Hello future bass masters! Let’s cut through the noise, shall we? Becoming proficient with the bass guitar isn’t a walk in the park. If you think it’s just about practicing a couple of times a week, I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you.
What I’m here to discuss is a simple yet remarkable potent concept called Layered Goals. Drawn from the insights of “Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?”, utilising the concepts from the Olympic rowing team, this book has revolutionised team dynamics in the business world. But how does it play out for us, the bass guitarists? Time for a reality check.
Firstly, toss any fanciful illusions of overnight success out the window. If you believe that playing a couple repetitive groovy riffs constitutes mastery, then you’re way off the mark. The path to bass guitar proficiency requires a well-structured, purpose-driven approach. Enter Layered Goals.
Simply put, Layered Goals is about breaking down your ultimate goal – mastering the bass guitar – into smaller, manageable, sequential objectives. Each layer serves as a stepping-stone, guiding you towards the summit, each contributing to our bass-centric version of the Olympic rower’s question: “Will It Make the Bass Play Better.”
The initial layer, what I term the “Destination Goals,” comprises clear, specific and measurable outcomes you aspire to improve as an improvising bassist. Typically associated with more big-picture thinking, this is where you create your roadmap to get past initial obstacles with the goals you set for yourself. In this phase, the investment of time and resources is more strategic. In my books, PDFs and courses, you’ll find ample guidance on this concept among others.
The second layer is the “wax on, wax off” stage – not glamorous, but irreplaceable. It entails a more focused investment of time and resources to improve specific aspects of your musical performance, be it honing your understanding of arpeggios and scales, blueprinting musical concepts through repetition and transitioning from key to key. I like to label these as “Performance Goals,” which are primarily short-term objectives. My resources offer comprehensive breakdowns of this stage, aiding your growth exponentially.
The third layer, or “Processing Goals,” is the turning point where the exercises translate into art and music begins to flow! Here, you want to spend time converting concepts to fit into musical scenarios. Don’t listen to the naysayers claiming that practice can’t be applied to the music you want to play – that’s absurd. Why practice something you can’t use? The challenge lies in this layer’s demand for a creative or tactical investment of time and resources, often overlooked by many bass teachers. This neglect often leaves students stuck practicing scales and arpeggios without incorporating them into their performances. My YouTube Masterclasses and accompanying PDFs provide detailed breakdowns and live demonstrations to combat this issue.
The beauty of layered goals lies in the clarity and tangible progression they offer. This isn’t a shortcut to becoming a better bass player; it’s about becoming a better bass player the right way! Each layer builds on the previous one creating a clear trajectory from the practice room to the concert stage.
Let’s not avoid the inevitable. Yes, there will be obstacles. Days when your bass guitar seems to be a foe rather than a friend. But remember, the road to mastery is paved with broken strings and calloused fingers. Embrace it, own it and learn to live with it!
Stop practicing aimlessly and hoping for a miracle. Define your layered goals, focus your efforts and consistently ask the question, “Will It Make the Bass Play Better?” With discipline, tenacity and a reality check in hand, you’ll gradually evolve from a novice to a pro.
Remember, as Kurt Vonnegut wisely observed, “We have to be continually jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” So, don’t just blend into the background; stand out because you chose to pursue mastery with audacity, intention and clarity.
Harness the transformative power of Layered Goals by arming yourself with the right tools and resources – my books, YouTube Masterclass PDFs and/or courses – and make the bass play better! It’s your turn to take the leap! Step into the spotlight with confidence, finesse and a masterfully played bass guitar echoing your name. Master the bass, master the music. The stage is yours!
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