Want to humble yourself in under a minute? Pick up an instrument. No- seriously.
I saved up my pennies, many, many pennies, and bought myself a standard jazz Fender bass a few months ago (Mexican not American because my purchase already emptied my wallet let’s be real.)
I started self-teaching myself tabs to songs I’ve always wanted to learn (i.e. Dead Kennedys, Pearl Jam, Cream, etc.) and thought it was all going really well. Then, just to solidify my progress I asked for two real lessons at my local music shop for Christmas. It only took half an hour there to realize how wrong I was about almost everything.
“I love how much you’ve learned! Now I need you to forget literally everything and do it right.” – an actual quote from my teacher.
I won’t continue lessons but it was a completely humbling experience to learn about correct form and how to really read music. I do everything by ear, but I can now see the value of actually reading music to prevent a plateau in development.
Words of advice given to me from a fellow bass player was, “know your strengths and weaknesses so you can own them and progress.” I thought that was brilliant. I understand that as a beginner what I may still lack in form and aggressiveness/confidence of playing, I share with an excess of passion, inspiration and rhythm. This instrument provides endless grooves and feels like a brand new outlet for me to express myself. (Side note- I just find it really hard to control my pinky fingers. They seriously have a mind of their own and it’s where all the stress in my hands filters to.)
If you’re thinking about picking up an instrument, please do it. But, like me, be prepared to suck for a bit. Perfectionists beware- I basically went numb when I realized I was doing almost everything wrong, and when I realized 5 year olds were better than I’ll be for a while. However, you practice more than just music. You enhance your determination, your focus and your passion. The notes begin to feel like your actual voice… pretty enlightening honestly.
If you’re thinking about picking up a bass, I suggest watching videos of Jaco Pastorious to see what awesome looks like, and joining the many resources available to you such as Scott’s Bass Lessons. It’s an online community of tons of bass players from all over the world helping each other- it restores your faith in humanity while helping you sound better.
If you play bass and have anything you’d like to share- message me!