Do you have (or need) a Plan B?

Balancing pragmatism and passion

By Jon Liebman
Week of January 25, 2021

I’m guessing you’re not trying to be a professional bass player. My hunch is that you want to learn bass so you can have fun and enjoy making music. Regardless of your situation, read on.

Whatever career aspirations you may have had, at some point your parents probably told you that you need a Plan B, something to fall back on, just in case your dream doesn’t work out. Maybe you’ve even found yourself saying it to your own kids.

Is having a Plan B good or bad? There are definitely two schools of thought on the subject, whether the goal is music-related or not.

The subject came to mind during this week’s FBPO interview with established studio bassist Luico Hopper. Despite having a Plan B, Luico went on to play bass with the likes of Smokey Robinson, Roberta Flack, Diana Ross, and Bryan Ferry, in addition to a slew of Broadway shows, including The Lion King and Motown: The Musical. As our conversation unfolded, I couldn’t help but wonder if his heart ever really was in his Plan B.

My father used to say, ‘Oh, you can’t make it playing music,’” Luico told me. “’You better go to college and get a degree in something.’”

Sound fatherly advice, perhaps. But can that kind of thinking minimize your likelihood of success? History is full of quotes from business leaders, warriors, politicians, etc., proclaiming that as soon as you ask yourself what you’ll do if you lose, you’ve already lost.

On the other hand, you have to act responsibly, making sure you make enough money to take care of yourself and your family. It’s a balancing act, trying to do the practical thing on one hand, and something you really love on the other.

“I went to college,” Luico continues. “With my financial aid money, I went and bought up a MusicMaster bass, and pretty much taught myself how to play it in the dorms.”

Holding true to his Plan B, Luico remained a sociology major all through college. Looking back on those years, he says, “I came right out and just started doing music. I said, ‘Man, I could have just done music from the start.’”

How about you? Do you think it’s wise to have a Plan B, or should you just go for it? Leave a comment below. In the meantime, check out my interview with Luico here.

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