time ago I received an e-mail with a few questions that are interesting
for beginning bass players:
I would like to become a professional musician because I think
the bass is a terrific instrument. I love to play for hours at an
end, instead of studying for school.
It takes a lot of time and the trouble is that I cant be sure
iff Ill ever reap the benefits. I cant know if Ill
be successful enough to earn a living as a bass player. This is
not good for my motivation at all!
Also I find it difficult to decide what I should practice. I think
music theory is interesting, but I cant find books specifically
for the bass. Can you give me some pointers? Are you a professional
musician? How did you become that? How do you deal with your feelings
Ive been trying to find an answer to these questions practically
all my life. Youre future as an electrical bass player is
indeed very unsure. Of course, it makes a difference if you like
commercial music. Unfortunately, I only love music that is not very
popular. I feel very unhappy playing something I dont like,
so I just dont do it. I solved this problem by taking another
job, I work in a publishing company.
Since I started playing acoustic bass as well, I have twice as many
gigs. There are many more electric than acoustic bass players. Also,
many acoustic bass players play out of tune, so it really helps
if you dont. The acoustic bass is a beautiful instrument as
well, I love it, although it costs a lot more strength than the
electric bass. Its great to feel these low vibrations against
my chest. The acoustic sound is warmer than the electric sound.
The electric bass is more direct and rhythmical.
At this point Im quite proficient on my instruments; after
gigs people come to me to tell me they love my playing and this
happens a lot. Unfortunately, this does not really help me to get
more gigs. I think that if you want to play a lot, its especially
important what kind of person you are. You should be someone everybody
likes, who talks easily and makes friends easily.
Im not like
that, Im more an introvert kind of person. Each year I go
to the North Sea Jazz Festival, I really enjoy that a lot. I see
terrific bass players there, but also bass players with a bad timing
playing out of tune. And they sometimes play with the best jazz
musicians in the world. These guys must be very friendly!
If I would be prepared to worry a lot about money and be poor, I
probably could just survive as a musician, but I dont see
why I should. Why make youre life miserable by worrying a
lot? I think its a great idea for almost every jazz musician
to have a job on the side. If you get to be very successful, you
can still become a professional musician. Of course, Im lucky
to have my job, which I really like. The pressure to make money
if you try to make a living as a musician is enormous and the temptation
to play music that makes you feel miserable is also enormous. I
did this for a while when I had big financial problems. After three
months I had earned a lot of money but was very unhappy. I learned
that this was not the way for me.
Why finish school if you want to become a professional musician?
Because its easier to find a nice job when you're educated.
Most jobs for which no education is required are not much fun and
do not pay well.
I you want to study music theory, The jazz theory book by Mark Levine
is an excellent choice, ISBN 1883217040. This is not a book specifically
for bass players, but youll learn everything you need to know
by reading this book. Its really very, very good.
I think its a good idea to find a teacher. There are teachers
for the bass everywhere. See what you would like to learn, in which
style you would like to become proficient and ask a teacher if you
can learn this by studying with him. This is not what I did, by
the way. I was my own teacher. It worked out nicely, but who knows,
I might have learned everything a lot quicker by taking lessons