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What's YOUR practice schedule?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by AlexFeldman, Feb 11, 2001.

  1. AlexFeldman


    Jun 18, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Yesterday I saw a poster that said, 'When you aren't practicing, somebody else is.' I lapsed into a deep, 'nudgenudgehellohello?' style trance and when I emerged I wanted to know what other upright bassists, particularly those with a passion for improvisation, practice.

    I rummaged through the net and found an article called 'Doing It The Slow Way: The how, when, where, what, and wise guide to practicing a musical instrument' by Joe Solomon http://www.activebass.com/default.asp?iTarget=http://www.activebass.com/articles/item.asp?i=8, apparently posted at activebass.com by our own Ed Fuqua (or should it be ED SLOWWAY?)

    After reading it, printing it out, going to a local park and then reading it several times in a row, coming home, taking a hot shower, and reading it again three times, I resolved to do it the right way. That is, practice the slow way. This is going to be difficult, considering the lack of teachers in my area. But I'll have one in a couple months anyway, when I move off to the big city, in an attempt to pay my dues. :eek:

    So for now, my question remains. When you sit down to practice (hopefully on a regular basis), what do you practice? How do you go about it? When do you do it? What kind of environment do you practice in, and what do you think before practicing? After practicing? I'd love to know.
  2. This is a good question, I'm sure it will provoke quite a few differing responses. There are some guys that can get more out of a half-hour of well-planned practicing than others who shed for hours, and it still doesn't take. What I'm saying is, what you practice is infinitely more important than how much you practice. Quality, not quantity, but I'm probably preaching to the choir here.
    Even if it does seem like the slooow way, the end result will be much better (and less frustrating) than if you try to hack your way through it without critiqueing yourself.
    Or better yet, have a teacher tell you how bad you suck! ;)
    Anyway, you asked about practice regimes, so here is mine. I hate to practice with a lot of distractions, so I have a spare room in the house that I use as a studio, and I basically shut everything else out and concentrate on the DB and what I need to do with it. My practice is organized into sub-groups and I spend anywhere from 20 minutes to a half hour on each part.
    1. Warmup-Long tones,Scales,chord studies,maybe play through something I know by heart.

    2. Practice- Work on etudes,Standards I should already know,
    Concertos, Whatever pieces I am playing that month.

    3. Sight reading-pick pieces at random to look at,play through.Work on rhythms.

    4.- Recap- Take another look at the sticky parts I got frustrated with in phase 2.

    5. Play along- I play along with a CD or with my band-in-a-box program. -Helps my ear, intonation and timing.
    Also to maintain a concentration level, I take a 10 minute break after each part.The other thing is something I learned from Bertram Turetzky, which is much more important than it sounds. When your bass is at home,LEAVE IT OUT! Never put it in the Case, or Bag. That way you can play it whenever the mood hits you.So that's what I do, I'm also interested to here what others are doing.

    [Edited by reedo35 on 02-11-2001 at 11:29 PM]
  3. I spend my first 10-20 minutes on scales/modes/excercises. Then I like to move to "Songs I Don't Know". My piano player gives me couple of songs to work on each week. I usually listen to the tune before I start if I have never heard it. Then I work 1 phrase at a time. Usually I have the circle figured out before I start to play it, but there is always the question of "what can I do with it?" I try not to spend too much time on each song so that I can hear something different next time. I hate that feeling when you are playing too many songs that have the same circle, in the same night. This usually only happens because we play almost all requests.

    When I am playing a gig I take notes on something that I feel can have a different sound or different feel. This is what I work on next in my practice. "Chicago" has a completely different feel when played with a Latin groove.

    The last thing I practice is ballads. I love to hear my bass sing "Round Midnight", "Here Comes That Rainy Day", "Laura", "Georgia On My Mind", etc...

    Since Jazz is all that I am working on these days, this is all I practice. I am still looking for a teacher so I can start doing some bow work. I am not going to touch my bow until I know what the hell I am doing with it. I'm sure that having a teacher will change my practice routine.
  4. I practice every morning approximately 8:00-11:00. I'll warm-up on scales and arpeggios in a few different keys with different rythms, bowings, tempos, intervals, etc., and a movement or two from the Bach cello suite #3. That all takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes depending on my mood, how anal I'm feeling, and what else I have to look at that day. I could probably spend the bulk of the three hours on all of that nitpicking every g*dd*mn thing I don't like but there are other things I have to look at. I'll spend 20-30 minutes working on a new movement of the Bach suite, currently the Allemande. I'll spend 20-30 minutes on an etude, currently the second Nanny etude.
    The last 60 minutes or so are spent on some combination of orchestral excerpts I'm studying for my lesson, jazz tunes I'm working on for a lesson, and music I need to work on for a gig or upcoming rehearsal. Some nights I get another 60-90 minutes during which I'll work on one maybe two jazz tunes.

    I don't see an interest in jazz being lost on studying the classical stuff. It's part of the tradition of the bass, it builds technique, helps develop your ear, and creates the potential for work.

    When I'm working on a new jazz tune I'll take a long slow look at what's going on with the changes and the melody, how the melody sits over the changes (like Embraceable You has that 6ths thing going on), practice basslines on the changes pizz and arco, solo ideas pizz and arco.

    I have a music room in the house, it's my space with none of my wife's influence. Before practicing I think about what I'm going to do that day. After practicing sometimes I think,"wow I had a good practice today." Usually I think,"Christ I suck. I need a lot more practice."
  5. damn, you're 8-11 am sounds a lot more fun than mine, which is spent working for the man.
  6. Yeah, I absolutely love practicing early in the morning. My mind and body are both fresh and it just starts the day right!

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