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  • Learning to Jam

    Learning to Jam

    Q: Okay, I am an old rookie bass player. I always wanted to play, but I just took a long time to get started. I am playing with the praise band at my church currently, which is great; it’s making me take it seriously, and is a very forgiving environment as I learn. So far,... »

  • Accompanying “Smaller” Instruments on Bass

    Accompanying “Smaller” Instruments on Bass

    Q: I have a question in regards to the best way to accompany “light sounding” instruments such as a ukulele, mandolin, banjo, or even just auxiliary percussion. I find that whenever I’m playing with these types of instruments I have to limit my style to playing more open, simple lines so as to not drown... »

  • Memorization: Tips for Bass Players

    Memorization: Tips for Bass Players

    I received the following question this week from a concerned double bassist: “How can I keep from having memory slips on stage?” Even experienced performers may have the occasional memory faux pas on stage. However, there are some things we can do to minimize the risk. Be prepared early. The earlier you can play something... »

  • Playing without a Chordal Instrument

    Playing without a Chordal Instrument

    Q: I was curious about your approach to playing jazz without a piano player or guitarist. I lead a secret, soon to be a quintet because our piano player is moving away. I respect the kind of stuff presented by Charlie Haden in his work with Ornette Coleman, but aside from the free really “out... »

  • Turning Exercises into Real Music

    Turning Exercises into Real Music

    Q: I’ve been studying for a while now, and I’ve been practicing my scales and modes as much as possible over changes. I’ve also been working through arpeggios, including the methods you talk about in your Improvisor’s Path book. For example, I’ll work arpeggios through tunes in different inversions and so on. However, when I... »

  • Practicing vs. Performing for Musical Growth

    Practicing vs. Performing for Musical Growth

    Q: I’ve been playing the bass in a blues band for two years. Then we started playing rock and funk songs, and my practicing has always been based on what I hear and what I feel. I don’t really count in my head, and I’ve hardly worked my scales but my band keeps telling me... »

  • Making Theory Work

    Making Theory Work

    Q: I’ve tried to learn music theory many times. I’ve studied it in a classroom setting, private lessons and on my own, but it just doesn’t click with me for some reason. I’m classically trained, so I can read bass music just fine, but when I play anything that relies heavily on memory or improvisation,... »

  • The Lightbulb Moment: A Quarter Note For Your Thoughts

    The Lightbulb Moment: A Quarter Note For Your Thoughts

    Here we are, smack dab in the middle of the college admission process — the worst part about being in high school. Clearly, a full day of classes followed by extra-curricular activities and homework isn’t enough to deal with; there are standardized tests to study for, essays to write, schools to visit, interviews to prepare... »

  • Challenges to Good Intonation in a Live Situation

    Challenges to Good Intonation in a Live Situation

    Good intonation is a lifelong concern for every double bassist. We train our ears, we work constantly to match pitch, and we devote large sections of our individual practice sessions to improving it. Among other things, the sheer size of the instrument demands our constant attention to pitch. Sometimes though, even players who normally have... »

  • From the Shed to the Stage: Translating Practice to Performance

    From the Shed to the Stage: Translating Practice to Performance

    Q: I’m having a difficult applying what I’ve learned into playing. When I play, my fingers can’t seem to do what they did when I practiced. Is there any suggestion to making things stick? A: The first word that pops into my head is repetition. Lines, licks and harmonic devices – such as arpeggios, scales... »