When learning bass, accountability is key

Don’t just play. Have a plan for what you want to accomplish.

By Jon Liebman
Week of December 27, 2021

How much would you say you’ve improved as a bass player over the past year?

When you go to play the bass, do you find yourself playing the same thing every time you first pick up the instrument? (Be honest!)

How many bass-playing problems have you identified that you need to solve? 

What bass-playing goals do you want to achieve?

If you don’t have answers to those questions, that’s okay. But you need to start thinking about them if you want to improve as a bass player.

I had a great conversation with Mark Shirey last week, a student of the Bottom Line Club, right here at For Bass Players Only. I’ve been working with Mark, coaching him on his bass playing for about a year and-a-half. His progress has been nothing short of remarkable.

I’m so impressed with how far Mark has come as a bass player that I’ve decided to feature him in this week’s FBPO interview.

When I asked Mark what he thought was the key to the incredible strides he’s made as a bass player, he said, “Accountability.” He had some truly inspiring comments about learning bass which I’m happy to share, as I think they’ll be tremendously helpful to anyone who wants to become a better bass player.

“If you really want to improve,” Mark says, “having some kind of metrics or accountability” is key. “Be disciplined about your practice time and have some milestones, week by week.”

Mark also emphasized how much he’s benefited from the just-launched Growth Track, now included as part of the Bottom Line Club membership. He particularly likes moving through the 5 stages of Growth Track and following the specific action items and milestones in each stage.

“I think it is a great tool!” he says. “I was very anxious to benchmark myself against those things and kind of figure out where I’m at and what I need to do.”

When learning bass, you need to have a firm grasp on exactly what you want to achieve, and a step-by-step plan for getting there. Since I launched the Bottom Line Club, it’s been tremendously gratifying to see so many people learning bass, getting massive results, and, most importantly, having fun!

“The Bottom Line Club has been such a great resource,” Mark says. “It really is the core thing that’s brought me from zero capability to being able actually play with the musicians at work. I can’t thank you enough for making that resource!”

When Mark first joined the Bottom Line Club, he was essentially a beginner. Now I marvel at the way he’s mastered his scales and arpeggios, embraced the joys of learning music theory, and gotten really good at sightreading intricate rhythmic patterns. But the real joy his hearing him play walking bass lines, soft rock tunes, blues shuffles, and, most recently, some funky R&B lines.

Though he’s only been playing bass for a short time, Mark is already doubling down on his progress. He’s more excited than ever about diving even deeper into Growth Track and continuing to make steady progress as a bass player.

“I should print that out and map out where I’m at,” he says, “and specifically what things I want to work on over the next 6 months, one year.”

No doubt, it’ll be amazing. 

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

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