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Crack-down on bass playing

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by kirbywrx, Apr 1, 2003.

  1. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    Jazbos thread abput practise has really inspired me to crack down and get my rear end into gear about bass playing. If i want it to take me somewhere in life, now is the time to get good at it. No more Excuses. No more put offs. Ive good average equipment, but it will do the job. Bass is set up good, cant complain, so now it is time to sit down, and play.

    Ive got the main part of jazzbo's post printed out and stuck in my folder at the very front. Every time i look at it, i think about this crack down, and what i have to do.

    "Make music when practising" I lay down on my bed, and just play. Normally, id jsut start to slap and pop some power chords, but now i play through scales, playing every second note. Anything that comes into my head. I just think of a few numbers, and play those fret numbers. Id make a sentence using words that only start with A,B,C,D,E,F or G then play the notes in the orer that the sentence goes. Id get a piece of notation off the net and play it backwards.

    "Play along with records". This happens to be my problem. Thats all i did. :D

    "Cultivate your Environment". Check out my thread in [Recordings] :D

    Tony Levin said "Keep a note book". When ive finished playing, i write down the date, the day, how long i played for, and whati did. Then after i have jotted all that down, i write down what i want to do next lesson. Ive scanned my page so far, and attached it.

    My folder is divided into sections.
    Journal and Current Project- Basically what im learning now, and my journal

    Notation Pieces - When i get bored ill sit down and learn one of these little tunes.

    TaBz - Pretty self explanitory :D

    School stuff Reports from school telling me what my strenghts and weakness are.

    Scales and Solos When I feel god enouigh to try a solo, ill learn something from here, or when i forget the basics, this is where i go.

    Misc. Bits and pieces of everything. Alot like the forum here ;)

    Nows the point in time where your probably thinking "yeah, so what?" Well this goes to all the Newbies who always start the threads "What do i practise"?

    In conclusion, I'd just like to thank Jazzbo for putting that piece up. Its helped me (already) organise myself, keep a plan of what my strengths and weaknesses are, and what i should and shouldnt do.

    Thanks guys
  2. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    Yeah...I really should do that...I'm just...too....I don't know.....It's a difficult thing to do, I just love making music, I can sit at my bass for hours and hours and hours just making music, not thinking about my scales or my modes or chord changes, I don't know how much that will help as a musician, I really need to kick it in gear...I do...I just have too many things looming over me, school is a bitch sometimes. Senioritis is an even bigger one.
  3. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Well thanks for the props kirbs.

    Personally, I was seeing so much, "I practice everyday, for 3 hours" in threads, but realizing that what people are calling practice, is rarely as efficient as it could be. Without direction, it's probable that most people were merely wasting their time, not getting to where they want.

    I believe strongly in several things when it comes to practice, and part of that comes from the fact that my time is precious, I do not wish to waste my time. I believe in a well-rounded routine, in flexibility, organization, and the feng shui.

    While the feng shui part may seem to airy fairy to many, I can take it to a more simple level. Turning off the TV, ignoring the phone, being well-rested and fed. While the ideal situation isn't always possible, it's important to maintain your focus on what you're doing. Isolate yourself. Make sure your housemates understand that this is personal time when you should not be distracted. For an extreme example, see "Mo' Better Blues."

    Organization is key.

    Flexibility provides you the ability to change things as your schedule dictates. If your practice routine is too structured and detailed, you may skip a practice all together if you feel that you can't get through everything you want. I have tiers to my practicing. If I have 3 hours I know exactly what to work on, but if I have only 1/2 hour, I still know exactly what to work on.

    And, of course, be well-rounded. People say scales and arpeggioes, but what exactly are you doing with the scales? Are you doing ear-training? Are you transcribing? Are you working on notation? Are you learning melodies along with basslines? Are you looking at harmonic function within a tune? Are you practicing reading charts? Are you practicing writing? Are you focusing on technique? Are you strong in rhythm and time?

    Practice is not about running through scales, it's about training yourself as a musician. It's like those guys at the gym that just bench press all the time. Everyday they work their chest. But they got the chicken legs and no flexibility. They're not working out in a well-rounded fashion. Big chest, sure. But are they healthy? No. Same thing with bass. Practicing slap every day may make you proficient at slappy, but it doesn't make you a musician.
  4. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Very good points here jazzbo.

    One thing Id like to add if I may about the scales. Scales should only be a part of your practice routine, not the whole of it. Also that they should be played until they sound musical. (I read that in one of my books and believe it to be quite true.)

    Im not saying they have to sound musical right off the bat, but slowly work on it a little each day until they do sound musical.

    K Ill shadup now
  5. Perfect timing. I've been starting to work in the same way Kirby. Just trying to finally buckle down and really get to work instead of just listening to songs and learning them. It's a good base, but it's just not enough.

    I can make do with the stuff I have right now. Sure, it'd be great to have fancier stuff, but I have the gear to start with, might as well make do. Besides, what's the point of having the gear if I can't provide some strong playing, skills, and theory knowledge for me to play through it?

    I know a saxophone player that gives lessons at my local music store. He plays his scales for hours upon hours. Everytime he has a break, he's in there, practicing his scales. Turns out he's an AMAZING player. The guy has more talent in a fingernail than I feel is possible.

    Yeah, I'm only in my second year (going in to my third) of playing, but I guess it's better to start off right.

    Mass props to Jazzbo for those great reads he posts, and all the people in Technique and General Instruction who always have the answers.
  6. Albini_Fan

    Albini_Fan Banned

    Jan 26, 2003
    Beneath Below
    Hm, question. I have been playing bass for a year, I recently started lessons. Until now, I have just been playing with tabs and goofing around. I want to get serious, but I am kind of a dufus when it comes to music. It's about my third lesson, and my teacher has given me alot of finger excersizes and is just now telling me how to practice my first scale: the chromatic one.

    I have no idea what I need to do to practice effeciently at this point. All this talk about scary sounding music theorys and modes confuses me, should I just try to make the chromatic scale groove and do my finger excersizes until I figure out what appregieos ect are? :pI don't know what to do :( Can somone help me, at this stage in my music development, figure out a good practice routine?
  7. You should ask your teacher about it. He'd know where you're at as far as your skills and technique and what have you. Ask him to help you figure out ways to make your practicing efficient.

    And always practice with a metronome or drum machine. It helps.
  8. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    this is what i've learned over the years with my relationship with music and learning:

    1. play it slowly enough to get it perfect.

    2. play it at tempo (if its a tune for example), and don't worry about ANY mistakes.

    3. play watching your left hand.

    4. play watching your right hand.

    5. make music with what you know.

    6. record yourself.

    7. isolate a difficult passage and make a tune out of it.

    8. mistakes are compositional nuggets.

    9. don't be afraid to screw up on an audition.

    10. evaluate why you are playing music. set short and long term goals.

    11. understand that learning never ends.

    12. listen!

    13. take a break if this isn't a career.

    14. copy. assimilate. steal. be honest.

    15. share your ideas, if no one likes them, then you are probably onto something new!

    16. play another instrument for a while.

    17. try to play the way people talk. phrasing. try to communicate with your music.

    18. TEACH!!!

    what was the question?

  9. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    one last thing...i spent YEARS studying theory and composition.

    technique was foremost on my list of things to master.

    only to find out years later, that the simple ideas reach the farthest.

    sure, harmony is important. but, don't get bogged down in it.

    learn it bit by bit, over time it will make sense. its like learning another language. at first your thinking your first tongue and deliberately/consciously translating...then one day

    BAM, you start thinking in the new language.

    i have some books i can recommend for beginning theory.

  10. Albini_Fan

    Albini_Fan Banned

    Jan 26, 2003
    Beneath Below
    What books?

    And I play with a metrognome, but not all the time. If I am just noodleing while watching tv I won't, or playing off of a tab (Yes, I know these are bad :p).
  11. frederic b. hodshon

    frederic b. hodshon

    May 10, 2000
    Redmond, WA
    Microsoft Product Designer
    playing/noodling while doing other things isn't bad.

    as long as you realise that you'll need other challanges.

    i use a couple of jazz books with students. even if they don't want to play jazz.

    this will teach you chord functions and how to play through charts.

    don't try to learn fast either. take it one concept at a time.

    this book is EXCELLENT!!


    also, transcribing and reading transcriptions offers some serious learning!!!


    i can help you off line (by e-mail) if you want.

  12. 5stringDNA


    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    Great info Jazzbo (as always). You seem to be the well-structured voice of reason around here ;). I've been with a teacher for about 4 months now and its really helping push me in the right direction. I take lessons for trumpet as well, adn a lot of the the resources I've been aquiring lately are translating nicely over to bass, especially teh Jazz and Blues theory books I've been working with lately- heavy stuff :eek:. I am finally buckling down and really working on my notation and sight reading. :) My biggest problem so far is that I'll start playing scales and modes and half-way through my excercises I'll start to wonder and make tunes or go "hey, that sounds liek soemthin I've heard" and start figurign it out, lol. Hopefully discipline comes with time if I keep working at it. If you guys ahve seen it, what do think of "Jazz Essentials" by Kelly Dean? It seems to be a good straightforeward jazz book (lots of scales and traids, all that good stuff) so far...

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