Throwback Thursday: Racer X & How to Manage Your Time As A Musician

This is going to sound a little corny, but timing is everything for us bass players. Yes, we have to be the foundation for the groove in music but we also have to manage our time well in our careers as musicians.

When I was younger, studying at Musicians Institute, I found myself overwhelmed by all the work, class schedules and practicing. On top of it all, I’d met Paul Gilbert and was starting Racer X with him. I had to figure out how to manage all of this and still find time to eat!

Old ad we were featured in!

Old ad we were featured in!

Even now, staying organized can be challenging and I find that when I’m disorganized, I struggle with the pressures of all I’ve taken on. When this happens, my work suffers and my overall output begins to decline as if it were all tied to one big anchor.

In my early years, I observed how Paul stayed organized and chose to follow his lead. When he first suggested that we rehearse every morning at 6:00am in the big practice room at MI, I immediately thought he was crazy. Being the extremely logical guy he is, Paul gave me this explanation, “If we take the room at 6:00am, nobody will be here so we will always get the room for rehearsals.” The rooms were loaned out on a first come, first serve basis- you had to write your name on a list that went up as the doors opened every day at 6:00am. The only way to secure the big room with the best gear was to be there at 6:00am.

Paul also knew that if we got there first, we would have the room from 6:00-9:00am- the early morning slot. What was the major benefit? It meant Racer X rehearsed for a full, 3 hours. Paul recommended I go home after that, eat breakfast and then head back to MI for classes. When you get up that early, you realize how much time is left in the day to get stuff done!

After my morning classes, I’d go home for lunch, then back to MI for afternoon classes, and get home by 6:00pm. I would eat dinner, then practice on my own till around 9:00pm. That left the night to go see bands or head over to Paul’s to practice shred licks.

I can tell you with full confidence that the only way I could have graduated from Musicians Institute, made Racer X’s first record (Street Lethal), met new musicians and got better at my instrument was from managing my time well. I highly recommend that if you are pursuing a career in music- as in, you want to be a working musician- you must learn to prioritize and manage your time well. With an organized schedule, you will have more time to develop other elements of your career such as gigs, jobs and your total musical awakening.

-Juan