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The Intermediate Player

The concept of being "intermediate" is something often overlooked.  Everyone is guilty of this regardless of age.  Though most would not admit as much, there seems to be this unspoken expectation that a student goes from "beginner" and then immediately jumps to "expert."

What happened to intermediate?

Understanding the basics of an instrument and achieving a reasonable amount of control is really only just the beginning of the learning process.  Just because the student can't play everything doesn't mean that the student is a failure or even that the effort was wasted.  Being intermediate at something is the only way to eventually become advanced.

The learning curve is not a straight upward line.  It may resemble such in the beginning when everything is a new concept.  But eventually this line plateaus.  Learning happens in phases and there is a definite possibility that things could get worse at times before things get better.

Being intermediate is far more difficult than being advanced.  At the advanced level most music seems achievable given enough time and effort.  At the intermediate level the mental knowledge has outstripped physical ability and the result is frustration.  The effort of achieving mastery seems daunting, making everything achieved so far appear trivial.

But take comfort in the fact that these feelings are normal.  It is part of the learning process and there's no way to skip this step.  Every advanced musician that you hear playing was both a beginner and intermediate player at some point.

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Victor Wooten is an innovator, composer, arranger, producer, vocalist, and multiinstrumentalist. He has been called the greatest bass player in the world. He is a skilled naturalist and teacher, a published author, a magician, husband and father of four, and a five-time Grammy award winner.