Music Lesson / Life Lesson

Hey all -

I had some teaching experiences recently that echoed some of the questions and sentiment on this forum that ended up being a life lesson for myself… as I’m trying to give the advice to others! I love it. Any valuable music lesson/life lessons out there?

My recent scenario:
A thoughtful beginner who wants to learn things properly and avoid bad habits came into his lesson having read forums, watched videos, and (naturally) had questions about what was proper or allowable technique.

I respond (like on this forum) with my good 'ol shpiel: Technique is a bunch of ‘best practices’ - and they don’t all work for everyone; try to follow this general best method, and deviate when you find something more comfortable, so long as it doesn’t compromise future potential… etc.

It’s easy for me to say all that about music in a lesson, but it’s such an important thing for me to remember in all other aspects of life. The kind of thing that is still being revealed as I near 40: That NO ONE knows the best way for you to do anything, and that most of the best practices we study were created by people who just went out and did a thing because they wanted to/had to.

I forget this in other aspects of my life, and it’s always a good reminder of study study study, but - most importantly - do do do. And pay attention to how you’re doing things, and adjust for what you see. Also - having mentors (teachers) to steer you away from the easy pit falls is a must.

Anyway - as I explore endeavors outside of music, these are always great things for me to hear, remember and keep in mind.

Feel free to shout out your own music-gleaned life wisdom. We’ll collect it, sell it, become obscenely wealthy off our publishing royalties… and then blow the proceeds on music gear. It’ll be great.


The most recent lesson music has reinforced for me: what you get out of things is what you put in to them.


Beautiful! I agree, no need to reinvent the wheel, so it’s best to see what experts in the field have done first, and learn from them. I think experimentation is also key too, eventually, that’s how innovation begins, with any venture. I’d imagine in music even more so - it’s an artform more than anything else. And I’ll add a lesson I’ve learned from watching great people in whatever field - don’t worry about failure/frustration - it’s part of the journey, and it’s going to happen. Let it happen, analyze it, learn, and continue on, it’s mostly in your own head anyway.

I agree with the do do do - there are a small handful of people born with extreme talent in something - the rest that succeed are just tenacious, dedicated, and simply prioritize and put in the time. (they’re usually passionate too, it helps!)

Sounds like a plan!! Count me in!!


A life lesson based on musical experience: nothing is as simple as it seems and rarely comes out the way it sounded in your head.


Very good points indeed, @Gio, and more than worthwhile re-iterating them from time to time!

I am a teacher myself, though not in music. My students are often mostly worried (or, sometimes, even obsessed) about reaching a goal, let’s say getting their PhD degree. Totally understandable, but often also unnecessarily “narrow-minded”. I try to tell them that - as topics in research tend to be super-specialized these days - no future employee is overly concerned with the exact nature of experiments they performed and the specific results they got, BUT that they have become a PhD, i.e., that they have learned to work and think scientifically, ask questions, glean answers from mistakes, re-phrase and re-test hypotheses, learn from the work of others, etc etc. So, yes, it is a bit of a cliché, but the journey is more important than the destination.

I play music because when I do, I am completely absorbed by it. There is no room for my brain to remind me about my still missing tax statement, the papers I need to grade or any of the other mundane things that always occupy us. And, isn’t playing/performing music the perfect example of the cliché I mentioned above? There is really no “end product” (unless you record it, of course) - it is all about the process and the moment!

That “being in the moment” is probably one of the strongest lessons that music can teach us for life!


A more straightforward lesson music teaches us for life is probably this:

When someone counts 1-2-3-4, you better be ready on the downbeat :grin:


Thank you for reminding me of this, today especially. It’s worth keeping away from thinking too deeply about that philosophy in itself because it can logically lead to a nihilistic conclusion that, as Freddy Mercury mused “nothing really matters, anyone can see”. But if we keep the philosophical volume knob to 9, not 10 (or 11), we will ride the ride and enjoy the ups & downs.

I’m of the opinion that once the ride is over we get to do it all again anyway. Bring on the next rollercoaster!


Yes! Absolutely.

I ought to have this in red, block letters on my wall, my shirt, and the inside of my eyelids. Yes yes yes.

Ha! Couldn’t agree more… (I say, typing this after 4 hours of prepping for a simple, simple, oh so simple animation project…)

Yes! And great to find out you’re a teacher in non-bass life. Yes - process over product. The doing! I very much concur.

Love the input here. We’re well on our way to a Bass Wisdom coffee table book. … it’s such a sure thing, I should just go buy the new gear now, and just pay for it when the royalties start rolling in…


“The Bass Buddha” - by The Badass Bassists


I want this book! Take my money!


Awesome thread everybody, thanks for starting @Gio!

I think this one is with me the most lately:

My version of experiencing that lately is getting back into consistent practice, after floundering a fair amount in my 20’s (just turned 30, so feeling extra pensive :mage:).

It’s so cool that if you just practice intelligently, you can actually get better at things. I’m loving the gratification of thinking “I wanna know how to play that solo!”… and then actually doing it. Then I can play it, my ear is stronger, and I have new harmonic and rhythmic avenues to explore for improvisation and composition.

Love it.


Well said, Trusty Bass Teacher! :+1:

All best, Joe


Well said!! Making music has always been ‘one’ of my escapes - one that when you’re absorbed into it, “Nothing Else Matters”…


Yep and for me it’s about more than progression, too. If you approach things like practice with joy and delight - basically just go in thinking “I’m just gonna have fun with this for a while” - then that is likely what you’re going to get out of it, even if you flub a lot. Plus you will improve, which feels great. If you go in thinking “I am going to really work hard on this one thing”, it will probably get better, even if just a little. Both are appropriate at different times.

The thing to avoid is “time to practice because I have to.” Let your laziness win in that case, do something else, and come back and practice when you want to. You will be much more receptive to learning in that case. Generally for me a good strategy here is to later just say “I’m not going to practice now, I’m just going to pick up the bass and sit here with it.” That works like 100% of the time with me - at minimum I’ll have a little fun.


This is my truth. I learnt a ton of tunes to entertain from sitting in front of the goggle box with my instrument in my hands (cue bad joke) and just letting it be. I also play the game tv themed individuals. As a person walks by in the bar try and find the tune that fits. Sometimes it’s soap tune, sometimes an animation classic. My friends are more impressed by my playing The Simpsons or such than by my learning Primus latest or whatever. I should add that we actually got rid of the TV about five years ago as the partner wanted room to think. It’s been very fruitful, now I learn from YouTube.


The slower you practice, the faster you learn.

Practice doesn’t make perfect.
Perfect practice makes perfect.

Practice what you can’t play.

These are a few ideas that helped me.



True, and I intend taking this to heart this week after my practice playing had been getting faster through last week but I got to Sunday and it all sounded terrible because I was rushing. What I can’t play right now is my practice routine, so…

  • When things aren’t going right, and you can’t fix them for now, do something else in the meantime. *