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How I Practice

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Andy Allen, May 29, 2005.


  1. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I’m fairly new to DB, so I don’t have too much wisdom to pass on (those shouting, “Yeah, we noticed!” from the rear, please pipe down). I’m getting much more than I’m giving from this forum for sure, but perhaps this might be of help to others, despite the length, so here goes:

    I’ve always been a terrible practicer. It’s not that I dislike playing, it's just that it takes me forever to start, and then, once started, I don’t want to stop: I’ll procrastinate for hours to avoid practicing, but once I start I really get into it and am then frustrated when I have to stop too soon…because I didn’t start soon enough.

    So I have been on a quest for a practicing system that will allow me to get the maximum playing time, with the minimum pain. (A family with young children and a job with a very unstructured schedule doesn’t help.)

    I’ve tried all sorts of things, and have realized that I must have a plan, or I spend more time trying to figure out what to play than actually playing. I have also come to realize that, while I do not get very much free time during the day, if I were to take all of the short spots between interruption by work or family I would have quite a lot of time on my hands.

    I finally narrowed down a procedure for myself after reading the article about practicing in the recent “Double Bass” magazine. They break down a 200 minute (just over 3hrs) schedule into useful sections. Prompted by this I thought over my own needs, and began to design a schedule.

    There’s no way that I could find 3 hours to practice every day, but I figured I could possibly squeeze in 100 minutes - 1hr40m doesn’t sound so bad. But how to partition it up? The DB mag. article suggested: 10% scales and arpeggios, 10% exercises/etudes, 10% Jazz, 30% Orchestral (this was for an orchestral player), 30% new solo repertoire, 10% ‘Old’ solo repertoire.

    Flip-flopping the Orch./Jazz times my 100 minute schedule would be: 10min. scales and arpeggios, 10min. exercises/etudes, 10min. Arco, 30min. Jazz, 30min. new solo repertoire, 10min. ‘Old’ solo repertoire.

    I played around with this for almost a month, and it seemed to work well. I even printed a log to record how I actually use my time. I also used a timer to make sure that I practiced for only the required time on each topic; this was suggested in the DB mag. article – the writer claimed that if you keep your practice to time you will be more eager to resume it the next day. I think he may be right. I start the timer when I start playing, and stop playing when it beeps – so the time I log is entirely time spent playing; if I have to stop playing to figure something out I pause the timer. So even if I only log 30 minutes for that day, it’s 30 minutes of concentrated playing.

    Well, the 10 minute sections were a real hit. I could now walk up the bass and do something useful in what used to be trivial, unused time. But I was having trouble with the longer 30min. sections. Either I would put them off because I didn’t think I would have the time to complete them, or I would do one item this day, another the next, another the next, and by the time I revisited the same piece I would have forgotten what I did the last time and be back to square one with no progress. Just as it’s better to practice a little each day than a lot once a week, it suits me better to practice a little of each area each day.

    So…on to v2 of my practice schedule. I split my 100 minutes into 10 separate topics…and at this stage of the game I have so much to learn that choosing ten different skills to practice is easy. The practice log now looks like:

    Day: Date:

    __ Scales ……….10 mins. ………………………………………………
    __ Etudes ……….10 mins. ………………………………………………
    __ Arpeggios……10 mins. ………………………………………………
    __ Standards…..10 mins ………………………………………………
    __ Blues ………...10 mins ………………………………………………
    __ Latin……….....10 mins ………………………………………………
    __ II-V-I ……....10 mins ………………………………………………
    __ Thumb Pos.…10 mins ………………………………………………
    __ Arco ……......10 mins ………………………………………………
    __ Soloing … ....10 mins. ………………………………………………


    Scales – I usually take something out of Ray Brown’s book, or practice scalular patterns that I set for myself.

    Etudes – This is mostly sight-reading practice using exercises – Rufus Reid has some great ones in his book.

    Arpeggios – John Goldsby has some excellent arpeggio patterns in his “The Jazz Bass Book.”

    Standards – I’m working on some standards in detail with my teacher, similar to Ed F’s posts, so this is the practice for that.

    Blues – I play in a Jazz/Blues group every Monday night (plus a few extras each month) and there’s always something that needs attention here.

    Latin – I regularly sub for a Latin-Jazz ensemble, so there’s plenty of work to be done here, too.

    II-V-I – Major/minor/rhythm-changes…and all them other pesky Jazz changes – it’s old-hat to most of you guys, but I’m a newbie so I’s got’s to work at it…

    Thumb Position – “no, I didn’t insert my thumb into the cucumber slicer, I play DB in the upper register.”

    Arco – Stick ‘O’ Pain.

    Soloing – I just bought Marc Johnson’s “Soloing Concepts” book, which is cool as hell and I'll be working on this now.


    I check to the left of the topic when it’s done, and write the details of what I practiced within each topic to the right. I can get 4 of these forms on a page of paper, which sits at the front of my practice folder.

    Oh, yes, the practice folder. I have put together a folder containing photocopies of the portions of the instructional books that I am currently working on – all easy to carry around and quickly accessible.

    The organization of this might sound daunting, but it has taken much less time that I imagined, and freed up a lot of time for me to actually practice. And the results of practicing, rather than procrastinating, are already becoming apparent – not the least being the satisfaction at the end of the day of having really done the best practicing I could manage.

    Thanks to those that read this far…if you’d like a copy of my practice log in MSWord format feel free to PM me.
     
  2. dex68

    dex68 Guest

    May 5, 2005
    It's really interesting to read your post. I also have lousy practice habits. Also having kids and work, I ussually find myself focusing on simply "playing" when I practice. I pick up the bass and just start playing a tune, with the melody. I also spend a lot of time just working on that "spiritual" connection with the instrument. I do some scales and bowing (I should really do more), but i find personally that with little time, the best thing I can do is make sure I have the sound I want, and can easily slip into the groove. I recently watched a Joe Lovano video where he kind of reaffirmed my approach (for me at least).
    Of course, everyone has to find their own thing. The only thing that I would wonder about the schedule you have there is whether you mught be spreading yourself too thin. I think you can combine a lot of the items on your list. For example, learning a standard can also be: soloing, since that's a great way to absorb the changes, and II, V, I. Then, you can practice the arpeggios by playing them through the tune, as well as scales, all the while making sure you have good intonation and proper left-hand position. And of course, everything you play has to be music, and have the sound you want to have. Just some thoughts. Anyway, good luck!
     
  3. Yes! me too! What causes this? I'm also trying to use that plan outlined in D.Bassist to get a handle on my practice routine. Trouble is, now I am in panic mode with Juries coming up next week, and I feel like diving straight into my solo pieces whenever I pick up the bass with out warming up first. This makes me feel guilty. I am so undisciplined. I love playing the bass, but I'm afraid of starting to practice beacause I am compelled to keep going until my body gives out and my mind turns to Jello.

    I hope we can find away. I think it might be an age thing. Folks who have been playing seriously since they were kids fell into some practice scheme that worked for them before there were so many distractions.

    Good Luck

    Jon
     
  4. What's helped me is to separate aspects of my playing and work on them individually. For instance when I do repertoire I always go slow and "teach" my fingers where and when to go. Only when I have no mistakes do I increase the speed. Then I have an exercise where I just work on left hand issues, using the tips of fingers and getting them to move rythmically with a metronome, gradually increasing the speed. My bow work gets included with scales, long bows, slurs and all the other requsite things we have to learn.
    As far as time organizing is concerned take the ten minutes when you can get it! You can do something which is better than nothing. Jim Lehrer, the PBS news anchor and author does his writing with snippets of time, ten minutes here, fifteen there.
    I managed to practice and learn repertoire and improve my playing while working two fulltime jobs so it can be done.
    Good luck!
     
  5. Savino

    Savino

    Jun 2, 2004
    nyc
    I used to do all the things mentioned in this post. checksheets, timers, schedules, and so on. There is a stage when all of this is useful. There is so much to learn out there and it can be a daunting task. but, keep in mind that you must make your practice practical. To be a performer you must practice performing. For the last year, I have ALMOST given up regimented practise. Instead, I started giving solo bass concerts at my house for my cat Stinko. I play 2 hours non stop warming up slowly allowing my ears to guide my hands. I allow my mind to quiet and i wander through tunes, improvisations, textures, and techniques as they arrive naturally.
    This has proven very beneficial for me. I'm really discovering the things I can already do as a musician that i never use. Try it, record it, listen up.
    You wont be disapointed :). Love every note you play, especially when it sounds sour!

    Practicing scales for 10 minutes a day is great but learning how to turn scales into music gets you deeper.

    Love the Journey of Music.
     
  6. dex68

    dex68 Guest

    May 5, 2005
    I like Savino's view. Of course, the instrument has to be mastered, but in a way that also reinforces the instinct to create art, not just run patterns or think mechanically.
    Has anyone ever tried playing one tune, either soloing, walking, whatever, for an hour or more without stopping? It's pretty amazing. The rest of the world drops away eventually, and all that's left is the music. Kinda of a Zen thing. Of course, for the first ten of fifteen choruses, you're saying to yourself, "I sound like ****! Oh, that was terrible! Why did I play that!", but then that voice drifts away. This can be done with a scale, chord tones, whatever.
    If it worked for Coltrane, why not for the rest of us mortals?
     
  7. Humph

    Humph

    May 23, 2004
    Warren, NJ
    I'm still refining my practice routine. I've been playing for just about a year. As my teacher says, "What must I do to acheive the desired results?"
    I find I have enough time, but it is up to me to make everything happen and sometimes it doesn't all get finished, so I can relate.
    Whenever I question how and what I'm practicing I ask my teacher for advise and he'll let me know what is more important for me at that time.
    My practice time has many aspects of music. My teacher notice my weak intonation, I'm now working out of a sight-singing book. I'm starting latin dancing lessons this week because of his recommendation.
    However, the central part of my practicing is Simandl. I use the scale section in the back(major, minor & broken chords). The main etudes in the beginning of the book is the main part of my routine, I'm now close to the end of that section, I do these etudes in thumb & open position.
    I also use a rhythmns book by Bugs Bower & charles conlin. My teacher has me working on tertrachord permutations as well.
    Altogether it take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on how familiar I'm with the pieces.
    When I have extra time I practice songs from my jazz big band or songs from the community orchestra I'm in.
    I'm realizing that practicing is lke climbing a mountain, slow & steady. :D
     
  8. EFischer1

    EFischer1 Guest

    Mar 17, 2002
    New York, New York
    I think, especially for new students, it is more important to focus on how you are playing rather than what you are playing. While setting aside time to practice each facet of your playing, this is not always the most beneficial technique. Perhaps you have one technical problem that you could practice for 15 minutes and begin to correct that would solve problems you were having with 5 of your style-oriented goals.

    When you are at the job its fine to just get the notes out, but when you're in the practice room its important to be meticulous about the way that you approach the instrument.
     
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Don't overlook what Savino says, "There is a stage when all of this is useful." You've got to spend some shed time learning the basics.
    EEFISHER - sure, there are going to be days in the shed where some one point or the other will become the focus. But the thing about having an organised and focus practice routine AND HITTING IT EVERYDAY is that the results are cumulative. And you come back the next day without losing momentum.
     
  10. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    It's important to realize that you really can't do everything at once. Things are in your practice routine for particular reasons: to improve intonation, to improve fingerboard knowledge, time feel, sight-reading, etc. etc. A practice routine that methodically covers off all of these bases is gonna be extensive and wide-reaching, but it may also be daunting and dull and unbalanced. Depends on the person.

    I think a player benefits with a practice approach that's both structured AND fluid. Structured in that you do have an idea of all the bases you're covering, time spent on stuff, etc. This can be done at a big picture level -- you don't need a stopwatch. Just outline all the main areas in which you want to develop and monitor your activities and progress. Personally I'm not very anal when it comes to stuff like that but that tendency varies in people...

    ...and fluid in that you can alter the mix of your practice routine to accomodate a special focus: a short-term objective of some kind or to juice-up progress in a certain area. For example, in my personal practice routine, I just "finished" a period of special emphasis on rhythm and grooves. Turns out the period lasted about 4 months and I'm thrilled with the "special" progress I've made as a result; some of that rhythm material sticks on as base practice material. About a month ago I changed special focus to intonation, especially meat and potatoes intonation below the octave. I expect to always be like this in my playing, but I expect in the future not to spend so much time correcting deficiencies but, rather, exploring possibilities...

    (Fluid also in the important detail of being willing to halt the ship, as it were, in the middle of practice to spend as long as it takes to really nail that troublesome shift, or to be able to actually play a passage instead of faking playing the passage or just surviving playing the passage. Sometimes the whistle must be blown and problems must be confronted.)

    I am a professional planner and this type of thing is just like I tell clients: sure the plan is important. You gotta have a plan and follow the plan. But planning is more important. Embrace it. Get good at quickly assessing where you are against where you want to be -- short term and long term -- and get on with making progress.
     
  11. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    An interesting schedule; I may try this again, as I had tried something similar before with bad results. I'm interested because of the time issues. I try to keep on top of both acoustic and electric, and for a while I had a similar list with 1 hour on each. It didn't work. Then I tried doing just acoustic one day and electric another. That was better. Lately I've been doing both daily again but without a list, just a couple of concepts for each without a time limit; for example: on electric I'll want to practice "Teen Town" and "Giant Steps"; if that takes 1 hour or 2 or 3 whatever....as long as I'm doing it. Then, on acoustic I might learn some tunes, bow the melodies, or play out of the Omnibook. Again, 1-2 hours whatever my hands can take. And each day I do what I feel like doing that day; maybe it's composing at the piano, maybe it's transcribing, maybe it's fast tempos, etc. x 1000.

    But I'm willing to try the "lots of stuff 10 minutes on each" approach" this week and see how it goes. Will report in next week.
     
  12. (Fluid also in the important detail of being willing to halt the ship, as it were, in the middle of practice to spend as long as it takes to really nail that troublesome shift, or to be able to actually play a passage instead of faking playing the passage or just surviving playing the passage. Sometimes the whistle must be blown and problems must be confronted.)

    I have found it more beneficial for me , to have a rotating list of subjects, and specific goals within each subject, rather than allotting a certain amount of time. When I have completed one goal in that subject I move on to the next subject. It may take me a few practise sessions to complete the cycle of all the subjects, depending on how much time I have, and it can vary each day without wreaking havock on my schedule, which a time only allotted practise regimen would.
    For instance, if I was going to play a certain scale in all keys on the G string , and found that my intonation was not very good in one key, I would work on that one until I was happy with it, or it had at least improved, rather than just reinforcing( by repetition each time ) the fact that it was out, because I had to get the scale played in all keys in 10 mins. Then I move on to the next subject.
    I am lucky in that I can practise for quite a few hours every day, and this rotating schedule might not work for everybody, but it is important to be aware that playing the same mistakes over and over, because you only have so much time to complete the task, isn't actually beneficial. I did this for quite a while before realizing it. You do have to be disciplined and realistic in setting your goals, and amount of time is a factor, but not THE factor.
     
  13. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006
    Yeah, I tried this today and immediately found it to be not working.
    For example, 10 minutes on the bow is ridiculous. I can get a few scales in but I'm just geting warmed up after 10 minutes.
    10 minutes on standards? No way. It took me 15 just to start to feel comfortable with the melody to "How Deep Is The Ocean".
    While that list seemed like a nice "All In One" practice schedule, it only confirmed what I've realized a while ago: you gotta practice where the practice takes you; if you start off by practicing the C scale 1 octave, and you get in it, don't just stop because the clock is up.
    No offense to the original poster; I know this thread is 2 years old. I like from time to time to re-examine my methods.
     
  14. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    I know I've suggested this before in another thread, but here it is again. An old guitar teacher of mine suggested that you shouldn't practice more than 2-3 items during any session. I've found his advice to be wise as it does work well for me. If I do more than that, there's not alot of retention and a whole lot more frustration.

    As they say, when digging for water, it's better to dig 1 ten ft. well than ten 1ft wells.
     
  15. TomSauter

    TomSauter

    Dec 22, 2004
    Kennesaw, GA
    I agree, and I would add that you can kill two or more birds with one stone on most of that stuff. I think that the most productive thing anyone can practice is repertoire. If you're working on standards or whatever kind of tune, you can simultaneosly be working on most of that list. Sight read a latin tune arco in thumb position and you have five things right there. Everyone needs to get to a certain level of technical porficiency, but I think after a certain point there are diminishing rewards if you spend too much time practicing scales, arpeggios, etc. It becomes more about maintenance than about learning.

    I'm not in the habit of practicing with a list, basically because I'm undisciplined in my practicing:meh: . I sort of just have a group of things that I do that I know will always benefit me, and if I have something in particular that needs some attention, then I practice on that for a few days/weeks/months. I normally do something like this:

    I rarely do anything without the metronome.
    -Warm up with two different scales with the bow. I would do 2 different scales then next day and so on. Go from the lowest note on the bass to the highest. I like to make up lots of patterns so it doesn't get boring, and because it's more practical in a real playing environment. I do thirds up and down 2 octaves starting from each note of the scale (C E G B D F A C and back down, then D F A C E G B D etc., or sometimes arpeggios.
    -The rest of the time I work on tunes. I'll take a tune I know well and walk a line for 10 minutes or so with the 'nome on 2 and 4 or all four beats and try to come up some new harmonic or rhythmic stuff, or maybe try to play like Ron Carter would play or Ray Brown or maybe a freer dude like Miroslav.

    I like to practice one thing for a long time, so I'll do stuff like play a ballad for 20 minutes or play ballads super slow and other tunes really fast. I try to play a rhythm changes in B or F# or change keys every couple choruses or do standards in different keys.

    Recently I've been working on getting more solid on some salsa stuff, so I practice a tumbao for 15-20 minutes on a 3 chord progression (I do the first couple minutes with no variations whatsoever, and gradually embellish the rhythm and chord progression when I get a comfortable groove going). I do the same type of thing if I work on odd meters. I've also been trying to get good at super fast tempos, but I only do those for about 5 minutes at a time.

    I have a somewhat long term goal or learning a whole lot of modern tunes, so I'm working on learning about a dozen tunes (give or take few) apiece by Chick, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Herbie, McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, maybe 30 Wayne Shorter tunes, and a bunch of other tunes by other people. For the most part I'm sticking to tunes that people have called on me or that I'm sure people play in other cities. I'm also working on know lots of tunes from Miles' 2nd quintet and Coltrane's quartet. I use this stuff to work on reading since many of these tunes have specific bass parts, so I can work on treble clef and bass clef.

    I don't try to practice all this stuff every day. What I practice is mostly dictated by what cd's I'm currently listening to and by how bad certain aspects of my playing sucked on my most recent gigs. My main focus when I practice is to improve my time/groove and to challenge myself.

    If ANYBODY has any advice or criticism to offer, I would be very appreciative. I'm especially interested in how everyone maintains focus while they're practicing and what specific exercises or practice habits have yielded the greatest results when you get to the gig.
     
  16. For about a year now I've been practicing with a timer ALL the time. I also keep track of everything I've practiced along with very specific notes on what I need to fix when I come back to it.

    Honestly, practicing like this has been a blessing. I've made more progress in this last year than any years before. My practice time is super-focused because I know that I only have 15 or 30 minutes to work on something.

    Before I used a timer I would practice just as much. However, my practice time would rarely be focused. I would start practicing something and not know how to stop. By the time I finally did stop, I was sick of practicing that subject and it was harder to return to later.

    I always thought - I'm practicing for a lot of hours - so I must be getting better! But I realized once I started using a timer and keeping track that this worked much better for me. I started out not practicing nearly as much as my olden days, but my practice was super-focused. I got so much more done!

    In my practice sessions I usually hit these things:
    1) Routine - includes intonation, bowing, scales, arps, stamina
    2) Tunes - I'll usually work on a tune or two at a time and work to memorize them (melody & changes) and play them in several keys
    3) Transcribing/transcriptions - This takes up a big part of my practice lately - and it has had wonderful results
    4) Scale/arp excercises - I recently found that I could learn my scales much better if I started working on them in more creative & challenging ways.
    5) Orchestral stuff - this is a very recent addition. I've never played in an orchestra and I'm going to try this new challenge. I think it will be good for me.

    I'd say that's about it. If I'm working on a tune, I could be working on any number of concepts - walking in different ways, Thumb position, up-tempo, scales, etc etc. So I guess the bulk of my practice is lumped into learning standards and such.

    I think working with a timer is good for certain people and not good for others. Everyone has a different personality and work ethic - mine works very well with a highly structured practice regimen.

    Matt
     
  17. Attenergy

    Attenergy Living to be ONE with the Low End 4orce !

    Mar 26, 2007
    Question ... to very far superior minds ...

    I am a new to the scene bass player and I am looking to get to the level or you cats!!! Now I do have a confession ... I am learning on a "fretless" electric bass but I want to remain in this forum because of my love for the upright and the "characters" that endeavor to master it. I love Stanley Clarke, Miroslav Vitous, Charnette Moffett, Brian Bromberg and we all know the list can go on forever ... I hear you guys talk about practice time in such an advanced manner ... a guy like me that just started and is basically trying to piece together a practice routine on my own (my work schedule does not leave room for a teacher because it is to erradic) is very overwhelmed by the dialogue here. I have been practicing scales and chords out of the Simandl and Dr Mortons Miraculous Scales, chords and arppegios with some Levinson mixed in. I am not sure should I continue to play the E major scale to perfection before moving on to F# or should I get familiarity with all scales and then continue to perfect them?!?! If you guys could ever remember when you were in my shoes ... can you please assist me in a routine for a beginner who aspires to play jazz on the "fretless" electric?!?!?

    PS ... don't hold that (my playing the fretless) against me.
     
  18. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Firstly, I'd just go out and get a jazz bass teacher. I too started out playing fretless and my teacher also plays a little bit of electric even tho he's a double bassist. The instrument isn't the same but the concepts still are. You're better off going directly to a teacher. You'll get going much much much faster than teacher yourself. Secondly is to read through TBDB about learning Jazz. There's not reason you can't do it given the right advice guiding you in the proper direction.
     
  19. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Ontario
    I considered this last night, but I'm unsure.

    My problem with this is that it's too regulated and you're trying to get everything you need to address covered in one day. I think this is the wrong way to go.

    If you go to the gym, you don't exercise everything you've got every time you go -- you alternate. Chest and shoulders on Monday, back Tuesday, Legs wednesday, etc...so why not do the same here? Not exactly the same, but the same principle. For instance:

    M: Technical, walking, ear training, odd meter
    T: Arco, fast tempos, latin, walking, technical
    W: Jam session, improvisation, time, keyboard
    T: Reading, technical, walking, transcription
    F: Walking, arco, improvisation, intonation
    S: Play with only a drummer, latin, keyboard
    S: Jam session (no chordal player,) transcription, technical

    With reading every day for at least 15 minutes. As well, there's offtime theory work too (harmonic analysis, projects, composition, research) say when you're bored.

    That's a really off-the-top-of-my-head breakdown. You could then prioritize each day like you were before and hitting it at different points throughout the day. This way you could really put in some serious quality time on each issue and address most of them several times a week. I can't mention how many times I flippin' tweak because I was getting crazy productive and something dragged me away from the bass because IMO, ten minutes on anything isn't enough to DO anything. I'd rather spend 3 hours practicing 4 or so things so I can get really indepth than try and touch every base in an hour and 40 minutes.
     
  20. larry

    larry Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2004
    Florida
    My $.02 to add:

    When I hear non-bass players tell what they like/don't like about local bass players, it is usually about time. "This guy rushes", "This guy swings", etc.

    Next, would be that "so-and-so doesn't know any tunes".

    I center my routine on playing with a metronome, then recording myself without one to hear how I am doing. Scales, tunes, whatever; I endevour to play everything with as much intent to swing and be musical as I do on a gig. I try to never just "go through the motions".

    It is so much easier to be relaxed and make good note choices when things are in the pocket. Simple lines can sound great if it swings hard enough.

    It also helps to change the click of the metronome from 2&4 to 1&3, or just 1, or just 4, etc. Set it really slow and really fast - don't just work at medium tempos.