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musictrademagazine
Obscure Magazine
Promoting Maine's Original Musicians & Songwriters
 
Vol. 1 ISSUE 04
NOV. 1993 FREE!
 
 
 
 
Page 5
 
INCREDIBLE BASSIST OR LOCKSMITH ? 
WHAT SHOULD I BE
 
by DOUGLAS PAPA
 
 
 
 
This month my 5th year class reunion in Natick, Mass. is taking place.  I called up my friend Rick a few weeks ago to see how he was doing.  You see back in 1982 shortly after I bought my first drum set in junior high school, Rick asked me a question.  He said, "Doug I want to start playing a music instrument, which one should I pick?"  I replied, "Well, with this new MTV thing people are going to start forming a lot of bands, so now's the time to start playing.  Guitarists are a dime a dozen around here.  There are a lot of drummers too but not as many as there are guitarists.  Bass players, now they are very hard to find.  If you take up the bass you will always be in a band and always in demand."  So, Rick took up the bass and just took off becoming an incredible bassist.
     Ten years later we had this conversation: "Hey, how's the music going?"  I asked.  "It's not going good,"  Rick replied, "I'm taking a course in how to become a locksmith."  "How long has the course taken and how much did it cost?" I asked.  Rick said, "Over 6 months and almost cost me a thousand dollars."
     I asked him, "How much can you make an hour starting as a locksmith?"  He told me about $15.  That's double of what he makes at the current job he has had since high school.   I said, "You can make $15 an hour starting pay as a bass instructor."  Rick said, "I can't teach bass,  I don't have the patience."  I felt like saying to him, "Give me a break."  Instead I said, "Rick, everyday after junior high, you went straight home and practiced your bass.  You did this until you got a job, which is the same one you still have.  Next year you are going to marry your first love, your high school sweetheart.  You have been more patient than anyone I know!  You're trying to tell me you don't have enough paience?"  He laughed and then said, "Your right, I just don't have degree to teach music."  I said, "My best drum instructors taught out of music stores and out of homes, and none of hem had a music degree.  They are better than the one's with the degree.  Do you know why?  Because at lessons I ended up teaching those with a degree material hat those without a degree have showed me."  Rick said, "Yea, but I'm not that good with all that music theory stuff."  I said, "I'm taking a fundamentals of music course at the University of Maine at Augusta.  It's a little community college.  My instructor graduated from the University of North Texas, the number one music university in the U.S..  you know what?  The course is really easy and simple.  This is coming from a drummer who didn't know anything about scales.  Now I know major, minor, augmented, and diminished scales.  All it takes is to start studying one course and take it from there."
     Rick was persistent, looking at it from all angles.  He said, "Hey, I learned everything by ear myself."  "That's it,"  I said, "You have the edge over he other instructors down there.  A bassist teaching bass, not a guitarist teaching bass.  I always heard complaints at music stores about students' instructors not showing them how to play cover songs.  These kids wanted to impress their high school friends.  The teacher would only show them a piece of the beginning of a song, and say it goes like that.  They would then fast forward the tape, show them a section in the middle, then say the end is like the beginning.  These teachers couldn't handle it because colleges don't teach it, the streets do."
     Rick was silent and listening closely, so I continued.  "You will never hear your worst nightmare, no matter what.  You will never hear the words,  'Wow, you're a great player!  I want to learn to play just like you, style and everything.  But forget it, if you can't produce a piece of paper with the words 'Degree in Music', no deal.  I want to learn how to play as good as you but not if you didn't spend thousands of dollars at a school.'"  I went on to say, "You only need to practice every exercise you know a thousand times each.  You don't need to spend thousands of hours studying your college homework."  Rick thought he had me right here.  I could tell by the tone of his voice that his trump card was going to be played now.  But Rick didn't know how my personality had changed over these years, because it isn't over until I win!  Rick said, " I don't have enough time to practice as it is, my bass just sits in the corner because I study so much."  He thought he caught me there.  I said, "Hey Rick, do you watch T.V.?"  Rick said, "Yes, yeah I do."  I said, "Do you watch it everyday?"  He knew something was up but he was still being honest with me and said yes.  I replied, "Let me guess, you watch it one or two hours a night, right?"  He was surprised, but still wondering stated yes.  I told him, "that's how long it takes to practice an exercise, a thousand times each, two hours.  Stop watching T.V. and start funneling that time making an investment towards becoming a teacher."
     Victory was mine.  Rick had a change of heart and an attitude that he had just found the business opportunity of the century.  "You really want me to get back into music by teaching don't you?"  he said.  I said, "There are musicians in heir 30's and 40's in Maine having a mid-life crisis like you are having now.  We started out in the early 80's, they in the 70's.  They are teaching music, making money while you're thinking about giving up your dream.  There are musicians older than us, who have been playing longer than us, and they can teach you how to become a better music instructor after you start teaching.  We have an edge, we have been musicians for the last decade, performing a style that sounds better than the stuff MTV is commercializing.
     Then we reclaimed our lost essence from long ago.  I heard the Rick I thought was gone, the confident, simple, and "piece of cake," natural tone in his voice.  You know he kind I'm talking about, it's the one winners and experts have, that says "no problem folks."  And you sit back amazed how fast and simple that person gives themselves the successful gift of talent.
     Dedication and determination for improvement and evolution, that's how .