I try to remind myself of this when I am offered musical work with new people. It happened this month when I was contacted to play bass for the musical Legally Blonde in Sarnia. I said yes even though I don’t consider myself a great reader. When I got the a copy of the bass part and started to look through it I wondered if I had bitten of a bit more than I could chew. I was relieved when I few more experienced theatre bassists chimed in with comments like “busy book”. I’m glad it wasn’t just me.
I spent a lot of time with the book heading for the first read through with the band and it went well. That’s the nature of theatre work. There is not often a lot of rehearsal time. The work is done at home. Usually I tackle a theatre book by going to the back of the book first. You’ll usually find the walk out and bow music has a lot of the themes from the show. The run is over now and I’m quite happy with how things went for me but it took a lot of work to get to that point. I’m glad I said yes! If I’m honest there were times I had to focus and count but there were other times when I was just reading a musical sentence without counting or analyzing.
There have been lots of moments like that over the years since I returned to playing bass. Every potentially uncomfortable and challenging experience always makes the next musical moment better. There are some jazz musicians I play with whose depth of musical knowledge is the tip of the iceberg compared to mine. But saying yes to those gigs makes other music easier to play and be also makes for a more creative bass player. Playing big stages makes the house concert easier even though when I started playing house concerts having the audience that close was a bit uncomfortable. I played on a record with two great Canadian songwriters, Lynne Hanson and Lynn Miles. I’d worked with Lynne Hanson a lot for show but first time working with her in a recording studio. Lynn Miles I had never met until I arrived at the studio. We also recorded direct to tape! No pressure there at all. After saying yes to that record every recording session and live show has been easier than ever.
So say yes to everything, especially if it makes you uncomfortable.