Friday, July 04, 2014

My Next Project: Playing Bass With a Big Band

Lately I have greatly dispensed with my chronic depression through interesting projects.  The first was saving two baby birds, Robins, taking care of them until they could fly.  They grew, they flew.  I wish them well.

The second was restoring a 70 year old German army helmet.  This was fun because when I started the project, I had no idea what I was doing.  I googled.  I noodled.  I learned.  Amazingly enough, the project was a huge success.  I have never been "handy," so my success in this was an enormous high for me.

My next project is playing string bass with a big band, playing swing and jazz.  I have already begun, having my first practice last night.  The project is actually through an adult education class, with a band leader and various musicians.  There is a big brass section:  a baritone sax, an alto sax, a trombone and three trumpets.  We could use a drummer and a tenor sax.  A guitar is coming.  As for me, "I proudly took my place, as the one and only bass" (from the Music Man).

My attorney (and close friend) plays alto sax, and invited me to join this group.  We are having a ball doing it.  The challenge for me is reading notes.  I do read bass clef, but not nearly fast enough; I can't really "sight read," but this project will help me do that.  I found myself straining to read the notes, and it was challenging, but I am sure I can do it, with enough study and practice.

I used my Fender Jazz Bass guitar for this first meeting, but will bring my Calin Wultur Panormo string bass to the remaining sessions.  A big band must have a traditional string bass; bass guitars are just too rock and roll.   I splurged on a better pickup, a Fischer, at $200, for my string bass.  Yes, string basses do need amplification (all those horns are loud), but this pickup ostensibly does not alter the warm, woody twang of the bass.

Our first three songs to practice are (1) Sing, Sing, Sing (2) Greensleeves and (3) A String of Pearls, all from the American Songbook of great old standards, which make for excellent jazz pieces.


Proof said...

Sounds like great fun! Make purty music!

SarahSue said...

When I was learning to read music, I wrote the letters by
the notes. I found that I learned very quickly, this way. It also eased the
frustration of trying to keep up and learn at the same time.

It was not long before I count erase the letters, written in
pencil, of course.

Hope this helps!

What better then beautiful music to raise the spirit.

Stogie Chomper said...

SarahSue, we think alike. I did the very same thing on the sheet music given to me. It's a good exercise to help you learn the notes on sight. I am determined to be a literate musician.

Stogie Chomper said...

Proof, projects that are fun, creative and challenging are very worthwhile. We need to stretch ourselves in order to grow. You never know what you can achieve until you try.