Time Spent Practicing Not Translating

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Progfan44, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. I'm sorry to bombard this forum with endless numbers of questions, but I've always loved receiving advice from those better than me and figure there's no better place to do it than in a place full of awesome bassists! I've recently created for myself a 3 hour practice regimen to be completed daily and changed weekly, broken into 6 1/2 an hour slots, and I've been pretty good with it. However, I feel like I'm not getting results as I should. While I realize anything takes time, I've recently been almost going backwards on some songs I've been learning (YYZ by Rush and Sun of Nothing by Between the Buried and Me). YYZ is particularly frustrating, as we've been learning it for the band I recently joined, and while I'm spending the most time on it, I seem to be making the smallest progress and while this could be due to my lack of experience (1 year vs. 4/5 years), It's quite disheartening to see my efforts go seemingly to waste. So, what am I trying to say? Basically, does anyone have any advice for getting the absolute most out of practice sessions, (not specifically learning songs too, as I need to work on my sight reading abilities as well). I had thought about assigning a schedule every day rather than every week, but I thought I'd ask you guys to see if I could get some helpful tips.
  2. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Quite an ambitious piece of work for one year with the beast. No question you are putting in the time, more than I would ever allot. At one year I was still working on the fundamentals and playing three chord songs. This piece was discussed on TB in 2009. http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f22/harmony-rushs-yyz-607859/

    I pulled up tabs on the song - OMG. From the chords listed in the above - OMG.

    Good luck.
  3. I think you're choosing pieces that are just too difficult. It's a mistake made by a lot of young musicians and it can actually hamper your progress. I think your practise regime is great, but pick some easier stuff first. A lot of experienced bass players would have trouble learning those pieces. If you put too much pressure on yourself, you'll just end up frustrated, which is the absolute worst state of mind to be in while trying to learn anything.

    "First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule, Daniel-san, not mine". (Mr. Miyagi)
  4. Anonymatt


    Jan 3, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    You should be learning songs that you can get together in a few days worth of practice. That's the right level. Instead of spending time trying to absorb concepts that could be over your head, you can be refining your time and tone. You create a model for yourself to follow out of your very best playing. Then you hold successive material to the same standard.

    It can be tempting to try the advanced music you love. My mother has attempted playing Chopin for years and her fundamentals never improve. I suggest getting back to basics, but she says life is too short to wait to play Chopin. She has been saying this for 20 years.
  5. Swakey


    Nov 26, 2012
    A lot of your practice should go into technique. Play lots of scales and arpeggios but try to also be creative with them. Figure out your own way of playing them. When your learning something, practice it all along the fretboard instead of just one position.

    What i've discovered, i don't know if anyone else feels the same, is that when you practice say 3-4 hours a day, you don't gradually become better (or at least you don't feel as though you do). Rather you think you're not progressing and you're stuck at the same point. One day though (2-6 months later depending on how often you practice) something inside you clicks and you start playing the things you were studying with ease and you can apply them in real live situations and your thinking "Wow i had no idea i could do that!" Does anyone else get this feeling ever or is it just me?:)

    Also don't practice songs only but rather fit them somewhere in your daily routine and be patient:)
  6. bander68


    Jan 29, 2013
    I teach beginning band and I have a routine with my kids that seems to help, but it requires patience. I try to teach them to practice in short bits while their fundamentals are still developing. 10-15 minutes at a time for the first 6 months, then gradually increase it to fit their skill level. Once they've gotten some chops, I start making them play longer and longer stretches. My point, though, is what I tell them about their home practice - It's not about the amount of TIME you practice, it's about the number of TIMES you practice. Shorter, more frequent practice sessions tend to push them faster.

    If you can play YYZ after a year, you're a better man than me...I'm awed. After 3 years, I'm just starting on Free Ride and Gimme Three Steps...and struggling...WTG!
  7. SlowMike


    Nov 28, 2012
    Yep. If you can pull that one off correctly after a year of playing, you've got some incredible potential.

    I played for a year, took almost 4 years off and have been playing a lot for the past 4 months. I'm pretty much back to where I was after I stopped playing in early '09. I've just gotten to the point where I can competently play Day Tripper in Hal Leonard's More Easy Pop Bass Lines book. Crazy Train's chorus and guitar solo portions are killing me (old fingers and ears). I couldn't dream of playing any Rush songs at this point let alone YYZ.

    If you feel like you have to press on with YYZ at this point, do you have, or have you looked into any of the software that allows you to slow down and loop songs/song portions?

    BTW how well do your bandmates play YYZ? The drums and guitar parts aren't exactly beginners pieces either.
  8. My recommendation is to learn some 3-chord garage rock songs and have fun with your buddies! The rest will come with time and practice. :)

    A good instructor can analyze your strengths/weaknesses and help you organize your practice time effectively. For example learning YYZ allows you to play YYZ. Learning your I, IV, V, and vi chord tones in all 12 keys allows you to play 1,000,000 songs. It's about effective returns on the investment of your time. :)
  9. Clark Westfield

    Clark Westfield Floyd Pepper is my mentor!

    Jan 30, 2012
    Central Jersey
  10. Hey, thanks man! It's good to get some encouragement. The other two guys in my band are really, really good. The drummer has been playing for a long time and the guitarist is a freak of nature, he plays for about 8 hours a day, and still wishes he could get more, so I kinda feel left in the dust. I play it to a metronome, and know the ins and outs around the beats because of it.
  11. Well... much as 3 chord garage songs have their place... the band I'm in right now is an instrumental fusion band, akin to something like Scale the Summit or Exivious, so I don't think we're gonna be jamming out on Green Day songs any time soon! That said, I do get your point about the easier stuff being more "fun", I had the chance to do a kinda session gig with a band who takes group lessons where I get vocal lessons and it was nice to assert some dominance over the easy stuff, and show off a little bit (I know I know shame on me). With our original stuff I'm really trying to groove with the drummer rather than show off with the guitars though and it's been working awesome. So, I do see where you're coming from with the basicness, but as a fan of pretentious, proggy music, (hense the name) I'd rather take the bull by the horns and wrestle with some hard chord progressions than breeze by the easy stuff.
  12. Thanks man, looks like those 6 hours shed sessions are working out for me after all. I'm curious about you're more shorter sessions Idea though, as it would seem to contradict a lot of what I've been told. I've long been a fan of disgustingly lengthy practice schedules every day (strange as it sounds) because it allows me to overcome flaws on a weekly basis, rather than have something plaguing me for a month. But I'm curious to hear more about you're approach, it's always great to get some more ideas!
  13. Ah so the metaphorical kettle's on the stove then, I'm gonna spend the next few months holding out on it boiling over! I've actually developed a way to play all my scales in all my positions in one run, so maybe paying a bit more attention to that will help my YYZ progress.
  14. bander68


    Jan 29, 2013
    There's not much more to it than I already said. It came from the realization that most people can't concentrate at 100% for longer than 30-45 minutes. Breaking it up seems to be the solution. On top of that, I've experienced this myself. I work and work and work on something, and it's just not coming together so I put it away disgusted. The song plays over and over in my head after that until I come back to it the next day and somehow I can play it. Why? I don't know, but it has happened more times than I can count. With the kids I teach these days (ages 11-13), they have even shorter attention spans so I have just broken it up into smaller chunks of information which allows for mastery quicker.

    It may not be the answer for you, but it may be something to add to your arsenal of practice regimens. I don't do this exclusively - I often have 2-4 hour practice sessions too. I just find it works better for most people to break things up into smaller bites.

    And then again, if you're playing YYZ after a year, maybe I should start playing 6-8 hours a day too! It's all about varying methods.
  15. famousbirds


    Aug 3, 2009
    I have about the same level of interest in play plodding garage rock. Definitely appreciate where you're coming from.

    One thing to keep in mind - the reason it is valuable to learn the simpler stuff first is because songs like YYZ are built on the lineage of all those tracks. Learning to play, say, 12-bar blues with a dozen turnarounds is an invaluable learning experience - even if you don't ever want to play the blues, you'll learn the licks which are at the heart of all the rock music that came after it.

    It's the same thing with jazz. There's not much value in learning Donna Lee or transcribing Charlie Parker solos if you haven't learned Autumn Leaves and Stella By Starlight. Intimately understanding the basic forms provides the context necessary to understand WHY the complicated stuff is the way it is, instead of just memorizing a stream of notes.

    So, keep at those scales and keep plugging with YYZ. It's a great study piece and will definitely get your fingers in shape. But don't neglect studying simpler music - the challenge is not in playing the right notes, but in understanding the harmony and learning the cliches of each genre that give them their unique sound.
  16. famousbirds makes an excellent point. Another way to think about it is, if you want to learn to play like Geddy Lee, find out what were Geddy Lee's early musical influcences (I do not know the answer) and learn that musical language. Same goes for any other player you admire.
  17. famousbirds


    Aug 3, 2009
    Yup - Geddy Lee wrote seven albums of basslines before he wrote YYZ.

    So, if you want to play like Geddy Lee, then sure, go ahead and learn YYZ. But if you want to write like him, you have to go back...
  18. When attempting to master any new skill, the application of focused attention on it will often seem to make it _worse_ in the short term. For a few reasons:

    * you're discarding any natural autopilot instincts for the sake of exerting control
    * you're being hyper-aware of any negatives in your performance

    It almost _always_ gets worse, even for quite a long period of time, before it gets better.

    Do follow the other advice here, in not neglecting the basics, and in splitting it into chunks you can master--a little piece of your song of choice, repeated until mastered, then on to the next chunk, is going to go down more easily than practicing the whole thing front-back and trying to find improvements every time.

    But don't be afraid to keep learning the difficult stuff. Give yourself permission to not always get better every day. The progress _is_ being made. Eventually the things you tried to gain conscious control over will start being unconscious and you'll see the fruits of your effort.
  19. bander68


    Jan 29, 2013
    Rush released an album of cover tunes called Feedback in 2004.

    Copied/pasted from wikipedia:

    1. "Summertime Blues" Eddie Cochran/Jerry Capehart Eddie Cochran, Blue Cheer, The Who 3:43
    2. "Heart Full of Soul" Graham Gouldman The Yardbirds 2:52
    3. "The Seeker" Pete Townshend The Who 3:27
    4. "For What It's Worth" Stephen Stills Buffalo Springfield 3:30
    5. "Shapes of Things" Paul Samwell-Smith/Keith Relf/Jim McCarty The Yardbirds 3:16
    6. "Mr. Soul" Neil Young Buffalo Springfield 3:51
    7. "Crossroads" Robert Johnson Robert Johnson, Cream 3:27
    8. "Seven and Seven Is" Arthur Lee Love 2:53
    Total length: 27:08
  20. Coeball


    Aug 25, 2007
    Bath Uk
    Totally agree with this the sudden breakthroughs you feel like you are getting nowhere then suddenly you can play that lick you were stuck on or transcribe that song that you couldn't get down.