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Developing professional playing skills

Discussion in 'Ask Anthony Wellington [archive]' started by oniman7, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. Mr. Wellington (Anthony? Ant?),

    I am a 17 year old bassist. I graduated high school in June and don't start college until Spring. I have had a lot of free time and aside from doing normal teenage things, I have spent a lot of time working on my bass skills.

    I have started practicing much more and I would like to start developing professional playing skills. Yesterday I started reading the Bach Cello Suites. It is slow progress but progress nonetheless and has already affected the way I look at things.

    One specific question I have is how to effectively work with a metronome. When I just play with one alone, I often have a hard time keeping track of where I fall on the beat. Also, how do you get started learning to rush or drag the beat?

    Finally, how do you go about practicing your ear training? This is by far my weakest link. I made up for it by learning theory for a long time, but now I feel I've ignored it too long.

    I know you are very much about discipline and finding your own way (I believe it too). I am starting to pull my own discipline from the passion of finally having something I love to do instead of gliding along, and I will continue having to find that discipline because nobody will force me to be a better player. All of that said, I was just wondering if you could give me some pointers to guide me there.

    Thanks for your time and knowledge,

  2. Ant Wellington

    Ant Wellington

    Jan 4, 2011
    Hey Dakota,

    Thanks for writing! People are starting to write in with more 'involved' questions. This is another situation where I wish I could speak to you. My thoughts flow way faster than my fingers can keep up.

    Reading music is a skill. You'll get better it from doing it over and over. And if you're messing up, it's a good thing. That's actually how we get better at stuff. When you miss free throws you understand the micro adjustments you need to make to compensate from you r errors. This is something that has been documented by neuroscientist. I wish I could more about it right now but I'm sitting on an airplane(with wifi) typing on my iPad with 1 finger. And it's my plucking finger!!!

    For ear training there are many apps for smartphone. I have many of them. My favorite is Tenuto. Tenuto's founded what I consider to be the best ear training program ever. It's called www.musictheory.net and its totally free. There a downloadable version too. If I weren't answering your question I'd be on that program now. I spend most of my time in air working on ear training.

    The 3 sites I use for ear trying are:


    I use solfege.org mostly for rhythm ear training. Most musicians haven't even considered that. Thy only think of ear training as it applies to pitch. But just like you should be able to identify an interval, scale and chord you should be able to instantly notate a rhythm you hear.

    By the way,...in most cases, if there are no physical issues, 'bad' time and 'bad' pitch when singing are usually awareness problems. I wish I could elaborate but it's hard to explain without talking.

  3. Don't worry, I very much understood.

    Some people benefit from an audio transcriber that will write as you speak into it. I hate talking on phones and such in public, so it wouldn't be for me, but maybe something for you to look into.

    Thank you for taking the time to answer. I will check out those links and continue practicing!
  4. thanks anthony that was an awesome post!!