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December, 2007

"Master Class"

by Webmaster

Last month I attended a Master Bass camp at Mojo's Music Academy in Longmont, CO. It was sponsored by Zon guitars and I found out about it from Colorado Music Association.

I have attended other "master" classes and "advanced" bass workshops. And, I've been disappointed. I'm not claiming to be a master bass player, but I learned that if I can just pick up another lick or two, something to practice while I play on stage, then the class or workshop was worthwhile. More often than not, I've been disappointed.

That could have been me and not the teachers. Maybe I wasn't ready to hear what they were trying to teach. Maybe what they were saying was too far over my head. Maybe I wasn't inspired to do the practice work they were demonstrating. Maybe I didn't see where it would take me.

Well, I was ready to hear what they were teaching at Mojo's last month. And all I can say is "Wow!"

In the first two hours, I had pages of notes. They did not include specific licks, but did include a technique to play licks that I can work on while I'm on stage. In addition, they included specific ideas for what to practice, how to practice, how to create my own practice exercises to strengthen my weaknesses, and exactly where all of this practice will take me, if I stick to it.

Aha! "if I stick to it" and actually practice.

Well, maybe that's where I've failed some of my earlier teachers. I haven't actually come home and practiced the things they taught. Maybe I was looking for them to give me a specific lick or set of licks that I could pick up right away that would take me to the next level.

"Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones." — Phillips Brooks

So, I still haven't actually practiced the new exercises and techniques very much yet. Yes, I had an 11-day road trip and a lot of other things going on in my life, like family and work.

"Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." — William Jennings Bryan

But, the things I learned there are still in my head and in my notebook. And, I'm looking forward to some slow time in my schedule, and to being snowbound here on the Hill this winter. I know how I'll spend some of my time: practicing.

"It's choice - not chance - that determines your destiny." — Jean Nidetch

To actually put all those things into muscle memory takes repeated practice: not a weekend of intense practice, but shorter practices repeated over longer periods of time.

"The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain." — Dolly Parton

In my mind, the master bass camp was the best class I've ever taken. To make that apparent to my band mates, I need to devote time every day to practicing. Yes, it's hard to add one more thing to an already-full schedule. And there will be days that I just can't do it.

"Eighty percent sincerity is about as good as it's going to get. So is eighty percent compassion. Eighty percent celibacy. So twenty percent of the time, you just get to be yourself." — Anne Lamott, "Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith"

But, if I'm serious about improving my bass playing, I will find a way to do it. It's a dream right now. If I create a plan with measurable steps and deadlines to learn them, then it will become a set of goals. And, I'm far more likely to accomplish a goal or set of goals, than I am to turn a big dream into reality.

"Goals are dreams with deadlines." — Diana Sharf Hunt

If I plan it, it will happen.

"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land among the stars." — Les Brown

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