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What’s The Best Musical Investment You’ve Ever Made?

It seems like a strange question. You don’t often think about music and ‘investing’ in the same way.

Investing is for bankers, stockbrokers and people with more savings than they know what to do with, right?

Well, yes, you’re probably right.But you make investments every time you sit down to play your instrument. You’re investing your time, energy, willpower and focus – and we all have limited amounts of these things.

Especially willpower and focus.

Every time you practice, you are investing all of these things into your musical development. This is a sacred thing – not to be taken lightly.

Financial investors think about their investments very hard before they make them – and you should do the same thing when making your investments of time, energy, willpower and focus.

Here are two important questions you should ask yourself when making these investments.

(1) – Is it worth it?

Let’s say you’re learning a new fancy slap technique. You’re investing a whole bunch of time, energy, willpower and focus into perfecting this technique.

When (or if) you get this technique to the place where it’s good enough to show other people, will you have the opportunity to actually do it? Will you actually be able to use it? If you will, that’s great! All your effort will actually pay off. Go For It!!! Make the investment.

However, if your gig is a straight forward country band, there’s probably not any room for flashy displays of technique from the bassist.

This question really boils down to another question – “Why am I doing this in the first place?”

If it’s just for your own amusement and satisfaction, then it doesn’t really matter if you never use your newfound technique on a gig – So go for it! Make the investment!

However, if you have your mind set on using it on a gig, but your gig won’t allow it, then it might be time to make investments in the areas that will help with your gig – like groove, time, and locking in with your drummer – or maybe you could start looking for a side project. (Or making your own…)

(2) – What ‘return’ will I get on this ‘investment’?

What I’m really talking about here is results! What results are you hoping to see from this investment? What kind of measurable and tangible results are you hoping for?

If we use the same example, the result you want might be, “I want to learn this new slap technique so I can play [your favorite slap song] at 150BPM with [your favorite local musician/band].

See how this result is measurable and tangible? It’s incredibly specific in 3 areas – the song, the speed and the other musicians. This will either happen or it won’t. There’s no question about it.

Wanting a result like, “I want to play slap stuff really fast” isn’t tangible or measurable, and you’re wasting your investment by not beginning with the end in mind.

So begin making your investments with the end in mind! It will really narrow your focus, so you can ‘spend’ your time, energy, willpower and focus in the most efficient way possible.

The Two Questions Are Very Closely Related

If you get the result you want, it will answer the first question, “Is it worth it?” If you got the result you wanted, then of course it was worth it!

You can ask the same two questions when it come to making actual financial investments for yourself as well. For example, if you’re thinking of buying a new bass, ask “Is it worth it?” and “What results will I get from this investment?”

If you’re incredibly inspired by your new bass’s tone and it’s look, and as a result you practice more and become an even better bassist and get more gigs, then it was would be worth it! Make the investment!

If you’re thinking of taking lessons – ask the questions! What result are you hoping for? Will that result be worth the time, energy, willpower and focus? (Not to mention the actual financial investment) If it will be worth it, Make the investment!

Investing in yourself is probably the most powerful thing you can do as a musician.

Personally, my 2 biggest musical investments so far have been:

1. Moving to America to play music.

This was a huge investment for me in all of the categories (including financial). It took years, untold amounts of energy, and willpower and focus. (My focus was especially tested when it came to doing all the paperwork to get my visa to get into the country…)

Was it worth it? What results did I get?

Hell yes it was worth it! I’ve had some of the best times of my musical life, started helping others through this site, made some of the best friends I could hope for, recorded an album, got lessons from some of my heroes, played with musicians I’d hoped to play with and some I’d never dreamed I would be able to play with.

I can’t put a value on any of this. It literally is priceless.

2. Having just one lesson with one of my bass heroes

I want to tell you a short story. After I had been playing upright bass for a few years, I was having some problems with my left hand. I was experiencing a dull throbbing that worried me. I was sure it was a result of sloppy technique, but I didn’t know how to fix it.

As luck would have it, one of my bass heroes was passing through town, doing some concerts and some teaching. I knew a player and teacher of his caliber could fix my problem.

He showed me one TINY thing that I was doing wrong that completely changed the way I used my left hand.

Now this lesson wasn’t cheap. It was in the 3-figure range for an hour of his time.

But I wasn’t paying for his time – I was paying for the results that I got!

And I did get results. Occasionally, I’ll fall back into old habits and that dull throbbing will resurface, but now I know exactly what to do to fix it.

Was it worth the investment?

When I think about the impact that lesson had, it still blows me away. When I think about the impact of not having that one-hour lesson, it blows me away even more.

If I had left it unchecked, it could have spiraled out of control to the point where I had to stop playing.

So Hell Yes it was worth it!

So think about this stuff the next time it comes to making an investment in yourself. Like I said, it is one of the most powerful things you can do as a musician.

What’s the most significant musical investment you’ve ever made? Was it the time you spent learning something? Was it the money you spent on a new piece of gear that took your sound to new heights? Was it a big decision to invest in yourself? Leave a comment down below!






4 Responses to What’s The Best Musical Investment You’ve Ever Made?

  1. Carl February 25, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    Very smart. Sometimes I feel like I’m lagging behind because I don’t slap, but the truth is I would never use it with the people I play with. I still like a bass to sound like a bass, but the bass chords, I can see myself using. Thanks, love your style of teaching. Welcome to the U.S.A. Carl

    • Luke McIntosh February 25, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

      Hey Carl,

      Thanks so much! I appreciate your kind words. I totally hear you about the whole slapping thing. I used to be right into it, but I found that I was never actually using that stuff on any gigs that I had, so I kind of stopped using it. The chord stuff on the other hand, I use all the time. Not necessarily playing them, but being able to see where I am on my fretboard and be able to visualize all of the possibilities that are available in real time – that I can use!

      Thanks again Carl, I really do appreciate it!


  2. Karen dahl May 11, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

    Totally brilliant. Absolukely helpful. You are a find. You’re from Australia aren’t you? Go well. Your generosity and talent is most appreciated by is down under. Karen DB

    • lukemcintosh89 May 11, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

      Hey Karen! I certainly am Australian – although I was actually born in Scotland. I’m glad you liked the post, and thanks so much for the kind words. I really do appreciate it.


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