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Need Bass Practice Regimen, Please.

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by Bonafide, Oct 24, 2002.


  1. Bonafide

    Bonafide

    Oct 15, 2002
    I am an Intermediate bassist in real need of a Bass practice regimen. I need to get my chops up to speed in the next 4 weeks and I truly need some good/smart workouts.
    Please ANYONE with any ides, information, books etc I would be forever grateful.

    I do not want to practice scales so much as a combination / obstacle course for pracxtice so to speak. Everything from rock to funk. I play primarily with my fingers but am able with a pick.

    Thank you very much.
     
  2. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Often times practice is about quality not quantity. Setting up a good practice routine is essential. The material you practice should be musical as well as technical. Finally, having the right "space" is important. Let me elaborate.

    Quality vs. Quantity - Effective practice can happen in as little as 1/2 hour per day. If the practice is quality practice. Start with warm up exercises. The warm up exercises should have some relationship to the work you are doing. For example if your working on diatonic harmony. Create a warm up exercise that plays through all the triads and 7th chords in a few different keys.

    Try to make the practice musical. Play everything, including the warm up exercises in the most musical way that you can. In order to do this, rely on your technique and create the music from your head, heart and soul.

    Start by playing some things that are familiar, perhaps some things you were working on the day before. As you get more involved, let your musical ideas take over and expand the scope of your practice in a musical sense.

    Accept failure and mistakes. Each one will make you a better player, if and only if you don't let it get to you (read "Effortless Mastery by Kenny Werner). As you run out of ideas - STOP. Don't continue to frustrate yourself. Start a new thing. This is a good time to do some reading. Try to practice reading (either notes or chord charts) at least 10-15 minutes. Reading is a skill unto itself. It has little to do with actually playing your instrument. Versatility and the ability to work in different situations demand that you have some reading abilities.

    Finally, come back to the ideas you generated in the first half of your practice. When you finally put down the bass, try to resist the urgency to practice more. Let well enough alone.

    Getting the right "Space"
    Space is both physical and mental. You cannot practice well if the kids are yelling, the TV is on, the dog is barking, you have to finish a project by 8:00 tomorrow morning. Quality practice can only happen when you are ready and open to the music that is within you. Finding that space is important. Setting up your physical space is important as well. Is everything you need at arms length. Do you have all the tools you need (metronome, drum machine or sequencer, music stand, tuner, practice materials, drink of water, etc). When you have your own space, physically and mentally, you are much better prepared for successful pratice.

    I hope this helps
    Mike
     
  3. Bonafide

    Bonafide

    Oct 15, 2002
    Thank you for your thoughful response, I sincerely appreciate it.
     
  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    OK, with your post on how slow it is around here, I feel bad that I did not answer your last post. Sorry. I guess I should have said "your welcome".

    Your Welcome

    Mike
     
  5. zyxwfish

    zyxwfish

    Dec 12, 2002
    Bethlehem, PA
    Use a metranome practice slow triplet and 16th note runs at around 50 to 80 beats perminute fingerpicking the strings hard. Use minimal movments in your picking and fretting hand. At a slow speed mute the string right after plucking it this will train your hand to play smooth and acturate at faster speeds, it will also keep your attack consistant. Make sure your confidend in where your going and doing before you increase the speed.
     
  6. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Why would you want to "fingerpick the strings hard"? You should practice the bass in the same way that you intend to play it.

    There is a great deal of debate on the use of a metronome, personally, I cannot stand them, although I will use a drum machine or MIDI drum patterns to play to

    Mike
     
  7. zyxwfish

    zyxwfish

    Dec 12, 2002
    Bethlehem, PA
    I pick hard with my fingers why would you want the bass to sound weak?
     
  8. Joshua

    Joshua WJWJr Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 23, 2000
    Connecticut
    Turn up the amp and play lighter. Let the amp do the work...
     
  9. Bonafide

    Bonafide

    Oct 15, 2002
    Picking hard with your fingers while you practice is only good advice if you pick hard with your fingers while you play.
    I am developing a softer touch, or rather a different technique for myself and have found that hard picking slows me down. My tone doesn't suffer from a lighter touch, I make up for it with better technique than before.
    However on another note, I find that if I only practice for a while and do not play with a band, I tend to play too hard and can start to wear out my fingers by the 3rd song.
    I think this is a result of falling into a different routine when not playing with a band and my 'actual' BAND technique falls away and I practice too lightly. In that regard it isn't unreasonable to practice 'hard' if you are playing with a drum machine as long as you stay aware of your technique.

    Thanks for the replies.
     
  10. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Right On!!!
     
  11. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Sometimes when we have a light touch in practice it does not translate to the gig. First of all there is the adreniline of the gig, the volume, the energy, etc. It is at theis time that we REALLY must concentrate on the lighter technique that we are using in practice. The rewards are worth it.

    Mike
     
  12. Yet more great advice that I can "cut, paste, and print" to take to my practice room.

    Thanks Mike!:)