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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;... »

  • Adding Some New School Playing to an Old School Bassist

    Adding Some New School Playing to an Old School Bassist

    Q: I’ve been playing a certain way or style (as in thump, pop or blues) for as long as I can remember. Today’s bass players tend to play a lot – it seems way busier. What do you recommend for an old school bassist who wants to update to today’s styles so it sticks? A:... »

  • 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... »

  • 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... »

  • Creating Tasteful Bass Lines

    Creating Tasteful Bass Lines

    Q: I’d like to know what your thoughts are on the subtle art of variation within bass lines; the where’s and whys, and indeed, the where nots and the why nots. I believe that this kind of understanding is one of the key factors separating good bass players from great ones. I know for myself,... »

  • 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... »

  • The Importance of Cooling Down After Playing

    The Importance of Cooling Down After Playing

    Most musicians are aware of the importance of warming up. Warming up properly helps to prevent injuries, and increases our ease of play. It can even help solidify our technique and ensure we play at our best that day. Fewer musicians, however, seem aware of the benefits of cooling down. Playing the bass for hours... »

  • Exploring Practice with Non-Standard Bass Tunings

    Exploring Practice with Non-Standard Bass Tunings

    Q: I know some pros play using non-standard tuning (drop D, DADG, D standard DGCF, semitone E♭A♭D♭G♭, etc.), and I read somewhere that practice with other tunings can be good to help think in terms of the notes rather than finger patterns. What is your take? Is it a good idea to practice using non-standard... »

  • Improving Your Musical Ears

    Improving Your Musical Ears

    Being a musician requires a great number of skills. However, the aural component is by far the most prevalent. So, to perform at the highest levels, we must have good listening skills. Ultimately we need to hear, and understand, exactly what is happening around us. Only when we can do this can we respond in... »