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Practice conundrum - need some advice, please!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by bherman, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    I could use some help and advice on how to prioritize my practice time.

    I play upright bass as well as electric (fretted and fretless). I usually have bout an hour or so per day dedicated to practice time. The problem that I am having is pretty simple - not enough time to cover all that I would like to keep my chops up, as well as to advance.

    Most of my practice routine is on the upright. I spend some time on modal scales and arpeggios, thirds, fourths, fifths, all usually two octaves. This takes about 30-40 minutes. About 1/2 of it with the bow, the other without.

    Then I'll shift to electric - usually some scale/chord warmups, maybe some sight reading (I have been working on some etudes, both to improve my reading but also knowing the fingerboard better).

    By now, I'm usually about out of time - but will spend a few more minutes free-playing just to have fun and test out some ideas.

    The problem is that with my current routine, I'm not advancing as I would like. I often feel like I am trying to take on too many things at once, and advancing at all of them very slowly as a result.

    So here's where I could use some advice. Would I gain more by focusing on fewer things, but spending more time, or should I just keep chugging away at the 3-4 things that I am currently working on?

    I wish that I had the option for more time, but with working, wife, exercise, etc it would be hard to regularly carve out an extra hour each day.

    The other option is to focus more on one bass or the other (electric or upright) - I remember hearing Ron Carter say that the reason he only plays upright is that it takes alot of work to truly master both. But I love playing both so thats probably not a good option. Maybe I'm trying too much multi-tasking???

    Some of my frustration is that many years ago (in my 20's), I focused full-time on bass and had the luxury of 4-6 hours each day. Maybe my expectations now are too high?

    Would appreciate any and all advice....from the many wise folks here on TB!

  2. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Something that has helped me through out my life. I ask self; "How much of my life am I going to let this, person, situation, hobby, job, whatever have"? I make the decision and move on with out looking back.

    Time for your decision, we can not make it for you. Yes, there are only 24 hours in each day, it does become a matter of priorities.

    Good luck.
  3. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    Mix things up. You should know those modal scales and arpeggios, thirds, fourths, fifths, etc. well enough by now that you can maintain them only working on them every other day. Play new, fun stuff you want to learn on the days you aren't doing the "foundation work". Works for me, YMMV.
  4. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Good advice, thx - I tend to get in the habit of doing them everyday. To make it more interesting, I do alternate the ascending/descending patterns for them, but maybe I am putting too much energy into the fundamentals.
  5. amablkm


    Dec 19, 2010
    I think you need to add transcribing songs.
  6. I can sympathize, from being able to practice 4 to 5 hours a day or night in my late 20s to having to really make time with having a wife, kids and way to much work, it can be frutrating. I found the following really helped;

    As was suggested working on different things each day, I still do some theater productions and when I have a score to learn I can only focus on that, I actually find it difficult to just work on a score without having done some of my routine scales and arpegios, I have to keep telling my self "this is whats important now".

    My first teacher was an old jazz guitarist, he insisted on having an instrument that was easy to get to, so one can use those 15 or 20 min periods that may be there to go over something. It's a good way of keeping your fingers loose and doing finger exersises so you not using your practice time on that.

    I found refocusing on why I play has helped a lot, when I was practicing 4 to 5 hours a day and often more at night I was very goal an target orientated and did not handle distractions well, I realise that certain goals will take a lot longer, if ever. I really try and enjoy my practice time and playing for what it is now, I still have goals but I try not let them get me frustrated and not enjoy what I'm doing.

    Best of luck.
  7. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Thx Carldogs - your perspective helps. I've thought about keeping a bass in my office, maybe grabbing an extra 30 minutes during the day will help.

    I will keep your positive attitude in mind as I move forward.
  8. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    One approach that might help maximize your time would be to do all of your work on the double bass. I play all three as well, and I found going to the fretless EB a breeze from upright. Fretted takes a bit more work to become reacquanited with "fingers off the frets," but it comes back quickly.

    So, do all you practice on DB, and then spend 5 minutes in front of the TV noodling on fretted and fretless to remind your hands of the differences in scale.
  9. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Thx Fretless, thats kind of what I do, 80% of my time is on upright. But I do feel that I am missing out by not working more on the electric, especially fingering and upper-position stuff.
  10. Basically, you are spending your time working on your chops. How much time do you spend working on music?
    I still, after all this time, start with exercises to loosen my hands and work on precision, but I spend more time now working on music than I used to. My two cents is you should find a balance between the two. If improving your chops is a goal, then you need to set a beginning and an end time to drills - if you find you can't "get it" at the end of the drill time, then back down a notch until you can.
  11. Araman


    Sep 19, 2012
    bass teacher , IBASS-SCHOOL
    Like you ,I play upright bass as well as electric
    practising one hour a day is already well
    IMO , don't work the same things on the upright bass and on the electric ( since the techniques are the same except slap and bow )
    Also , the most important is to listen to music and bass players when you are not practising