I'm a professional, trained musician and yes I know that it's "never too late" to pick up something new. However: I play bass. I started 12 years ago because I actually wanted to play it. But over time that joy has eroded away and turned into anxiety. Bad gigs, bad college experiences, getting passed over for other players left and right, and personal conflicts have stolen it from me. I just look at my upright in the corner and I feel anxiety. The whole story is certainly too long for here, but for everything I've given it, it has abused me in return. But I'm good at it, and everyone who knows me knows that it's what I do. About 4 years ago I got into various sax players, especially Chris Potter. I pulled out my alto sax from childhood and started learning. But I couldn't put it down. I ended up buying a tenor, and started learning that. I truly feel that I have some natural ability for it. And I LOVE how out feels. It feels right, in a word. I've been practicing it off and on since.

So here's the problem: I have students, gigs, and a job. I can't do both. Do I abandon bass and restart on sax, relatively "late"in life (I'm going on 30) our do I stay with the painful, but proven, bass?


1 Answer 1


It is important to remember that you are a human being first, a musician second, and a bassist third. Musical instruments are not monogamous.

As a musician, you feel a need (on some level) to express yourself. The manner in which you do so may change throughout the course of your life, and that's okay. Personally, I cycle through several instruments, chiefly tuba, guitar, and piano. I've been a guitarist most of my life, but I studied tuba performance in college, and I improvise and play piano in a variety of settings.

I have students, a job, gigs, and I am a composer as well, so I'm constantly working on projects. The manner in which I express myself changes according to my life circumstances, how I'm feeling, and how I'm thinking, but the one immutable fact of expression remains: I can express myself.

Over the years, I have developed enough facility on these instruments where I can set each aside for 6-12 months without touching, pick them up again, and be comfortable after a day or two.

What I'm really saying here is: you should do what's right for you, and not what you think other people think of you as. Human beings are not flat, and you shouldn't pretend to be one-dimensional if you're not. If anything, your family / friends will be even more impressed with you for playing both instruments.

The saxophone is attractive for you because it represents a clean-slate. It also represents a simpler time before all of the bad experiences you had with bass. It also provides a means of expression. In short, it fills a lot of needs, which is great.

In order to make friends with your bass again, you'll need to create good experiences with it to replace the bad ones. You'll also need to make peace with those bad experiences. The answers to that will be your own discovery. Perhaps the time you spend with the saxophone will help clear the air a bit and help you distance yourself from those experiences; allowing you to look on them more objectively and without anxiety.

Moral of the story: life is long, have fun, don't worry; your bass will come back to you when it is supposed to.

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    I see you corrected the edit that removed important information that your answer was based on. Seems there is a new user on an edit binge who does not understand that background info and relevant detail is often important to a full understanding of the true question. I have re-edited several of tv's recent overzealous paraphrasing so that the existing answers would still make sense to future visitors. I was saving this one as an example for moderator - but was planning to re-edit myself - after mod had a chance to review. But they can see what you did and get the picture. Feb 22, 2015 at 6:17
  • @RockinCowboy Yes you are right, there is an edit history, so anyone can look at the changes made (or un-made, as it were). We need to be vigilant about how edits are approved. tv's edits only happened because someone approved the edit. Feb 22, 2015 at 14:50

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