When are you good enough?...and other similarly strange discussions. :-)

Okay, I know @JoshFossgreen advises us not to compare ourselves to other musicians. But I’m almost 50, and I find it difficult to reach out to other musicians because I’m unsure if I’m good enough. What’s the minimum expected of a bass player when meeting musicians who’ve played for 30-40 years? It feels especially tough since many know I played 20 years ago, and honestly, I wasn’t that good back then. I only knew the songs of my band and nothing else.

Take Time Bomb in the 50 Songs Challenge for example. Could a semi-professional bass player just sight-read the notes and play it perfectly? For me, it takes around 10 hours to learn that song, haha, so I’m definitely still learning!

Maybe this is a topic for a future video?

I hope some of you who transitioned from playing at home to performing on stage can offer some advice. I might also just need a couple of hours with a therapist, but I think your wise insights are enough for now. :slight_smile:

7 Likes

Just be open with them on with your skill level as a relative beginner, and you will rapidly learn if they are worth your time or not.

So what? Me too (on keyboards), and neither did I. I think this is true of many young musicians.

I don’t think you need a therapist. I think you are feeling totally normal performance anxiety and you just need others to tell you we all get this way and you shouldn’t overthink it; things will go fine. Will you screw up? Of course. But everyone does now and then, even pros.

5 Likes

If you manage to play the music that you want to play, then you’re good enough.

It’s not about complicated bass lines, or sight-reading, or the time needed to learn a song, in my opinion.

7 Likes

OK, here’s my take from experience.

When I was a kid, I played with anybody and everybody. Most of the time, I didn’t know any of the songs in advance; all was new to me. But I just couldn’t have cared less about any of that: I just wanted to play.

Call it the fearlessness of youth, or whatever, but that’s how I approached playing in jams and bands: Count it off and let 'er rip! If one or many clams were hit during the course of ensuing “music,” who cared? Not me, that’s for sure.

With many Buzzers who have approached playing far past their young, dumb and brave days, the thought of whipping it out in front of others is daunting. That is entirely understandable. Life is a cruel mistress and she whips the devil-may-care out of us with every breath we take. But that should not prevent any wannabe player from boldly going and whipping it out when any opportunity arises. It’s just for fun. It is no social crisis, just a tricky day for you.

Embrace it. Suck out loud, if necessary. Put yourself out there and make some music. There are very few feelings better than doing that. And it beats worrying about being good enough. You’ll never run if you don’t stumble and fall first. You can do it if you try.

12 Likes

Thanks, I’m using you now so I don’t need one anymore. Hehe :slight_smile:

I never really cared about it before, I knew my music and was quite good at just the things I did. But I feel like it’s different now, and I see what you mean about a lot of people feeling the same way. It’s good to hear it’s normal.

2 Likes

Thank you for you feedback!

I am gonna do that, just need to grow a pair. :slight_smile:

6 Likes

Thank you @terb I agree, I want to play Tommy the cat, so guess I need to wait a couple of weeks more. :slight_smile:

5 Likes

:rofl:

1 Like

A music school near me offers band workshops for relatively new players. I’ve done a couple, and I had a blast. I suggest you see if there’s anything like this where you live.

In reality you don’t need much technique to play acceptable bass parts for a lot of music. If you can get through B2B then you should be fine, and you could probably get by with less. You do need to be good at locking in with a drummer, so practice that until you’re confident.

Flea has some great advice on the role of the bass player in a band.

3 Likes

Have you been recording yourself playing. It is a great way to know where you are. Like looking in a mirror you do that every day and you don’t really see the improvement but if you can go back and look at yourself playing a year ago and 6 months ago you’d be surprised how much you have improved.

1 Like

That would be a good idea, but I don’t think there’s anything like that around here. Maybe I need to move! See, you also don’t have much snow. Hehe. But finding something like that is definitely a good idea. I’ve been asked to do a job for a choir, maybe I should do that just to get started.

1 Like

I’m on an e-mail list for a guy that has a home recording/mixing/producing course. He sent an e-mail out recently that really resonated, and since it’s so closely along the lines of “am I good enough” I felt it might be appropriate to share it here in this thread:

In comes a question from one of my members:

“If I don’t make great sounding music, am I still a musician?”

That’s the wrong question.

A better question would be: “If I don’t release any music, am I still a musician?”

Yes, you can be a musician and not release music, BUT…

Why did you first become interested in home recording? Because you wanted to make music. You wanted to make art. Seth Godin says it’s not art until it’s shipped, until it’s shared with the world.

Art wants to be shared. Don’t keep it to yourself.

Unfortunately, a lot of people get stuck. Perfectionism rears its ugly head. The better you get at this, the more your ears develop. You get better at hearing imperfections, so you postpone releasing any music until you squash out all imperfections. It’s a vicious cycle.

Let’s extend that logic all the way out.

If you improve every year, and you keep holding off on releasing music because of these improvements, then your only option is to calculate what year you’re going to die and make sure you release music during that final year. It’s the only way to ensure that you release your absolute best work, when you are at your peak skill level.

That’s ridiculous advice, right?

You make (and release) music because you’re a musician. The quality of the music is somewhat irrelevant.

AND (here’s the biggest part)…your music will improve 10 times faster if you release it.

I kid you not.

You can certainly improve on your own, in isolation, but not nearly as much as when you regularly put your music out there. Something changes in your brain when your art is out in the world.

Will you release stuff with mistakes and imperfections? Of course. Make note of the mistakes and try to avoid them in the future.

You can’t learn from mistakes that never happen.

The world doesn’t want perfect music. It wants YOUR music. You in music form. If it’s perfect, it’s boring.

If your music has big, huge problems, fine. Fix them on the next one.

The goal here is to spend our lives creating music. Some will be bad, some will be good. The only way to fail is to never actually release anything. Otherwise, it’s all a win.

I wrote a song a few years back that sums it up nicely.

Rain, come on down

Pain, stick around

I know what’s on the other side

A seed becomes a tree long after it has died

Wise men say,

Though never understood

What’s hard will give you more

Than what’s easy ever could.

(“Rain” by Joe Gilder)

Go do something difficult.

Something scary.

Something worth it.

Joe Gilder

Home Studio Corner

9 Likes

Yes, I do that all the time, @Al1885! I feel that I am improving quite fast. That’s also why I started this idea about getting back on stage. I guess I’m ready, but it’s more the fear of what experienced musicians will say. It’s not the same as when you were a kid and almost at the same level.

2 Likes

Thank you!

2 Likes

Well, the first band Dusty Hill played in, his brother Rocky used to tap him on the shoulder when it was time to change the note (while on stage). Dusty kept playin and did alright for himself.

If you’re asking the question I’m thinking you’re ready.

3 Likes

This was fun, yes it is time to be brave.:+1: Thank you!

2 Likes

There’s always the intermediate step of discovering who in your circle plays/played guitar (several did) and having a low pressure livingroom jam. Who knows? Maybe a band will result. And you’ll have started it so nobody can say you’re not up to par.

As for impostor syndrome, here’s a story. After college I was home for a while, and went to see the band I’d played in after high school play at a party. Their new bass player was amazing. All slaps and pops and swagger, and totally transformed the band. For the better, I had to admit. I started to get nervous that they’d ask me up onstage to play a song I hadn’t heard in four years and I’d look like Beginner DCErik and his Puny Fingertips.
Then out of the crowd came a familiar face. Guy who’d graduated a year ahead of me from a small high school. I hadn’t known him well, but he seemed to me like he’d had it all. Big, good looking Varsity football player and a prefect whose daddy had a ranch in Texas you could outline on a globe.
He walks up and starts telling me he wishes we’d known each other better, but that I’d seemed kind of unapproachable to him. And to myself I’m thinking, ‘yeah, so cool of me spending 4 hours a day in the scene shop under the stage playing covers with the other unathletic dweebs’. But it was just the boost I needed.
And next thing I know I’m on stage holding someone else’s bass and honking up the bridge that i totally forgot about, and grinning ear to ear. Bet Mr. Funkythumb thought I was pretty cool, too.

5 Likes

This is no knock on folks that have been playing a long time, but time playing definitely doesn’t correspond to level of skill.

There are heaps and tons - probably the majority - of folks out there who have played a small sliver of music that they like and know for decades.
It’s great, it’s fun, and it’s what they want to do.
Very few people actively push, and build and improve year after year after year.

If you can hear when songs go from verses to choruses to bridges, if you can tell what part (bridge, verse or chorus) the band is playing behind a solo - that’s probably the most important thing and would mean you’re ready to play with anyone.

Bass lines are easy. Learning songs and how they work and how they pattern and repeat is the real secret bass skill!

7 Likes

Here’s my take, being in a similar position to you.
I got a Bass about 2 years ago and started playing youtube roullette and just banging away a bit at home.
Beginning of last year I started B2B from the beginning, going over the stuff I had seen on Youtube and practicing etc.
I found that one of the other dads at school cricket played in a jam group and asked about sitting in, they needed a bass player as one of the guys played keys, guitar and bass.
It took me a few months until I was confident and cricket season was over (both happened on the same day so it was a bit awkward).
They said sure and sent me a set list, most of which I had no idea how to play, so I Youtubed and Guitar Pro’d until I was passable.
They all knew I was a shiny beginner.
Anyway I have been going along almost weekly from Mid-May last year and I think I have improved significantly because of this, they have told me also and are surprised how well I have done from being a complete noob.
I have learned and played something like 150 new songs in this time.
I have put in a lot of hours at home to do this also.
All of these guys have been playing for 30years and been in bands etc.
Now I don’t know how I would go in a gig setting but for dad jam band I am pretty happy.
I did sit in with another guy at work for the Xmas party we put on for kids in Foster Care and that went well too.

9 Likes

Thank you! That’s probably what I’m going to do. Since I want to be in a cover band, I might even start the band myself and then try to find other musicians, instead of waiting to fill someone else’s spot. But as your story goes, I shouldn’t be afraid of that either. :slight_smile:

1 Like