Most Motivational Bass Activity for Beginners

I think an important motivator is riffs and exercises that help you find the groove. Maybe that’s what everyone means by “riffs,” but it’s when I am able to ride the groove and keep the beat that makes me think, “yeah, I am a bass player!”

Second is learning songs. I agree that the first time being able to play a whole song beginning to end was a real rush. I found the tabs to a tasteful but super simple bass line (with a nice groove) by Lee Sklar for Blue Bayou by Linda Ronstadt, and played it for a couple of weeks non-stop. It gave me confidence and motivation to dive into playing other, more difficult songs. Another example is Song for my Father, the Horace Silver jazz tune featured in one of the early B2B modules. When I realized that Josh had taught us the whole song, I played along with Horace Silver (7 plus minutes) every day for two weeks.


I think for me it was learning a whole song, for lots of reasons.

I started out learning guitar, I didn’t practice enough and unsurprisingly it wasn’t super fun. One of the things that did come up again and again from numerous sources when learning guitar was ‘learn songs’. I steadfastly ignored this advice until i started on Bass.

So that was my focus. Easy songs, that required very little technical prowess. Once I could play an entire easy song end to end it’s like someone turned on a light in a previously black room. I assumed that inside this room was magic because as a non musician it pretty much was.
Then I looked around this now illuminated room and thought ‘Oh it’s just practice, that’s all. Lots and lots of practice.’ OK, that I can do.

Sure some songs are harder but the principle remains. Stay in time, play the right notes and have fun.


Noodling riffs and learning actual songs by a mile.

Scales were a mixed bag. Learning new scale shapes was fun. But for goodness sake, anything but rote practice and drills of stuff like scales - that killed the fun fast.

Avoid memorization, that’s a sure way to kill fun. Work it in by remembering by using. When you teach something, immediately drop in a way it is used in practice and practice that. It’s a lot easier to learn things in the context they are used, which is part of why I think Josh’s course works so well.

I was already a theory geek so not much to say there but in the first year probably best to avoid. However scale intervals are a solid natural for my above comment about teaching things in situ where they are used.


Learning songs is the biggest motivation going into the end of my second year, it’s how one applies the knowledge, without that it’s just not fun to repeat scales and chord tones like a robot
During those first few months B2B was successful in part because all the exercises had backing tracks, I would put them in a repeat loop and just play to them as a song for a few minutes


Agree 1000% with this…

I guess, when I very first started, riffs were cool because they were quick, they were recognizable, and they felt like I achieved something… Whole songs seemed kinda daunting (how am I possibly going to remember all those notes?). But I remember I didn’t just want to learn riffs or even songs - I wanted to learn how to play the instrument, in order to make whole songs more achievable. I didn’t know what that meant, so I didn’t know what to ask for. And I didn’t really want to pay someone just to teach me to play a specific song without some kind of end goal. Don’t know if this answers your question, but I really enjoyed Josh’s method of having something to teach, and using a song/riff to teach it. I didn’t even like all of the songs, but they were helping me build a skill, so I enjoyed playing them, plus I could see the progress I was making as I went from stumbling through it to playing along with the fast workout.

Appreciate that you’re looking for the best ways to keep your students engaged/interested - not every teacher cares that much - good on ya. best of luck…


Always playing songs, on any instrument I’ve ever played. I never memorize anything, I still haven’t memorized songs I play frequently lol. Theory is ok and I’ve “enjoyed” it much more on bass but to me it’s a tool to solve a problem and not something that’s really fun/motivating.

It is mildly entertaining when I’m looking at some theory and I have an epiphany and understand something new :stuck_out_tongue: to me, understanding theory is much more important than memorizing theory.


Weeeeeelll I might not be qualified to reply as I’ve only been playing for a week. But my motivation right now is knowing I can only get better. By nature, I have always been very impatient with myself and expect to pick things up quickly so when I was learning guitar years ago and could not fret chords cleanly to save my life (after a few months of practice), I gave up in frustration because I convinced myself I had zero musical talent.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I know that the days will pass whether I play bass or not so I may as well play. Luckily I am really enjoying it and reading through this forum has given me an extra boost. I’m wiser enough now not to get discouraged by what I am now calling BJD: Billie Jean Defeat. I am confident I can come back to it when I finish my lessons.

To answer the question specifically, what is helpful for me right now:

  • a teacher who is firm with telling me that while I may have suffered BJD for now, don’t worry about it, move ahead and revisit later because you WILL get it. I am putting my faith in Josh, and this process. So a teacher that encourages and inspires confidence is key.

  • support and encouragement, where it’s by the teacher or fellow students such as in this community.

  • playing bits and pieces of songs I like, even if I’m rubbish at them right now I have the confidence to know I will improve.

I could add that my hair is almost identical to a younger Steve Harris (apart from the fringe/bangs), and that if I brush it out so it frizzes a bit, I have Cliff Burton hair. Amazing. It has to be a good omen :smiley:


Riffs, improv and toying with tones is what keeps me going. I just mix that with practice.


Recognisable riffs and the workouts at slow, medium, fast . Especially the slow :disappointed_relieved:


Riffs are definitely important, as was being able to play something right away. As an adult beginner, not learning children’s songs was imperative (David Lee Roth makes me nauseous, but I liked learning the beginning of Running with the Devil better than a nursery rhyme).

Having a road map (B2B) and being able to see where I was headed kept me interested and motivated.

The Biggest Thing: Having trust that our teacher would make playing achievable. “Your Trusty Bass Teacher” is more than just a cute title.


You are all champs.
Thanks heaps for the great feedback!!

My notes are:

  • Real music (whether it be riff or song) that can be played
  • Some folks like the exercises, but it had damn well better relate to Real Music
  • Bonus points if the Real Music (and related exercise/theory concept) relate to the personal music taste of the player.
  • Be Josh
  • Create clear and consistent pathways…

And while these are all the things that any decent teacher would be trying to do anyway, having y’all chime in with specifics and details and stories is pure gold.

Keep it coming, if there’s more!


I wouldn’t try to Be Josh, it is better to Be Gio


I agree.
Be yourself, quirks and all.

And show your fun side, humor is the best way to make something stick.


Aww, y’all are so sweet.
Sorry that my typing didn’t carry the tone I intended. I meant to just put a quick joke in there that indicated how truly lovely our resident @JoshFossgreen is, and a testament to how his instruction, pacing and methodology is radical, and that he is clearly - and rightfully - appreciated.

I will, of course, Be Gio. I enjoy it very much and cannot do otherwise.


Might be a bit of a non-answer, and I’m not sure how to word it exactly, but to me it’s whatever makes me relate to the “real” musicians (past or present), and makes me feel part of the club. Back when I was learning the Moonlight Sonata on piano I remember I got goosebumps thinking about my fingers doing the same movements that Beethoven’s fingers once did, hundreds of years ago. Similar feeling on bass when I learned my first GnR riff. And similar feeling when I learned the basics of music theory, feeling that I finally “get” what all these people have been doing for the past hundreds of years.


You worded it just right.


You make perfect sense @akos

I think everyone here has their favorite bassists that inspired them to pick up the bass or to keep going when you just wanna toss the thing across the room in frustration because something doesn’t go your way or you’re just not feeling it.


@Gio I like understanding why things work. Something like this…

  • Here’s the bassline.
  • Here’s why it works from a theory perspective.
  • Here’s why it feels the way it does.
  • Here’s why it fits a specific genre.
  • Here’s why it’s an interesting technical excercise.
  • Here’s what this bass line was influenced by and what it influenced.

A teacher doesn’t have to be able to answer all these questions but I want a better understanding of what learning a specific bass line can teach me.


Hmmm. I went to far without answering the “first year” part of the question.

  • Real music with some context.

The first year, you’ve got your hands full. So that other stuff I was saying is probably too much.


My method with the middle schooler is a bit different. First day of the song, it’s more root chord note, then music then sheets and tabs. Then go at it, I’ll play along showing slow then move on to the next section. Then they practice at home then come back and we’ll figure out that’s next. At this stage the only thing that helps more than all of the other skills combine is muscle memory and repetitions.

Once they get the notes under their fingers they can geek out all of the theories they want. A couple of students that I mentor asked me how to transcribe the song, I’d give them the chords and ask them to do intro and first verse to start. Then 2nd verse and chorus, and so on. I insisted on no YouTube just their ears. It’s so important that they develop this skill.