Howard Rabach

Bassist – Live Performance + Studio Sessions

Creating a Routine: easier said than done

January 4, 2017

Editor’s note: the following post is NOT a rant.

It’s also not fluffy bunnies farting unicorn-shaped rainbows…(which, in hindsight, sounds painful).

It just is what it is.


A new year is often confronted with a laundry list of ‘resolutions’; often these are vapid, unfocused, meaningless things that most of us know, deeply down, that we will never accomplish to any measurable level.  If we do, it’s pure coincidence.  If you were truly motivated, you would have done it prior to the new year, and would  never have felt the need to resolve anything.  Around and around we go, at blinding speed, as if looking at food stuffs being pulverized by a Cuisinart.  Puree, whip, frappe..I’m not having any of that.

I’ve been in a “planning” stage for over 3 years as nothing ever goes according to plan, and plans unfurl and transform, develop growths, make unexpected turns, stops, and about-faces because that’s the reality of being a human being in this world.  A very wise person once asked me, “How will you know if you are becoming successful?”  This begat several hundred other questions, such as:

“How do I measure success?”  “How should I measure success?” “I’m an artist, right?  What’s there to measure?”

Still, I’ve yet to find a routine that truly works.  My students aside, I think it’s the routine that I miss most about my life as a classroom teacher.  There was a calendar with solid boundaries; there were specific moments each day when certain things had to be prepared or delivered, or changed, or entered….people counted on me; often over 100 people a day counted on me to be in the groove of my routine to make their days successful.  And I was.  And I did…more than not, anyway!

As a business owner, I suppose I could measure success financially.  Did I earn more than I spent?  Was every penny I spent justified?  Were these purchases all guaranteed to bring some sort of measurable return?  Let’s face it; the first few years of any new business can really suck…big time.  Often, it’s only in reflection that one can perceive the behemoth size of suckage that it is.  When I’m “in the thick of it”; when I’m in a recording session, playing a gig, troubleshooting a piece of gear or an instrument, teaching a workshop, I’m in that moment.  I’m doing what I love with others who are as passionate about it.

I was able to measure some things, though I’m not sure I’ve sussed out exactly what it all means yet.  In 2016:

I played 55 gigs, with anywhere from 2 to 300 other musicians sharing the stage; I played to audiences from as few as 15 to somewhere near a thousand people.

I was involved with nearly 30 recording sessions, many with new artists, some familiar ones (this includes whether they were sessions where I engineered and produced, or played for someone else)

I created and taught 10 brand new audio workshops.  My students ranged in age from 16 through late 60s.

I started learning the Double Bass because it will be an amazing skill to have, AND I’m a total nerd and LOVE LEARNING!

I’ve made more mistakes than I could ever hope to enumerate (and that would be freaking depressing anyhow).  I’m not sure if I’ve made greater or fewer than in past years – and again, what would a mistake really look like to be something measurable?  But I digress – a skill in which I will forever be king.

So how do I do the math on all that?

Right now I can see the forest, but the trees and the other contents are really obscured – blurry, even.  I’m busily getting my freshly refilled daily planner set up and filled, checking it against my Google Calendar, double checking it against scrawled notes across dozens of composition books, surrounded by the doodles of a fairly unfocused mind.  The ADD of the everyday often seems daunting.  The one thing that has come out over the last few years is that I am a monster of a bassist, I’m a hell of a recording and mix engineer, and I know my shit (again, because I keep learning and trying – back to the nerd thing again).

Tomorrow morning, I will go to the gym, return, eat breakfast, inhale coffee, shower, put on grown-up clothing, head down to my studio, crack open my planner, and get out my pen/pencil case, set up all my color-coded categories (the Virgo in me is all a-quiver – 8-)>  ).  I’ll send and respond to emails, work on some mixes, practice both electric and upright bass, follow up on some future business possibilities, and ……wait a minute.  Is it possible a routine has snuck up and taken over without me noticing?  Now how did I let that happen?  I promise I’ll never let my guard down again!

One Comment

  1. Wow! Great blog that any professional in the arts can relate to…and learn from! “Write on” Howard and…thanks for the lesson. Really!

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