The FrontLine: Jazz Bassist, Ruth Goller

Just before Christmas I had a very busy period where I was playing in quite a few different bands, which resulted in doing a different set of music almost every day. As much as I enjoy playing with different people all the time, it also means that sometimes it is hard to really learn something deeply and to properly internalise it. I started getting tired, I had no time to practise and for a few weeks I began to feel like I was just getting by, rather than really doing well. With more improvised sets of music, I started to feel like I was playing the same things, and at points I was getting bored by my own playing – but I had these gigs booked in, and I had to get through them, and play well.

ruth gollerOver the Christmas break I had booked myself two and a half weeks of holiday, so I went to the Italian Alps, where I am originally from, and where – other than amazing scenery – nothing much is happening. I do have a bass over there, but I had decided that I didn’t want to play at all. It was strange: in a way I felt as if I had lost my feet a bit. I didn’t miss playing, maybe because I had strongly decided I wasn’t going to practise, or because I was taken out of my daily context of playing. I was actually a bit worried about my state of mind. Was I doing the right thing? However, when I got back to the UK I decided to play my bass a bit at home to see how I felt. My fingers were really stiff: I’m sure everyone knows that feeling, after not having played for a bit. The same day I had a rehearsal, and suddenly it all came back to me: everything seemed to make sense again.

That feeling of playing music with other people and being creative hit me very strongly. I felt as if I could hear things in a very clear way, and ideas were coming to me quickly. I realised how important it is to take a break from what we are doing, in order to appreciate it fully from a distance. Being immersed in something all the time can become a little suffocating if you lose your sense of perspective.

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