1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Whats the next step to improve my playing??

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by HalfPlayer, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. HalfPlayer


    Jun 9, 2013
    I have been playing for about a year and a half and I just dont feel like im getting any better. I practice every day for at least an hour, when i practice I usually play along with songs like maiden and do scales and read up on stuff but I dont feel like i have improved so i was wondering what i can do to put my bass playing "to the next level"
  2. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    Time to find a band! Then you'll be forced to learn songs and then play them without a CD/MP3 to follow along with. This plus find a teacher you can trust to "push" you in the right direction.
  3. gavinspoon


    Feb 11, 2008
    Cardiff UK
    You'll get lots of varied advice, but the main thing is that you need a plan. One way (there are many) is to break it down into 3 questions:

    1. Where are you now?
    2. Where do you want to be?
    3. How are you going to get there?

    So first, you need an honest appraisal of your playing - some people aren't good at self criticism, and some people don't have enough ability to even judge that they have poor ability (Kruger-Dunning effect). Assuming you're ok on both these counts you need to take a long hard look at your playing.

    Second, you need long term goals. Only you can know what it is that you want, but your goals should be informed by the problems you've identified with your playing.

    Now third you map out how you achieve these goals, and then do it. After a while you review how things are going and revisit the plan. You can think of it as a never ending cycle: Plan -> Do -> Review

    A good teacher could help you alot with all of this.

    As an example, I was at an open mic a couple of years back, just hanging out and the singer in my band was doing a couple of numbers with an acoustic guitar. He finishes, walks over to me at the bar and offers me the guitar. I politely declined, because while I could play guitar fairly well at one point (as he knew) i'd really let my guitar playing decline over the previous couple of years and didn't have any guitar repertoire ready to go. So there we have step 1, I'd identified that I'd let my guitar playing whither away.

    Step 2. I decided i wasn't happy with that and wanted to be able to do acoustic guitar stuff by myself.

    Step 3. I wrote down every song i'd ever learnt to play on guitar, and added a load of other songs I wanted to play, and thought I could manage. I ended up with 50 songs, I broke these down into 5 sets of 10 and tried to focus on a set a day.

    I did that for a while, but it wasn't working. I was getting stuck endlessly focusing on the first songs on the list and never getting to the rest, so I changed things up. I bought a pack of playing cards and wrote a song on each card. Now when I play guitar I shuffle the pack and deal out a card and play that song, I keep going 'till i'm bored, or it's time to do something else.

    Edit to add; And +1 to joining a band! Most fun you can have with your clothes on.
  4. jmcorn


    Jul 4, 2012
    South Carolina
    Praise and Worship bassist member #1232
    +1 to a good teacher. I have been playing for about 4 years now and when I reach a plateau on my learning a month of lessons will normally get me going again. Normally about once a year.
  5. BigJohnAZ


    Jun 26, 2012
    Everyone has offered excellent suggestions.

    I agree with playing with a band as a teaching aid, I hadn't touched my bass in almost 30 years and started playing again a year or so ago when my brother resurrected our old garage band back home. Listening to those guys and the vibe got my juices flowing again. Long story short, over this time I learned about 20-30 songs and when I went back home this past summer to jam with them, I had too many brain farts when playing live. It really taught me that playing along with the CD or Youtube video is fine, but the dynamic of the band and your individual part really will tell you where you are. Playing along with the original song on a computer is way different than playing with a live, tight, band.

    Good luck!
  6. Milestones


    May 28, 2012
    Everyone else is right - play with a band and/or get a teacher. In other words, when you're stuck in a rut (and you'll be stuck in many before you get to die) it's time to do the things you've never done before. Always practice what you're weakest at doing. And be patient. Generally, it takes about a year for things that you're practicing now to start coming out naturally in your playing. But since you've only been playing a year and a half it might happen faster.
  7. Ronbassman


    Jun 1, 2011
    In what areas do you feel you're not improving, exactly?