Tell Us About Your Practice Regimen
Would enjoy reading about what you gents do to warm-up and practice on a regular basis.
These days I try to get practice when I can as things like travel, school, family, surfing, tennis, etc... all have to fit in too.
But, back in the day, it was very organized and disciplined. I never really did "warm up" exercises, but simply start SLOW.. and end SLOW. I would organize my practice into 50 minute slots for reading, technique (LH and RH), listening, piano, upright (arco/pizz), styles, Playing with Aebersold, then reading again...then off to band practice! I still have the schedule that I made in HS. Cracks me up when I find myself struggling to find 20 minutes here and there these days. I LOVE to practice... always have.
I also read sometimes it's also considered practice when you jam to songs you like to listen to; particularly when you aim to hit every note that bassist hits. For me, Rush songs were always a challenge; even simple songs like Limelight, I still struggle to get the bass line during the guitar solo perfect. As for YYZ...WELL.......let's not go into that. ;). Geddy's triplets are something of another planet. If I want to go simpler, I usually rock out to U2, some Christian rock artists, Green Day...artists whose bass lines are easy to follow and easy to learn by ear.
I do a similar thing to Steve. Except I do more of a power set thing. Instead of 50min on a subject I do 3 x 20min sessions for each topic with a 5min rest in between. I use a timer for both timing the practice and my break! One topic that I always have I call "Maintenance Practicing" where I do an hour of what I already know to keep it up to par or add on to it. This could be rep of jazz standards or rep from bands I play with, to even transcriptions of various walking lines or solos I have done.
My favorite time is to practice is when I first wake up as early in the morning as I can. People are less likely to interrupt my practice at 5-6am with things like texting and emails haha. Also I get the feeling of accomplishing something early in the day!
For my reading I separate it into 3 categories. Reading rhythm, notation, and then the combination of both (for sight reading). For rhythm studies I usually use drum books or rhythmic complex finger funk lines. But I only focus on the Rhythm. For notation I use less rhythmically diverse material to work on reading the patterns of the notes more. Examples that are great for this are walking bass lines. The last category is anything I can get my hands on, transcription books to orchestral excerpts.
a tune a week...every week i find a band mentioned in the New York Times Arts page and learn it. what's intriguing is song structure, form and finally the role of the bass. I stick with the song until it's digested thoroughly learning the chord progression and subsequently the bass part. It's a healthy study figuring out bass vocabulary that is being used on songs.
other than that, some chromatics up and down the neck to keep the fingers loose.
last week was Gregory Porters song Be Good..this week Earth Wind And Fire's My Promise...can't hardly wait for the Sunday paper to arrive so I can find next week's tune!
Recommend learning chord arpeggio's and scales too, however when you start learning songs and bassline vocabulary, you develop a sense for what the arpeggios and scales are used for. It's this connection that makes practicing music invaluable.
I break things up. I read every day. One of my favorite books is by my fellow Berklee Professor Oscar Stagnaro. His Latin Bass Book is awesome. Very difficult to read any chart in there from top to bottom without a mistake. I'm always striving for playing at the level of recording the lines. So, my practice focuses on consistency, time, feel, endurance, length of note etc... Rhythm section stuff. I don't really practice any soloing, that's all just an extension of the bass lines for me. Reading out of a book like Oscar's also hits on many levels, because it's not just reading, but you are getting work on a style of music that may be less familiar to you plus, some deep rhythmic vocabulary.
I also transcribe almost every day. That's how I learned to play and I still enjoy searching out "deep cuts" from my favorite players and new ones that I'm always discovering. If you don't transcribe a lot, start doing it!
I teach a lot of slap bass at Berklee, so I also try to practice that. The thing I find with the slap playing is that I have to do that last if I'm practicing, because it beats up my hands a bit. So, I save that for the end.
I think the best practicing tip I can give you is to do it early in the morning. It's the first thing I do in the morning. There is not a lot going on and few distractions early in the morning, so I'm usually playing by 6:30 or 7:00am if I'm not working. This way, the practicing is done and not hanging over my head for the day and any other music stuff I do that day is a bonus, and there is always plenty to do!
I bought my bass 2 years ago and was practicing every spare minute I had. I used to hook my bass up to my Mac through Garageband, put on my headphones and made a playlist on Youtube of songs that I could play with 'ease' and then it progressed into songs that I hope to be able to play soon. I also had my binder full of tabs in front of me.
Then I knocked up the wife and things have definitely changed. Luckily my little girl loves music as much as I do. I now have to stand up when she's playing on the floor and plug into my practice amp. Put on my iPod and she claps and giggles depending on what I'm playing. I'll never play a gig in my life and I don't intend to, she's the only fan I need!
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