The steps we take to reach a goal should be well out of our comfort zones. Each step should force you to grow, they should pain you, and they should frustrate you. I've publicly expressed my goals and made them clear in the past. (Those who have read my music-related posts know a big one is to be a professional bassist.) I've shared some of my personal struggles with this goal, but I've learned to see them as signs of growth. One of the ways I force myself to grow is by learning out of my comfort zone. (I did this with reading, piano, writing, etc.) This doesn't mean I think I'm the best, neither does it mean I'm no longer in the process of learning. But it's very clear that if you want to learn something, the most effective way to do it is by making sure it's uncomfortable, and frustrating.
The Awakening - Les Claypool
Les Claypool is (in my opinion) one of the greatest bassists of all time. He's mostly known as the bassist and lead vocalist of the band Primus. If you've ever heard Primus, there's no doubting the creative and technical skills Les Claypool has. I'm a fan, I look up to Les Claypool, but I never heard this particular song until a friend recommended it to me. After hearing it, I realized it's a great song to use to improve my slap technique.
Portrait of Tracy - Jaco Pastorius
This is one of the most iconic song for bassists, a must-learn. Jaco is undeniably the greatest bass player in history - ask any musician and they'll tell you the same. He's the "Jimi Hendrix" of bassists, and it's with this song that he made history. It's a special song because he uses harmonics in a way that was never before seen on a bass. He took something that was insignificant and made it huge, in fact, 99% of the song is pure harmonics. This song is beautiful and it shows Jaco's inventive approach to bass playing.
Dean Town - Vulfpeck
Vulfpeck is a relatively new band (formed in 2011) with a modern funk style. Naturally, being a funk band means they have a great bassist - what's a good funk band without a great bassist? My teacher gave me the sheet music for this song and I'm learning it to improve my stamina, tone, and sight-reading skills. My weakness when it comes to reading music is reading the rhythm and I think that will change over time with practice. I figured a great place to start would be with funk.
One of the most important skills to obtain (I've learned this the hard way) is the ability to keep a determined mindset. Learning isn't easy - it's not supposed to be. There was a point in my journey where I hit a wall, and this was fairly recently. I wasn't sure what to do, I got overwhelmed and wanted to give up. I'm embarrassed to admit that for about six months I hardly touched my bass. Fear of failing and taking risks had a hold on me for too long. I've fought hard for this, I'm still fighting, but I'm determined. I will become a bass player if it kills me.