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How do you spend your practice time?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by irjason, Dec 13, 2005.

  1. irjason


    Nov 17, 2001
    Louisville, KY
    I'm just curious how everyone structures the time they spend practicing. I've never had lessons or any formal training at all, and I suspect that the time I spend practicing could be better spent. So I'd like to see what everyone else does.
    Here is how I usually do it:
    Warmups for a while
    8th note type stuff along with drum machine (skip if short on time)
    Work on whatever the main goal is (new song for example)
    Noodle around for a while with drum machine (most of the time, this is where I may come up with ideas for songs)

    Anyone want to share?
  2. groove100


    Jan 22, 2005
    hi irjason..

    i spend my practice hours in this way.

    when i wake in the morning i spend 15min sightreading sometimes it goes up to 30 min, but it depends on the day, that acts as my warmup both physically and mentally.

    then later in the afternoon or evening i do arppegitations for Major, Min, half-dim, Aug. im using Todd Coleman's book for this. then after I practice scale, I'll do the regular Dorian and Myxolydian and cover all the keys as i can. then pick up the harmonic and melodic minor and whole tone. then If i have enough time I'll pull on standard and learn the melody and improvise.

    Of course this is not everyday for me. sometimes i cut 1 segement and add a different one, like study a trombone etude instead of a standard or read jazz theory books and learn more about it, or my favorite go to coffee shop and write bass lines or solo over chord changes of a jazz standard.
    and of course there is endless time in just noodling around.

    markus huber
  3. irjason


    Nov 17, 2001
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks Marcus. Sounds like you have a nice system going. I really like your idea of playing music written for other instruments. I'll give that a try.
    I also noticed just now there is a General Instruction section right below this one. I guess this topic should have been posted there.
  4. Hey, well, like yourself, I'm not a very "well trained" musician, so I just kinda do things that I've found to be helpful to me, but I'm really not sure if they're "correct" or anything. I usually like to practice like this:

    Warm up: slow count fretting: playing individually fretted notes to a 10 count (gets the blood moving)
    Flavor of the week exercise: whatever "cool" little techniques I want to get better at (triplet thumb slaps, 3 finger picking, whatever)
    solo runs: start at a note, and try to make one bassline that has minimal repeats, and flows very evenly
    Jam-a-long: I pick a piece of music (something complex, and non-repeating, such as Aphex Twin, Flashbulb, Coltrane, any jazz great) and jam with the CD. Try to make it fit with the music bass included)

    That's about it, I gave up on scales, and I figured that if I can just know where the notes are on the neck, I don't have to worry about the scales.
  5. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    There's really no right or wrong way. A couple of things that have been helpful to me.

    1. Have a consistant warm-up. This doesn't have to be anything really specific, but I think its important to start with a little drill of scales or arpeggios that take you over the whole neck. The real goal here is to warm up your mind, so you are in 'bass-playing mode'. And hearing what all the notes sound like is a good start too.

    2. Have a goal. Something you need to get better with. A song, a part of a solo, some technique... whatever.

    3. Always try something new... or do something old in a new way.

    I guess the point I'm trying to make is that it really doesn't take a great deal strength to play BG... and there isn't an established technique. So..... the big deal is the exercise the mind and creativity.

    Coming from a classical trumpet and french horn background I found that a lot of my 'practice ethics' didn't really translate to bass. I mean, playing a 15 minute version of 'Chameleon' requires a whole different mindset than any symphony. Knowing 20 different ways to play a Bb Blues line is very different than anything I had encountered with wind instruments.
  6. I usually just warm up with something easy (walking, etc) Then work on whatever I need to work on (new pieces, techniques, etc.) Then I turn on the drum machine and improv for long periods of time. Nothing is more liberating. This is when I write most of my material. When I hit a cool riff, I write it down (Always have blank sheet music paper available) and then continue improvising. Every once in a while I switch up the tempo/style. When I want to stop, I stop. Don't force yourself to practice. That's no fun :scowl:
  7. irjason


    Nov 17, 2001
    Louisville, KY
    Thanks everyone. I'm going to give a lot of these ideas a shot.
  8. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I am extremely unstructured about practice. I usually try to start with something new. I then go through some of the songs I am currently working on. I then move on to songs I know. I have a terrible memory and have to keep "renewing" songs or I forget them.

    Of course if I am getting ready for a gig where there is a set list, I will run through the set list.

    A couple of tips that help me:

    • The night before practice I always spend some time doing some walking.
    • I have started putting the songs the band does live in a folder on the computer. I will then load up this folder and randomly go through them. This forces you to also practice the songs you don't like as much.
    • I try to end practice with a couple of rockin' songs to make me feel good and make me look forward to the next practice.
  9. Right here on Talkbass!!
  10. I use to do a split routine everyday consists of
    a) Scales/Arpeggios patterns in 12 keys etc -15mins/30mins
    b) Ear-training -10 mins
    c) Sightreading -30 mins
    d) Learning rep /Transcribe -time varies on this
    e) Techniques slap,tap etc -20 mins
    f) Reasearch ie theory,internet,bks ,concerts,etc-time varies
    It depends on what you want to accomplish here sum ppl do not want to read etc but now I do not have the pleasure of so much time as usually gigs or sessions take over but if your physically playing your bass it should cover quite a few areas.
    But some ppl have other routines which are just as good but if wan't to do freelance these areas should cover most of the skills needed
  11. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    i generally take 90 minutes to 2 hours for my main practice routine. i spend about 30 to 45 minutes doing right hand exercises(different 16th patterns at 120 bpm; aiming to increase that as time goes on), and then i spend about the same time doing left hand exercises. this has helped my technical proficiency come a very long way. i then spend about 6 minutes running through the modes and pentatonics.

    all of these exercises are done in 3 minute blocks.

    after that the fun begins;

    i have several play along CD's that my teacher gave me to learn how to improvise. they are from the Jamey Aebersold series. generally i start by just playing the arpeggios listed on the chord chart(s). i do this so i just practice laying down a groove and keeping my rythm constant. then i will solo, once using the pentatonics and once using the modes.

    Ofcourse practice wouldn't be practice without noodling, so i generally spend a minute or two inbetween EACH of the above exercises/songs just noodling and stretching.

    its not as regimented as it sounds, but i generally like to follow a clear practice plan so i can keep track of my progress. like i said, i have come a really long way in just over 3 months.
  12. draginon


    Oct 4, 2004
    why do you spend the least the mount of time developing your ear? Music is only as complex as you make it. It seems you'd rather read music and do other music related things rather than develop the main and only sense that applies to music, the ear. Is there a reason you don't eat train longer? (maybe the longer you go after a point, the less productive it becomes or etc...)
  13. Nowadays 90% of what I do is eartraining (hearing harmonies and the melody as a function within that harmony, singing voice leading patterns) in combination with improvisation (singing, analysing it and playing it). The other 10% is stuff like reading, and technical exercises if I run into something I can't play right while imrpovising. All this stuff is done on songs I am currently playing in one of my bands, so repertoire is handled that way.