How do you practice?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Whale guy, Jun 17, 2020.

  1. Whale guy

    Whale guy

    Jul 12, 2018
    How much do you practice?
    What do you practice?
    % of practice is finger exercises?
    % of practice is sightreading?
    % improvising?
    % band music?

    What do you spend the most time on?

    Thanks. I really am curious how much people actually do.
    Lux and alanloomis1980 like this.
  2. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    those willing and able to observe continuing virus concerns by staying put and behaving have more time than ever to 'shed n jam alone, things are way out of context now for most people, but those who were already semi-pros at social distancing are literally right at home lol I'm set up in the apt. with everything needed within reach like a pilot's cockpit to multi task with a bass in my lap, specifically to eliminate excuses to not practice. my 3 latest NBDs have me gloriously addicted!
    What do you practice? - spontaneous inspiration, something fun always pops up on the computer, etc. ever since hearing Hendrix played along with the TV and radio (hellooo Wild Thing) that was a lesson early on in making good use of lazy times. I love the great TONE of a bass, first and foremost, making hours of even the most mundane aspects of practice thoroughly enjoyable.
    % of practice is finger exercises? - 50% finding new patterns is a passion
    % of practice is sightreading? - 0
    % improvising? - 50% all I gotta do is think of a Deep Purple song like Mandrake Root or some cool Mountain, Cream, anything that rocks and it's off to the races. or the other extreme into dreamyland.
    % band music? - my Fender B-DEC 30 combo is the ultimate home jam buddy, just dial up any and everything desired, there's no end to it, and nobody to butt heads with CHI-CHING!
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  3. Whale guy

    Whale guy

    Jul 12, 2018
  4. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    FatStringer52 likes this.
  5. CallMeAl


    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    I’d say probably 80-90% - songs!*

    Usually by ear, occasionally a youtube “bass cover,” and using more written transcription lately.

    the other 10-20% is scale patterns up the neck, improv, and just goofing with the drum machine.

    *like Bass V points out, quarantine throws the whole thing outta whack. It’s usually mostly band songs. Now I’m doing about half band songs, half just for me.... which is kinda cool! :thumbsup:
    Whale guy and Bass V like this.
  6. factory presets

    factory presets

    Mar 3, 2020
    Coming off a 15-20 year break so I been doing a lot of scales and finger exercises. Then I changed to BEAD. So now I've been doing lots of orientation stuff. Basically finger exercises while reciting note names. Then the borders shut and the gig I'm working towards got rescheduled. So I figured I might as well break out the thumb. Same routine but now I'm going thunk.

    I'm probably the only one, but I love scales and poopie. Kind of the Swiss army knife of practice. Closest practice comes to instant gratification. I take care of the basics and the basics take care of everything else.
    johnnynitro likes this.
  7. Whale guy

    Whale guy

    Jul 12, 2018
    I'm so with you. I'm all about scales and modes. Some of those jazz modes from around the world give sounds I could only dream of.
  8. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Until the pandemic, I spent most of my practice time working on material for gigs 75% or more. That including some amount of transcribing and analysis.

    How much do I practice? I am totally inconsistent. I do not recommend this approach! During periods where I practiced every day at the same time for the same amount of time (unless life prevented it) I had the greatest improvement.
  9. nonohmic


    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    At the moment 50 % sightreading, 50% learning patterns and cool licks phrases.

    I've basically never learned someone else's song in it's entirety. But my wife says that's weird and I'm wondering if I should start.
    Mr Cheese and comatosedragon like this.
  10. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Funny how that works. :D

    Two things I would say - first, make sure you understand the difference between playing and practicing. Playing Tush for the 10,000th time is not practicing. Second, this works for me and may or may not work for you, sometimes setting something aside for a day or two is more beneficial than continuing to hammer it every single day.

    Can't help myself - a good teacher will help you make progress much faster than you can make on your own. Watching a Youtube video is not a lesson; there is no feedback. Feedback is essential and you don't know what you don't know.
  11. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I occasionally pull one of my basses off the wall and run through a few original compositions that I am already proficient at for a few minutes at a time while my kids are playing LEGO.

    i.e., I am in a massive rut, barely treading water, making little-to-no progress, but I am actually pretty prepared to begin recording a couple of demo tracks to send off to my band mates.
  12. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Not nearly enough most times.
  13. Seashore


    Jun 2, 2019
    I run some scales and occasionally finger-isolation drills as warmup exercises, but most of my playing time lately has been writing new stuff (more on guitar for the past couple months), practicing what I wrote, recording, and I've just gotten back to running over band stuff so it's under my fingers in case we get to jam or play a show sometime (unlikely at this point).

    The band stuff is neat because a lot of it is very different from what I'd be doing on my own, so it takes me out of my little box and makes me a better player.
  14. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Almost all playing band material. Both of my bands have not practiced in months. I'm sure someone(s) will, but I'm not going to be the one who forgot all the material.
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
    Helix and JoshS like this.
  15. sonojono

    sonojono Supporting Member

    Feb 13, 2013
    Practice with a candle burning and you will see your future.
    factory presets likes this.
  16. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    When I first started I practiced like crazy: 2-6 hours every day. Half of the practice was scales, arpeggios, learning the fretboard, technique study etc and some was working out actual songs for the band I was going to be working with.

    For the first couple years, I maintained a very steady routine of an hour or two a day - unless I just didn't feel like it, then I took a day off. As @lfmn said, this can be very helpful to just let your mind and body subconsciously process things.

    Once I started passing auditions and feeling a bit confident that I could step into any situation (in my end of the pool of course) and get the job done, my routine is a bit more relaxed - I tend to play 30-60 minutes a day. I do a little work on technique leaks while I'm staying sharp songs I need for my bands. But most of my time is spent just keeping the songs under my fingers and keeping my voice active (that degrades so fast!). Unless I have something to cram for, I'll generally take a day off after a rehearsal or gig just to clear my brain and let my body rest. Occasionally, I'll fire up Pandora, pick a channel and just jam for the fun of jamming.

    I was really surprised how poorly I used the recent downtime to improve myself. I started out strong, and have gained a little ground on a few of my technique leaks, but overall, was not very active - it was very hard to keep grinding through my set lists without rehearsals or gigs on the horizon and although I've improved my practice skills since I was in school (actually working out problems rather than just playing the stuff I could already play well), I've never been one to spend hours just doing exercises. But I do try to work on my technique leaks as I'm keeping songs fresh: trying a different plucking technique, or finding another way to play a line, moving a line form my five string fingering to 4 string, etc so I get a little bit of personal progress while doing otherwise mundane work.
    Sands and factory presets like this.
  17. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I still do about 5 minutes of these stupid Stu Hamm hand stretches that I learned on a video years ago most days. Used to do more but really can't muster up the patience for more than 5 minutes. Some scales, always scales. They say scales are the scales of scales, I believe them. 10-15 minutes or more depending on how serious I think I am, feels like longer. First couple weeks of this infernal pandemic I spent a ton of time with scales. But I also habitually tinker with modes when I'm on the couch, not really structured practice but probably better than playing Runnin' with the Devil for an hour. Play songs as needed to learn or keep fresh-ish. I had to learn to sight read by 2nd grade and now those scars became a habit so I wouldn't say I practice sight reading, just read.
    Then if I get bored, that's what effects are for. I'm pretty motivated to do the "work" stuff first. As dumb as at sounds I think I could focus for 15-20 minutes and not play and real material and not go too far backwards with skills. I think the hardest part for me right now with all the uncertainty is "songs" because playing material is where I'd lose focus whereas the boring rigor stuff is more ingrained so for me that part is a "goal" to tackle.
  18. hieronymous


    Nov 28, 2002
    SF Bay Area
    I mostly just play along with songs - these days on Spotify (hate the business model but it's amazing to have almost anything you can think of at your fingertips). I made a log spreadsheet with start time, end time, and the songs I play along with. Sometimes I'll play the same stuff a couple days in a row, often just play with whatever comes to mind. I'm not looking to "improve" per se, more just to try and keep my fingers limber and my calluses somewhat intact. I usually end up playing 45 minutes to an hour a day, though I've missed the last two days. If I'm in a band I'm much more consistent, I often don't play at all when I'm not. So I probably didn't play for the first 2 months of Shelter in Place, but something inspired me to start playing again a couple of weeks ago - it's been fun!
  19. Helix

    Helix California U.S.A.

    May 29, 2015
    This works for me also

    I've brought up this subject in the past and all I've ever gotten were "crickets"

    I think, in my case at least, my mind needs to absorb what it is Im trying to do, and process it without stress.....I need to "Be the Ball"

    lfmn16 and sonojono like this.