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Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by pasnu, Mar 20, 2011.
What do you guys practice in your practice sessions? (scales, chords, exercises etc.)
I start out with scales and cords, just to warm up.
Then I work on any new songs that I need to learn.
And then, maybe some solo work.
A big part of practicing now, is getting ready for gigs.
I try to get one-two hours a day for practice. (it's tuff sometimes)
The purpose of exercises such as scales is to familiarize the student with sight-reading the dots so that they eventually become proficient at identifying the notes and automatically going to them. That is what is meant by co-ordination in the true sense. That has something to do with seeing your frets and putting the appropriate fingers there too but for a less brain-cell process set of reasons. Tablature also processes the printed version.
I have been playing so long that I just go over the bass lines that are arranged for the stuff of the day. Chords are not really a big part of basic bass work. It helps to know the notes in chords though so that you can be more creative as bass man.
Bass players are traditionally left to their own devices except for special riffs and cadenzas & so forth. Many just play the root notes of the chord sequences to be on the safe side. A guitarist double tracking a bass line probably would too.
Youngsters are often captivated with all the imagery and so on with modern music and were turned off by the old school process of learning properly. Some do catch up from the other side of the fence and get the best of both worlds.
I may add a new page to my website with tips etc. Escutcheon Media - Home
Good luck with practice. Remember that it is different from rehearsal.
Depends on the practice. By myself I mostly run through scales and modes for a bit, the just improv. With a band I'll do finger exercises to warm up and then go over our songs together.
I break into 3-4 sections, no matter how long or short the session is:
1) Warm-Up: This can be anything from scales, to fingerboard exercises, arpeggios, etc. All done with a metronome...sometimes very, very slow. Always conscious of posture and hand position.
2) Skills: Here, I focus on something new I'm trying to learn or old that needs fixing. Currently, it's a different use of the thumb for slapping. This is also done with a metronome.
3) Genre: I'm going back to the Blues for a bit and am working through a lot of blues material (books, ear, tunes, etc) because I want a better understanding of this music and the role the bass plays in it. Other genres would be rock (by decade or style), jazz, classical, etc.
4) Repertoire: If I have a set list I'm supposed to be working on, then I'll use this time to learn those tunes. If there is nothing on the immediate horizon, I'll just play some older tunes that I know will be coming up at some later time. This is also my warm-down where I'll play a ballad or something slow as my last tune.
Naturally, how long I spend in each area depends on what I'm supposed to be working on. If it's a gig, I spend most of my time on #4. If I've found a glitch in my form, I'll spend more time on #1 working particular drills.
Never could sit and just go through scales, etc. When playing upright with the philharmonic, my practice was simply to learn my part. Practice to me is learning a part. I majored in music, so I know theory, history, and studied my instrument, but when it comes to practice I just wanna play. So, that's what I do. Nothing better than finding a groove I like and getting lost in it. Why, I've played a two-bar phrase for twenty minutes before, all by myself, grooving until it starts to kinda have a story in my mind. I don't mean to sound juvenile and amateurish (believe me, I'm not--I'm a 61-year-old working musician), but I have been in love with where music takes me in my mind, and body, since I was sitting in my mother's lap banging on the piano. I gained enough proficiency to play professionally this way, including fifteen bands and the symphony. I have played many styles, too, including jazz. Theory really helps, but it's not where the "soul" of the music is. Every time I go play I want to find that soul. If there was a technical way to practice doing that, that's what I would practice. I guess the best way is to just play. No problem there since I have this hunger inside that I have to satisfy. No drills, no scales, and I haven't modelled my style after anyone else.
Otherwise, I work on songs I need to learn for gigs. That's more conventional practice, huh?
I warm up by going through the modes, two octaves, first diatonic, than in the thirds. Starting in quarter notes, to quarter triplets, 8th notes, etc. Than I go through some licks like Teen Town, Ornithology. Than I'll play along to a tune for fun. This will get the blood flowing, and my hands to feel agile.
I'll start working on learning a piece. Right now I'm working through Caprice 24, and the Bach Cello Suites. I'll go through a new section, and get it up to speed with a metronome. Than I'll play it freely from the beginning up to that part.
Than I'll run through any trouble parts from any of my bands songs. That varies.
I'll move on to applying recent study to my playing. Lately that's been micro-tonal scales for ear training, and improvising chord voicings.
After that I'll put down my bass and spend some time studying different concepts while listening to music. Do some ear training.
Sometimes I'll have to break up my routine throughout the day.
Practice to me depends on the mood I am in....and usually in the mood to play. I will work on Bach tunes or open up "Standing in the shadows of motown" and pick a song and play.
Other times I just play to a drum pattern or set a loop and jam over the top of it.
What I really like doing lately is transcribing melodies by ear and turning them into a solo piece...Hey Jude is one that I love playing and each time I play it, I find different ideas for the it.
At the moment I'm mainly working on jazz technique, so walking lines at different tempo's over different tempos/ time signatures. I hve a an old guitar amp with drum loops on it with adjustable tempo so I work with that. Then I move to difficult pieces that aren't the typical walking lines (funk stuff lately). Maybe work on my slapping technique for a while towards the end of the session.
I have next to no time to practice anymore. (Fact is, I'm still at work!)
So lately on weekends I've just been sitting down with my bass, I'll pick a pattern from my drum machine and just see what comes out of me. Sometimes I'll just see what kind of grooves I can create and sometimes I'll pick a chord progession and see how well I can jam over that.
Wish I had time for more in depth things but the time just isn't there.
I mainly play repertoire. I try & practice two hours every other day, and I'll usually start with one or two easier songs to warm up, & then I'll play a few difficult favorites, followed by an hour or so of working on new material & songs I'm not yet 100% comfortible with playing live. After 30 years of playing bass in cover bands, I don't really spend much time working on technique - practice for me is mainly learning new songs as older ones get dropped from the set lists, and just playing for the sheer joy of it.
Good post, very informative. About root notes, I'm a beginner, and I think that sticking to root notes alone can be pretty boring and unimaginative, so I guess a safe bet is to juggle between root notes, fifths and octaves, and still be safe (in case one doesn't know if the chord being played is a major, minor, dominant, etc)... except with diminished chords. But my bass teacher told me today the diminished/augmented chords are rarely used in practice, so the root-fifth-octave formula is still safe to play, even for beginners such as myself.
Am I right with this?
Thanks for that info! It's is quite inspiring actually, since I'm still learning to play properly, and I'm as of late pretty preoccupied with theory and scales, and it can get frustrating when I don't get it or when I can't just remember what I just studied. Maybe I'm also a guy who should go for the "feel" part of playing, and just go through trial and error until I find grooves that are pleasing and entrancing. But somehow I still feel like I should keep on studying theory, at least until I really "get" it... I just hope I have the gift to really and deeply feel the groove naturally sometime soon.
Constantly learning knew songs and styles is very important. Practicing the same stuff again and again will not make you grow. I like to practice to the music. It makes you feel as if your actually in the band playing. This helps you get a feel for things and even improv. overtop the song structure. I'm constantly trying to learn songs by more bassists and absorb as much as I can.