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Advanced Practice Routine Needed

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by amusicalperson, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. Ok folks, here's the thing. I understand the saying is practice is about quality not quantity but here's my thing, I don't understand what "quality" practice means. I have anywhere from 6-8 hours of daily practice time. My practice consists of running through my band's material, running through Major and Blues scales, Minor Scales every so often, Arpeggios, and a few dexterity excercises I've developed and I'll usually learn a new song or two but I find I'm not progressing as fast as I'd like. Can anyone help me out with a more advanced practice regiment? I mean, guys like Parker and Jaco practiced 8+ hours a day, there has to be a regiment these guys followed. Thanks guys, you rule, as always.
  2. freatles


    Jan 9, 2014
    For what its worth, I find that my learning has limits, and extra hours in a day won't make it happen faster.

    For theory I max out at couple of hours, 3 h for learning songs. Music theory and concepts especially sometimes take weeks or months to sink in, and 1-2 hours daily seems to be optimal at my level (triads, 7ths, functional harmony, impro).

    I suggest adding something totally different. Perhaps an hour of drumming? Solfege or singing classes? Music history?

    Then again, 4 hours of theory and 4 hours of playing might take you the extra 2-3 hours further than I get every day. What do I know! I guess we are all different in this respect.
  3. BrotherMister


    Nov 4, 2013
    Since your focus seems to be on major and blues scales why not focus on minor scales. You have melodic minor and harmonic minors. You also have whole tone scales, pentatonic scales, modes of the major scale, modes of the minor scales, diminished scales etc etc etc

    Can you play all these scales in 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths? Can you do that up and down two octaves? What about starting from the lowest note available in each key to the highest and vice versa? Can you ascend in patterns of 3, 4, 5 and so on?

    You could play a continuous scale in all keys so starting from the lowest note in a key. Lets say you start in C major. Start on the open E since that is your lowest available note (assuming you are on a 4 string) of C major. Play every note in the scale until you reach the highest available note and coming back down come down in a new key such as G or F major until you get the lowest note available in that key and repeat it in a new key. Take it through the circle of 4ths or 5ths. If you do it in 4ths then go back and do it in 5ths starting with a different scale at the start. Your goal is to play continuously without stopping. Once you can do that with the major scales then go and do it with the melodic minor, harmonic minor, the modes, diminished scales, whole tone scales, pentatonic scales etc etc All those things you have been working on before.

    Do you play arpeggios of major, major 7th, minor, minor 7th, dominant 7th, minor major 7th, major 9ths, minor 9ths etc etc etc in all keys? Can you do it starting on the lowest available not on each chord? Can you do every inversion of them?

    What about your technique? There is always something you can work on with your technique. Are you keeping your wrists straight? is your thumb creeping up over the neck? How is your touch? How cleaning can you play?

    How are your improvising chops? Can you improvise? If you can't then start learning. If you can how is your jazz improv? Learn that. Can you improvise over the blues in all 12 keys? What about a jazz standard?

    Can you slap or tap? You might never need to play them on a gig but learning how to these techniques opens your playing up a lot. There is no such thing as knowing too much!

    How are your ears? You can always do work on improving your ears. Can you sing all the intervals ascending and descending within an octave? what about two octaves? can you identify them even further apart? Can you identify chord types just by hearing them? Can you listen to a song and identify the chord changes without an instrument on hand to check you are correct? Can you do this with a minimum amount of listens? Can you do it with jazz standards or modern jazz tunes? What about a symphony?

    How is your time feel? That can always be improved as well can you lay down a solid bass line while having the metronome click on the 2nd semiquaver of beat 2 only? How is your playing in odd times? Can you take a tune in 4 and play in 3/5/6/7/9?

    You could transcribe music. If you already transcribe the bass why not try other instruments? Have you ever transcribed every note from a musician in an entire album from memory only? Have you transcribed a choir or an orchestra or a big band?

    How is your reading? if you can't read then learn to read. If you can read then work on it. Or transpose music that wasn't written for the instrument to the bass.

    Do you record yourself practicing? You will be amazed at what you discover about your playing when you actually hear yourself back. It tends not to be pretty pleasant but if you are honest with yourself about what you are hearing it is incredibly productive. You can take it a step further and video yourself so you can asses your technique as well.

    If you can go and take lessons with the best musicians in your area. Not just bass players either, take a lesson with piano players or drummers whoever you can learn from. You don't have to learn how to play their instruments but ask them about things and what they want from a bass player. It is pretty interesting hearing what musicians actually want from the bass player and not what the bass player thinks they want from the bass player.

    I could keep going but there is probably already a lifetimes worth of work to be done in any of the points I have mentioned. There isn't a single regime that will make you a great musician. I went to a masterclass with Branford Marsalis and he spoke about how he to this day takes Saxophone lessons because he is constantly wanting to improve. He told a story about when he was with Art Blakey's band that Blakey would play entire sets consisting of tunes that Branford hated, didn't know or wasn't great on. He thought Blakey was being an ass to him but later discovered it was Blakey's way or forcing him to focus on the weaknesses in his own playing. Branford then told a story how he realised he wasn't great at playing on ballads so made his own band play at least 2 ballads a set every night until he got better at it. It was great to hear someone of that standard talk about his own shortcomings as a player and hearing that even they still work on it the same way we do to get better. Just keep at it and you will improve.
    SeSt likes this.
  4. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Where'd you hear that?

    Add the Double Bass to you regiment.

    Theory (classical, jazz)?

    Ear Training? Without this, you'll never even get in the vicinity of any great player.

    Piano? EVERYONE should be able to play some piano.

    Composition? Bird and Jaco, both composed.

    Listening? One can NEVER do enough of this.

    Rehearsing with other musicians? Interaction.

    Gigging with other musicians? Interaction with some pressure.

    Just a few...

    Oh, and get a teacher.
  5. msaone


    May 13, 2012
    6-8 hours a day?!
    I'm jealous. :)
  6. This is exactly what I was looking for, thank you so much!
  7. I read Jaco's biography and they said as a kid he would practice atleast 6 hours a day, and in an interview with Paul Desmond and Parker he asked Parker how much he practiced as a kid and Parker said 8+ hours a day for 3 years straight.
  8. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Don't you just love what legends are made of?
  9. I think it is important to learn basic technique and develop that over time so that it is mastered

    Kitharologus in classical guitar builds on the idea of learning to master essential techniques and beyond that anything can be played.. Or words to that effect

    I take breaks away from bass on occasion and bring back lessons from other fields

    Like in classical guitar part of it is mastery of plucking open strings on any number of combinations, listening for tone and evenness etc

    Painstaking repetitive work but the idea behind it is to master basic plucking because without mastery of plucking the music isn't going to sound any good... Lol..

    When I came back to bass I was frustrated with finger style and I was determined to gain proficiency in picking... Why I don't know because my finger style was good but it was a determination that grew out of me...

    My pick tone was terrible from the outset but I studied every little movement and monitored all the unevenness and kept moulding the technique... I basically applied the instruction in classical and used it on pick bass... Bazaar yes but it works if thought through and adjusted to fit the situation

    Fluency emerged but tone control was still inconsistent so I then concentrated on palm mute and I am now getting that down

    So I figure, identify one area of your playing that you really want to commit to improving... Work on that one area as the 'practice' part and leave the other hours to enjoy playing and exploring

    As another example for me is walking bass.... I got this idea stuck in my head that I had to learn walking bass... So off I go out in the jungle of the walking bass world and stumble across all sorts of obstacles and frustrations thinking I could do it all on my own...mind you my whole life up to that point was rock, but in spite of that I thought I could just decide to do it and I would get it down..

    In the end I took up a season of lessons and joined a combo and things started to make a bit more sense and whilst I gained a lot of info I still needed time to work on it

    This meant going back to learning basic harmony etc etc

    So it's like some things can come about through lots of repetition whilst other things grow slowly but nothing can grow at all if not fed properly..

    Liken it to an athlete that trains everyday but has a poor diet....

    Ps I am offering these comments as a person who practices and studies bass and not as a person who teaches bass...
  10. Is it okay to practice self-taught? I usually learn from the internet, and learn from some cool dudes on youtube like MarloweDK, Scott Devine, and lots of them if you search 'em.

    I am a pianist at my early years, learn lots of classical and theory from Royal and Yamaha, fell in love with bass and jazz at junior high school, and currently i play Jaco, Miller, Pino, and such. I have discipline to hold my bass only at least a hour a day, because I still at high school (we students don't have lotta time to groovin'). I have play and gig regularly with lots of local musician here, and i go multigenres. They said they love the way i play the bass, so I'm pretty happy right now as a bassist. But back at the question, did it right for me to learn by my musical instinct, without teachers?

    I feel like building a very high and cool tower, but with wooden foundation construction. I'm afraid I will stuck at some point of my "bass-ing" development later if i don't hire a teacher ASAP.

    It's a question running in my head nowadays.. :ninja:
  11. 1. Set clear Goals with Timeframe.
    2. Have a specific Focus to concentrate your efforts.
    3. Have an Action Plan with Measurable Landmarks along the way.
    4. Write down your progress towards your Goals with every practice session.

    Get as much outside advice/ pro lessons as possible.
    Ability to listen is central
    Develop a great feel
    Play with people better than you as often as you can.
    Work hard but be patient with yourself.
    Understand the role your bass has within the context of the music/ band/ mix/ etc.
    Never lose the joy of playing bass and making music.
  12. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Get a real live bass teacher.
  13. Why is that unbelievable?

    I did that for 2 years straight when I was a kid, I'm lucky to get 2 hours now days though, I wish I had more time. I'd practice 4-5 hours a day if I could.
  14. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Banned

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    Actually, it IS believable.

    What is most likely NOT understood, is that these 6, 7, 8, or more hours were probably NOT all spent blowin' on an Alto Sax, or pluckin' on an Electric Bass.

    I would think that THESE musicians spent MOST of their time doing other musical activities, such as: A LOT of varied listening, playing the piano, composing/arranging and theory analysis, learning about the previous history of music and musicians, and playing with other musicians.

    It's these activities that MOST (bedroom) musicians do not do. They imagine 8 hours of physical playing, alone in a room. NO WAY.

    The two mentioned musicians ascended too high to have not done the "other" activities.
  15. I can't argue that those aren't valuable to be a musician you've got to do all that.
  16. Boom762

    Boom762 I AM the one who Booms! Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2013
    Lubbock, TX
    Don't forget to add in pinch harmonics and fast arpegio sweeps, and dont cheat with distortion. Do your sweeps up and down in as quickly as possible, hit every note, and on a clean channel so you can hear if you mess up or not. Eventually youll be able to pull of 3 amazing up and down sweeps across 6 notes in 1 second. thats when you know youve won.
  17. 4to5to6

    4to5to6 Bassist Supporting Member

    I simply break it into rhythm, melody and harmony studies...

    First, have a great place to practice... everything always ready to go... No distractions.

    Sounds like Jaco Method by Ray Petersen would fit where you're at.

    After buying over 100 bass books, the ones I currently like the most are:

    Jaco Method by Ray Petersen
    Has a little of everything - intermediate to advanced
    Learn your chord tones! Be fluent with your nversions.

    The Evolving Bassist by Rufus Reid
    I've been working on Open String Étude 1 for 5 years (PM me for a midi or piano version to play along with)

    Method For Trombone by Ernest Clarke
    Excellent for reading

    Don't neglect the Simandl bass method.

    Melodious Etudes for Trombone
    Carl Fischer version edited by Alan Raph is excellent

    Fretless Bass by Steve Bailey
    all sorts of awesome exercises

    Fingerboard Harmony by Gary Willis
    If I was stranded on a desert island with my bass for a year and had my choice of taking one book, this would be the one.

    Don't neglect the better online guys like Adam Nitti. Listen to everything on YouTube by Jeff Berlin, Players School of Music. Better yet, do a One Week Intensive at his school.

    Do some ear training... One Note by Bruce Arnold is awesome. It's on my To Do list to do the same thing but using electric bass instead of piano. It's not solfage but easier to do on your own.

    The Art of Piano Playing by George Kochevitsky is a great book to get together the connection with your instrument. Is it just muscle memory? Awesome discussion on the development of piano teaching methods during the transition from harpsichord. It applies directly to bass.

    I'm probably forgetting a few. These are a great start.

    Learn some Bach pieces note for note. The great Jaco (Jeff Berlin and Victor Wooten rolled into one) said this too! It's "pure music".

    Take a theory course. Know all your key signatures, chord spelling, etc. etc. this is a must or you will hit a huge wall eventually. Practice writing music out. Be a literate musician. Wouldn't you love to have the ear and writing ability to hear it and be able to easily write it out? Awesome skill to have!

    The most important thing is to get out and play. If you don't want to commit to the requirements of playing in a band right now then find every open mic etc. in your area with back line gear and do one a night if you can. Get in a few open mic house bands. I went through a phase when I played almost ever night for two years at open mics experiencing every conceivable musical adventure I could imagine. Priceless experience and unbelievable confidence builder! Get a good recorder, listen to your self.

    Lots more but that's good for now. Remember "Keep them wanting more"! Take a music business course if you are even slightly contemplating doing this for a living. Figure out how to combine your art with making money. Money is necessary unless you want to live in your mother's basement until your 50... Just kidding, well maybe not. You don't have to compromise (well maybe a little) if you approach the business the right way. Nothing wrecks the art (or should that read artist) more then starving and being desperate!

    Write and record bass songs... Just Do It... and on and on... you'll easily figure it out if you get this far... I haven't so it's time for me to stop writing...

    Have fun! Have a blast! Have a life! Who you are will come through your playing! Listen to Mr. Wooten "music is a language". Converse with the best musicians you can get in with. Musicianship is contagious. Lots of this stuff is caught, not taught!

    Learn to get along with people... this can be tough sometime especially with the way artistic people are ;) but this is the glue that holds it all together. Music is a people thing!

    Don't neglect getting good gear. Learn how to set up and intonate your bass. This should be up the list... before ear training. What is equal temperament? Look up equal temperament and Pythagorean tuning... Here it is http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagorean_comma B# is not a C! Fun photo attached.

    And the beat goes on... Oh yeah, even though the hardest part to learn, notes are only a small part of music; groove, feel, swing... whatever you want to call it, is even more important. May all your wrong notes be short ones :) Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Know the difference between academic practicing and performing (thanks Jeff).

    Did I answer your question? I may have deviated a bit here... oh well... Hopefully there's something here... Should I read this again tomorrow morning when I'm alert and awake? Probably not!

    Attached Files:

  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Transcribe some jazz classics by ear. Don't just do bass parts either. It really sharpens up your ear and it'll give you some great ideas for playing your own stuff.

    And consider getting a teacher versed in jazz who knows what you need next. This is the problem with being self-taught...sooner or later, your knowledge base runs out.
    amusicalperson likes this.