The Best Things In Life Require Risk
I am mainly a guitar player but a couple of years ago a guitar student of mine asked me if I taught bass. I said “I don’t play bass, but have wanted to learn how for a long time. How about we learn it together?” She agreed and we started alternating guitar lesson one week, bass lesson the next. This was a risk. I didn’t know if I could learn the bass lesson material and then teach what I had learned fast enough to stay ahead of her. But I believe the best things in life require risk. So I took the risk. It has turned out great. The commitment was what I needed to force me to learn to play the bass. I discovered I love playing bass. And we are both are both becoming pretty good bass players.
I began playing guitar live at church when I was a teenager. It was a risk. I was nervous, no, terrified at first and have made plenty of mistakes over the years. But I kept at it and I continually got better, and learned how to be a musician. Eventually I was playing in front of thousands of people every Sunday. And it led to playing at many different kinds of events and camps over the years.
Then I was asked to join a jazz band. That was huge risk. I had learned some jazz as a teenager, and loved it, but I hadn’t played it much since. But I said yes anyway. It turned out to be a great experience that lasted several years. I eventually got to perform several songs that I wrote, live with the band. That was a major highlight of my life.
Another time a friend asked me to fill in as a guitar player in a soul/pop/rock cover band because their regular guitar player traveled a lot. I said sure. It was a risk. I had to learn about 40 songs in a month for the first gig. But I took the risk and played well enough to get asked to become a permanent member of the band after the first gig. That led to three fun years playing in a band with a full horn section. Playing music I would have probably never learned on my own but enjoyed playing greatly.
Every band I have joined required a risk, or leap of faith. But they have almost all worked out great. And the more you risks you take, the more confidence you gain.
I tell my students if they want to become good musicians they need to play with other musicians, preferably in front of an audience. This requires a risk. You have to risk making mistakes or playing poorly in front of others, or being rejected, or not getting a gig. But you will never get the great gigs without taking risks. It is part of life. It’s how you learn and grow as a musician (and as a person.) You can’t play it safe. No risk. No reward.
I am now starting a new risk. A few weeks ago I auditioned to play bass at my church. It was a risk. But I passed the audition. And I just learned that I will be playing Sunday morning. Another risk. But I’ll take it.