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Am I just too overzealous or is there something wrong?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Ant_C, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. Ant_C

    Ant_C

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    Hello guys. I've just came back to the Double Bass after taking 7.5 months off. I've went back to the same teacher I was working with before, just to make sure my technique is still in check.

    I've been back at the bass for a week and 2 days now (got myself one of the Thompson plywoods); I've been enjoying the hell out of it, but my right forearm is getting really sore midway through my pizz exercises (I stop immediately, and stretch for a minute or so). I don't know what's wrong, and my technique is exactly the same as I had it before and never experienced this problem on the bass I used in high school.


    My practice routine is a lot harsher than it was before (It used to be 2 hours every other day, and a 3 hour rehearsal one a week), and here's what it is.

    6 Hours divided into four 90 minute sections :
    1. Scales with the bow/Zimmerman's contemporary Concept of Bowing.
    2. Etudes/method book/solo repertoire.
    3. Scales pizz (not all 48 majors/minors, just the majors 2 octaves as a warmup)/Zimmerman contemporary concept of bowing but pizz.
    4. Work on heads to various bebop tunes (finally got Scrapple and Ornithology back up to speed)

    I'm sure there are a lot of variables at play, and I'm sure how my bass is setup is one of them. The action is more of a medium action and the strings I'm using are Spiro Mittel EA, and Evah Pirazzi Weich DG. The bass I used in high school had a fairly low-medium action, and the strings were some really cheap brand that was on the bass (they had a really low tension to them).

    The pain I'm experiencing is not sharp, it's just a feeling of soreness and tightness in my forearm (almost like a cramp).

    So my main question is : Am I jumping into this and practicing too much with a bass setup/string setup I haven't come accustomed to before, or am I doing something else wrong?

    Thank you in advance for any replies.
  2. SeaMist_au

    SeaMist_au

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    My practice routine is similar to your old one. I just had a two week break and even with that I was getting a bit of tension when I started practice again. I suspect you need to build muscle strength over time. Your new routine Is more than anything you have done before by a large margin. My advice for what it is worth would be to work your way up physically towards that rather than just start with it. Also if the new routine is a daily routine you are not giving your muscles time to recover as you did by practicing every second day in your old routine. Without muscle recovery time I think you are headed for trouble. That's what my physio told me anyway.
    A bit of physical therapy helps to keep everything loose too. Like an athlete getting a massage after a long workout.
    Sounds like you are getting a heavy workout every day!
  3. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

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    Too much too soon. My $.02.
  4. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

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    I agree. That's too much to jump into right away. New students are generally instructed not to practice more than 45 minutes a day at first. And physically speaking, you are pretty much a new student again. I'd back it up and gradually work yourself up to what you are attempting now.
  5. Ant_C

    Ant_C

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    Thank you all for the responses. I figured it was more of an endurance/being new to the instrument again problem, rather than a technique problem. I guess I will just do my scales with the bow for 45 mins, pack up, then maybe 4-5 hours later do 45 minutes of pizz practice.

    I guess it's going to take some time to get my chops back. Would you guys suggest adding maybe, 5 minutes more to each session every couple of days, or is that to harsh of a jump?

    Only reason I'm kind of stressing out, is that I have a transfer audition the 3rd week of February, and need to prepare 3 tunes of contrasting styles (you know, just like almost every other college audition is like).
  6. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

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    I think you are still planning too long at 45 minutes. Stop before you feel fatigued. Rest as long as you play, that is, if you do a one minute exercise, then rest one minute. Look at it as if you are a beginner, as your body has to rebuild strength as if you were just starting out.

    How about 2 twenty minute sessions a day to start? Then increase five minutes per session every week. Go slow and listen to your body!
  7. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

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    Hmmm . . . that does change things a bit. Desperate times, desperate measures. But injuring yourself isn't going to help your audition either.

    You definitely need to back off. You might even take a day or two off to recover from the pain you are currently experiencing. Then I'd try 45 minutes total the next couple of days. You might alternate arco days and pizz days, or something like that. And in the next couple of weeks you might be able to work yourself up to two 45 minute sessions a day; or a couple or hours, tops, if you break it up into 3 or 4 sessions.

    And don't stress too much about the audition. Just based on what you have posted, I have a feeling your chances will be good as long as you are relaxed and focused come performance time.
  8. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

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    If it's your right forearm getting tired then it's a great time to break out the bow and work on your long tones. There's nothing to stop you from practicing your pizz material with the bow. Scales, phrasing, etc etc.

    Also, you can try playing without playing. You can still practice without causing the bass to voice the tones. The body can be trained with finger placement and getting used to the motions. Move the hands and the bass into the right position and see if you can be totally relaxed. Practice away from the instrument and visualize what you're doing.

    And then there's always sight reading, ear training, learning the piano, tune memorization, listening to records, transcriptions, and so on. It's endless - you don't have to have the bass in your hands to be working on something productive.
  9. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

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    All good advice. One way to think of being a musicians is that we are athletes, but small muscle athletes. So all the advice that goes along with an exercise routine applies. You want to build muscle and endurance but not cause injury. Take breaks. Stretch. Stay hydrated.
  10. Ant_C

    Ant_C

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    Thanks for all the great advice so far! I think for the next few weeks or so It's going to be a lot of arco practice, with some pizz in between arco sessions.

    I've been doing a lot of ear training/transcribing over the past 7 months (still had my electric bass), but I can always get better at that... so I'll just do some of that if I get the urge to play after my scheduled practice time is done.
  11. Lee Moses

    Lee Moses

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    Upon re-reading this, I thought it would be good to qualify it with something somebody else mentioned--listen to your body more more than to your practice time goals. Stop before it hurts.
  12. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Supporting Member

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    Disclosures:
    Owner/The Bass Spa, String Repairman/L & M Vancouver
    If its muscle tightness, I've had great success with an ingenious device called the 'Armaid'. Its like having a massage therapist live in and has made a real difference to my work and playing.

    Check the testimonials: http://www.armaid.com/articles/71-188/musicians

    ;)
  13. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

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    And there's always plenty of practice to be done away from the bass. If the brain is actively engaged then practicing is occurring.
  14. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Supporting Member

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    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    If your forearm is getting sore and not in pain, you are just working your muscles. They can take it. It means you are getting stronger. Make sure to monitor your arm, but you will be fine in a few weeks.

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