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Need help for my practice schedule

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by dbap, Mar 11, 2008.

  1. dbap


    Jun 25, 2007

    Well I need some help. The problem is.. hmm what would be the right word.. expression?

    Some backgrounds:
    I made up myself a plan for practicing the upright bass.
    First I do some acro excercises from Rufus Reid's Bassbook and from Simandls Beginners Book. In Rufus' Book I use only the excercise for the four empty strings. The purpose here is to enhance my technique.
    Simandl's Purpose is to get to know the fingerboard and to improve the intonation.
    Sometimes I pick my bow and play a Jazztune, but only the melody.

    So after I finished my acropart I go over to the pizz part.
    There I use Rufus Reid's excercises for scales. Next part is a standard I'm trying to learn. The standard could remain for a week or even a month. It depends on my success. I try to make some walkinglines and I am trying to improvise.

    But there are some problems:
    First problem: When I am playing a walkingbass line I am only comfortable with the lower notes, because I can use some empty strings. So when it gets higher I am not able to walk that fluently on the bass like on the lower part. I am also not thinking of notes but I listening to the tones I want to play. That is kind of nice, to hear what you want to play, but it is rather uncool if you have to correct your intonation because your fingers are not in the correct position. I don't know which tone it is, but I can hear it, and I want to play it!

    Second problem:
    Improvisation. First of all I always use the same walkingbass line patterns and I really need some ideas how to make the bassline more creative.
    Secondly I do not have a concept for soloing. I see the chords and I am familiar with jazztheory, but I cannot adapt my knowledge onto the bass.
    Do I have to know, for example when I see a X7 chord, that I can use mixo b9/b13. Or should I follow a concept of licks?
    I do not have a concept for combining theory with the practicing on the bass.

    It would be a pleasure If you post me some ideas or improvements. It's really awful to be not able to handle the instrument like I want to handle it, because I have so many ideas in my head, that are waiting to played out :).

    Please, dont be shy and improve my plan and give me concepts for a beginner in soloing on the big instrument.

    Best greetings,
  2. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    Hey Dbap. I like the sound of your practice routine. Very comprehensive. I think (IMHO) the most important tools one can ever have to learn improvisation are on the side of your head. It's a simple approach, but has been tried in true throughout jazz history. Try playing along with records. I don't mean you necessarily learn a solo from front to back (that will come later), but if you hear a lick you like, isolate it, play it back, learn it in different keys, etc. Developing your ear is an important step in the process of learning to improvise. So maybe make room in your routine for listening, and playing by ear. You'll learn the phrasing, melodic ideas, theory, articulation, etc. by doing so. It may be hard at first, but as Rabbath says "The notes will come."
    and, as Obi Wan says: "You've taken your first steps into a larger universe."

    my $.02
  3. uprightben


    Nov 3, 2006
    Boone, NC

    Your practice routine is a good one, if you stick with it you will get the results you want, if not as soon as you want. Here are some suggestions to get out of your rut.

    First you need to try to break out of the first couple positions in your walking and open up the neck. You can start with the simandle exersizes, any time one of these etudes takes you up the neck, try and come up with across the string fingerings that keep you up the neck. You can also work on this in the pizz part of your routine. Figure out how to play the Ab major scale without open strings, then walk a 12 bar blues in Ab, once again no open strings. Once you can do that comfortabley you will find that the middle of the neck is much more accessable.

    Once you can feel comfortable playing at least up to the heel of the neck and across the strings, you will have a lot more options open to you for improv. From there it is a question of having an idea and executing it.

    I hope this helps, good luck!
  4. Ryan Berg

    Ryan Berg

    Mar 13, 2008
    new york, ny
    try walking up and down just one string at a time. practice slow. just play more in the area of the bass you are less familiar with. you will become more familiar. write out bass lines to chord changes as this is the slowest way you can think about them. you can also look at the notes and try things out that your hands don't already know. then learn them and decide what u like. PLAY WITH RECORDS!!!!! also you can isolate a chord or two and just play around with ideas in&between them. just play free with no restrictions. ya never know what u might come up with. learn from the masters. hope this helps
  5. dbap


    Jun 25, 2007
    Hi again and thanks for your answers. I try to answer them one by one.

    txstatebass: Your idea is to learn a lick by heart. I like the idea, but the problem I cannot find a lick that easy. I am so spoiled by the great bassists who play chops from hell :). But I think I will buy a book where I write down all the licks I like.

    uprightben: I like your idea. I think it is a hard way to get to learn the fingerboard, but slowness will do it. Okay I will try some blues in different keys without even touching an empty string :D.

    Ryan Berg: The one string conception sounds very nice. But what kind of pieces are suitable for beginners? A blues on one string? Or Giant Steps :p?
    And the idea of writing down some new lines, is a very good idea. I think I will maybe add it to my lickbook, that I will organize soon :).

    In general you all answered, that I should listen to the masters. My question now is: Which records are nice to listen to for a beginner like me? Which CDs?
    And which standards are easy to learn? If you can give me about 10 standards, I would be very pleased!

    But if there are any other suggestions outside on the big web, don't be shy and post your 2 cents, or even your 1 cent :).

    Best greetings and thanks for your answers again,
  6. Ryan Berg

    Ryan Berg

    Mar 13, 2008
    new york, ny
    autumn leaves, all the things you are, i remember april, blues in all 12 keys, rhythm changes all 12, misty, there is no greater love, just friends, it could happen to you, alone together, how high the moon
    you should get jazz theory by mark levine, it is a good reference book and it names alot of tunes you should know.
    walking on one string is good because it exposes you to different places on the bass. whatever tune is fine. giant steps is cool if you can do it without getting pissed. patience is important. dont practice the stuff you already know all the time. the different stuff is good.
    night train-oscar peterson-any oscar peterson
    cookin, relaxin, steamin, workin, kind of blues- all by miles davis
    live at the pershing-ahmad jamal
    somethin else-cannonball adderly
    charlie parker, dizzy, louis armstrong
    bass players--oscar pettorford, jimmy blanton, ray brown, sam jones, wilbur ware, scott lafarro, paul chambers, ron carter, jimmy garrison.....many more

    more modern stuff- coltrane, miles quintet(60s), wynton marsalis-black codes from the underground, branford-crazy people music(anything with kenny kirkland)
    anything (and i mean anything you like to play with-any genre-anything)
    you end up having to know alot of different stuff, and it is all MUSIC

    you learn faster if your having fun so learn the stuff you like. if you dont like something you might end up liking it later a learning it then. i find you learn alot faster by having fun.

    this is just some standard stuff i can think of.

  7. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    Not just bass solo's, but everything. I like trumpet solos the best because they have a limited range (usually two or three octaves). And to clarify, don't start right out trying to learn Coltrane's opening lick to his solo in Giant Steps (although it's not that hard-believe it or not, just REALLY fast). But believe me, if you play along, you'll learn something. Ironically, the way most great players of the past learned by...you guessed it, playing along with records. Jazz is an oral tradition. One of my old teachers used to say "imitation-interpretation-innovation in that order." But I applaud your willingness to learn! Keep up the good work!
  8. Autbra

    Autbra Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2007
    Nashville Tn
    Mike Lull, Mesa Boogie, D'addario Strings endorser
    Some of the first CD's I loved and have spent a lot of time learning are:

    Miles Davis -Kind of Blue (Paul Chambers)
    Oscar Peterson's Trio+1 (Ray Brown)

    Two great bass players playing with great players.

    Copying licks off a record never starts out easy but neither does learning to play an instrument. It will take time but it will help with intonation and your overall capabilities on your instrument. Those great players with lots of chops didn't start out that way.
  9. Ryan Berg

    Ryan Berg

    Mar 13, 2008
    new york, ny
    trio+1 is one of my favorite records. weeeeeehhhhhhhwwwwww
  10. dbap


    Jun 25, 2007
    Thank you for your severel answers. I try to adapt them into my pratice schedule.
    I hope that I can find all the records, but I also have most of them. World of improvising, I'm coming ;).

    Nevertheless: If there are any suggestions, please don't be shy and post them.

  11. Hi Dbap,

    Do you play with a drone note at all? I find that is one of the best things for intonation so you have something that you can constantly measure your intonation against. I usually just use a pitch pipe or put a weight on the sustain pedal on a piano at school.

    I'd definately reccomend the octave exercises in rufus reid's book and I've recently taken up playing various double stops up the neck (Diatonic 3rds, 6ths, 5ths, 4ths, etc).
  12. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar It Don’t Mean A Thing... Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    Yeah -- Rufus Reid's book was a BIG help when I was first learning jazz on upright.

    Great scales, cool walking lines & examples, etc.

    Also, Ray Brown's book is essential.

    How about a Real Book? Start learning to read & remember the tunes.

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