Things I Didn’t Know Before I Went to Music College

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I attended Humber College in the late 80s.  It really was an amazing experience and a lot of what I learned there is part of my playing today.   Here’s a list of thing I didn’t know and things I should have done before I went to Humber.

  1. My Dad’s music collection was cooler than I thought.   The house was full of great music when I was young, I just wasn’t listening.   Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, The Beach Boys, The Carpenters, Frank Sinatra, Mario Lanza, Glen Campbell and Focus.  My Dad’s music tastes were as eclectic as my own today.
  2. I never took music classes all through high school.  I really don’t know why I didn’t. There was probably some part of me that thought since I couldn’t really play band instruments then I shouldn’t be taking music.  No, it makes no sense to me either.   That’s what you go to school for!  Today it seems that many high school music programs are under threat due to lower enrolment and funding.  Support your local music programs.  It’s good for young brains.
  3. There was a guitarist in my grade 12 math class who gave me a tape of Alan Holdsworth’s Road Games record as well as a chart for Tokyo Dream. We never played together.  I wonder where he ended up?  It would have been great to attempt music like that at the annual high school battle of the bands.
  4. I met Vern and Julia later in my high school years.  I think I saw Chick Corea’s Electric band down on Queen St with Vern.  I also remember Vern talking about the relative merits of Michel Cusson and Boon Gould as guitar players.  Vern had a Strat and a JC120 amp and was working through the Charlie Parker Omnibook.  At the time I had no idea what to do with all those chords and how to walk on the bass.  Later I did take lessons in Toronto with a couple of bass players as I worked towards a Humber audition but playing with Vern was another missed opportunity. He’s another musician I wonder about.
  5. My parents often said that I should take a business course as “something to fall back on” in case music didn’t work out.  Turns out they were right and while my business course ended up being the running of a franchise for 20 years at the very least every musician should take a course or read about marketing and self promotion.  It’s certainly easier today with social media.  Back then all we had was a list and a phone bolted to the wall.
  6. Most musicians are aware of their weaknesses but back then I was very effective at beating myself up.  Call it a lack of confidence or self-esteem.  I’m not sure how you change that in a person but it’s probably as simple as being supportive and encouraging of each other’s talents which are generally not traits of high school students.  I’ve connected with some of my band mates from my high school days and they remember me as a great bassist.  I never saw that in me at all.

Hindsight being what it is I can see what I could have done differently.  Keep an open mind about all music and listen to everything.  Take music lessons and learn to play an instrument especially in high school.   Say yes to every musical opportunity. Don’t beat yourself up too much  and try to appreciate what you can do. You’re working on it!


Categories: Steve Clark On Bass

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