Practice makes perfect!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Swerve, Nov 23, 2002.

  1. Swerve


    Nov 22, 2002
    Portland, Oregon
    I was wondering how many hours a day do the people here at Talkbass practice. I try to get no less than 4 hours each day.
  2. deadweeds


    Oct 28, 2002
    Harbor Beach,MI
    Hi there...I just started playing a month ago and honestly play about 2 hours a day and have seen dramatic improvement in my playing since that time..if I'm not practicing I'm usually here learning more little by little and then putting that knowledge when I do practice

  3. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    I usually say to myself "right im going to warm up by playing 4 or 5 songs from this CD", so i normally spend about 2 hours playing all the songs on that CD :rolleyes:

    When im not doing that, i think i usually improvise, practise and yeah, about 2- 2 and a half hours a day?
  4. Erlendur Már

    Erlendur Már

    May 24, 2000
    I'm not sure..Now I usually start practicing 4-4:30 pm, after work, and I practice to..about 19:30. Except, I eat usually at 6 o'clock, and then I lose 10 - 15 minutes.
  5. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    It's not the quantity of practice, it's the quality of practice time.
  6. I play atleast 6hrs a day (sometimes up to 10 when my fingers and back can handle it). But only about 4 of that is intended to push my proficiency further, the rest is noodling around and writing music for my solo CD. (or just staring at the top on my roscoe haha :D)
  7. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    Practice does not make Perfect. It makes Permanent. I.e., bad practice habits can lead to bad habits that are hard to break.
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    In other words, you don't do very much practice :D
  9. Well, shouldn't developing good habits be one of the objectives behind practicing??

    I agree with Jazzbo, it's not the amount of time but what you do with it.

    In my younger days I use to break out some Iron Maiden CD and play along to songs I had already learned before. It always helped keep my fingers in shape but it did nothing to help me improve as a bassist.

    Nowadays I don't 'practice' as much as I used to be everything I do practice is there to help me improve as a bassist: sight reading music, developing bass parts from reading notation, learning songs by ear, practicing the different modes up and down the fretboard, practicing different techniques- ie slap, ghost notes, right hand tapping, practicing my intonation on fretless, etc., etc.

    I don't practice as much but I get a whole lot more out of it.

    BTW, I try to get in at least an hour a day.;) :p
  10. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Exactly! :D

    Fuqwad was talking about this in a recent post. There are so many cats out there that grab their bass and noodle around while they're watching TV, play along with their KoRn or ShRimP BiSQUicK CDs, or just generally noodle around their room, doing all this for 3 or 4 hours a day, and call that practice time.

    I'm gonna put money down that one to one and half hours of my practice time is equivilant to six hours for a lot of people here. People like to boast that they practice 6 hours a day, well I'll tell you, except for the music major studying classical and/or jazz, I think it's beyond rare to see someone with 6 hours of focused practice time. So when someone starts these threads and wants just a number, well that's less than half the picture. It doesn't truly show what you're getting out of practice. I could pick up my bass, and play along with hundreds of cover tunes I've done in the past, and that would take 4 hours or more, but I'm not really improving as a musician.

    So to answer the original poster, getting a number about how long someone practices, is not representative of much. Rather, we should be looking at how we practice, how we challenge ourselves.

    I remember going through my practice routine and knowing what my talent level was. I was playing along with some covers I knew to warm up, they were sounding pretty good, and I knew I was a mediocre player. I decided to learn some Jamerson tunes for study, and picked out a couple of more simple lines, knowing my talent level and that I couldn't do anything more complicated. My girlfriend talked me into learning the "hardest" songs, the "Darling Dear"s, the "Home Cookin'"s, the "Bernadette"s, to which I retorted, "Wow, those are some serious songs, I'm not sure if I can do those." She reminded me quickly about challenging myself, and when I studied those songs, I realized I didn't actually know my playing level. Challenging yourself is extremely important, and it benefited me tremendously.
  11. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    I think it's beyond rare to see someone with 6 hours of focused practice time.

    Agreed. If I were to put in a focused practice for half that time, I'd be mentally exhausted if not physically. And so would most people, I think.

    Challenging yourself is extremely important, and it benefited me tremendously.

    This is the absolute key to practicing IMO. If you're just going through stuff you already know, you aren't pushing yourself and you aren't going to improve.

    The way I see it, no practice time is wasted if you're doing something new and pushing your boundaries - whether that's improvising a coherent song out of noodlage, scales, solos, whatever.

    Usually my practice routine (not the most efficient, I know) consists of warming up with scales, triads and chords; these days I am working on improvising based on what mood I'm trying to create. IMO 45 minutes of this is more useful than playing songs I already know for 45 hours would be.
  12. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Actually (despite having mocked jazzbo a few posts back :)) I agree with what he's saying about quality practice time. I think spending hours noodling about while watching telly, and calling it practice is of limited value, and does very little to improve your playing. I do think noodling about is useful - as it can often be when you're just messing about that you come up with ideas for compositions - however it is no substitute for quality practice. Practicing is an application of the mind and body, and you'll get much more out of it if you really focus on it. However doing the opposite, *not* thinking, and just *playing* whatever you feel is very useful too. And playing along with CDs is useful too - but, again, not a substitute for focused practice.

    And it looks to me like Ed's teacher has got a great approach to it. Quite apart from practicing 6-10hrs a day, and *enjoying* it - all that teaching is also of benefit. Teaching is a great way to learn. In a way, by teaching it to someone else, you're teaching it to yourself.
  13. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    I can't even sleep for 6 straight hours - how could I possibly concentrate for so long ;) Having a plan of attack, or a particular regimen is most important if you want to improve. Probably the best way to do this is to take lessons (the second best may be to give lessons). Having someone help you can make a big difference. Along the same lines, suppose you decided that you needed to practice large intervals and devoted a lot of time to playing them. Further, suppose you decided that the best approach was to anchor your fretting hand and stretch your fingers to their physical limits. In the short term, you will improve the number of "frets" you can stretch to, in the long term, you'll probably hurt your hand and your playing. One thing that many players, myself included, do is to reinforce poor technique by practing poor technique. While you may get to where you can play some technically challenging pieces with this poor technique, you could have also gotten further with better technique even though it may feel like you are making much slower progress with the proper technique.
  14. ampeglb100


    Oct 1, 2002
    Portland, OR
    Interesting topic... no one really mentions anything about consistancy though (or maybe they have and I missed it). What I mean is: are you really playing every minute of the day outside of work and eating dinner at night? Every day? Day after day...? For how long? Do you have a life? Have you discovered women yet?

    I have found that 1.5 hours a day, minimum, of pure practicing is sustainable for me. This is just practice, so I usually play another .5 to 1.5 hours of MUSIC on top of that, and sometimes up another 2 or 3 hours if it's band practice night. That's a full day for me, but the practice time never fluctuates and I have been able to keep this up everyday over the past 11 years and still feel like I have a life, of sorts.

    As far as what to practice, I would stress that keeping your routine as musical as possible is very important. Contrary to what some believe, I think that it's important to build on what you already know and what you can already play, as opposed to the "don't practice what you already know or can do" school of thought. It's like any other activity that requires skill, you build your proficiency through the repitition of a given task done correctly. Once you get to the point where you can perform that task at a level that suits you, it takes a certain amount of effort to maintain that, let alone improve upon it. I think rearranging your routine, adding new concepts, shortening other ones, playing things faster, playing them slower, doing them backwards, and just plain making yourself play the instrument in a way that you wouldn't normally do if you were just "sitting in front of the TV" (talk about a waste of time) will help you become a better player and inhibit your creative ear to give you new ideas when you go to write or add to some actual MUSIC (that's the whole idea of playing an instrument, isn't it?). I think incorporating as much theory as you can into what you practice can only help, and being aware of what you are practicing and how well you are performing it are key to being able to take things further.

    One last thought, to me playing music is about getting the ideas out of your head and onto an instrument. So practicing, as it fits into my life, is a means to help make that gap between my thoughts and my actions as smooth, clear, articulate, and responsive as possible. As opposed to just attaining a certain level of proficiency on your instrument just for the sake of attaining a certain level proficiency on your instrument and playing "music" just to show everybody that you have, you guessed it, a certain level proficiency on your instrument.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Generally I practice 3-4 days a week for about 3 1/2 hours in a duo setting. We focus on writing and harmony, as well as learning a few tunes a session. I practice by myself for at least an hour a day, though the bass is in my hands almost the whole day(unless I am at work). I consider practice to be when I am completely focused on learning a new technique, or theory. Otherwise I work on keeping up my chops, by running through scales, and tunes/improv.

    I find practicing in front of a mirror to be very important too. It allows you to see your hands better and improve technique.
  16. ivanthetrble


    Sep 9, 2002
    Usually get 2 to maybe 3 hours in a day.
  17. joel

    joel Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2002
    i thought this was interesting:

    if you practice something like a half hour more everyday . its like playing for a whole extra day in
    one year

  18. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    How do you work that out? Half an hour a day is about 182.5 hours a year, which is about 7.6 days, which is just over a week extra a year.
  19. joel

    joel Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2002

    thats the one!!!!!!!!!!
  20. On the weekends, I've got the luxury of being able to practice about six hours each day. But not straight through.

    On weekdays practice is often lousy because I'm tired and unfocused after a day at work, but I try to get a few hours.

    I would love to be able to practice more - I gave up an entire instrument for lack of time. But I think getting a teacher and becoming more focused would be more productive. Not to mention finding a band.

    Happily not - my practicing time would go out the window!

    *Knocks on wood*