Did I mention I'm a bass player?
With each new year comes the tired parade of optimistic goals. This time, though apparently I will forever want to lose weight and get in shape, those items are no longer the grand marshals.
They are a given. They’re boring. I’ve traded them in for a new model and have already commenced with a longtime goal. Let me sneak up on the subject.
The other day, Giovani the Honda ushered me into downtown Medford. I felt a little nervous, but excited for a new adventure. My new companion stretched the length of the rear seat. I could see him in the rearview. “He” is an ocean blue electric bass, and I was on my way to my first lesson.
First thing I noticed, Blue (he needs a better name) had gained weight since the last time I hefted him about 13 years ago. This is a confession — that is when my wonderful daughter and then-son-in-law gifted me with the instrument of my longing, in my favorite color, along with an amplifier.
I purchased a book, DVD and electronic tuner at Guitar Center and, boy, was I set. Then it sat for 13 years while I wrote books and ignored the dust collecting on the case. I am properly ashamed, not of the books, but that I didn’t carve out time for Blue. Or at least I was ashamed until Monday when I took Blue in his case to Rogue Music Lessons and Studios on West Main.
Basses are long instruments, and their cases are even longer. I felt hip as I carried Blue in his case down the street trying to stand tall and not betray that I was lugging it. Then there were a few stairs to climb — not many — but my heart fairly knocked inside my chest once I landed in the waiting room.
While waiting, I struck up a conversation with an attractive Polish gentleman who was there with his grandson. He looked at me and then my case, then at me again and began asking questions like, “You play the bass?”
“I will,” I replied.
He seemed impressed, or maybe just incredulous that a woman “my age” would pick up a new instrument and decide to start playing. It seems like the most natural thing in the world to me. I’ve always said we make far too much of numbers. I don’t expect to play like Victor Wooten.
My instructor, Bradley, came to fetch me. The first thing he had to teach me was to turn my case right-side up so the bass wouldn’t fall out when I opened it. Then he showed me where to plug it in, and I began to be visited by the ghost of doubts past. I didn’t care. I listened carefully to every word he said and took it to heart.
I don’t know what he was thinking when I told him I didn’t read music (yet) or have any experience, but he was not condescending in the least, which would have been a major problem. He started me off with the intro to “Smoke on the Water,” and I felt right at home.
So, now I look forward to practicing every day and can hardly wait for my next lesson. Before too long, maybe this summer, I hope to jam with patient musical friends.
I adore many types of music, attending concerts and shows — always as a spectator, never a musician. Learning an instrument, especially one as fabulous as the bass — musical heartbeat of the song — means a lot. To participate directly, even in a small way, will be a dream come true.
I walked out feeling proud and determined, carrying my case like, “Yeah, I have this bass. I play it.”
Rogue Music Lessons is set up for students of all ages, and I’m not the only mature person enrolled. They have instructors for all types of instruments, so if you’re curious, call them at 541-292-4247, sign up for a free first lesson and join the jam.
Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author and, soon, a bassist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.