Things to do without my bass ?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by romac, May 5, 2004.

  1. I have rhumetoid artritus which means I can only practice bass about 1 hour a day sometimes 2 on a weekend since I get a lot of pain in my wrists and maybe surprisingly for some in my back and neck which is also made worse by another inflammatory condition which I won't bore you with. Anyway I was wondering what things I can do without the bass, that will improve my playing and my all round bass life??

    The only thing I've been doing is trying to read up on my theory, this I can do lying down so is best for neck. Any others suggestion would really help me

    Thanks for any help :)
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Try solfege or "sight singing". Get a pitch pipe and practice singing scales, arpeggios, melodies and bass lines, etc.

    Try transcribing bass lines off of recordings.
  3. Thanks for the tips. I've heard a lot about this solfege thing but what exactly is the point?? Does it improve your ear or something??
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Solfege and sight singing are two different, but related activities. Solfege (either fixed or movable) is the practice of assigning specific syllables to either pitches (fixed) or scale degrees (movable). By way of example in fixed solfege - do re mi fa so la ti do is the C major scale, in movable it's ANY major scale. European schools seem to favor fixed, American movable.

    Sight singing is reading a piece of music and singing what you are reading instead of playing it on your instrument. You can do that with or without using solfege syllables.

    "Improve your ear" - well, ANY work you do to connect what you are seeing on the printed page to an aural experience is good for your ear. ANY work you can do to connect a sound in your head to a readily identifiable pitch is good for your ear.

    And I do agree whole heartedly with BRAINRUST's suggestions that time away from the instrument is best spent working on your ears, I would like to add that a haphazard approach to ear training may not get the results as quickly or build as strong a foundation as a more studied approach. Teachers are a good thing. They're not going to let you blow through something that you almost have down, they're going to keep the exercise moving you forward on the good solid foundation you've built before.

    If you just absolutley can't find a teacher, there are any number of courses out there (Gary Willis, Berklee, Dick Grove etc etc) and just about every community college in the US with some music program will have courses in sight singing and ear training. My personal experience has been that it is easier to make progress one on one with a teacher than in a class situation. But it's like running a marathon - you don't just buy a pair of shoes and sign up. You work slowly and steadily to build up your endurance and stamina and mental state, you train for the next level, not the end of the race.
  5. Thanks a lot for the help Ed. Unfortunatly, where I am living their really is an extreme shortage of bass teachers and as far as know there are no good ones. I did have one but he was primarily a guitarist and all did was give me some TAB and take me through it, not good.

    Anyway as far as the ear training goes, I think I'll get the Gary Willis book/CD to give me some structure.

    I'll try the solfege and sight singing but to be honest I'm skeptical, but it's worth a try.

    Thanks again. Any more suggestions would be great. I'm getting a neck collar and back brace tomorrow to help my back problem so that might help me to play longer, just won't give me much motion. It will stop me from looking at the fretboard though :D
  6. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
    Is there any way you can build some kind of brace that will hold the bass for you? That way you don't cook your back/neck. *silly idea* Maybe use the strap buttons and use some cord to hang the bass from the ceiling so it's still free moving, but no weight on you?

    Also, if you're looking at your hands, you're probably turning the fretboard up towards your face which will cause your wrists to bend into bad positions. If I were you (and I'm not, so this is only a suggestion) I would stop looking at the fretboard as of today, and concentrate on building fretboard familiarity through touch. As my teacher put it, "You can't read sheet music if you're staring at your hands."