Episode 057: Be the Student

Practice is essential to developing as a bassist. Here are some tips on how to use your time wisely to improve faster.

In the spirit of being honest with how I manage time, I quickly came to these questions:

  1. How often do I actually practice daily/weekly?
  2. What is practicing to me? Is it practicing songs I need to learn or working specifically to continue  to learn about my instrument and music in general?
  3. What skills has my “practicing” resulted in over the past 12 months?

What does practice look like for you today and in the past?

  • Paul
    • So half the time I tend to spend on learning songs — because this is where my next pay is coming from. No one cares if I can play all my modes, they want me to cover the songs on the list properly.
    • The other half is “my time” — a lot of the time I’ll spend it with a study online, like a progression that’s new and interesting, or working on a specific skill. Something I can leave a half-hour or hour long session knowing something new.
  • Dave
    • Today, mostly planned but sporadic time blocks learning songs, writing music, and playing to chord progressions online
    • I’ve had periods where I get into rhythmic exercises, modal exercises, scales, etc.

When you hear interviews with some of the cutting edge bassist/musicians today, the one theme I continue to hear is that for those that went to music schools, they point to the opportunity of unlimited practice for 4 years straight. And post education, most continue some regimen, although not at that volume. — Not all of us have had that opportunity.

How do you create a reasonable yet high impact practice regiment?

  • TIme Blocking — make sure to check out our previous episode on this!
    • 15 to 30 minutes daily?
    • 1 hour 3 days/week?
    • 3 hours on Sunday every week?
  • Goal Setting
    • Are there specific skills/areas you are looking to improve?
      • Sight reading
      • Learning the notes on your fretboard
      • Developing your groove skills
      • Applying music theory to the bass
        • Scales
        • Rhythm
        • Harmony/Chords
      • Textural skills
      • Intervals
      • Transposing
      • New genres/styles
      • Dexterity/endurance
  • Build in accountability

As we build a practice regimen, what tools are helpful?

  • The internet?
  • Metronome
  • Drone or reference tone tool
  • Various visual aids
  • Keyboard (Tones and Semi-Tones)
  • Fake Books
  • Arpeggios/Chord tone guides
  • Constraints
    • Playing arpeggios or scales using first 5 frets
    • Sales on one string
    • Ring & pinky only

Improving your craft improves your value you bring to the game

Be curious… be the student!


Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash. Music: JahzzarPlease Listen CarefullyspinningmerkabaUrbana-Metronica (wooh-yeah mix).

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