First Bass

I had my first ever bass lesson on Sunday. A part of me wanted to teach myself how to play just for the bragging rights of being self-taught, but when I get right down to it, I’m not an autodidact: I learn way better when I have somebody to teach me. At least, when it comes to something as technical as a musical instrument.

And, of course, I’m more diligent about practicing if I have someone holding me accountable.

Practicing was my least favorite activity during my adolescence. I hated doing it, so I didn’t. Unsurprisingly, I never got very good on the violin, but then again there didn’t seem to be much point: I could sit in the front of the second violin section or in the back of the second violin section, but there was always going to be ten or fifteen overachievers ahead of me who were willing to put in the work.

I was not a motivated teenager. I think it was a natural phase and that I’ve mostly outgrown it, but I still feel the ghost of my violin-playing days haunting my musical habits even now: there’s a lingering fear that I’ll just never be much good and a companion sense of “what’s the point?” Why learn an instrument? It’s not like I’ll ever be the best. Never mind that learning the bass is something that I’ve always wanted to do. Rational or not (it’s not) I have to wrestle these two competing impulses every time I think about picking up the instrument. I want to learn, but why? Because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but to what end?


Having an instructor helps me tip the scales. Why practice? Because she told me to. Or, more accurately, because I said that I would and I want to be true to my word.

So I said that I’d practice for twenty minutes a day. It was an arbitrary number- one I thought I might actually be able to do and that I wouldn’t get too intimidated by.

Monday night was a good time to get started: I have the house to myself for an hour or two so no one could hear me suck.

Well, time flies when you’re having fun. By the time I looked at the clock again I’d been at it for an hour and twenty minutes. That seemed like an auspicious start, although with the number of other tasks and visits that we have planned for the rest of the week, it may be all the practicing I manage to accomplish. Best laid plans…

Anyway, it feels good to be off to a good start. Again.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 15, 2018.

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