Yesterday I spent three hours driving 150 miles in glorious sunshine. Between the legs of the journey were a few hours spent at St Andrew’s, Dibden, near Southampton, which was hosting the fifteenth anniversary edition of Deep to Deep.
We worked the day round the idea of drawing up a list of fifteen essentials for a Christian bassist although, in truth, most of them could be applied to all Christian musicians and even just all musicians. You can see a partial list up on the screen but the final version was:
2. Learn your instrument. Know how to use techniques like damping, harmonics and so forth so you can find the right sound across the full range of the bass.
3. Know how to get in tune. Electronic tuners help, especially with a mute mode. Also, it is more reliable to tune up to a note; tuning down to a note gives more chance of later slippage.
4. Understand harmony – working on your scales is a great starting point for this.
5. Sing! That helps you understand the song as more than just a bassline and also opens up the opportunity of doing things like leading others in worship.
6. Listen to others and listen to yourself. A recording device is invaluable so you can evaluate how you did after the event or for taking audio notes in a practise session.
7. Sit in the congregation sometimes (and not with your bass strapped on). It is important to have this perspective to help you understand the people you are serving with your playing.
8. Make time for appropriate experimentation. That probably means not in the quiet moment of a service!
10. Leave some space, man!
11. Understand different styles of music so you can draw on that vocabulary in your playing.
12. Play what is right for the song.
13. Work on improving your timing — a metronome is handy for this or, even better, work with that drummer you made friends with in #1.
14. Be nice to the sound guys (and all the other people who contribute ot making the service run smoothly).
15. Know your faith.
We talked around quite a few of these, along with various impromptu demonstrations and exercises and I might unpack a few of them in my blog over the coming weeks. We also spent time trying out each other’s basses and enjoying each other’s company. My thanks to all who came along (including Tom, who had to leave before we did the photo) and particularly to Phil, who took a lead on organising and hosting us at St Andrew’s. It was definitely a worthwhile road trip (and watch this space for news of the next one).