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How To Be Okay with Sounding like Crap

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by ThomClaire, Mar 24, 2013.


  1. ThomClaire

    ThomClaire

    Dec 31, 2012
    Asheville, NC
    I'm posting this because, well I want to know, but also because I think this will make for an interesting discussion (although the last few threads I have posted thinking that, turned out not to be: fingers crossed?).

    I have learned many instruments, and through all of those experiences, I have learned that I get very frustrated with myself. It's difficult to be content with just sucking for awhile, because it takes time get good... a lot of time. It's a difficult balance; you have to be content with sucking so that you don't get angry, but you have to be dissatisfied enough to keep practicing.

    So, my question is: how do you maintain this balance? Or really, how do you enjoy getting good, instead of waiting to be good.
     
  2. rolandm

    rolandm In search of the lowest note.

    Aug 8, 2010
    Peoria, IL
    Be realistic about your goals. Very few of us are going to end up capable of playing as well as some of the true greats. But what we can do is set achievable, realistic goals, and mark and celebrate our successes.
     
  3. madurolover

    madurolover

    May 21, 2011
    Tampa Fl
    Focus on good equipment, a good amp and guitar rather than a $99 box set of guitar and amp. Then listen to others and their styles, watch a lot of Youtube for certain styles and riffs. I started with simple bass songs like sweet home alabama which is for okay players since the bass is not that pronounced (same with ac/dc. What is you measure of a great sounding player?
     
  4. Dbass926

    Dbass926

    Jun 20, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    As a double bass question, I think it's important to manage your expectations and to proceed very thoughtfully through your practice. If you try to build your playing by acquiring skills one at a time, you will prevent the majority of the frustration and overwhelmed feelings of being a beginner.
     
  5. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    I just focus on how I want to sound and how I hear myself in my head - not what's coming out. I record myself to hear what's coming out and try to find a way to correct it so it sounds like what I want to hear.
     
  6. gprigge

    gprigge

    Dec 19, 2007
    Rice Lake, Wis.
    Practice, patience, practice, repeat.

    You play guitar; you study upright bass. A dozen years ago, before I picked up a bass, I did not know there were such things as scales. I practiced, played with bands, practiced, played with better bands. I am now making my debut in community orchestra with the biggest dogs in town. I suck less than I ever have.

    It's been a long, wonderful journey and I've felt like breaking my bow over my knee and crying more than once, but I kept at it and have reached a lofty goal, at least for me. I am now the third-best bass player in a three-bass orchestra. Onward...
     
  7. Ron Plichta

    Ron Plichta

    May 19, 2007
    Fairfax, VA
    Take a look on page 138 of Jeff Bradetich's book, "Double Bass - The Ultimate Challenge". He shows two graphs representing improvement curves. One shows the dangers of practicing for "today"; ie, learning passages or pieces quickly. You'll get them quickly, but won't improve much on your basic technique.

    The other chart references practicing for "tomorrow". It deals with working on the underlying techniques first. The initial results are very slow, but the benefits are longer-term and more permanent.

    I've been heavy on the DB for a year now and I suspect you and I are in the same situation. There have been many a day I've been tempted to turn my bass into kindling wood, but take a step back instead to catch my breath and regroup. I usually come back to it a little better.

    So for us, patience is the key. Don;t accept sounding bad, but realize that we're in for the long haul and it will eventually get better.
     
  8. ekspain

    ekspain

    Feb 22, 2008
    Europe
    you have to have that dream of being the best you can be. And love what you're doing...
    and have a vision of what you want to be or sound like... the rest is just time.
    Ever read Bertrand Russel, the conquest of happiness? Its an existential journey, that never ends. You get to a certain level. Even if you were really great, that probably wouldn't be good enough. So you enjoy the journey instead of waiting for the day when you're good.
     
  9. Conky

    Conky

    Feb 11, 2013
    Why would you ever want to be content with sounding bad?
     
  10. No one playing in a group or orchestra wants to sound bad (unless the composer asks for it !!!).

    What are you doing as you learn? You are training your HANDS to find notes and produce musical sounds, your EARS to tune notes and evaluate results, and your EYES to accurately read music across three clefs.

    Surely all this takes time, patience and ever increasing sensitivity as well as experience in playing with others. The time spent with your teacher is only a fraction of this.
    For example, I recently raised a student from beginner to playing the Koussevitsky Concerto in 5 1/2 years. In that time he had 1/2 hour lessons for about 35-40 weeks each year, total about 110 hours of tuition. Where he actually learnt the bass was while practicing at home.

    Think of yourself as a good wine that will mature with time IMO.

    DP
     
  11. Record yourself practicing. In a few months, go back and listen.
     
  12. bkbirge

    bkbirge

    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    This is how I do that, I've been casual (very) with the upright for a couple years now and it's a hard beast to tame but the sound is so addictive, even when I know my tone is horrible compared to others I still love the big wooden sound...

    Record and listen. Rinse and repeat. I make it fun by writing a song instead of doing drills. This allows me to work on my tone, phrasing, and intonation, in context of other instruments, let's me hear how my choices work, and gives me appreciation for a lot of really different upright bass sounds. It helps me see value in my own work and track progress, even if I'll never be a classical soloist (or even ensemble player).

    Some examples that came out of this process...
    [SOUNDCLOUD]http://www.soundcloud.com/bkbirge/twobumsandafairy[/SOUNDCLOUD]
    [SOUNDCLOUD]http://www.soundcloud.com/bkbirge/take-it-off-the-rack[/SOUNDCLOUD]
    [SOUNDCLOUD]http://www.soundcloud.com/bkbirge/motorbikes-of-mercury[/SOUNDCLOUD]
    [SOUNDCLOUD]http://www.soundcloud.com/bkbirge/bounce[/SOUNDCLOUD]
     
  13. Simple - by not worrying and having fun instead. Just keep practicing and it will start sounding better.

     
  14. bejoyous

    bejoyous

    Oct 23, 2005
    London, Ontario
    Many of us reach a plateau for a while. Then some little thing goes click in the brain and we break out of it.

    However, looking at your equipment list, playing Prelude strings (cheap, school level strings) on a plywood bass with a Glasser bow will only sound so good no matter who is playing it.

    I'm sure if you played your teacher's instrument, you'd instantly sound better.

    Try starting by getting a better brand of strings on your own bass - maybe some Superflexibles or Bel Cantos (even used ones if they aren't too old). Then save up for a better, wood bow followed by a better bass - at least a hybrid (carved front, ply sides and back) or fully carved. There is usually something available for a good price in the classified ads at the bottom of the topics page.
     
  15. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Me, I threw money at it. Bought an expensive bow, got a nice bass, got very playable strings (Spiro Solos), so I had to no excuse to blame the gear.

    Technique is important, but bad gear will also get in the way and make learning a frustrating experience. I used to suck real bad, but ever since the gear changes, I'm not sucking as bad and improving at a faster rate than without the new gear.
     
  16. aprod

    aprod

    Mar 11, 2008
    The first thing that caught my attention is the fact you are learning different instruments. I suggest focusing on one. The old saying comes to mind, " jack of all trades, master of none".
     
  17. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Not to mention that arco is a long hard slog just by itself.
     
  18. jaff

    jaff Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2006
    Arizona
    Age 71, started upright bass in 2005 - no previous experience except piano for a couple of years as a kid. Play in a community orchestra. I'm the 5th chair. I get a 1 hr. lesson weekly. Learning seems to be very slow for me, but I love the instrument and the sound.
    Developing good practice is the key and the journey...along with daily prayers to the god of intonation. My mates are very supportive and tolerant of me.
     
  19. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    DB takes years of practice to sound good (for most, anyway). Keep at it, and +1 on the S-L-O-W practice. Start at slow tempos and gradually speed up. You'll get there.
     

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