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  • The Lightbulb Moment: Man VS Metronome

    The Lightbulb Moment: Man VS Metronome

    Scales, scales, scales. Why does my teacher always make me play scales? If I have to play the C Major scale one more time, I think I’ll puke. And with a metronome? Why can’t I just learn songs and jam with my friends? Ah, the war between playing and practicing. I know this battlefield well;... »

  • Learning Notes Versus Patterns

    Learning Notes Versus Patterns

    Q: Recently I’ve been struggling with scale degrees and chords. Right now I practice my scales using in 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, etc. However my problem is being able to name the notes of the scale because for the most part I have memorized scales based on patterns (like how playing E major is the same... »

  • The Lightbulb Moment: Super Powers

    The Lightbulb Moment: Super Powers

    “We can fly!” “You can fly!” “We can fly!!” “Come on, everybody! Here we gooooooo… Off to Neverland!” With just a few happy thoughts and a sprinkle of pixie dust, Peter Pan, Wendy, John and Michael swooped around the nursery, singing, laughing, and soaring with the greatest of ease. It was off to Neverland for... »

  • A Quick Warmup for the Left Hand

    A Quick Warmup for the Left Hand

    Sometimes we need to warmup in a hurry. When I need to warmup in two minutes or less I do exercises like the ones below. Some things to remember when doing these: Start slowly and speed up as you go Keep the fingers light and flexible, don’t press any harder than necessary Don’t’ go any... »

  • Simple Exercise for Increased Bow Control on Bass

    Simple Exercise for Increased Bow Control on Bass

    When using the bow, the natural tendency is to play louder at the frog and softer at the tip. We must, of course, counteract this predisposition on a regular basis. Simply playing a full bow with consistent timbre and volume requires it. Generally, we do this by adding pressure, via arm weight, to the bow... »

  • Increasing Concentration for Focused Practice and Performance

    Increasing Concentration for Focused Practice and Performance

    Q: I play at a semi-professional level. I work a regular 9-to 5-job and play in the evenings. I am lucky enough that I get a few hours every evening to just shed and work on my playing and lately I’ve been doing a lot of classical etudes to work on technique and maintain my... »

  • Beginning Exercise for Improving Left Hand Finger Independence

    Beginning Exercise for Improving Left Hand Finger Independence

    The four movements of the left hand fingers necessary for string playing (to paraphrase the great violin pedagogue Demetrius Constantine Dounis) are: Lifting: Raising a finger from the fingerboard/string Dropping: Lowering a finger/Pressing a string to the fingerboard Sliding: Moving a finger along the string so the pitch rises or lowers accordingly Holding: leaving a... »

  • Exercises for Improving Time

    Exercises for Improving Time

    Q: What are some good exercises or practice routines to develop a strong sense of time? A: When I want to work on time, rhythm or technique, I think “What would a drummer do”? There are any number of ways to develop that internal clock. Here are a few ideas for you: 1. Playing Along.... »

  • The Lightbulb Moment: You Make It Look Easy

    The Lightbulb Moment: You Make It Look Easy

    “Are you ready for bed?” “Yes, mom.” “Did you pick out a book to read?” “Yes!” “Did you brush your teeth?” “Ye-es” (with a slightly sarcastic tone). Twenty-odd years later and I’m still brushing my teeth, as I’m likely to do for another twenty years, and hopefully another twenty after that. Needless to say, I’m... »

  • 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,... »