Are you suffering from “option paralysis?”

Let a knowledgeable guide keep you focused on learning bass

By Jon Liebman
Week of April 13, 2020

This week we published a great interview with Liam Wilson, former bassist with The Dillinger Escape Plan, now a member of another extreme metal band, Azusa. All I can say is, what a fascinating guy! Liam has so many interests and passions. We talked for a long time.

Given his long tenure with Dillinger and all the hardcore metal upon which he’s built his career, I didn’t expect to hear names like Jaco, Victor Wooten, and Gerald Veasley come out of his mouth, much less Bach, Charlie Parker, and Jamey Aebersold. But Liam is a true music fan, intensely curious about so many styles.

I asked Liam what advice he could impart to our students learning bass here at FBPO. You might find his answer surprising.

When it comes to learning bass, a big problem he sees is that too many people try to take in everything all at once. “Have patience and enjoy the process,” he says, “and don’t expect it to happen immediately.”

While it’s admirable to want to learn a lot of things, in most cases you need to tackle them one at a time. “Everybody wants to just kind of ‘get it,’ Liam says. “I think that people tend to move on from things too quickly and try to Swiss Army Knife it.” He has a term to describe the situation: 

“Option Paralysis”

Think about it. There are so many things to like in the world, and you can do a lot of them. You just can’t do them all at once.

It must take a lot of discipline for Liam to focus so intensely on whatever he’s doing. While his career tends to mandate a very narrow focus, it’s just amazing how many interests the guy has!

“I’m an everything fan,” he says, referring not only to music. He studied woodworking in school and has been involved in various restoration projects. He enjoys casting bronze statues, welding and sewing. He’s also passionate about environmental causes, politics, and animal rights. “I’ve always kept my foot in a few different doors,” he says. Do ya think?

No matter how many things you want to pursue, the need for focus is paramount.

Here at FBPO, students have a lot of options for learning bass, as we cover a wide range of techniques, styles, and genres. For you FBPO students, don’t try to take them on all at once. I love hearing from you, and I’m always happy to rein you in, when needed, and guide you toward attaining your bass-playing goals. As our students will tell you, when you stay focused and follow a solid plan, you’ll be amazed at how much progress you make as a bass player. Even if your goal is to learn… everything!

How about you? Have a thought on the subject? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. In the meantime, you can read my interview with Liam here.

Comments on Are you suffering from “option paralysis?”

  1. Tim Clark says:

    Thanks for this one. It came at a good time.

  2. Charlie Irwin says:

    I remember reading that when Larry Bird was playing for the Celtics, during each season break he would pick one thing to work on – hook shot, 3 pointer, etc and spend the break working on that one thing. Next break, he’d pick something else to work on. Over time, he became a pretty good player…

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