Can an instrument change your life?

We played a show in Ashland VA just outside of Richmond. Beautiful, big room, nice stage, good sound. Our first time playing there. The forecast called for snow and an hour before the concert started there were heavy flurries swirling in the wind.

We resigned ourselves to playing to an empty room. It happens.

But a few people came in, and then a few more, and by eight o’clock there was a small, but respectable crowd. We were relieved and incredibly appreciative of every single body in the audience. Bob Grammann and his wife Lou made the drive down. Bob is the luthier who created my amazing fretless bass. As I thanked everyone for braving the weather to be there, I pointed out and introduced Bob. “He made this beautiful bass that changed my life” I told them.

Looking at their smiling expressions I thought perhaps they believed I was being a little dramatic. It happens.

I had never planned to say that. It just came spilling out of my mouth. Was it really true? Not exaggerated nor dramatic?  I’ve been thinking about it.
Since the bass is the nicest instrument I have ever owned, I felt I needed to be worthy of it. So I needed to practice playing. And since it was fretless, a new animal for me, I really needed to practice. That’s a good thing, worthwhile, but not life changing.

The tonal qualities made me want to listen more. The ‘in between note’ possibilities made me want and need to listen more. I played quietly for the first time ever. I listened to the sound my fingers made on the strings. I listened to the small changes that were possible; pitch, tone, sustain, staccato. I rested where once I might have made sound.

I listened to Aidan’s playing more. It happens. Occasionally.

Having thought about it, my playing has definitely changed. My sense of music and musicality has definitely changed. Those changes have impacted my writing. I have gained a sense of calm about performing. And of course, those things have seeped into the rest of my life.

For me it took a new instrument to make me listen more carefully. So maybe you need a new bass. Or maybe you don’t. But it could change your life. It happens.

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