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Fuddled and stressed practice advice?

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Zerozeddy, Jun 16, 2005.

  1. Answers to the question "why" on request.

    I've just started playing in a wind band that have a large repertoire and do quite tricky stuff (in particular 1812 Overture :help:

    The Problems:
    • only just started reading music
    • have to transpose tuba parts (which go down to G below E, if not futher, and having 4 leger lines does me 'ead in)
    • struggling to get to grips with fretless intonation of Ashbory bass
    • got about 20 pieces to play
    • they're hard even if you can read. Wind bands like their flat keys. Many have SIX (count them) flats and fast phrases with complicated rhythms packed with accidentals.

    I can't focus and am feeling overwhelmed, aggravated and sorry for myself. I end up transposing the pieces up to bass range and practising clean fingering on the Ashbory, and then run out of time and never try the pieces themselves. And so on.

    Any idea how to help clear my head, and on what I should be concentrating?
  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    First thing to do is go and buy a copy of the Inner Game Of Music - it's all about stuff like this.

    #2 is to realise there's only so much you can do, and your best is good enough, whatever anyone may say.

    next is to break it down into chunks. Work out a plan and stick to it. take 5-10 minutes at the beginning of your practice time to plan what you're going to work on.

    Is there anything that could make it easier? Is the Ashbory a big part of the problem, and if so, could you switch back to 'normal' bass?

    Reading in keys with lots of sharps or flats is all about knowing the neck in key, and reading the intervals, rather than having to work out the flatness and sharpness of every note - playing the first third fifth and seventh notes of an Eb major scale is a lot easier than trying to work out what those four notes are in relation to the keysig etc.

    take it slowly, breath deeply, and tackle as much as you can reasonably be expected to tackle, and don't sweat the rest of it.

  3. Thanks, Steve. And it turns out my colleague here has a copy of that book, rah!

    I think my main dilemma is - should I work on what to play, or how to play?

    BTW it needs to be an Ashbory because of cycling to rehearsals and RSI-avoidance. And because it's ace.
  4. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    I guess that depends on a) how soon the gigs are, and b) how serious the 'how to play' questions are. If you're really not comfortable on the Ashbory yet, then I think getting your thing together on that is probably top priority, but there's no reason you should be able to multitask that with learning the songs, or the skills required for the gig.

  5. Steve will let me know if he minds me horning in on his thread...
    I did a lot of this when I was playing in school band. I played electric bass in several concert bands, none of it anything resembling the jazz and rock that I had a grounding in. I had to build parts from Tuba/Euphonium charts, and left hand Piano sheets.

    I suggest:

    Transposing your parts on paper first. Just go through them measure by measure and bump them up an octave, or into the correct key. You will save a ton of time down the road and become very familiar with the parts in the process.

    When you have a part written in a key like, say, Eb, learn the scale and the chord tones across the neck. Say the notes out loud. You will make a connection between the note and its location. Take advantage of playing a transposing instrument. You just move the physical forms, as opposed to Piano or Sax!

    Don't overload on one thing. You can't learn all things at one shot. So take the engineers route and break that big task down into many smaller tasks.

    Remember: There are no shortcuts. If the shortcut was easier they would just call it 'the way'.
  6. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Good advice, thanks Pete!

    horn in anytime...

  7. CurbowPete


    Aug 28, 2004
    I'll vouch for that. FANTASTIC book! Barry Green is the man


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