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Join a Rock Band in One Month, from Scratch

Join a Rock Band in One Month, from Scratch

I’m going to spill the beans on a rock music secret – the difference between an absolute beginner and someone playing bass guitar in a rock band is about three months. The bass guitar is an easy instrument to play.

Now, before all the bassies out there start tweeting angrily at me, I’ll qualify that statement further. The bass guitar is an easy instrument to play as long as you stick to simple bass lines. Fortunately, rock music is full of great and well-known songs with bass lines that would fall into that category.

With my interest in Edtech as well as my experience as a professional guitar tutor and frontman for several amateur rock bands, this article was inevitable. What I’m going to do is outline a four week schedule, to take you from beginner to band-ready. To achieve this, we’re going to rely entirely on Edtech, specifically videos and apps. However I’d also recommend finding a local or online tutor and taking a lesson each week to help you power along.

Week One Part One: Laying the Foundation

Firstly, you need to know your way around the bass and how to tune it. For this, we’re going to use two sources of learning: YouTube videos and an app – because seeing the same thing presented in two different ways is a great strategy for making it stick. We’ll start with the video: Learn Bass Lesson 01 – Introduction to the bass guitar

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For tuning, we’re going to use a popular (and free) tuning app along with another YouTube video: App: GuitarTuna by Yousician which is available on iTunes and Google Play for free. YouTube video: How to Tune Your Bass

Week One Part Two: From Nothing to Something

As mentioned, we’re going to review the same content as in part one using a free app called Beginner Bass Method HD LITE, then spend the rest of the week continuing through their ‘Level 1’, which will teach you how to use a pick, read tab and start playing for real. Here’s the app on iTunes and Google Play.

Bass Method HD LITE is an example of solid, simple Edtech, since it’s well thought out and combines video with diagrams, enabling multiple ways of learning. It also allows you to slow down the video in order to get a better look if need be. Level 1 is free and is all you need for the purpose of this guide. However, if you feel that you’re learning particularly well via this app, you might want to consider paying the small fee to access their higher levels.

Week Two and Three: Learn Your Set

Over the next two weeks, you’re going to learn your first ‘set’ of five songs. From this list of 50 easy bass guitar rock songs, select your favourite five. Remember, your love of these songs will carry you through the tough moments over the next couple of weeks, so pick well.

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Now it’s time to bring in our third and final app to make the learning easy, organised and fun. The app is called Songsterr and it costs $4.99 USD per month. You can grab it from either iTunes or Google Play. Songsterr has a bank of half a million songs in tabs and chords format. These include both six-string guitar and bass guitar. See where I’m going? With this app, you can learn your five rock songs using tab, charts and play-alongs.

Songsterr is a great educational app that’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal as one of “The Best Apps for Learning to Play Music” and was the Apple App of the Week as well. It’s very interactive and has a whole range of features such as giving you backing music to practice with, displaying real-time, scrolling tab and being able to slow songs to half speed.

Now, if you’re wondering if it’s possible to do this without spending anything, the answer is yes. The drawback is you won’t get the interactive learning support that the Songsterr app provides, which is considerable. However, if you’re feeling brave, all you need do is search in Google for your five songs, including the words ‘bass guitar tab’ and the song title.

Here’s where the hard work comes in. These two weeks are the key to the whole one-month plan. You need to spend at least an hour (preferably two) every day working on these bass lines. Master them one at a time and memorise them gradually. At this stage, when you make mistakes, rewind the song a little and go over the same section again and again until you’ve mastered it. Only then should you move on. This is the time for a little perfectionism.

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Week Four Part One: Getting Audition and Gig Ready

You’ve come a long way, you’re fingers are sore but you’ve lived to tell the tale and can now play five rock songs by heart. You’re not perfect and you’re still making mistakes, but that’s to be expected.

Now we’re going to get you in shape for a band audition and your first gig. The main difference between playing with a band and practising by yourself is that a band won’t stop when you make a mistake. Instead, you’re expected to quickly recover and get back in the groove before too many people notice.

So, what you need to do this week is play each song, one after the other, with the goal of getting through no matter what. Rather than stopping the song when you make a mistake, you’re going to learn how to get back on your feet after stumbling, by getting back into the song as soon as you can.

Having said that, if one particular section of a song trips you up every time, you should revert to the previous practice method of going over and over that section to perfect it before coming back to this new way to practice.

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Week Four Part Two: The Finishing Touches

As well as the ability to play bass guitar, there are other skills that can improve your chances of getting into a rock band. One of those is the ability to sing some backing vocals. Singing is obviously a whole topic in itself, but if you’re already a semi-confident singer then all you need to do is learn a little about mic technique and start singing a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ while practising your bass lines.

Another important element is whether or not you gel with the existing band members. Of course, a large chunk of that is simply down to personality, but some of it will be down to your ability to chat about music and the music industry in general. So, take the time to read up about the artists who made your five songs famous. Do some research about the songs themselves. Next, learn a little about the local music scene such as venues for gigs, small festivals and radio stations.

Lastly, there’s a bit you should know about music tech. Read up on the gear you might need as a bass player when playing at small venues and, if streaming and downloading music is all you’ve ever known, fill in the gaps in your knowledge of music tech in general (yes, there was music before Spotify).

Now you’re ready! Time to start replying to ads for bass players. My advice is to be honest that you’re a beginner but to say that you’re a very quick learner. The best places to look for bands are in Facebook groups for musicians in your area and on classified listing sites like Craigslist and Gumtree. There are also some good sites dedicated to helping musicians find bands.

I wish you all the best on your music journey.

Featured photo credit: https://pixabay.com via pixabay.com

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Oliver Braithwaite

Founder/CEO of Stars & Catz

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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