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Fear: An Enemy of Excellence

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Fear: An Enemy of Excellence…  At the beginning of 2012, I wrote a column in which I challenged worship bassists to strive for excellence.  Rather than focus on negativity, I suggested that moving toward personal excellence would inject positivity into our own playing.  In addition, a “ripple effect” would be created that those around us could sense.

The response has been fantastic!  I have truly loved hearing from bass musicians who have taken on the charge to be excellent.  Bassists have told me amazing stories about the positive impact that was made in their personal playing, worship, and group interaction.  If you haven’t taken on the challenge to be excellent, there is no time like the present to start!

Those that strive to be excellent are not without enemies; however, and it is time to talk about a prominent opponent of excellence:  fear.

As I received messages talking about excellence, I was also contacted by a number of musicians who were plagued by fear and anxiety when playing.  One worship leader told me about the nausea-inducing stage fright that they felt, even after years of being on stage.  A worship bassist asked me what to do when, despite their best efforts, worry dominated their mind when playing.  It was clear that by declaring the intention to be excellent, many were being attacked by fear.  The fight is on, so let’s take time to talk about this enemy of excellence and to discover ways to fight back!

Before jumping in too far, let’s cover some basics.  First, fear and anxiety love targets that have been isolated.  If you are finding that anxiety is a problem you are facing, you need support.  Prayer with your worship team, working with your private instructor, and talking with your fellow bassists are immediate things you can do to remove yourself from isolation.  Fear is more common than you may think and opening up to a trusted source is a critical, proactive step to take.  Second, being unprepared or under-prepared to play is an invitation for anxiety.  Worrying about messing up is hard to dismiss when you have no idea what you are doing.  Make sure that you practice effectively and learn your music well!

When you’ve gathered support and prepared thoroughly, it is time to define FEAR appropriately

False Evidence Appearing Real

I first read this acronym explanation in a book by Tony Robbins, although I believe that the exact origin is unknown.  Regardless, this is what fear really is!  Fearful self-talk often leads us to believe things that are simply not true.  When fear says something to you, it is important to test the truth of the statement.  More often than not, you can easily refute the claims before you accept them as “real”!

Here are some examples:

FEAR says… The truth is…
You’re going to mess up. There is no evidence of this – you have practiced and prepared!
You are going to freeze up when you play. You are a bass musician and you have done this a million times before.  You’ve never frozen before and chances are, you won’t now.
Everyone will notice if you don’t play every note correctly. In 4/4 time, at 100 beats per minute, each eighth note flies by a person’s ear at .3 seconds per note.   No one in the congregation is going to jump up and point out the one note that wasn’t perfect.
You aren’t good enough to be playing for worship. You are good enough – people believe in you and you work hard to better yourself every day.

This list could go on for days, but here’s the important point:  FEAR is never correct!

If FEAR is “False Evidence Appearing Real”, let’s implant some Real Evidence! To do this, take time to listen to your weekly music away from your bass and visualize yourself playing the songs correctly.  “See” your hand on the bass, “feel” the position shifts, and “hear” your bass playing without error.  Do this consistently to build the habit of using your own brain to bolster your confidence.  If you can’t visualize a lick or pattern, it is often a sign that you need to practice the passage on your bass until you are truly comfortable with the music.  Hit the woodshed and then return to the visualization.

It would be nice if fear and anxiety obeyed polite rules of conflict, but once you’ve started to fight back, the enemy tends to resort to sneak attacks.  These attacks are panic and worry that creep up for no apparent reason, at the most inconvenient times.  When this happens, you can remain in control and ward off the ambush.

For example, one of the most common symptoms of anxiety is shortness of breath.  If you start to experience this, blow out your breath in a steady stream until you feel like there is no air left in your lungs.  When you are doing this, imagine pushing every molecule of air out of your lungs you possibly can. The result?  When you have exhausted your outward breath, your body will instinctively take a very deep inward breath.  The deep breath is just what you need to slow your system down and regain control.  Do this a couple of times, visualize yourself being successful at playing, and keep going!

Now, I would be lying to you if I said that everything would be perfect in your playing life.  The truth is that wrong notes sound, our minds may get lost for a second, and weird stuff does happen.  To the advanced fear-killer, we train for such events!  Here’s a simple exercise:  take a recording of a song from your weekly set and move to a random point in the track.  Hit “play” and catch up to the music as fast as you can.  Allow your ears to guide you, along with the knowledge that you have gained from preparation.  Knowing that you can work your way out of a jam, before a real problem occurs, does wonders for your confidence!

Being excellent is not about being perfect – no one is perfect.  Excellence is about striving to be your very best and working to bring positive change to yourself and those around you.  Fear would like nothing more than to short-circuit these goals. With dedication, hard work, and good support, you can make sure excellence wins!

I would love to hear about your experiences with fear and, more importantly, how you have overcome this problem!  Send me a message at the Bass Musician Magazine Community or catch me on Twitter (@sgregorybass).

Until next time, I hope that your bass playing is blessed and that you can bless others through your bass playing!

Bass CDs

New Album: Ben Mortiz, MORENO

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New Album: Ben Mortiz, MORENO

The Chilean bassist, producer and sociologist, Ben Mortiz, celebrates the launch of his latest studio work, “MORENO” an album that mixes jazz, soul, and funk following the characteristic Latin style of  Mortiz. The artist completely produced the album under the label “Fallen Lab Records” in the south of Chile.

“MORENO” brings deep and smooth sounds, expressing a sophisticated and elegant Latin vibe. You will find meditative harmonies and joyful melodic voices. The record’s core is the human vibration that Mortiz feels from the Latin American music. The Caribbean rhythms and strong Latin percussions are the musical glue in every song that emerges with the force of the electric bass.

“MORENO” creates a real connection between corporal reactions and mind sensations, always in reference to the originality of Mortiz to fuse modern and classic Latin sounds.

For more information, visit online at danielbenmortiz.com/

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New Gear: Phil Jones Bass X2C Dual Compressor/Effects Loop

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New Gear: Phil Jones Bass X2C Duel Compressor/Effects Loop

Step Into X2C With Phil Jones Bass Dual Compressor/Effects Loop…

Phil Jones Bass latest pedal innovation is the X2C Dual Compressor with Dual Effects Loop for performance and recording. The X2C incorporates advanced compressor circuit technology and provides comprehensive tone control with a dual crossover feature which divides the signal into frequency bands ranging from 100Hz to 500Hz, ensuring exceptional clarity and dynamics in tone refinement. 

With insert jacks on each band, the X2C unlocks limitless creativity, enabling players to use various FX pedals for custom tone sculpting. Additionally, it functions as an electronic crossover, ideal for driving high-performance, 2-way bass rigs.

PJB’s Dual-Band compression design is more flexible than standard single-band compressors and provides a more natural and transparent sound. It also provides greater control over shaping and managing dynamics where standard compressors affect the entire frequency spectrum of an audio signal.  

PJB’s dual compressor enables the player to shape specific frequency ranges of an audio signal which allows for compressing the low frequencies while preserving the high frequencies, or vice-versa. Treating the low-end with a dedicated band also allows for heavy compression without affecting the midrange frequencies, which carry the attack of the sound. 

Effects can be plugged into the insert jacks on the X2C and controlled separately. As an example, the lows can be adjusted separately for an overdrive pedal while the highs can be controlled for a chorus. 

Dividing the audio spectrum into fundamental frequencies and harmonics is also effective in the enrichment of slapping techniques. The low frequencies can be compressed without changing the dynamics of the “slap”. By controlling the low frequencies and focusing the attack on the slap the amplifier will sound louder while avoiding overloading of the amp or speakers. The low band can be compressed without the harmonics being affected. In addition, the send jacks can go to different amplifiers/speakers for a bi-amplification set up.

Compact and potent, the X2C embodies studio-grade excellence, setting a new standard for dynamic processing in an uncompromising, portable pedal. The street price is $359.99.

Visit online at www.pjbworld.com

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Bass CDs

New Album: CATTANEO, Tim Lefebvre, Andrea Lombardini, Hypersphere

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New Album: CATTANEO, Tim Lefebvre, Andrea Lombardini, Hypersphere

CATTANEO, TIM LEFEBVRE AND ANDREA LOMBARDINI PRESENT ‘HYPERSPHERE’ EP
The members of Buñuel, David Bowie’s band and a prominent electronic artist are united and have releases their first collaborative release via Freecom Hub.

Hypersphere is an EP created by CATTANEOTim Lefebvre and Andrea Lombardini. Following their conceptual milestone, a dream team of bass players and multi-instrumentalists created fragments of music, coexisting and complementing each other individually and altogether. Having been playing with CATTANEO since 2016, Andrea Lombardini describes the process of their work as “strong musical connection”. Starting with the fully improvised set featuring drum-machine and pedal effects. “Some of Paolo’s keyboards are homemade and he has very unique sounds” – explains Andrea. Getting Tim Lefebvre to produce the EP, the duo simultaneously started another vehicle of their collaboration.

Moving their work organically, three extraordinary musicians managed to reach an almost-perfect balance between sounds of guitar and bass with electronic instruments. Morphing together, numerous guitar riffs, loops of synthesizers. Dominating electronic sounds get united with a rock take, depicting dark moods and ethereal landscapes. All these elements work in tandem to create something new each time.

Order Hypersprehere here.

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Bass Events

Milt Hinton Institute for Bass Summer Camp in New Jersey

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Milt Hinton Institute for Bass sSummer Camp in New Jersey

Milt Hinton Institute for Bass Summer Camp in New Jersey…

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) will host the Milt Hinton Institute for Studio Bass, an exceptional summer music education program for teens, in residence at Montclair State University, in July 2024. Unique among music camps, the Hinton Institute is designed to support intermediate and advanced bass players ages 14 through 18, for a week of expert classes, performances, ensemble work, studio sessions, lectures, workshops and more. The camp will run from July 14 through July 20, 2024Registration is open December 16, 2023, through  June 7, 2024for more information on applying to the Milt Hinton Institute, please visit njpac.org/hinton. Student musicians will be required to submit a video of themselves playing two performance pieces during the application process. Need-based tuition scholarships are available.

Peter Dominguez, acclaimed bassist and Professor of Double Bass and Jazz Studies at University of Wisconsin–Madison, will serve as the Institute’s Artistic Director.  An extraordinary faculty of professionals from the music world — including Rufus Reid, Ben Williams, Luis Perdomo, Jeremy Smith, Sam Suggs, Martin Wind, Marcus McLaurine, Bill Moring, Mimi Jones, Emma Dayhuff, Diana Gannett, and Bill Crow — will  focus camp instruction on bass performance techniques and ensemble playing in a range of musical genres including classical, Latin and jazz. 

The camp is named for Milt Hinton (1910-2000) a prolific jazz bassist, studio musician and photographer whose career intersected with many of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. The Institute has been held biennially since 2014. It joined forces with the Arts Center this season in part to draw a larger faculty of professional bass players from among the many musicians living and working in the New York City area. Notable guest artists from the region are expected to visit with campers as well.    

“We’re very pleased to have this program be part of the larger vision of NJPAC and its extensive Arts Education offerings. The work being done by the Arts Center has a significant social impact” said David G. Berger, a lifelong friend of Hinton’s, whose Berger Family Foundation helped support the camp.  “That would have been extremely attractive to Milt. He wanted everybody to be involved with music — old and young, men and women, all colors, all creeds. Long before it was popular, that’s the way he lived his life — he welcomed everyone.”

“I grew up in the jazz festival business, and there was no one whose artistry matched his heart  better than Milt Hinton,” said John Schreiber, President and CEO of NJPAC. “He was a brilliant bassist and he also was a brilliant human being. He was the heartbeat of any band he played in and he exuded a kindness that to me exemplified the spirit of jazz.”

Known as “the dean of jazz bassists,” Hinton played with jazz greats from the early 1930s on, performing with Jabbo Smith, Eddie South, Cab Calloway, Ethel Waters, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Erroll Garner, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and many others. Hinton also recorded with pop superstars including Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, Bette Midler and Willie Nelson. Hinton also toured extensively, and in 1993, he was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Fellowship. He was also well known for his photography, through which he documented seven decades of jazz history. Hinton was renowned for his willingness to mentor young players; a scholarship program in his name was established by his friends and admirers on his 70th birthday. After Hinton’s passing, the Institute was conceived as a way to continue his work in supporting younger bass players. “Two of Milt’s favorite words — ‘cohesiveness’ and ‘sharing’ — are at the core of this week-long Institute that brings together emerging bassists who often are the singular players in their own community and school ensembles,” said Artistic Director Dominguez, (whose own career was advanced when he became one of the first winners of a Hinton Scholarship Competition  in 1981).  “To be a bass player is often to focus not on being a soloist, but on musical collaboration — making other musicians in an ensemble sound better. Bass players are the soul of ensemble playing, and to develop these young souls through arts education programming at NJPAC is both an honor for us and an important responsibility,” said David Rodriguez, NJPAC’s Executive Producer and Executive Vice President — and himself a well-known professional bass player.

The camp will be housed on the campus of Montclair State University in Montclair, where students will live, study and have the opportunity to take part in multiple performances. “Bringing the prestigious Milt Hinton Institute for Studio Bass to the campus of Montclair State University marks an exciting chapter for the College of the Arts, reinforcing our commitment to providing exceptional opportunities for young musicians,” said Daniel Gurskis, Dean of the College of the Arts. “With NJPAC as our partner, we look forward to creating an environment where passion meets skill, fostering a new generation of accomplished and versatile bassists. We are confident that the Institute will become a beacon, attracting talent from diverse backgrounds who are the future of bass music.”

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

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TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @astluthier @bqwbassguitar @foderaguitars @ramabass.ok @s.martyn_custom_basses @anacondabasses @capursoguitars @sireusaofficial @atelierz1988 @doctorbassburgos

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