What should I focus on when practicing?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by muthagoose, May 27, 2004.

  1. muthagoose


    Jan 18, 2004
    Lately I've been feeling like I don't have enough time to practice everything I want to practice. My ultimate goal with my playing is to be able to be a session musician, and an all-round good bass player and musician. So if you could point me in the right direction when it comes to practicing I would be very happy :p. My usual practicing schedule looks like something like this.

    I play all of the major scales in ascending and descending thirds, which is something my teacher told me to do.
    I also play another pattern in all of the minor scales, that my teacher also told me to do.
    That usually takes about 30 minutes, then I sit down and focus on sightreading for about 30 minutes, and after that I'm kind of torn between what to do. Usually I try to figure out some songs by ear for a while, but I also want to improve my tapping and slapping, which there isn't always time to do.

    So I thought I'd ask you, more experienced players, what I should focus on, like spending more time practicing my sightreading or developing my ears to a fuller extent or something like that.

  2. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Check out my Practice Practice Practice thread stuck in General Instruction.
  3. DaemonBass


    Mar 29, 2004
    Sacramento, CA
    By now you have probably found a good teacher and I checked to see when the last time you posted was, not that long ago, and what the heck, I am bored...

    You say you practice your major scale in ascending and decending thirds? Try it doing 4ths and 5ths, or 2nds. That is probably a good finger excersise but it doesn't have that much value to actually playing.

    To improve your playing you should play with more people perhaps?

    To figure out what you need to focus on when practicing you must have a goal while practicing or when creating your own practice schedule. For example when playing your major scale in a bunch of 3rd sequences, what are you REALLY trying to accomplish? Becoming faster at it? Learning the intervals? ???

    This question plagued me for awhile. But I see clearly now, you can't just sit down and repeat a series of notes and expect to accomplish anything at all. You must analyze yourself and decide what it is that can make you a better player, or what you would like to become better at with the ultimate goal of becoming better at a specific line or task.

    To practice effectively, you need to decide exactly what it is you are going to practice and apply it, at a very slow speed to start. IF you play it perfectly enough times, no matter what the speed, I GUARANTEE you will see results.
  4. There are 2 parts to playing bass: Timing, and playing the right note.

    Hope that helps, I always find it helps to dumb something down before attacking it. Then again I am a little slow... :eyebrow: (i love these emoticons)
  5. Sounds like my goal also...

    Currently, besides warm ups, I do not practice any thing that I already can play. I try to learn new songs by ear, learn the chords/structures and maybe improvise away. Then move on to the next song...
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Are you playing with other musicians (either gigs or just jams/rehearsals)?

    If you are, then let that be your guide. To parpahrase Jeff Berlin, it's easy to know what to practice: anything you screw up during a performance is something to work on :D

    While I still do some "generic" practice running scales and arpeggios to warm up, most of my practice is directed toward fine tuning my performance repertoire. If I'm having trouble with a particular passage in a particular song I'll take it apart, figure out what the problem is and work on that. It might be wrapped up in one practice session or become weeks (or months!!!) of work depending on what the issue is.
  7. WillPlay4Food

    WillPlay4Food Now With More Metal! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 9, 2002
    Orbiting HQ
  8. Look at jazzbos thread good advice in there
    Otherwise try this
    a) 10-15 mins scales,chords etc 12 keys
    b) 30 mins jammin to a cd or radio
    c) 30 mins sightreading as u already do
    d) 10 mins listening to intervals asc. desc. (pref. on piano otherwise go to www.goodear.com
    e) 15 mins reading /singing rhythms on diff pieces of music
    f) 30 mins transcribing a song (start on easy tunes then prog.on too harder tunes)
    g) 10 mins listening to chords
    h)10 mins righthand techniques only ie slap pop using pick etc
    i) 10 mins lefthand ie hammer on pull off vib. etc

    Dont forget having breaks in between not nec.in that order but try that
    by doin that everyday everything gets worked on if you have more time add a little more on the weaker areas oh if u want u can listen to a cd while youre doin your rhythms cause its helped me with transcribing sometimes the rhythms on the page that youre reading matches the music youre listening too it was funny when it happened

    Anyway Enjoy and remember

    Happy Practicing
  9. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    "My ultimate goal with my playing is to be able to be a session musician, and an all-round good bass player and musician. "


    "but I also want to improve my tapping and slapping"

    you have no need to then...

    "So I thought I'd ask you, more experienced players, what I should focus on, like spending more time practicing my sightreading or developing my ears to a fuller extent"

    To reach your goal at the beginning of your post,you just answered your own question.Solid reading skills and good ears will influence your playing in every other area required.Keep at it!!
  10. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Good point. There is so much stuff that can be learned and practiced, that some type of focus is needed to get things accomplished. Otherwise, you are going to spend more time on the possibilities than on accomplishing something.

    I can't learn everything that I WANT to learn in the time I have, so I practice all the things I NEED to learn.
  11. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Originally posted by muthagoose.

    So I thought I'd ask you, more experienced players, what I should focus on

    Your weakness's (sp)
  12. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA

    I keep a section in my notebook (see PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE thread on the top of this forum) that lists areas I am having difficulty with and/or need to improve.

    So, say, your area that needs improvement is sight-reading, you're going to want to devote more time to that than maybe playing songs you know like the back of your hand.