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Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by UncleMattGuy, May 15, 2011.

  1. UncleMattGuy


    Jan 26, 2011
    Thanks for your time in advance-
    When I was transitioning from beginner to intermediate and from intermediate to somewhat advanced levels of competency I seemed to be able to practice endlessly and it was very productive.
    Now I learn new tunes, and rehearse with the band but I have lost the plot when it comes to having a practice routine. My playing is more than up to the standard required by my band but I don't seem to be growing as a musician. Any ideas on how to reestablish a productive practice ethic?
  2. I try to break practice up into focussing one night on scales, and the next on learning new material, the the next night on reviewing existing material and so on. This helps me keep from getting bored and keeps things interesting. I also find it is often times helpful to study other genre's /styles of music than what you typically perform with your band. This is the area I typically feel gives me the most growth as a musician.

    Just some things to consider...good luck my friend!
  3. c0nsilience


    Aug 13, 2008
    co-founder, SynapticGroove

    Here are two things I've found that helped me grow as a musician, regardless of level:

    Play/jam with people better/more fluent than you. This helps kill any type of glass ceiling.

    Pick up a different instrument, especially one that traverses beyond the lower frequencies. This freshens perspective and will further develop your ear. Your bass playing will be better for it.

    Just my two cents!
  4. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    I dunno UncleMattGuy....I think what I need is a new teacher to beat my ass into having some discipline about it. I have no insight. I never practice enough. Never have. That said, the diversity of my work and the instruments I play has been the thing that has allowed me to grow, unquestionably. So I'm very fortunate in that regard.

  5. ETThompson


    Jan 3, 2011
    What instruments do you play besides bass? (I'm a multi-instrumentalist myself, guitar, drums, keys, not-so-singer, irish bouzouki, a few others sort of).

    I also use this variety to keep me from being bored, but it doesn't always work - I slip into the same old riffs and habits. At least they're not bad habits, just boring to me because I've played them so many times.
  6. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    Not sure what you mean by "play". ;)

    I'll take liberties and say: guitar, keys, drums, banjo, mandolin, clarinet, sax.

  7. kevbass5


    Jan 18, 2008
    i totally know what the OP is going through...it seems the better you get, the harder and harder it becomes to keep getting better.

    sometimes you have to bang your head against the wall, and sometimes you just have to say f*ck it and let it all go.

    and sometimes you have to take a step back before you can take a step forward.
  8. UncleMattGuy


    Jan 26, 2011
    Yeah kev this is the issue. I'm at the stage where I can learn almost anything and with repitition nail it ( maybe not John Myung stuff) but I don't seem to be able to sit down with instructional material and concentrate anymore. My current method of practice is to put my iPod on shuffle and play along with whatever comes on- Abba, Slayer, Partridge Family, James Brown - everything and anything . I guess what I really need at this point is a more formal, structured learning situation.
  9. ljazz


    Dec 10, 2002
    Cookeville, TN
    I think the issue is mostly discipline related...... eventually, the "study" portion of our practicing seems more tedious if there doesn't appear to be a clear and direct use for what we're studying. The key is to find study materials that are interesting, and will give you something you can start to incorporate immediately. When we started playing, practice was fun, because we had little to no vocabulary, so there was a use for every thing we practiced. As our vocabularies expanded, the immediate use for what we learn is not quite as clear.

    I really like Anthony Vitti's materials, and try to work through a line at a time. And I'm not talking about just playing it, but breaking it down so that I understand the harmony being used. Then I'll try to play variations on the line. By that point, I have the line internalized enough that I can find ways to incorporate concepts from it into my own playing.

    Once you realize that it's about expanding your vocabulary, then it's not so hard to sit down with something and work on it.

    Another thing that I find myself doing a lot more of lately is really breaking down the tunes that I already know. Playing my lines with different fingerings, positions and inversions are helping me to get further inside of the tunes. Figuring out chord substitutions to those tunes and coming up with new lines and fills expands things as well.
  10. UncleMattGuy


    Jan 26, 2011
    Thanks jazz! I love it when someone not only understands my problem but can also offer intelligent , thoughtful feedback and takes the time to communicate in an understandable way! You are probably a great teacher.

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