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What are you practicing?

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by Lovebown, Jan 1, 2003.

  1. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    This question goes to the pros...
    What are you practicing (when time and oppurtunity allows)? Are there any special music concepts you're working or just general stuff?

  2. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi Lovebown,

    My practice time is split in quite a few different directions - if I've got gigs coming up, then I tend to play through the tunes and work on anything that seems 'rusty', which can range from getting the right phrasing on a particular melody, to intonation on some fretless chords to getting my looping in time.

    When I'm not in gig mode, I tend to start with just maintainance - keeping my intonation where it should be, keeping my playing 'clean' - the exercises I would do involve laying down some sort of loop to play over, which could be a chord or a progression or a bass line or whatever, and then taking rudiments - interval studies, arpeggios etc, and making them musical - I never spend that much time just walking up and down scale patterns or whatever, more taking that material and trying as many musically applicable variations as I can...

    I also spend time on theoretical things, looking at chord substitutions and seeing what works (often over a looped walking bass part), and I'll often take a simple chord progression and work on melody ideas against it, using intervals studies again, or approach note ideas, or altered harmony things from the melodic minor scale or whatever... It's never as systematic as it should be! Very occasionally I'll stick on a tune in band in a box and play along, or I'll work something out off CD, but I do so much of that when I'm teaching, that it's not a skill that gets rusty too often...

    Another thing I work on from time to time, if I haven't had to do much of it for work, is reading - just getting my New Real Book at taking a bass line or a melody and playing through it, getting back up to speed...

    and then there's the majority of my playing time which is doing any one of the above for about three minutes, stumbling across a new compositional idea in the exercise and spending the next hour mucking about with that! :)

    happy new year - here's to more practice in 2003

    www.steve-lawson.co.uk (new MP3s and California gig dates here!)
  3. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Cool Steve!

    Just curious what you're up to in the shed!

  4. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    I spend most of my practice time working on exercises that a lot of folks would probably find very boring. I've developed a whole series of exercises for myself over the years to try to develop a more open, complete dexterity. I spend an awful lot of time just trying to play one or two notes well – in time, in tune with good tone, control over dynamics, good body mechanics, etc. I figure if I can get the basics down everything else will fall into place a little easier. I also spend a lot of time practicing with my loopers – they are the best practice tools I've ever found! I have exercises to practice intonation, rhythmic accuracy and groove. I also use them to play tunes, practicing bass lines, melodies, soloing, etc. I try to find time to work on new compositions as well, but there never seems to be enough time to work on everything!
  5. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Will you ever work on transcribing? I know a lot of jazz players, even on a very high level spend some time transcribing stuff of interest to them..?

  6. christoph h.

    christoph h.

    Mar 26, 2001

    could you share some of your exercises?
    that would be very interesting!
  7. neptoon


    Jul 25, 2000
    summerville, sc
    michael has an instructional video out with a bunch of exercises on it....great video...plus, there were a couple lessons published in bass player using fingerings between the 7th and 11th fret ascending and descending on all strings using different permutations of fingerings. it works great for dexterity.
  8. christoph h.

    christoph h.

    Mar 26, 2001
    thank you, that sounds interesting. but since
    i live in germany it is usually very hard for me to get instructional videos, especially if they're
    VHS only (and a little bit older).

    because of the same reasons i don't have access to any back-issuess of bass player.

    so if you don't mind, michael, could you still
    share some of your exercises to someone who can't access them the "usual" way?
  9. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
  10. christoph h.

    christoph h.

    Mar 26, 2001
    no need to apologize ;)

    and of course:

    thank you, michael!
  11. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK

    That's a useful set of exercises - I've done similar ones in the past, working all the way up and down the neck (starting at every fret, playing every string and back then moving up a fret) but not with all the possible permutations.

    Another way of extending it is to practise across three frets, using first, second and fourth fingers, which is more relaxed than one finger per fret in lower positions. That's got a lot less permutations:


    The ones I find least natural there are the two starting with the second finger, so those are the ones for me to practise slowly and methodically.