Breaking up Long-Term Goals
I'm realizing now that I have huge issues with pursuing things for a long time, when I am not seeing quick results. I'm really bad about expecting myself to become really good, really quickly. Maybe that's because I grew up being told by a lot of people that I was so talented, and I was going to be a virtuoso, etc., but I don't know. I really love, and care about music, but many times I have let myself become too serious, and really get frustrated with myself when I'm not improving very quickly and seeing immediate results. As many of you know, and as I am now realizing, the double bass is not an instrument that gives immediate results.
So, I want to ask how to overcome this? I think that writing down my long-term goals (and currently I don't know what those really are), and then somehow breaking them up into short-term goals would be very helpful. I think it would keep me motivated and feeling good about my progress. Now, my issue is coming up with long-term goals that are tangible. I could have goals like, "great intonation," "being able to play what's in my head," etc., but I don't know what to do with these.
I hope you all have advice. I am only 20 years old. I've been playing bass for about 2 years, but I am only recently becoming more serious, and I've been playing music (mostly piano, and acoustic guitar) since I was very young. Some days I feel extremely motivated, but others I'm so frustrated I want to quit.
Try getting a good bass book that will take you from point A to say point G and you can see how you have improved and learned. Next, get a more advanced book and go from point G to, say, point M, etc. etc. it will reduce any frustrations and you can see the gradual improvements.
Can be a little more specific? I understand what you're saying, but perhaps you could give an example of what point A/G/M could be? And are you talking about method books or other kinds of books?
Take my format of my "Practical Studies". It starts with the basic whole, half, quarter and eighth notes in first pos. Then it moves directly to 4th position and adds basic harmonics at the octave. Then some basic 16ths are added. Then comes moving from 1st position to 3rd and dotted quarters and adds 2nd pos. The ranges go up to the octave.
The last section is a preview of my "Melodic Foundation Studies" which covers the twenty most common keys - 10 major and 10 minor with the range not past the first octave harmonic. That comes in later material.
I.S.B. and Lemur as well as asodb.org handle both.
You can look at the first section and last of any method book
and that will give you an idea the ground you will be covering.
I see. Reading about the Triangulation of Fingering Systems on the American School of Double Bass website gave me some insight. I've been having trouble figuring out what my goals even are (that is, goals that are tangible and measurable), but that made something in my head click and things are becoming a little more clear.
Perhaps others could list their long-term goals, in order to provide me a little more insight?
Here is an outline of goals that I have considered in the last day or two:
A. Complete understanding and control of the fingerboard and the left hand.
1. Know where all of the notes are on the fingerboard.
2. Utilize the closed hand fingering system, while using a minimal amount of movement and force.
3. Utilize the open hand fingering system while using a minimal amount of movement and force.
4. Utilize thumb position while using a minimal amount of movement and force.
5. Effiency in fingering choices/string crossing.
B. Complete "feel" and control of bow. (By "feel," I mean that the bow becomes an extension of your hand.
1. Control of all dynamics while maintaining a relaxed hand/arm.
2. Utilize and understand bowing techniques. (staccato, marcatto, etc.)
3. Utilize and understand bowing patterns. (hooked...?)
4. Crossing strings with minimal movement.
That's a lot, and of course I have yet to think about time frames. But I wanted to ask if I am missing anything here? My knowledge of the bow is limited, so I'm sure I am missing something there. Any and all advice welcome.
Doesn't sound like much fun, that list.
Drills and chores are good, but I would go out of my mind if technique was my only goal. How about making some music with a piece you're inspired by?
The list you assembled is great for mastering the bass. How about your musicianship and repertoire or tunes? The easiest way for you to get what you're looking for, IMHO, might be to find a teacher whose playing you admire and is near where you'd like to wind up, and study like hell with them. It can be tough to find a teacher who's in the arena you'd like to play in, but if you can find one, I think it'd be gold for you. The trick is finding a good teacher with the skills and experience playing that you're looking for. Not an easy combination to find, but possible.
Those are good goals to work on for your entire career. It looks like the next step is to figure out what materials will help you accomplish each one. Don't worry too much about a time frame. These are things that you'll be refining your entire career.
Along the lines of what hdiddy is suggesting, work in some musical goals to your list. It's easy to lose musicality in your playing when you are focusing only on technique.
Check out books by Ivan Galamian, Phillip Farkas, and David McGill for some ideas.
Edit: Oops, I meant, is NOT the only goal. (posted that from my phone :P)
I'm not a pro but played music all my life (including classical piano) but not classical DB. I understand it's possible to work on all those things on your list at the same time, but IME, I do better when I focus on one thing at a time. Pick one, use the 80/20 rule and just get the one thing up to speed, and then go on to the next thing. Once you've gotten everything up to 80% of where you want it to be, go back to the beginning of the list and start fine tuning.
Trying to tackle too many things at once is just too much. It's too hard to try to remember 3 or 5 things at a time and one thing at a time is alot easier to knock down. Not to mention that once you've "mastered" one thing, it lends itself to the next item usually. I'd work on one technical subject and one musical subject at a time. These days, I actually just do one or the other and change subjects after short period of time.
a few days.
If your musical goals are ambiguous, I think you should start listening and finding music you're inspired by - pieces you really like and want to get into. After all, is that the reason why we're all here?
Also, picking a piece to work on and attempting it will reveal your weaknesses. To me, that's better than working on any random list of things you came up with. It's showing yourself what the real obstacle you're encountering and then you either get a teacher or find your own way to resolve it. Once resolved, you can move on to completely that musical task of performing that one piece. Far more fun because you have a musical result when you're done. IMO, the music should come first, not the technique.
But who am I to say? I'm not a classical player.
In a hypothetical scenario, let's say you're interested in someday being capable of playing Edgar Meyer's Zigeunerweisen on bass - it says on your profile he's an influence. You might invest some time in finding out (from students of his on this site, from Google searches) what kinds of steps Edgar may have taken to reach that point. Maybe you're not shooting to play like him, but you're looking at what path he took.
In this hypothetical case, I'd say having a good familiarity with scales and arpeggios is important. But you don't want to just "practice scales." You maybe want to look for tunes or other rep that feature scales. Maybe some classical era stuff - Vanhal concerto, Mozart symphonies, etc. Maybe before you get to play that stuff, you should look into even simpler music - Marcello sonatas, Capuzzi concerto, some orchestral repertoire you can research from youth orchestra websites.
And before all that, you'll probably want a teacher who can lay that all out in front of you, as well as what steps you need to take from where you are to where you would like to be. I have mixed feelings about systematic study of etudes and how much time you invest in that, but I can't deny the power of technical exercises every day! It would help for you to occasionally record yourself (and not necessarily listen right away) and refer back to recordings over a series of months. - What improves, what doesn't? What would you like to be able to play on the bass that is difficult or impossible right now?
Keep searching. The internet is a tremendous resource, but an experienced player is just as good or better.
Of course, the goal is a musical result - not just techniques. That's why in my "Melodic Foundation Studies" after, say, the F major and D minor studies, there is a melodic étude covering the same keys and techs in a melodic setting. Learn it and apply it. It works.
A lot of my "inspiriations" are, believe it or not, brass players. Namely, Chuck Mangione, Miles Davis, Dizzy and Arturo Sandaval. My dad, brother, Uncle, and cousin all played Trumpet, so I was surrounded my trumpet music constantly. That, and B.B. King. So I think I am going to start trying to learn simpler songs that they have done (the bass part, if there is one, and the melody).
It sounds like you might find more relevant advice in the jazz forums. Folks here tend to focus on orchestral technique, as the board name suggests. As to that, I recommend you learn your scales and arpeggios, practicing them with and without a bow.
Check out Tom's book, and perhaps George Vance's Progressive Repertoire. These will help you play tunes in thumb position and bass lines in the lower positions.
Again, I'm telling you with the full faith and confidence of the talkbass community, get a (bass) teacher.
Yeah, bass is odd that way, to me. I posted this in the orchestral technique forum because I want to play primarily Arco, but when it comes to the style of bass I want to play, I've no name for it. It's like asking what Edgar Myer plays. Who knows what to call it! (talking about his non-classical work)
Also, I understand that orchestral technique doesn't apply to the bass part in that music (the trumpet players) but it would apply if I were playing the trumpet/flugelhorn part, which, while that may be a long ways away, that is really my goal.
I could tell you or you can find a really good teacher to help guide you. You know, that's what teachers do right?
Sounds like you need to go to a qualified jazz DB instructor who will help guide you to your goal or help you define it. And if they don't, go find a different person. And just because they specialize in jazz doesn't mean they don't know about arco technique.
I also do not mean to imply that Jazz Bassists/teachers do not know about arco. I just thought that orchestral players would be (generally) more suited to offer advice. So, I apologize if I've offended you in anyway.
In terms of goals, I find it helpful to have several levels of goals: long-term, short-term and everything in between. It motivates me and keeps me focused and practicing. For example, I have a long term goal at being more fluent with the bow. In 3-4 years I hope to be playing regularly in small orchestras, while gathering a classical resume for myself (whatever that means!). In order to get there, I'm practicing a few hours a day, all the usual stuff: scales, etudes, solos etc. But also I'm going to audition for some community orchestras in a few weeks. Once I get to the community orchestra, the next goal will be to learn how to play in a section, how to follow a conductor, all while playing the bass and trying to stay in tune with good posture etc. Playing in ensembles with other people makes the journey more fun and not all about practicing (but I assume you play with other people.)
I felt so inclined to respond to your post because I so know what you're talking about, and I'm sure there's a ton of other people who feel or have felt this way about playing: it takes patience to get through things. Learning how to balance the big and small picture will help reaching goals not feel so hopeless. But it's still frustrating. For example, today I was practicing Storch-Hrabe etudes with the metronome and man! They are so hard! Each one has a passage that's so tricky and I've been working on these for a long, long time. Frustrating but at the same time I know I'm improving because I am winning some of the small battles in the music.
Hope this helps. Even if you end up playing jazz, it's the same thing. I'm actually a professional jazz bassist, and went through the years of struggling with the instrument, learning fast tempos, crazy keys etc. Jazz actually has a lot of goalposts to set for yourself. Good luck!
I think of a teacher like a personal trainer. Bass is kind of like working out, in that sometimes it's difficult to break through certain walls.
How often do you practice? I have a feeling you practice at least an hour every day, but if not, you may be fooling yourself with the issues in your original post.
Most likely, you are doing fine. If you are used to receiving praise from laypeople, then perhaps you have progressed beyond the point where your month-to-month gains make any difference to them.
|All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:11 AM.|
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.6.12
Copyright ©2000 - 2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.