1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Musing on practice (again)

Discussion in 'Double Bass Pedagogy [DB]' started by The Biz, Nov 6, 2018.

  1. Things that have been on my mind:

    1- A lot of my 'mental blocks' when I practice are related to the fact that I can be heard by my neighbours. I've decoupled the bass from the floor to reduce vibrations, but bass plus bow is loud no matter what. Since I (obviously) practice what I am not good at, it can be quite embarrassing to think what the neighbours hear. Though nobody ever complained, and my upstairs neighbour often says how much she enjoys hearing me play, I often stop playing, or switch what I am working on, because I foolishly worry about embarrassment.

    A shame really...I need to get past this but I think personality traits are hard to work on!

    2 - The more I learn, the worse I sound. After a few weeks of working with drones, I am a million times more conscious of slight intonation misses. See point 1.

    3- I read somewhere here that a member created 'playlongs' using real tunes, looping the head of the tune. This is a great idea (I added the first or second solo, and/or bridge in some case). Way more fun, 'authentic' and quite frankly some of the playalongs I've heard are boring as shag). I always loved (and learned to play by) playing along with records, why not do the same for standards!

    4- There aren't enough hours in a day or energy in my body to do everything I wan tot do, but a little daily goes a long way. Skipping one or two days in a week makes a huge difference.

    5 - (OT) the bass guitar is a completely different instrument. I rarely practice on it and it shows. I need to start dedicating a day or two (a month?) to it, just grabbing and playing isn't working anymore (see #2)
  2. Garagiste


    Feb 16, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    Practice playing the heads of the tunes in lower position and in upper positions, then alternate that with practicing your walking lines. I made a list recently of tunes on which I can play the head in lower position and thumb position. Learning the heads of tunes really makes a difference and it's something you can start doing even as a beginner. Use ireal pro for your backing tracks, start slow, increase tempo as you get better. Also, i wasted a lot of time playing scales where I should have been playing arpeggios. Know the scale on which the arp is based but spend the majority of your time on arps. Lastly, break this process down into manageable chunks. An hour per day will accomplish a lot if you are efficient with your time. Keep at it!
    The Biz likes this.
  3. oldNewbie

    oldNewbie Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    Rubber or wood Practice mutes cut down the volume considerably . Better yet two or three small c-clamps (use a tiny bit of scrap wood between the clamp pads and the bridge) will -really- cut the volume down. One more upside to this - IME it's a bit harder to bow, and whenever you take off the clamps or mute, you'll be almost a dynamic mark louder. That headroom will make the rest of your bowing easier to control .
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
  4. Dr. Love

    Dr. Love

    Nov 5, 2008
    Lubbock, TX
    I have nothing valuable to add other than affirming it's not just you: I struggle with the self consciousness issue while practicing too.
    The Biz likes this.
  5. A former neighbour is Greek, and played... honestly I'm not sure what the instrument was, but it sounded somewhere between a guitar and a mandolin. We loved hearing him practice upstairs from us, because he clearly loved playing it, and he was pretty good at it. Because it's an acoustic instrument, it stopped at "audible" and never got loud. It was only as he was preparing to move out that he discovered we'd been hearing him all this time, and suddenly he was horribly self-conscious, and apologised profusely. There was no convincing him that it was a feature, not a bug.

    I now have two neighbours who recently discovered that I play guitar and bass, and promptly complained that they don't hear me play.

    Also, people do understand what practice is - that you'll make mistakes, and go over the same piece repeatedly. Unless it sounds like you're in the same acoustic space as them, this isn't going to bother anybody.
    The Biz and Chris Fitzgerald like this.
  6. I hate the way the bass FEELS with a mute.
  7. oldNewbie

    oldNewbie Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    Yes but that added inertia makes bowing harder especially the attack , esp at the tip and will help reinforce keeping the bow traveling parallel to the bridge. Plus you get to play at forte all the time. Even in my own house , even though “really it’s alright dad (dear)” I keep a mute on except when everyone is out of the house .
    Think of it as accelerating your progress!
    The Biz likes this.
  8. neilG


    Jun 15, 2003
    Ventura, CA
    That was a bouzouki. It's Greek via Turkey originally. You see them in Irish bands, too.
    equill likes this.
  9. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    The big rubber practice mute makes a big difference. I just got one after not having one and I feel like I can even practice arco late.

    I would use drones lightly - focus more on etudes like Simandl and getting your hand to make more and more fine, small movements. Forcing your self to play in tune "any old way" causes as much trouble as it sounds. It is more important that you can hear you are off than that you are perfect. I check in with drones everyday, but, they are best for fine tuning technique that is already working properly.

    I would file that under "playing" and not practice, you should do both each day and make a strong distinction.

    Daily practice works wonders. It is good to have set routines for different amounts of time and different levels of focus.
    The Biz likes this.
  10. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I do part of my practice with a mute and have done for years whether I need it quieter or not. It helps build your sound, kind of a "running with weights on effect.
    Lee Moses and oldNewbie like this.
  11. Yeah, I put it on last night (after having not used it for months) and though I do still hate how it makes the bass feel, it allowed me to play past 11PM without worry. I am blessed to have a child who sleeps like a log.

    The "tightness" of the bass is weird though...it feels like the bass wants to kick the mute off.
  12. oldNewbie

    oldNewbie Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    Well done. And yep children sleep well - it's hardware!
    When you get to the gig and have that nice big sound, "'cause it feels so good when I stop" ;-)
  13. catcauphonic

    catcauphonic High Freak of the Low Frequencies Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2012
    Seattle WA
    The bass is in such a low register, as long as it's not too loud, it will likely be just a slight background sound. I'll bet your neighbors are just glad you're not learning the accordion or tuba! Personally I always though it must be tough to practice as an apartment dwelling singer, and my housemates and neighbors don't know how lucky they are that I am not.

Share This Page