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  • Learning Lots of Songs Quickly

    Learning Lots of Songs Quickly

    Q: I have a dep gig in 5 days and need to learn 23 songs. Any tips? I’m quite a good reader and have all the songs transcribed so I can probably read the music as I play but it’s for a rock gig and wouldn’t look particularly cool. A: For those who don’t know... »

  • How To Learn Difficult Bass Parts

    How To Learn Difficult Bass Parts

    Q: I would like to know what is the best way to approach and learn difficult bass parts, for example if I decide to try to figure out the bass solo to Stanley Clarke’s “School days”. A: The best way I’ve found to tackle difficult lines is a three-fold process. 1. Get it in your... »

  • Learning a Tune “On the Spot”

    Learning a Tune “On the Spot”

    Last week I received a question about how to memorize a tune fast: “…For example, [bassist] playing a jazz tune you’ve never played before with a pianist as they shout out the changes for one chorus, then stop for the second. How can we develop skills to memorize these changes instantly?” No doubt the situation... »

  • Learning Music by Writing Down Your Transcriptions

    Learning Music by Writing Down Your Transcriptions

    Q: I have been practicing bass on my own for two years while attending college. My goal is to become a working musician and I would like to at least get a gig at a church this year. I’m at a point now where I can hear a piece of music and get pretty close... »

  • Focused Learning: A Bass Player’s Guide to Practice and Rehearsals

    Focused Learning: A Bass Player’s Guide to Practice and Rehearsals

    Q: I’d like your advice on what a bassist should be thinking during a practice session or when learning new material? What do you think about during those times? What should I be thinking? A: This question struck me as interesting. Primarily, I think it’s because it relates to a conversation I recently had with... »

  • Learning New Tunes: Go Beyond the Bass

    Learning New Tunes: Go Beyond the Bass

    Let’s face it, we’re not all singers. Some of us opted to join band in school instead of choir, and in doing so, we missed out on the vocal warm-ups and breathing lessons. We never took the bull by the horns and sang lead, be it on stage or around a campfire, and maybe a... »

  • Pace Yourself: Thoughts on the Process of Practicing and Learning

    Pace Yourself: Thoughts on the Process of Practicing and Learning

    Whether you’re embarking on a long distance run, sitting down to a delicious plate of food, or facing a mountain of material to learn, keep one thing in mind: pace yourself. Establishing a good pace for learning material or practicing a new technique is extremely important, especially when you’re looking at a deadline. It’s easy... »

  • Learning the Song – Part 2: Comparing and Contrasting Multiple Versions of a Tune

    Learning the Song – Part 2: Comparing and Contrasting Multiple Versions of a Tune

    Welcome to Part 2 of “Learning the Song.” If you checked out the first part of this series, you’ll be familiar with some of the essential elements of learning a song, such as the key, the chord progressions, the form, and so on. Learning “the song” is a great exercise in ear training, adapting theory... »

  • Learning the Song – Part 1: Breaking It Down for Performance

    Learning the Song – Part 1: Breaking It Down for Performance

    It’s time for a real life gig story. I was recently given a set list for an upcoming gig… two sets, roughly 25 tunes, mostly classic rock and soul. Glancing over the set list, I saw many tunes that I already knew, so I figured I’d be fine, right? Guess again. As it turns out,... »

  • The Treatment: Gaining Familiarity With a New Tune (Part 2 of 2)

    The Treatment: Gaining Familiarity With a New Tune (Part 2 of 2)

    My jazz students and I often work through a process we call “The Treatment.” It’s a tune-based approach and I view it as a preparation for high-level study of improvisation. Once you can navigate a tune using the Treatment, you can more easily work on musical and artistic elements of improvisation. I adjust the Treatment... »