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  • Grouping Multiple Notes Into a Single Action/Thought

    Grouping Multiple Notes Into a Single Action/Thought

    When playing at slow speeds we can concentrate on our physical movements for every single note we play. However, this becomes impractical at high rates of speed. When playing at high speed it helps to group notes, and motions, together into a single action. The number of notes we can combine will depend on the… »

  • Exercises and Schedules for Building Stamina on Bass

    Exercises and Schedules for Building Stamina on Bass

    Photo by Studio5Graphics 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. Needless to say, when these periods come around… »

  • The “Bloody Thumb” Exercise for Thumb Position Playing

    The “Bloody Thumb” Exercise for Thumb Position Playing

    Thumb position is an essential technique for upright bass. Players like Steve Bailey and Brian Bromberg have even adapted it for use on the electric bass. However, when people first start using their left hand thumb to stop a note (i.e. play in thumb position) they often experience discomfort. This is sometimes due to their… »

  • Finger Stamina Exercises for Bassists

    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 the two practice techniques below to your trills and reap the benefits. Trills for time Play a fast trill between two fingers (i.e. 1-2)… »

  • Playing Through Changes with Arpeggios: Exercises for Bassists

    Playing Through Changes with Arpeggios: Exercises for Bassists

    Many of my past columns have focused on answer readers' questions related to playing through changes. So for this week's column, I decided to put together the video below to cover a few approaches to getting comfortable with changes, through the use of arpeggios. (Side note: I'm frequently asked about the software I'm using in… »

  • Left Hand Flexibility for Bassists

    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. In the left hand (or fingering hand for the lefties!) it is… »

  • Enclosure Tone Exercises for Bassists

    Enclosure Tone Exercises for Bassists

    One way to give more interest to your improvisations is to add enclosure tones to otherwise simple note choices. Enclosure tones are two tones which “enclose” (i.e. one higher, one lower) another note. Generally, but not always, the note which gets “enclosed” is a chord tone. For example, if we begin with the root of… »

  • Trill Exercises for Bassists

    Trill Exercises for Bassists

    For better or worse, trills grab the listeners attention. If a trill is quick, clear and under the performer’s control it can generate excitement in the listener. If it is slow, clumsy and uncontrolled, however, it can have a most deleterious effect. To ensure trills are at our command, we should train our fingers to… »

  • Thumb Position Exercises for Bassists

    Thumb Position Exercises for Bassists

    “Thumb position” is a left hand technique in which the thumb is used on top of the board to press down the strings. In essence, we use it just as we use our other fingers. Although the technique can be used anywhere on the instrument, this technique is most often used at the midpoint of… »

  • Exploring Polyrhythms: A Practice Guide

    Exploring Polyrhythms: A Practice Guide

    Q: What is a "polyrhythm", and how can I use them? A: Technically speaking, a polyrhythm is exactly what it says... more than one rhythm happening at the same time. This could be a Cascara rhythm combined with a Clave, or even just a swing pattern on the ride along with the hi-hat on 2… »