Staying motivated as difficulty increases

So, I reached the end of Module 4, which was learning the bass line to Billie Jean. And like everyone else, I struggled. I actually ended up skipping over the workouts because I couldn’t even keep up with just learning the line in the intro lesson. So I moved on to Module 5. And I’m currently on Module 5 Lesson 2, and I’m struggling with the bass line there, mostly in alternating plucking between crossing strings so much. It just feels awkward in some parts and sometimes I can’t quite get my fingers to cooperate like I want them to. I’m pretty sure the lessons are only going to get harder from here, so I was wondering how people deal with that jump in difficulty and stay motivated to keep practicing?

I’m thinking this is more of a me thing, but when it doesn’t feel right playing and I’m having a hard time keeping up, it gets frustrating and I no longer want to play at the time. I’ll take a break from what I’m working on and then come back to it, but knowing that it’s just going to get harder is a little daunting.

I’m going to try my best to stick with it because I am actually enjoying learning when I can get things to go relatively smoothly. I’m just wondering how others might get passed that hurdle of frustration with an increase in difficulty?


I know your pain, that’s exactly how I felt at that point in B2B. Module 5 Lesson 3 or 4 seems to be where it got back on track for. If you’ve made it this far then I’m sure you’ve got what it takes to keep learning and enjoy the rest of the course.

The notorious Billie Jean also bested me on first pass, and I even went back a week later and still wasn’t happy with how I was playing it. Billie Jean was part of the toughest stretch I’ve had in this course M4L2-M5L3 when I was having a hard time keeping up with basically all the play-alongs, but since then it’s been back on a steady pace. Beginner Class of Winter 2021 - How is it going? - #10 by GanglyCloth

As for staying motivated, stay focused on where you want to get to so you know what you’re working for.


Lessons don’t necessarily get harder after Billie Jean. They’re different concepts and techniques.

Josh has taught many students face to face, and he knows BJ is a bitch for a lot of folks. That’s OK. Nailing that lesson is not a prerequisite for going on. Think of it as a bump in the road. It doesn’t mean the rest of the road will be as bumpy.

Many people struggle with it and revisit it later.

When you break down the groove of BJ, as Josh does when he teaches it, it’s completely doable.

Keep that in mind. Do the groove dirt-slow, over and over again. With repetition, your fretting fingers will develop muscle memory and your brain will calm down. Speed can only come when both of those factors are aligned.

Don’t worry about it at all. Work at it until you can do the slow workout, even if it’s not perfect. And you can just move on if you need to. It’s perfectly OK. There is no rush, no time limit. Give yourself some slack and relax.


Motivation can be a struggle but all I have done is find a tune or two that I’m doing well and go back to them to get a boost of that “feeling good vibe”
Even the simplest of things helps to lift my confidence and when you do crack a difficult riff or song ( and you will) it will all seem very worthwhile


These guys are all absolutely right. I wanted to smash things over that bj line. I felt like i had some so well up until then. It really made me question if i was going to continue. I thought of the difficulty was at that level now, there was no way i would be able to go further.

And that is totally wrong.

So you haven’t gotten the line yet? Ok, keep trying. You Will.

Working laterally and finding things you can play and like to play isn’t wrong. The lessons certainly have structure, and it’s a good framework- but it isn’t imperative that you get one specific line before you move on. It’s primarily meant to develop new skills.

Someone here once really helped me. I forget who it was, but I’ll always remember what they said.
I was complaining about not being fast or naturally talented-not being able to do lines at speed. They said " if you can’t play it fast, play it slow."

We all learn at our pace. Yours is right for you. You are right where you need to be. Keep trying, it’s there. You’ll find it.


Like @Mac I also go back to something familiar that I enjoy, instead of beating my head against a wall I just have fun, maybe noodle or improv, make up a riff or what not, leave the learning behind, this is not a chore or homework, at least not for me
Check Josh’s YouTube videos, he has a couple with simple riffs or the boxes ones, other YouTubers also have stuff at our level that you could have a blast with, after all that’s why you got a bass for, right?
And lastly, there will always be a harder line that you can’t play… yet


I’m wondering this too.
Thanks for bringing it up.

I usually find something else to work on so that I don’t feel like I’m failing every time I’m practicing… just most of the time.


Motivation is something I always struggled with and I tried many things but to make this short I’m gonna tell you that don’t focus on motivation but on having a daily routine. For example, every day I pick the bass and do one lesson at 8 PM. Not at the time of the day I feel like it, not ‘after doing X thing’. At 8 PM. Every day. Even if I’m sick, feel like I’m not “in the mood” or I am tired.

I want to play bass properly and have fun, and to do that, I have to reach a point. That point will be after practicing a certain number of hours, so I have to practice, I can’t push practice when I’m not feeling like it.

I used to just do music theory and practice things such octaves, walking the bass, etc. I also used to do just covers of songs I like them. With the first, I learn a lot but I feel like it is a chore, not something I do as a hobby. With the second one I have fun, but I don’t progress. Even sometimes I get more bad habits.

With B2B what I do is do one lesson, then do what I want with the bass to have fun. Improvise, playing covers, etc. So I get a good balance of both.ddd

So, find one time of the day when you have at least 30 minutes free to play the bass and commit to it. Don’t try to talk you out of that period with things such as “I’ll rest today and tomorrow I’ll just do two lessons instead of one” or “I’m feeling tired, I’ll play after dinner”. I have done it thousands of times and rarely works :slight_smile:


Glad you’re with us. Sounds like a good plan for you, @DavidAlacant. Keep at it and it will pay off.

Now, if you go to the Introduce Yourself thread, the B2B group will welcome you to the family.


I just set an alarm for 7PM and labelled it ‘Bass Practice’.


Good! I hope it helps. If you keep it, you’ll see how you’ll improve day bay day. And if you find a block (such as the MJ lesson), skip it and come back to it after one month or so. You will see how you can now do effortless what one month was “an impossible thing”.


Haha, I can work with that.


When I come across something that has me banging my head against a wall, I’ll work on something else. I’ll practice it a bit each day, then do stuff that’s fun.

Doing something everyday makes me better without building frustration.

Also TV is a help. I was practicing hammer ons/pull offs this past week, which is quite tedious. So I unplug and practice while watching TV. I practice scales the same way. I build up the muscle memory while keeping the mind occupied.

Slowing down helps to. It’s not a race


Don’t forget that the muscle memory is being developed mostly while you’re sleeping. Add difficult things to your warmup, but do them slowly and cleanly. In a few days or weeks you’ll be surprised by your progress. I was actually going through my videos last night and I came across my first Billie Jean practice. It was absolutely awful and full of errors. Seeing it made me realize how far I had actually come since then. Don’t be discouraged that you are on the first step of a monumental task, but look back at all the steps you’ve passed to get there.


This :point_up_2:


Years ago I was taking sousaphone lessons from a very nice old man, teaching me all things New Orleans Jazz. I lamented to him that I had a very hard time playing fast songs (on trumpet as well).
His response - “Well, then play slower”.

If something is too challenging, then you are not quite there yet. Seek out things that are more comfortable, replay things you are really good at. Search for songs (or riffs only) that you can play and that make you smile. Playing these things help you move forward. I am constantly going back to things that are easy for me to build happiness and (indirectly) skill and confidence. The music journey is filled with rote learnings, over and over and over and over.

I have spent hours looking for tunes or riffs to play. Too hard? - it goes in a folder to come back to from time to time. Too easy? - play it!

I have a Jamiroquai bass book that I still cannot play anything in (over two years playing bass). It’s ok, its waiting for me to get there.


@Gio I have to ask, what is out there that makes someone at your skill level feel this way?


Yeah. This. Thank you, Eric. I’ve seen gio play on YouTube. It’s very kind of him to be humble enough to remember how it is to learn to play.


Welcome @DavidAlacant ! Really glad you are here!


Feeling like one is failing is unrelated to one’s skill level. There are many extremely accomplished musicians who feel the same way.

I knew an extremely accomplished (as in, his peers said he was God, but from another planet) guy who would regularly complain about his own playing at a gig, whereas the venue was still filled with people trying to find their jaw (and their wits) after it had dropped to the floor more often than they could remember.