Author: Williams, Dave


All the signs are evident, no more gigs, no more festivals, baseball season is over, it is darker much earlier, there are pumpkins and all kinds of decorations on every house, Christmas decorations are in the stores and, most significantly the worst day of the year is coming up this Sunday, the fall back dayÖ back to standard time. Will it ever be daylight savings time again?

There was a time not too long ago that SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) was considered bunk by many but recently it has been more widely accepted in medical circles (at least according to Oprah and Dr. Oz) but I donít care what the experts think it has been affecting me for a long time. Just ask Linda and the rest of my family.

Whatís this got to do with anything here? A good question and I hope I can figure it out in a couple more paragraphs or I will need to start over on this piece.

Actually, my frame of reference for this is in the first couple of phrases. With no gigs on the horizon and no festival activity (until the Great 48) in the near future, you would think that this is a good time to be woodshedding and so would I, except for this malaise that runs over me that keeps me from picking up any of the instruments I have sitting out in my home, three or four basses, a dobro, a uke and a banjo and goodness knows I need work on any or all of them.

I consider myself a bass player and Iím having difficulty figuring out how many basses I have available to play. What does that tell you? You're probably saying I'm lazy but you'd be wrong. Iím seasonally affected. The disorder begins to manifest itself in early October and renders me unable to do anything with my free time but watch post season baseball. When baseball ends, I typically sink deeper into the funk and stay mesmerized by the large rectangular LED HD display mounted in the family room of our house.

I realize I am making light of something that can be very serious for some and truth be told, I do struggle some with SAD and have to use some strategies to mitigate it but having said that, not picking up my axes and practicing is just laziness. It seems I need some tangible target to get into practicing or as I should probably be calling it in this case, rehearsing. A gig, a class, or something along those lines is what I usually need to get motivated but in the "offĒ season, I don't tend to have any of these.

My plan for this off season is to get in some practice rather than more rehearsing. The difference for me is that rehearsing (rehashing) is playing what you know to make it better. Practicing is playing to learn more and get better. Again, more practice is the plan but then again, plans have been made in the past and have somehow fallen by the wayside.

To help with the focus on practice, I know I am going to need a push to keep me at it diligently. So besides sitting under my ďfull spectrumĒ light for a few hours a day, I am looking for a bass teacher for lessons that will drive the improvement and learning that I am after in my playing. I am looking for some direction in techniques and some consistent feedback on any progress (or lack of) being made.

As I have said a few times in this space, I realize that there arenít any magic bullets that make you a better player so just having a few lessons will not be enough. Jamming and playing more, along with consistent practice are how I am hoping to tackle this off season. Actually this summer, I had a pretty good run of gigs and intensive rehearsals that did get my chops up but it seems I am falling into some bad habits again so it is time to get up from the comfy chair (under the full spectrum light) and play some music.

As for the other instruments in my collection, I am probably going to wait a little while on those and concentrate on the bass until the days get longer again. In the spring I am retiring from my 36 year day job and am planning on launching a new career as a multi instrumentalist, provided I can get proficient on all of them before next Halloween because you know what happens then.

Well, thatís all Iíve got for this month except to remind you that Sunday is the SCVFA Jam and we are holding our annual Youth Fiddle Contest. So come on out to Hoover Middle School at Park and Naglee in San Jose and jam some and listen to our fiddling future.

Posted:  11/1/2012

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