There’s music that’ll blow your mind!

Learn bass by finding stuff you couldn’t possibly have ever heard before

By Jon Liebman
June 17, 2022

Now that you’re… however old you are, chances are you’ve pretty much decided on what kinds of music you like and don’t like.

And now that you’re learning bass, it stands to reason you want to play music that you like. After all, you know it well, and it’s fun to play.

Now hear this…

But when was the last time you deliberately listened to something you’d never find yourself naturally listening to? Try it. You might stumble upon something really cool that you didn’t know existed. And at the same time, you might pick up on something you can apply to your own bass playing, in your own music, no matter how different it may be.

This week’s FBPO interview is a fascinating conversation with Azerbaijani-born Farida Nelson. As a young girl, Farida discovered the music of the Beatles and Queen, which she loved very much. Overall, though, she had a very strict musical upbringing, affording her little opportunity for finding true meaning and self-expression.

“The whole music education system was really, really old,” she says of the Soviet Russian piano school she attended. “It’s really conservative. The way you play Bach, you have to do exactly what they tell you. There wasn’t really much place for expression. How would I express my feelings? With dynamics. That was the only way to express my own feelings.”

There’s more than what they teach you in school.

As luck would have it, Farida had at least one teacher who enlightened her, exposing her to music she’d never imagined. After a concert one day, he approached her and said, “You gotta come see me.” And a whole new world opened up for her. 

“He showed me Francis Rocco Prestia, he showed me Victor Wooten, he showed me Marcus Miller. He showed me all of those bassists and it was like I had a completely new vision!”

She just loved the music these bass greats were playing, and she is forever grateful to her teacher for playing it for her. “He played it himself, and he gave me the books, and he taught me how to play it. It was so touching to me to be able to play it myself and actually understand how it all works!”

Paying it forward

Farida is incredibly grateful to have had this revelation, particularly after her less-than-inspiring start in music education. So much so that she’s become determined to do her part to make sure the next generation is exposed to all kinds of music, with all kinds of interpretations. Today, in addition to her performing career, including her one-woman show, Farida works as a music teacher at a Montessori school in California, frequently conducting classes for toddlers who are sitting on the floor.

“That’s when I bring a song that is not in the curriculum,” she says, “always a song that comes from some country around the world.” And she’s decidedly authentic. “I use the native language,” she explains. “I learn it the way it sounds. I have songs from India, China, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Norway… I sing all of it.” 

And the kids just love it. But are they developing a genuine appreciation for music, even at such an early age? “Absolutely!” Farida says. And that appreciation is compounded by the worldliness she presents to them. 

“Because they are learning about continents,” she says, “it’s really, really interesting to them, geography and stuff. And I put music into that, and it’s just amazing and they love it.”

Here’s what you can do

Take a lesson from Farida’s teacher and how he opened her eyes to music she never knew existed. And take a lesson from Farida herself, and how she’s exposing young toddlers to music from all over the world, in so many different languages. The possibilities are limitless.

Imagine what you might find by taking a departure from your regular playlist. We have more resources easily available to us than any time in history, so why not make the most of them? Go to YouTube and type in whatever comes to mind: Nicaraguan folk music. Mongolian throat singing. Jazz heroes from Greece… 

Or you can go for the (slightly) more obvious ones, like amazing bass players from Ethiopia, or extended-range bass solos from around the world.

There’s bound to be something that’ll blow your mind. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it will broaden your musical horizon. With a little time and effort, it can dramatically expand your bass-playing palette as well.

Give it a try and let me know what you find by leaving a comment below. I’m especially interested in knowing how you applied any newfound music to your bass playing. And be sure to check out my interview with Farida here.

Note: While those YouTube examples were 100% off the top of my head, I actually entered every one of them in YouTube’s search field. All I can say is, there’s a whole lot of interesting music being made all over the world. It really is mind-blowing!

Comments on There’s music that’ll blow your mind!

  1. Ted White says:

    There is no doubt in my mind listening to all kinds of music
    regardless of what you like makes one a complete musician. My life has been a testimony of that reality. My success as an audio salesman depended on it, even though I was trained in a music conservatory.

    1. Jon Liebman says:

      Thanks, Ted. It’s amazing what’s out there, isn’t it? Stuff we never could have imagined!

  2. Ted White says:

    Yesterday I enjoyed Chinese music being played on a Chinese instrument while having a picnic in Central Park NYC.

    1. Jon Liebman says:

      That’s great, Ted! Thanks for sharing that!

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