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Best of 2013: The Top 10 Lowdown with Dr. D Columns

Editor’s Note: For the last week of year, we’re sharing the best of No Treble for 2013, based on readership. Be sure to check back each day until January 1st for the most popular features, lessons, videos, bassists and more.

Since September, 2009, Dr. Donovan Stokes has shared his expert advice through his “Lowdown with Dr. D” column here on No Treble.

While all of his columns are worth a read, these ten were his most popular in 2013, based on readership.

Improving your Technique: Habits and Awareness for Bass Players

1. Improving your Technique: Habits and Awareness for Bass Players

Most bassists are looking to improve some aspect of their technique. Certainly if there is something in our technique that is creating a problem, physical or musical, then we need to make a change. Here are some things to consider for setting your path…

Finger Stamina Exercises for Bassists

2. Finger Stamina Exercises for Bassists

In our quest to develop left hand strength, flexibility, speed and stamina, we will discover and create many exercises and finger twisters. Sometimes, however, the simplest exercises are the best. Apply these two practice techniques to your trills and reap the benefits…

Harmonics: A Starter Guide for Bassists

3. Harmonics: A Starter Guide for Bassists

Whatever the genre, we bassists seem to love harmonics. From Jaco to Dittersdorf, bass music is full of them. When we are introduced to playing harmonics however, the prospect can be a bit tricky. Here are some introductory thoughts that might help those just discovering the beauty of harmonics on the bass…

Structuring Your Practice: A Checklist for Bass Players

4. Structuring Your Practice: A Checklist for Bass Players

Any serious musician will practice regularly. While consistency is the most significant factor in our progress, we need to make good use of our practice time if we want continued improvement. No one set of specific materials (i.e. specific etudes, etc.) will be appropriate for everyone. Here are the major sections to hit each day for a successful long-term practice plan…

Ten Prescriptions for Productive Practice

5. Ten Prescriptions for Productive Practice

Continuing on the topic of practice… the most significant element in our development is our daily practice regimen. So, how we approach it is vital. To help us get the most out of our sessions, here are ten principles for productive practice…

Exercises and Schedules for Building Stamina on Bass

6. Exercises and Schedules for Building Stamina on Bass

My experience has been that when musicians work, they really work. It is completely feasible that we can play gigs morning, afternoon and evening. When times are good, we can find ourselves playing nine hours a day, or more, many days in a row. Stamina is critical. Here’s a plan to help you develop it…

Starting Your Day with Open Strings: A Warmup Routine for Bassists

7. Starting Your Day with Open Strings: A Warmup Routine for Bassists

Many people simply pick up their instrument and start playing without any warm-up. While there is value to this approach, I generally advise a gradual warm-up for students. Perhaps you would like to try this short regiment at your next session and see how you like it…

Settling into a Groove: A Guide for Bass Players

8. Settling into a Groove: A Guide for Bass Players

One of the most important things we do as bass players is to create and lock into a groove. When I practice this I prefer a drum machine to a metronome. Here’s a guide to working with a drum machine to master the groove…

Understanding and Getting Around Roadblocks in Musical Development

9. Understanding and Getting Around Roadblocks in Musical Development

For this column, I wanted to answer a question I received, as it is an important component in our musical development: I’ve been working on these exercises for six months now and I haven’t made any progress on them. I am very frustrated and do not know how to move forward. Any suggestions?

Left Hand Flexibility for Bassists

10. Left Hand Flexibility for Bassists

When playing the bass, flexibility is far more important than strength. In fact, if body mechanics and gravity are used intelligently it takes surprisingly little strength to play our instrument. Flexibility, however, is paramount to many of the things we must do well. The following exercises can be helpful in this regard…