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Am I wasting my time???? - rhythm exercise

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by romac, Aug 14, 2004.

  1. OK over the past couple of days I've been doing this exercise; I set my metronome to click on just beat 1 of the bar, initially at 100BPM. I tap out with a drum stick on a table 1,2,3,4 trying to land 1 on the click everytime. So I do that for about 5 minutes, then I repeat it for 80BPM. I then do the same but have the metronome just click on beat 2, then beat 3, then just beat 4. Now I do this with a drumstick because of my arthritus, I can't play the bass for more than around 1.5 hours a day, so I like to get whatever I can that doesn't have to involve the bass done.

    I was just wondering whether anyone with more experience could help me out a bit and direct me if what I'm doing doesn't have any use since what I'm doing isn't on my bass.

    Thanks a lot for any help
  2. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Not a waste of time at all. To make the action more similar, do muted slaps to get the same kind of percussive sound if that's what you want. To do that for an hour and a half is a bit long, though. Do something MUSICAL with it. Go up scales, or better yet, arpeggios and chord tones.

    Here's something to practice your music theory AND your rhythm: Do what you're doing now, only with this twist: Hit the 1, 5, and 8th tones from the ionian form of the major scale. Then hit the 1, 5, and 8 of the dorian, and then phrygian, etc. If you find that a bit boring, try getting the 1, 3, and 7, etc. etc. Work out the notes you're going to hit beforehand and get 'em all, and THEN do the exercise. Do it ascending, then descending, and remember: Start slow, then speed up.
  3. Sorry I didn't make it woo clear. I don't actually do that for an hour and a half, I do it for about 20 minutes.

    And I'm not too sure you get what I'm doing. It's just a drum stick against a table, how can I go up scales??

    Thanks for your input though
  4. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    I've taken up playing exercizes on my keyboard on days I can't practice as much as I want because of physical limitations.

    I don't find it a waste of time. It looks like you're trying to hone up on your rhythm? To help you internalize rhythm you might want to try to start singing those rhythms...yes...singing. There was a great article pertaining to groove in Bass Player a few months ago that focused on singing the rhythms (ex: 8th notes - instead of "1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +" and so forth sing it "da ba da ba da ba da ba") against the metronome. It may seem silly but I find it helpful. I'm not fully understanding what you are doing with the drumstick but I thought this would be a helpful exercize to try when you need to give your hands a rest.

    As for only being able to practice for 1.5 hours make sure to make the most of your time, but also make sure you aren't overdoing it.

    Take it easy. :)
  5. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    A practice trick that Josh (Joshua) turned me onto was to set the metronome so that it's clicking on the 2 and 4 beat of every measure. Then swing to that, since you'll want to leave the 2 & 4 beats for the bass drum, this exercise helps you to make the most out of the strong beats. Or something...

    It's definitely given me a stronger sense of time compared to just having the metronome click for each beat. Are you finding this as well with your drumstick exercise, romac?
  6. I am actually. It now takes me next to no time to 'lock in' with that click on beat 1, so that must be good. The harder ones are when the beats are on 2 or 4, so I might try what you said, having the metronome click on 2 and 4, should be easier.

    Thanks for the help
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I do that same exercise on the bass, it's a goodun and it's definitely not easy, especially as the tempo gets slower...try 30 BPM instead of 100 BPM!!!
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I dunno, what exactly are you trying to get out of this exercise? Personally, I think there are some far better uses of your practice time. If you cant' PLAY bass, transcribe, do ear training.

    But sitting there with a drumstick isn't really helping you get a handle on how it feels, viscerally, to play a line in time, to improvise in time. And THAT'S the time you need to work on and to work on that you need the instrument that you play.

    Somebody else suggested getting a keyboard, I'd second that. And work on playing and singing intervals and chords i.e. EAR TRAINING. That way you work on playing when you can and work on hearing when you can't play.
  9. Thanks for the advice. So to improve my timing do you suggest that I just work on things like syncopated lines and rhythmically complex lines??? Will exercises like the one I am doing, even played on my bass not really help me timing???
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think the keyboard idea would be much the better option - you can get keyboards very cheaply and even a small one would be useful as Ed says, along with the singing.

    So, Robert Wyatt the drummer in Jazz/Rock group Soft Machine, fell out of a window and became severely disabled, confined to a wheelchair - but he has been able to write a lot of great songs and has released many good albums, based on working with keyboards,some hand percussion and singing, to record demos and work on composing pieces - there is a very heart-warming BBC documentary which shows him working at home, like this, which was on TV again at the weekend.
  11. Well I already do a lot of interval ear training on my keyboard but I'll work more with scales and chords now.

    Thanks again for the help everyone.
  12. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    To improve your time, you need to PLAY. Working on exercises (syncopated and complex or on the beat and simple) with a nome is more about hearing where those things lie in the beat structure, not about time feel.

    Set the nome to 60bpm= quarter note. Pick a song you like to play. Play the melody. Play once through the form improvising over the form. Play the meldoy again. Back and forth liek that for awhile.

    There are some specific things my teacher has me working on that don't communicate well over the net (mostly cause you need the teacher's objective ear there every week while you play through this stuff), but that's a good start. Play duo with your guitar player.

    Oo gotta run, will type more later.