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Here you'll read about me starting out, how I became a member of a band, how hard jamming was for me, and just how much I DIDN'T KNOW about playing music.
 

 
December 2005: THE BEGINNING!!  OK, I have this 5-string Ibanez my friend, Jim gave me, but no amp.  So I go to the local grocery store which happens to sell some low end amps and guitars.  I buy an amp and chord.  Take it home, sounds horrible.  The next day off I go to the big city with my bass in hand.  Plus, I have to tell my husband, who is an excellent drummer, that I have purchased a NEW bass guitar and amp.  I end up purchasing a Peavey all in one amp, a new chord AND a Peavey 4-string bass guitar that fits my little hands better.  Gulp, I have to tell Bryce what I've done. If I take something on like this, I want to do it right.  I don't think anyone really thinks I'm going to pursue playing bass, I don't even know how to play it yet, but I DO have an Internet connection!  I find some sites about technique and discover TABLATURE!  Now, I have to learn to read it....BUT, I am in big trouble for buying an amp and bass.....  However, I learn some Butt Rock songs first, Bryce is pleased. MY BEST FRIENDS BECOME 1.) ONLINE TABS  2.) MY CD PLAYER  3.) ONLINE LESSONS  4.) MY 2 DOGS WHO STAY AND LISTEN.

February 2006: We go to a friends garage to jam.  He plays guitar and does vocals.  He's got some tunes he has worked up.  Bryce brings me along to jam on the bass.  I don't know how to jam...but I DO know timing. I am intimidated from the start.  I don't know any 80's metal songs and the two of them are jamming away.  I just stand there.  I'm told to follow the guitar notes.....I can't play that!  The looks on the faces are like "geesh, why is she here?  Man, this is a guy thing!" so I just stop playing and think to myself, big deal, I'll learn this stuff on my own and jam when I am ready, I can't force myself to play stuff I don't like, don't know and haven't got any of the technique down.  Plus, I am freezing out here and I have Lupus which has bad arthritis in your joints as a symptom.  I'm told I'm not using all my fingers on the frets like I am suppose to (but I can't, my hands are tiny and I have arthritis, they don't move that way, they are LOCKED....) I've lost my excitement for the big jam.  I go sit in the truck and wait and think, screw the bass guitar, I'll go buy a tambourine I guess.  Thus begins the journey of Susie...."I will do whatever it takes to learn this bass guitar, I will listen, read, watch, play and practice everyday by myself.  I am going to do this and the next time anyone sees me play, I'll be able to at least look the part!  I learn a bunch of Chili Pepper songs from tabs, I also learn, just for kicks, Judas Priest's Metal Gods, some Deep Purple and Skid Row (Psycho Jesus) in case I am called upon to rock.  I BEGIN PRACTICING EVEN MORE.  I FIND LESSONS ONLINE AS WELL AS BASSTV.COM WITH VIDEO LESSONS.  I LEARN SOME COOL NEW STUFF.  I GO ON MYSPACE AND DISCOVER AN ENTIRE WORLD OF MUSICIANS....I BUT LESSON BOOKS, LESSON CD'S, AND A TUNER!

August 2006:

I finally get to jam with friends, real friends and the 2 musicians, Kirk and Jim, who inspired me to play bass.  They are SO patient!  Kirk plays bass too as well as drums and lead guitar, he is super good especially on the bass.  Jim is a fantastic musician and patient teacher. He can play anything from Zeppelin to BB King.  He does his own arrangements as well, unbelievable stuff.  Since I haven't really learned chord progression and play mostly from ear my timing is good, but finding the correct notes is a problem unless I have tab in front of me.  Jim is teaching me the chords, notes, and timing.  I think we are jamming to some heavy rock tune where I don't have to do much other than pluck, pluck, pluck real fast on the same note.  Kirk and Jim get to do all the cool stuff....but it was a blast.  More later!.....

 

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September 2006: Well, we jam with someone, I am told "you can't expect to play bass if you can't spread your fingers that far, maybe you should play something else?"  I don't explain my arthritis problem, don't feel the need to.  I would never tell someone who is starting out that they can't do it.  So my fingers don't work perfect, I found a way anyway to play the parts, and they sound just fine!  Like I said, I might not look the part, but I am working hard to sound right!

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May 2007: I sort of slowed down on the practicing every day, it shows.  This winter was hard because the cold really gets to me and my arthritis, plus where we jam is at a friend's great big garage that is perfect, but cold for me.  So I slowed down the jamming which actually has been the best part of my learning process, playing with other musicians (they are all good) and having to learn fast, figure stuff out.....But I have discovered other types of music too.  I've gotten great tips from professionals who email and message me.  I take everything I hear, from harsh criticism to kudos for a decent job on a song.  Put it all to good use and keep on learning more.  It would be easy sometimes to just put the bass down or sell it and say forget it, I'll go learn something else. But I love music and the bass so much I can't.  I am going to post some website links people have sent me with bass techniques on them and lessons.  They have really helped so I need to record a video or two to show I have at least gotten a bit better on some songs.

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August 2007: Bryce was playing drums with a guitarist at our home, his name is Dave.  They were talking about doing music together.  Through some odd turn of events, I became the bass player in the band!  So, I should have a lot of journaling to do?

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January 2008: SO much has happened, and I haven't had any time to journal my experiences but plan to.  The band came together wonderfully and we have a second guitarist, a vocalist too.  And plenty of original songs I love to play, I also get to play in a band with my husband with hopes of playing some live shows. 

However, something that most of us will come up against sooner or later in our lives, whether we are female or male, musician or skier.....I hit a brick wall.  A friend talked to me about me playing the bass, and asked me why I decided to play bass, that it is a boy's club thing, I don't belong, is it because I am a hard-ass woman or something?  He made me feel really bad because I truly picked up the bass because I love music, wanted to share a passion with my husband, and not to prove anything to anyone other than my lupus friends who want to do stuff.  It stopped me in my tracks and hurt my feelings (because I am a woman ya know) and I doubted my abilities at playing the bass.  I wanted to quit the band, I retreated and didn't practice, I just thought, wow, I guess he's right.  HOWEVER, when word got out, I got so many wonderful emails and comments about how I can do this, I should, and there isn't ANY WHERE it states that a woman should not play a musical instrument.  But it did affect me.  Just another bump along the road that I have traveled having Lupus.  People thinking you CAN'T do that, you aren't CAPABLE or something.  How shallow.  When lifting a person up is so much easier than tearing them down.  Oh well, actually, he won out in the end, because he is in a band with my husband and they play lots of shows.  I don't get to any longer.  Nice guys (and gals) might seem to finish last sometimes, but like some of you have told me, let them have their time in the limelight, it is the soul of music that you have, and your caring nature and REASON for playing the bass that is important when all is said an done.  For ALL of us will come a time when we can't play our instrument like we used to anymore, or we don't get auditions, or we just don't care and we put it down.  When that happens, hopefully you can say, wow, that was a great time in my life!  I am so glad I did that and I did it on my terms! I think, so far, the greatest gift I have gotten from learning the bass is the comments I get from people around the world that say I am an inspiration to them, that I fight to learn to play with lupus and I don't allow others to stop me, and how music has saved so many of their lives is so many ways..... More later....

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HOW I CAME ABOUT JOINING THE BAND I AM IN, MY FIRST BAND: Bryce was playing drums with a guitarist at our home, his name is Dave.  They were talking about doing music together.  While Bryce was more or less auditioning for Dave, I had been asked by a certain someone, who will remain nameless in case they ever see this, to come over and audition to see if I would fit her style of music, as she was getting ready to record and play some gigs.  I'd heard some of her music on myspace and thought she was really talented, I loved her voice and her music.  So, I was at her house during this time.  When I got there, she was pretty scatter brained, took me downstairs to the music room in her home, long story short, I never got to even play my bass, the entire evening was spent listening to her rag on her soon to be exhusband, and talk non stop about nothing.  She talked really fast too, it was draining.  This would be the second audition I'd been on, the first was equally disappointing.  So, when I got home, I met Dave who was sitting playing electric guitar while Bryce was drumming.  Dave was awesome metal guitarist and really nice.  They were jamming, so for the heck of it, I took my bass out finally and plugged it in, stood in the back and tried to quietly jam along.  I was really shy because at this time, I didn't know how to figure out what tuning he was in, what notes, nothing.  I was told to watch the guitarist on their frets, but I just didn't get it.  I was a total "use my ears" player.  Not fun, when the guitarist is awesome and shredding and then playing beautiful melodies and you can't jam along.  But for some reason, I was able to figure his stuff out and was playing along and having a great time, I was starting to turn my amp up now, and they could hear me.  Dave finally said, "would you like to try playing bass in our band?  We are looking for a bass player"  I was shocked and happy and said yes!  But that I was a newbie and needed a lot of work, that I might not be what he is looking for.  However, through some odd turn of events, I became the bass player in the band!  Dave also is a killer bass player, so, he showed me SO MUCH!!  He really understands music, all types, was able to teach me about theory a little, a lot about tuning, and said my timing was natural.  We added a rhythm guitarist who is awesome and became my best friend....and before I knew it, I was in a real band, practicing twice a week with shows lined up!  BUT, as I would still learn, I had a LONG WAY TO GO in learning stuff, especially when you are in a band and playing with others, and playing ORIGINAL MUSIC, working together with the guys to actually write a song and bring it all together. All I did was defer to Dave and the guys, I just asked them what they wanted me to do, they told me, most of it was very challenging but Dave was very patient, I figured it out, and began to feel really confident.  But, not so confident on stage....that is another entire story!  BUT THAT is how I joined a band.  Luckily, it was a band with musicians who all were very experienced, had played live shows, toured, recorded, knew their stuff.  No big egos, just loved the music.  Would all show up for practice, and tend to business.  I was definately the weakest link in the band, but they would never say so, they have always made me feel like a vital part of the music, even when I'd want to quit because I thought I wasn't good enough to play with them, they would talk me out of it.  I'm glad too.

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