I learned.  I don’t know why but I seem to have very low retention for musical studies.  I feel like for every step forward I take 6 steps back, which frustrates me to no end.  Working my way through Teach Me Bass Guitar has certainly improved my playing immensely, but still I feel like my retention is low.  

I often wonder if I were to stop playing today and not play for 6 months would I forget almost everything and have to start all over again?  Likely I would retain my basic playing skills, but would all the theory and little musical knowledge I have now be gone?  Perhaps I need to find a good, flesh and blood, teacher to get direct one on one feedback from.  Maybe when I get back from bass camp I will seek one out.  Or maybe I’ll hang up my axe and walk away.  The thought has crossed my mind a few times lately.  I just feel like I have invested so much time, effort and money that I can’t walk away now, yet on the flip side, after investing so much I feel I should have more to show for it.  

Maybe I’m just at a low point right now, or have pre-camp jitters.  Going through the 9 songs Roy sent to work on for camp it struck me that, at least to my ear, only one of the 9 does not have a busy bass line.  Of course this was the song I chose to learn first and pretty much have it down.  The thing is after listening to the other 8 tracks, I have no idea which one to work on next.  Each one has fairly busy sections that seem to be a stretch for me, which actually ignited this little self-realization.  Surely after playing for so many years I should be capable of playing a couple of these tunes, if not all.  First off, I don’t play slap, so that eliminates a couple of tracks.  Second, I am not a busy player at all, which eliminates most of the rest.  The thing is, I enjoy listening to guys like Flea and Victor Wooten, but I really have no desire to play like them.  I am more attuned to players like Duck Dunn, James Jamerson, and Ron Blair, players who throw in a tasty fill here and there, but don’t dominate the music.  At this point I plan to just try to push on through and see how things go at bass camp, hopefully I will have turned a corner by then.  One things for sure, I’ll be looking to Roy and the other instructors for some much-needed guidance while I’m there. 

2 Replies to “Feeling Technically Challenged”

  1. Well, I took another run at the music for Bass Camp this past weekend and am feeling a bit better about things now. I had a mini-breakthrough in regards to doing simple solos which has been a big confidence booster. Slow but sure, persistence does pay off!

  2. Probably when I hear you play I will think you do it so much better than me. I am just starting out and I started very late (49). Lately looking at what Twitter and the likes throw at me it is so much stuff that I can’t even think about playing and too much gear. I am always happy to find stuff for strugglers like me, lol. Down to earth beginners things. So I don’t think I will ever get to a level that is very difficult and technical at all. But I decided to go as far as I still can anyway. I have always had teachers of some kind. In the end I found them very very helpful and motivating too. What I most need them for is to make sense of all the info that is available these days. Or better said, to cut out all of that and focus on what they think is necesary right now to learn. I now focus on what I play in my band and what the teacher gives me to take home. I go there once a month. That gives me time to slowly put it into my head and incorporate it in what I play in real life. I started on walking bass now. Most people would laugh at that but I am finding it pretty hard to get it into my head and hands. But someday it will be a normal thing to do. I don’t know why I am saying all this actually. Just sharing some thoughts. Keep going. You just love the sound of bass. You won’t stop playing it.

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