I really began working more on the music for Praise Band after the festival appearance. It was fun, but I really wanted to improve my playing skills overall. During this time, with my focus on worship music, I began to spend more time watching YouTube videos of the music I was working on. Sometimes my music was based around a song for church, sometimes it was be a song Russ picked because of a skill he wanted me to work on.
He was spending a lot of time preparing for another band he was going to be playing for and needed to focus on it. We decided that we’d skip my lesson for a week or two, but we’d stay in touch through messenger. One day he told me he wanted me to listen to a song and figure out how to play the bass part just by listening. This was ear training. Papa Was A Rolling Stone was the first song he gave me. I wasn’t allowed to look up the chords or tabs online, I had to do it totally by ear.
He thought this would keep me occupied, but I couldn’t go to bed that night until I had it figured out. My first attempt was close, but off by a couple of notes. He’d give me a hint and I’d go work on it some more. I finally figured it out with the help of his hints. Of course, he told me I cheated!
A few days later, he sent me 2 songs to work on, The Twist and Shotgun. Again, I couldn’t look anything up online, but the added stipulation was that I couldn’t contact him until my lesson on Monday. He gave it to me on Wednesday. I quickly figured out The Twist, because it was the 8 bar blues pattern that we had already worked on. As soon as I figured out the first chord, the rest fell into place. Shotgun wasn’t as easy, but I was very close to figuring it out. By Friday evening, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I sent him a message, “Can I have 1 question?” Haha. He gave in and let me ask and by the end of the conversation I was able to figure the rest of it out.
Even though what I was working on wasn’t the contemporary Christian music we played at church, the skills that I had learned carried over. One day after church, the pastor told me that I had gotten much better and I was a real bassist. I wouldn’t go that far, but I sure felt much better about my skill level. I continued to improve as the lessons got tougher one day Russ said that he’d exhausted what he could teach me. That wasn’t really true, but he had become very busy with work, family, and gigs that his band was playing in and the fill ins he was doing with other bands. It was a sad day when I finally relented and told him we’d put lessons on hold until things settled down. We still message and I know if I have question he’ll always be willing to help me out. I go see his band play when I can. But I’m very busy myself, but I’ll save that for another post…