When the student is ready, the master appears.
In my own life as a student, I’ve learned that it’s not me who decides when I’m ready.
When the master appears, that’s my cue.
(Or the master appears and I run away like Jonah, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)
I’ve been passively curious about learning music for years.
I was in an electronic band as a vocalist for ten or so years, and called myself a musician. But didn’t know how to read or write music. The notes I hit were a happy accident.
I’ve dabbled with diddling around on soft synths and made some loops I enjoyed.
All the while, I have these vague senses from time to time, that I’m a dormant musical genius disguised as an undeveloped and lazy layperson.
The songs I get in my head sometimes. If only I knew how to share them. I think other people might like them as much as I do. Or maybe not. But there is, of course, only one way to find out.
This urge to learn music has been building up within me, but I’ve made a billion excuses not to explore these new frontiers. Mostly generic excuses about being uncomfortable with the great unknown. Or social anxiety that’s kept me suppressed in isolation. Depression, addiction, mental instability, stagnation, fear of failure, fear of success, feelings of unworthiness, constipation, dry mouth… wait, what am I even talking about anymore?
Recently, I was approached by a musician I respect quite fervently, a multi-instrumentalist by the name of Dave. His talent is otherworldly. If you’ve never heard of him, I am happy to be the first to tell you about Dave and his project, Dr. Green.
It’s rock n’ roll, baby, eclectic and timeless. Masterful garage production values nonchalantly carry the vibes of expert instrumentation.
Dave asked me to be Dr. Green’s bass player.
“I don’t play bass,” I said. And then told a tale about a few times in years passed, when I recruited female singers for my electronic act. Without hearing them sing first. For some reason.
I don’t really know why I did that. Or maybe I do. They were pretty and I was idealistic.
(The end results were mixed.)
Anyway, then Dave offered to teach me bass. So that I can be his bass player.
It’s like if Stephen King, before he was famous, randomly decided to mentor someone who had wanted to write for a long time.
In that case, King wouldn’t have the name recognition yet, but the person he took under his wing would have just won the lottery of writing lessons.
At any rate, my master appeared.
And the student said, “Teach me!”
So, I had my first bass lesson on Thursday. And it was incredible. Mind-blowing.
I’ve read and been told over the years, that our brains change when we learn music. I’m feelin’ it already.
It’s sort of like when I went to college and realized I was proficient than I used to think possible with math. For a while, my dreams were encoded in algebraic symbols. My way of thinking shifted; I started seeing situations as equations.
Already, I can sense the same potential for mind expansion in learning music.
I’ve got bass riffs rattling around in my head for the first time.
Heck, I used to barely even notice bass guitar in songs. That’s certainly about to change in a big way.
Learning how notes work, and developing my distinctions between terms like note, tone, frequency, pitch, and so on, is in and of itself a revelation for me. In my ignorance, I’ve often used many of these terms interchangeably.
Figuring out the parameters and limitations of notes, helps demystify the art of music creation, making it a more manageable and accessible.
Meanwhile, reflecting on the philosophical and existential aspects of music and its universal applications across all cultures is fascinating and exciting.
The plan is to dedicate a post or two per week to what I’m learning from this venture.
This will give me a chance to review and reinforce the incoming knowledge, while delving even deeper by articulating these concepts and experiences.
Furthermore, if you’re familiar with music theory and/or bass guitar, you can let me know if I deliver any confusing or erroneous information.
Or if there are any pro-tips you’d like to share, I’m all ears.
Also published on Medium.