Motivation to "finish" a song?

Hey all.

I’ve been learning “riffs” for … years now, a bit more serious these days as I get more competent, but I’ve yet to play any song start to finish.

When I play guitar I typically get to a point in a song where it’s too much of a technical pain to “master” the chord shifting/timing or a guitar solo and I just lose interest.

Now that I’m playing bass a ton, I find it a lot easier to follow songs longer and there’s less of an obstacle to push through the chorus/bridge etc, even just keeping the roots in play is fun. I’ve been actively chipping away at 10 bass lines for practice, but still am lacking that choice of something to commit to start to finish.

Any tips for sticking with something?


Are you really enjoying the stuff you’re trying to learn? A lot of technically complex pieces like muse or yes are very interesting to learn in the beginning but I don’t find them enjoyable to play. For me personally, playing more melodic lines like jazz or Motown I really feel them when I’m playing them, even after I’ve already learned them they are just therapeutic every time I play them.


That’s probably a solid pivot point. I’ve recently discovered the bass line to “Cold Shot” and making a SRV face while I play it. I think a lot of it comes down to how much I can have fun with a rhythm rather than pushing myself to reach a “live tempo.”

Maybe there is just a solid skill barrier to “most music” of endurance and muscle memory on the instrument that I haven’t quite got to. Also I’m not a perfectionist but I hate not following a rhythm exactly so I like songs I can easily break down in that regard.


You’ll get there with time, and along the way you’re finding your own sound. Love SRV, never actually sat down and focused on the cold shot bass line, I’ll have to do that! The crossfire one is great. You may also just be more creative and would rather be playing what you feel instead of wanting to just learn something. In that case you could work on composing over some standard chord progressions. This would also benefit your improvisation over time


Ah yes, I have many “masterpieces” yet to find their grammy :smiley:


I think that one has to first like the song and the song has to be at the proper skill level, then comes the realization that it can take longer than one expects to play the entire thing… I suffer from that, the song seems easy, I can play the pieces individually but memorizing the sequence, making a certain transition or just the endurance like you mentioned needs time to sink in… it’s like trying to learn the lyrics by just listening to the song (but harder) it’ll take a few laps around… and that’s just words, no skill required
To play an instrument I’ve found that stubbornness is a requirement, that’s my motivation, and the satisfaction of doing a full song… I used to just do riffs and drop it like you describe, the 50 song challenge here gave me a push to stick to it… recording also helps because I can’t just say that “it’s easy and I can do the whole song if I want to” I actually have to do it… can’t BS myself


If you had a gig tomorrow to play those 10 songs, would you learn all the parts? Probably! Or at least fake the parts you don’t know perfectly. One trick that’s helped me with this is to make a playlist of the songs I’m working on and then play along with them like a set. I’m not allowed to stop if I mess up, if I get to a part I don’t know I have to fake it (or lay out), just play through like a real performance. Then I’ll take some notes and focus on the parts I need to learn or improve. Something about this process kicks me in the butt to fill in the gaps.


@Reo I’ve just started to tap into recording, even if it means I have to keep going after a missed note… but it’s definitely an active challenge!

@dlamson13 I love this idea, would probably make some more realistic (bye Hysteria!) and eventually be annoyed with the parts I’m “chugging through.”


Annoyed at chugging? Come on man! :sunglasses:


Chugging (hanging on 1 note) is a break for me in most stuff I’m playing, it’s my left hand that doesn’t want to participate!

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For the most part i dont need to memorize songs so i dont :smile: i usually play them from tab. Probably 80% of my time playing songs is spent on yousician, its like going to the gym…i use it to put time in. I find it very efficient for always finding more challenging songs that push me to improve. The interface makes it easy to slow the difficult parts down so you can get through them. I pretty much always play through whole songs unless im working on a short passage in order to increase my speed.

I used to struggle to find songs i enjoyed playing or ones that werent either too easy or too hard (esp on guitar) and when i dont have a lot of time, yousician makes it easy and quick to jump on there and play for 20 or 30 mins. I used to waste a lot of time looking for something to play, getting the backing track and music set up and then not have that much time left for playing.

Sometimes with the easier songs that i know well, ill work on improvising over them instead of just playing the regular bass line. Its pretty satisfying when youre in the groove and you play something that just works out great :slightly_smiling_face:


Maybe coming a little late to the party, but for my part? For years I never thought I’d be able to play a full song. I didn’t have the skill, or the stamina, or the patience to learn.

I learned riffs and noodled around for my own enjoyment, that was about it.

A little over a year ago, I decided to commit myself to learning the bass so I could become a functioning bass player. No dreams of stardom or anything, I just wanted to be able to play songs and maybe jam with people from time to time.

Of course, none of that really applies to your question. That’s just background information for my answer. :slight_smile:

All I can tell you is this: once I finished a full song all the way through, I was ecstatic. It was one of the coolest things I’d done for myself. So maybe that will be some motivation for you: the pride and happiness you feel once you play that song all the way through.

Just a thought. :slight_smile:


Welcome to the party! Your background information is very similar to mine.

Some rock songs are literally 2 riffs alternating on bass and it’s fun to play along with actual tempo but I don’t know if they count.

I learned “Pretend We’re Dead” today, the whole song is 4 notes on 1 string, decent tempo but doesn’t feel like I accomplished much lol. I’ll have to re-chime in when I tackle one of the tougher things I’m doing.

Current “practice list:”
L7 - Pretend We’re Dead
SRV - Cold Shot
Loverboy - Turn Me Loose
The Meters - Stormy
Garbage - Big Bright World
Green Day - Longview
Michael J - Billie Jean
Smash Mouth - Allstar
Jackson 5 - I want you back
Muse - Hysteria
…and whatever is coming up next in B2B Module 11!


If you can play Hysteria all the way through at full speed you’re doing just fine. Better than I am, in fact :slight_smile:


@wrxloaf I don’t know how long you’ve been playing / your previous musical experience etc. I’ve got pretty much nothing. So for my 12 month Bassiversary I decided to learn ‘I want you back’. That took me 3 hours a night for 6 weeks straight (So a total of over at least 126 hours, probably more).
So the only advice I have is, to maybe shrink the list down to a more manageable amount and focus on getting a few songs dead on. Rather than 10 to an Okish standard. Just a thought. Cheers


Awesome cover video! Your making it look easy. I’ve got maybe 20 hours into it and gradually relaxing the left hand as I play it more. Right now the little bits at (your 2m) are getting me good.

@howard I definitely cannot!! I think I’m about 50% right now.

My practice list is just a compilation of different techniques and beats and trying to hear things that I drill a piece of the song.

Every cover here I watch makes me want to feel the same way towards a song to where I can play it with only thinking about the next musical cue to move forward. Thanks for the encouraging commitment thought


Hell yeah it counts! I haven’t heard that L7 song for a while, went to Spotify to play it, and guess what?..the song has been listened to 34 million times! So to all those people that enjoyed the song think it counts and no one cares that the bassline was too simple, because the song rocks.

Honestly, I think good bass playing is all about subtleties. If you keep playing this song over time you will get better at it, even if it already feels like its been mastered. Your timing, muting, attack, will all tighten up with more reps. Nice set list, keep up the good work!


3 hrs daily x 6 weeks :hot_face:
That’s the part that doesn’t make it to the video, where it looks like second nature to you… people would probably call you “talented” when it’s really hard work