Waiting For The Call


#1

I’m what I would consider an intermediate level bass player. Have committed myself to learning the instrument for 3 years and have played on stage a few times. I’m 85% done with the B2B course and don’t have much issue playing the fast workouts (for reference).

Currently I’m not in a band but I’d like to be. I feel like my “training” has no direction without it. The last one I was in didn’t last too long. They all lived an hour away and the lead singer/lead guitar player had a falling out. I decided not to stay on with the new makeup b/c distance/time/etc.

My question is… What should I be working on while I’m waiting for that call? I check the craigslist community posts to try and find opportunities but it’s slim pickings. There are two colleges nearby (I’m 31). We even had a cool local blues jam night that I’d frequent (played it once) but the venue closed and it’s homeless right now.

I just want some focus with my training and to be ready when I do find a band or project and get a chance to audition.

Thanks for any advice.


#2

Hey Caleb! I feel ya about feeling directionless without music projects to focus you, I’ve felt that myself. Have you considered making a Craigslist post yourself? Maybe there are other people at your level feeling the same way who’d like to get together to jam, learn songs, etc.?

I have a bunch of questions in response to your question. :slight_smile: What do you want to work on? What styles of music do you want to play? Anything that feels like a particular weak point in your playing, or that was an issue in your last band?


#3

I like classic rock and R&B primarily. I’d love to play along to most of the songs of my favorite groups. Led Zeppelin, The Eagles, Johnny Winter are my main three.
Plus, I’d like to have the chops to hop up on stage at an open mic jam and be able to hold my own with other musicians. I guess I feel like I need to know hundreds of songs to be able to pull that off. Maybe I’m wrong?
My biggest weak point in last band was probably just speed and feel of the songs. That aspect did improve the more I worked on the set list but it was always something that could get better.


#4

This is such an awesome thread. Thanks for bringing this @calebnw!

I would say - work on what you hope to play first. You’ll (hopefully) stay motivated, and build the chops, the song library, and the musical vocabulary all at the same time.
Then…
You’ve gotta find any and every jam session that’s happening. Are there any metropolitan areas within an hour? For me it’s a 45 or 60 minute drive to where the real jam sessions are happening. Just go and watch one time and see what people are doing and are expected to do.
If it’s beyond what you can do, ask one of the bassists there for a list of tunes / things to work on.

Your ears are always the number 1 asset / power / musical translator.
If you’re working at learning from records a bunch, hopefully your ear will be getting better at hearing what any given band is up to.

If the Jam session thing doesn’t work, I highly recommend working off of lead sheets. Be able to read them chord charts! Very helpful for when you’re going to try and get into a new group. HAS to happen in tandem with building up them ear skills, but it’s a very helpful way to feel flexible to jump into things with little to no advance notice.


#5

Depends on the jam, what kind of stuff they usually play. Any given established jam session probably has a repertoire of more like dozens, not hundreds.

BUT, learning a ton of songs is good for a lot of reasons - ear training, understanding bass in a certain style, technical practice, and it’s really fun to know songs you like.

Learning songs can also be a good portal into finding technical stuff that you want to work on, with more inherent motivation than “I should do this because a teacher told me to.” I.e. it’s more exciting if you’re working up your slap speed to keep up with Larry Graham.

And +1 everything @Gio said, all good stuff.


#6

Thank you both. I put together a plan of action today that I’m confident in. I’ll revisit it monthly to adjust for new goals, etc. I really appreciate both inputs!