I have become a socially challenged bassist! :o

(Not sure if this should be here, but the Lounge is for non-bass talk, and this is about playing the bass…)

After more than four decades not playing with others, I find myself having become someone who has… trouble playing with others! :grimacing:
I figured out a bass part for a song, which I can play just fine. But if I play the same thing with others, I lock up. Completely. I can’t get past two bars in before I lose the plot. I don’t know if it’s nerves, or a stimulus processing overload. All I know is, I seem to lock up and my mind forgets the bass part completely, and loses track of where I am on the fretboard or in the song.


Because I’ll be supposed to play with others quite soon, this is something I need to fix.

Thoughts, anyone?
All I can think of is practice the bass part so much that I can’t stop playing it. :wink:


I remember that this was a challenge for me as well. When you play along to bass backing tracks the timing is just so perfect you don’t notice drifting if you ever!

Playing in a band you find yourself in a position constantly judging yourself if you are the one going awry or others…

Like many other aspects of playing, best way to get over it is doing it more ! :rofl:

I can also suggest going one step at a time. I really like one on one dates with the drummer of any group I plan to play with. You make sure to lock with them and when you do others get more relaxed!


Never get out of the boat.

I think this part of the game - since it seems to be so psychological - should start without the bass.
As a person who has been deep diving in to the psychological and emotional and bizarre mental world of music for the last good while here, the first thing I would do (have done) in your place is really identifying what the thoughts and feelings are that happen when you’re playing with people.

If you end up in a panic loop of: “where am I, what’s going on” I could see a focused, relaxed and methodical practice routine going well.

If the thoughts “what do they think? Do they think I suck? Do I suck? Am I ruining everything? Why is this so hard…” - things unrelated to music or playing entirely - are clouding up your mind, then the practice is partially about knowing the music, but much more about the psychological game of playing with people.
Allowing yourself to mess up without fixating / knowing that mistakes are a rule / breathing / etc.
That part of practice is much much harder, and not as easy to focus on when you’re not playing in a group.

I’d be interested if other people have tactics and tools for dealing with this bizarre and rarely spoken about aspect of music/performance?


What if you asked the band to record songs without bass for you? Then you could practice playing to the band’s music ahead of time without the anxiety of rehearsing live right off the bat. Then when you are comfortable doing that, then try rehearsing with the band live. You will know what to expect and your anxiety level will be greatly decreased……….just some advice from a retired sped. teacher with an autistic granddaughter.


I like what @Johnny_Embassy recommended and would even suggest going a step further - can you get some one-on-one time with just the drummer or guitar player? If you could have a connection with at least one person, you could focus on that when everyone is together, and might take some of the pressure off.


I don’t understand what this has to do with autism.

I know two autistic musicians who have no problem playing with others. They’re both much more capable musicians than I am, and both have played live quite a bit.


I’ve been scratching my head about this as well. What does playing alone or not playing with others have to do with autism?


Somehow, this seems more appropriate. When the rest of the band is playing, my brain fails to connect. Which screws up everything.
When I last played in a band situation, I positioned myself to the drummer’s left… I could always see what he was doing, thus locking in was easy. In this rehearsal situation, I can’t do that.

What I think I might do is see if I can find a suitable video or audio recording (Lullaby of Birdland) and see what giveth if I play along with that.

Thanks for your help!

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I had planned to ask if the OP was on the spectrum, or if they were using the “internet autist meme” here. When I saw “stimulus processing overload” I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt to an extent, but the way the title is worded has me skeptical, too, especially as I’ve known people on the spectrum and am looking to get tested myself as an adult due to certain tendencies.


Not sure where you are in that process, but I know it can be a lot of time and work finding a doctor/practice, dealing with insurance, wait lists, etc. I hope all goes smoothly for you!


I’d ask the band themselves for a recording? Or just put that phone out during rehearsal!
If it’s a jazz standard, the way any one band does it is going to be pretty open to interpretation.
If you can get a rehearsal recording from them, that’s ideal! And a good reminder to always have the phone out and recording during rehearsals.


That sounds like a really GREAT idea to me, @Johnny_Embassy and @peterhuppertz . . :thinking:



This is a secret worry of mine, too. I have exclusively played by myself to music tracks since I started. I’m not sure how well I would do if I actually tried to play with others. Hopefully, you will find something that works for you, and if you do, please share it with us!

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Go ahead and ask.

Or shall I assume you did, but in a strangely veiled manner?

I have been tested due to some tendencies, and the answer is, yes, I am on the spectrum.

Now, as I’m assuming you are aware, it’s not a binary thing. In my case, the results are polluted because of external factors between age 3 and age 17. But there are definitely phenomena – and traits – that indicate that, yes, it plays a role. But until now, none of that was inhibiting me in terms of being able to function.
So yes, I am genuinely worried.


My apologies, I had never heard of that until now. I did some googling, and now I understand the connection to autism.

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lol I saw “but in a strangely veiled manner” pop up as I was clicking reply

I wasn’t asking or I would have just asked. I was talking to two other people and said I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt due to the mention of sensory overload, while also skeptical due to the wording of the title.

Yes, I’m aware it’s not binary, that’s why I tend to mention it as “on the spectrum”

ie, I wasn’t quite sure because The Internet :tm: is hard sometimes a lot of the time, and shitty some people treat autism as a meme.

Fwiw, I worry about sensory overload myself, especially as I tend to gravitate towards the “louder” genres, and bands usually have really small rehearsal spaces in my experience. Even with ear protection, if I’m on one of my “bad anxiety days” that won’t go well for me at all.

Once upon a time I did know an aspie (Asperger’s was a term then, and still is in their country iirc) that did stage plays. Granted, that is a much quieter environment than an electrically amplified band. But she was able to figure out some way to perform in front of people, at least. I wish I was still in contact so I could ask for you and offer more concrete advise than what has already been offered. If you have a therapist, you could try asking them, or try to find a community of people on the spectrum to ask.


I find that I’m also a little pissed off. Which is probably uncalled for, I am aware of that. I will try to keep that in check if I respond.

Autism has many faces, and can manifest itself in many, sometimes seemingly conflicting, ways. The image portrayed in The Big Bang Theory or (more extreme) Rain Man are not representative.

I have briefly worked with autistic people. I knew of one guy who was a brilliant guitar player, but when he had to play with others, his gut reaction was that he considered other musicians as “intrusive”. Much more so than how I seem to experience it, but it’s not entirely dissimilar.
The difference is that in his case it’s been like that all along, whereas I cannot remember ever having experienced that.


Makes sense. I am also “on the spectrum” for tinnitus and hearing damage. I played in a guitar rock band in the seventies, when ear protection was for sissies, and we rehearsed on 250 square feet or thereabouts.

Haven’t the writers explicitly said Sheldon is not supposed to be someone on the spectrum?

Or are you referring to someone else? I know it was/is a fan theory, at least for a while. The writers said he’s just Sheldon the last time I read anything about it.

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