I Can’t Play Bass and So Can You! A Reflection on Starting Something New.
In the summer of 2020, in the heart of the pandemic and heat of Central Washington State, I had an impulse, “I want to play bass.” I have experience working on learning to play the drums as an adult, so it was not a blind leap into the world of music; however, the extent of my knowledge with a stringed instrument is a brief ineffectual stint I had trying to learn acoustic guitar in college. Nevertheless, I knew intrinsically that this was something I desired. One week I told my wife, “I think I want to learn the bass.” She said, “okay, that sounds cool.” The next week I texted her a link of a seller on FB marketplace selling a deep blue Fender Jazz Bass in ‘like new’ condition with amp and pedal for 300 bucks. In a matter of days, that weekend, we were on our way to Wenatchee WA to pick up the instrument. The exchange goes off without a hitch, the equipment is all in good condition. The seller had similar intentions but found that they were not able to dedicate the time that they wanted to to learn the instrument and wished me better luck.
With bass now safely at home, I took to YouTube to figure out how to approach learning the basics. I found a couple of good one off lessons from various YouTubers, but one channel stuck out to me more than the others: Josh Fossgreen over at Bass Buzz. Josh had just the right combination of solid knowledge, entertaining delivery, and ability to break down information that captivated me. With the limitations of going to find an in person teacher in a rural town during the pandemic, I figured I’d give his online course a try. The course is module based and upon payment you have access to it forever (one thing I look for in online courses). The structure of each lesson begins with an introductory concept followed by a practical application of what was covered in the lesson (i.e. let’s play some music). In the practical portion of the lesson there is a slow, medium, and up to tempo speed of the song you’ll jam to. The only requirement for moving forward is comfortably playing the slow tempo, Josh makes it a point to encourage his students to keep moving forward in the course.
Why this emphasis on moving forward? Well, there is something very important/telling about the structure of the lessons and modules. Yes, Josh is trying to teach important fundamental concepts for bass playing but more than that, he is trying to get you to pick up your bass and play, to have fun, and to progress. All of which sets the stage for you to come back and pick up your bass again and practice. Whether it is moving onto the next lesson or working on learning a previous bassline up to speed, the structure of the course is telling you, “the only way to get better is to do.”
That is what we try to focus on here at Jax of All. Your practice does not necessarily need to be long, or arduous, and by no means perfect. You just have to do and keep doing, a little bit at a time, as consistently as you can and you will see progress. It’s not instant, it’s not overnight, but it is real; you will move forward and you will grow.
It’s now been over 6 months since my bass purchase, and I can say I have steadily seen progress and improvements in my playing.
While I don’t yet feel like I can really drop in and play with a seasoned band, improvise well, or write a particularly compelling bass line, I am confident that with consistent practice, I can realistically attain each one of those goaIs. Every second, minute, hour, and day that I pick up that bass and practice brings me that much closer to being able to ‘play bass.’