Conquering those bass-playing goals

You’ll make awesome progress with a one-at-a-time approach

By Jon Liebman
Week of September 27, 2021

What do you think about when you pick up the bass? Do you have something in mind that you’re going to play? How often do you find yourself playing the same thing every time you first pick up the instrument? 

Naturally, you want to play bass for the sheer enjoyment of it. But shouldn’t you be trying to accomplish something too?

It’s important to take stock of your bass-playing abilities from time to time, even if you’re not trying to become a professional musician. 

What bass-playing goals are you trying to achieve? What bass-playing problems are you trying to solve? Maybe you haven’t identified any problems or goals, and that’s okay. Do it now, though.

I had an enjoyable conversation recently with former Diana Ross and Marvelettes bass player Reginald Canty, published as this week’s FBPO interview. A true lover of bass, Reginald was determined to learn all he could about it ever since he was a child in Detroit when he first discovered the instrument.

His determination and drive are impressive to say the least. Most notably, he always had a plan for becoming a better bass player.

When I asked Reg what advice he had for someone who wants to learn bass, he didn’t hesitate with his response. “They have to have a plan,” he said. “They have to set goals for themselves and conquer [them] one by one.”

Having a plan-oriented mindset forces you to identify specific goals, along with strategies for achieving them.

“It could be anything,” Reginald says. “It could be, I want to be better at my execution. Set a time for it.”

Be careful not to go crazy with it, he cautions. If you set your goals too high, it could backfire, leaving you feeling discouraged and dejected.

“Make sure you set reachable goals,” Reginald says. “And if you don’t make it, reset it, but be in the habit of creating goals for yourself and conquering them one by one.”

Keeping your sights on the end result is the best motivator. Imagine the transformation you can undergo if you really focus on making steady progress as a bass player. Think about how awesome it would feel to lay down those dance-inciting bass grooves!

“For me, it’s things unrealized,” Reginald says, “so this unrealized potential is what keeps me going.”

For someone who loves music and loves bass, no explanation is needed.

“I fell in love with it,” he continues, “and that’s what people have to do. If you’re not having fun with it, if you’re not in love it, you ain’t going to never excel at this.”

Keep those inspiring words in mind next time you pick up your bass. Think about what you’re going to play, and why. As Reginald says, set goals for yourself and conquer them, one at a time.

Good luck!

What about you? Have a thought on the subject? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. I invite you to share your goals here too! In the meantime, check out my interview with Reginald here.

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