Photo by Juan Ignacio Garay
Even those of us who maintain a regular practice routine may find ourselves taking an extended period of time away from our instrument. Vacations, travel, illness, work, incarceration, etc. can keep even the most dedicated musician away from their instrument. With an instrument as physically demanding as the double bass, we would be wise to put forethought into how we might reignite our practice regimen after such occasions. By doing so we can avoid mental fatigue, physical stress, pain and even injury.
After an extended absence we can expect to find our technique slightly eroded. How much will depend largely on how solid we were when we stopped, and how long we were away. Depending on our situation, we may even have some atrophied muscles. Even so, I wouldn’t concern myself overly with any perceived loss of technique at first.
The biggest attrition we are likely to experience is in the areas of physical and mental stamina. So these are the areas where I would focus my comeback strategy. We need to get used to putting in time daily at our instrument again, the technique should improve as we do so.
To get our stamina back, I would plan on daily sessions that gradually and consistently extend. I don’t always suggest “number of hours” as a measure of success, but for the purposes of building stamina, it’s a decent marker.
If you were practicing 3 hours daily before your break, I would suggest something along these lines:
|1||15 min||15 min||30 min||30 min||45 min||45 min||Off|
|2||1 hr||1 hr||1 hr 15 min||1 hr 15 min||1 hr 30 min||1 hr 30 min||Off|
|3||1 hr 45 min||1 hr 45 min||2 hrs||2 hrs||2 hrs 15 min||2 hrs 15 min||Off|
|4||2 hrs 30 min||2 hrs 30 min||2 hrs 45 min||2 hrs 45 min||Goal: 3 hrs||3 hrs||Off|
This is a slow, steady way to get back into a serious practice routine, which isn’t a jolt to our system.
As a final note, I would suggest keeping your practice sessions “light” for at least a week after you hit your goal (3 hours in the example above). By doing this you can further avoid shocking your body, and exhausting your mind, by jumping right in full force.
How about you? What do you do after an extended time away from your bass? Please share in the comments.