Excuses, excuses, excuses

So. I hate ever caving to my fears or insecurities — yet that’s exactly what I have spent most of last month doing.

After feeling entirely and utterly defeated by Billie Jean and the subsequent lesson (even though Josh had said it would get easier after Billie Jean), I kind of stopped my lessons.

OK. I outright stopped my lessons.

There were all kinds of reasons not to pick up my bass and practice. There was a pandemic after all.

My strings started buzzing intolerably after I took a spill in the street. Also, my left hip was slightly injured in the fall, so it was uncomfortable to stand and play.

My workload had also become much heavier at the college as we urgently transitioned to remote teaching.

My active pickup battery also died after I’d absentmindedly left my head amp plugged in, and it was difficult to buy another during self isolation. It was more responsible to stay inside. I spent a lot of time on Amazon, trying to find the best deal for another battery.

On Monday, after ignoring my lessons for almost three weeks, I found myself giving a pep talk to one of my journalism students over the phone. She was complaining about how hard it was preparing her pitch for the fellowship to which she was applying.

“There’s nothing wrong with hard,” I said, idly eyeing my bass gathering dust in the corner of the room. "Hard is just hard. It’s not bad. It’s not painful.
“Hard is just hard.”

As I hung up the phone, I looked at my lovely electric blue bass. I’d let myself be intimidated by how hard those two lessons had been. Somehow, in my mind, I had let myself believe that hard was always going to be hard. And that hard wasn’t fun.

Monday evening I asked my boyfriend to help me fix the buzzing, and I rooted out a 9v battery from another appliance.

Tuesday, I got up two hours early and I practised Billie Jean for two hours. And another. hour that evening. I still blow at the fast workout but whatever.

The following morning, I practised the Intro To Musical Intervals piece for two hours. And another hour in the evening. It was FUN. And I was OK at the slow, fair at the medium and still working on the fast workout.

I let it be hard. I improved. And I had a blast. I felt the rhythm in my body even if my fingers weren’t perfectly agile.

I realize I have all the time in the world to practise and get better. I allowed myself to enjoy the learning process and not get fixated on succeeding. As somewhat of a perfectionist, this was a big step hahahahaha.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share my humble pie moment — in case anyone else stumbles over the Billie Jean scene!


That’s the spirit! Stick with it :slight_smile:

I still make myself practice Billie Jean each session. I never even liked the song, I just remember what a challenge it was originally and do it as a technical skill exercise. Don’t let it get you down.


Thanks, Howard. It’s actually really helpful to know it starts off as a challenge — and remains a top technical skill to practise over time!

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I admire those amongst us who have the discipline to go back to Billie Jean again and again, and take it for what it is (in this context) - a technical skill exercise. Somehow, I don’t have that discipline - if I liked the piece, I might dig more into it, but, just like @howard, I never really cared for the song in the first place, and so my motivation to practice it is not super high. Of course, and again, I should look at it as an exercise to improve some technical skills, but for me, it is extremely important that I feel that something is fun to do… or else, I will likely not do it. (Like most of us, I already have to deal with a lot stuff that isn’t fun in my non-musical life, so when it comes to music, fun is a very important motivator!)

I think you discovered that as well! So, just keep at it and focus on the fun part!! Good to see you back in the “active playing” circle!!


We often give others good advice, it’s great that you reflected on it and took your own advice. As I go into the second day of lesson two, I’m taking your advice. Thanks @ericabulman I’m off to enjoy Hard.


I really must get to this song and see what all the fuss is about. I don’t doubt that it will be a PITA, especially not liking the song much as others have already stated.
I just started B2B a cpl hours ago, and got thru the first 2 modules. I would keep going, but I really need to try and get a cpl hours of sleep before the sun comes up.
Hopefully Ihave time to get to it tomorrow, so I too can curse at the lesson. :rofl:


Good for you. Billie Jean is tough for everybody. It took me eight (?) months to be able to get through the fast workout. Most people who have talked about it on the forum don’t end up being able to do the fast workout until after they’ve finished the course.

Like others, I’m not a fan of the song. Eventually it just pissed me off that I couldn’t do it. When I started going through the course, the second time, I decided I was going to fight through it till I got it. I still don’t think my rendition was very pretty, but I got it to a point that I was ready move on.

Billie Jean is, arguably, the most technically difficult song in the course. It’s is much better to keep moving forward than to let yourself get stuck on it.


Thanks for the tip @eric.kiser, I won’t get hung up on it, I will work thru what I can, and move on once thoroughly pissed off😜


Don’t worry . . . you’re not alone in all this, @ericabulman

I haven’t felt like practicing very much these past few weeks, either :frowning: This “lockdown” scene has really got me depressed . . . I also have a few painful medical issues that can’t be addressed until after the lockdown is over. Everything feels as if it’s pressing down on me, and I sure hope things will get back to normal soon.

But, reading through your post made ME feel less alone, so thanks! :slight_smile:

All best, Joe


Thanks @joergkutter!

The thing is, I love Billie Jean. If thsat song is playing, I can’t NOT jump onto the dance floor or start grooving in my chair or the subway or where ever I happen to be. So. that helps.

But ya, something has to be enjoyable. In my case, I not letting the process of learning be enjoyable. And you’re right. I. need to focus on that.


Good for you! I haven’t gotten to that exercise yet, but your perseverance will be on my mind when I get there.


Do it, @Jamietashi Jamie. Know there will be bumps but that’s all they are: bumps.


Hahahah. @T_dub everything was going sooo smooothly until BJ.
I told Josh it felt as though none of my previous lessons had ever happened!
He told me not to worry and it would get easier — and when it still felt really tough, I thought I just wasn’t going to be able to keep. up anymore.
But he’s also right. If you keep practising other stuff and return, it does get easier!


Good advice, @eric.kiser . And I have to be able to remember that and not get fixated on being perfect, or determined to “beat” the song.

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@Jazzbass19! I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been feeling so down and troubled by painful medical issues. That’s really a tough spot to be in.
I will practice tonight with you in mind and send you positive musical vibrations, Jazzbass19.
Hang in there. :guitar: :guitar: :guitar:


Ok, @ericabulman, I just finished module 4.
Billy Jean, well, if I didn’t care for it before…:-1:t2:

I really like it now. That is a fun little box riff to play.:+1:t2:
It sure is a challenge, but it’s fun.:sunglasses:
It took some getting used to, and I tripped up moving from starting on A to starting on G the first few times thru it in the fast mode, but I was able to play it thru after a few tries.:trophy:

I scrubbed back a few times in the slow exercise, and then I realized, playing it slower was mixing me up more. Medium was better, but playing it fast seemed to flow much easier. Guess the fingers start moving faster then my brain, and then I can’t get my thinking crossed up. :thinking:

I will sure add that to my practice exercise like @howard

I don’t doubt many find it hard, and it’s not that I am very good or anything, cuz I kinda suck, but I just felt this one. Or maybe it is because I came up with a fingering pattern that seemed to work better for me.
I only used my pinky on the first note of the riff, I use the ring finder for the rest of it.

Anyone really tied up on it, maybe try that out.
Good luck

@Jazzbass19, I hope you feel better soon, and things start getting easier for you.


Let me know how it goes when you do, @sanfordrick !

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I’m sorry to hear that, Joe. I get it with the depression. Not leaving my apartment is starting to drive me crazy. I miss my kids. The sooner this is all over, the better.


You are aware that you’re not making any friends, right? :wink:

Seriously: it seemed easy enough as I initially addressed it. The only issue I have now is that the combined problems of the spread (I have small hands) and the fact that it happens pretty far away from my upper body, which forces my left hand to be at an angle, are giving me issues when I try to do that for minutes on end. Using the ring finger instead of the pinky would fix that, but it doesn’t work for me… that fourth fret is just too far away. I’d have to do hand shifting for that, and that works against the legato playing. So my pinky will just have to suck it up and gain more stamina…

I had a similar issue as you when trying to play it at low speed – I just got impatient. But this improved after I created a low-speed drum beat and played along with that. My brain seems to be unable to hook up to a metronome, but it hooked up to a slow drum beat just fine. That helped me to get past the slow and medium workouts.


Ok, forget what I said earlier. I couldn’t play it. I promise🤫

Have you tried playing it on the 7th and 9th fret on E and A instead. Frets are closer together and to your body.
It was a different stretch, and not really easier for my big hands short fingers, but might be easier for you.

Might be worth a try.