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  • 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... »

  • Reader Question Roundup: Legato Playing, Short Practice Schedules and Playing Complex Music

    Reader Question Roundup: Legato Playing, Short Practice Schedules and Playing Complex Music

    I’m sitting in my hotel room in Lincoln, Nebraska and sifting through my file with all the questions submitted by readers I have yet to answer. Three of them were short enough to put together a “reader question roundup”. I thought this would be a nice change of pace – and one that would allow... »

  • Improving Practice: 4 Pitfalls to Avoid in the Practice Room

    Improving Practice: 4 Pitfalls to Avoid in the Practice Room

    We learn and grow musically from a variety of sources. Teachers, performances, fellow musicians, etc. all play a role in our progress, but our most direct improvement comes from our time in the practice room. That’s why spending time practicing each day is so important. Sometimes, however, even when are putting in time daily, we... »

  • Two-Handed Tapping and Developing Hand Independence for Bass Players

    Two-Handed Tapping and Developing Hand Independence for Bass Players

    Q: I have been practicing two-handed taping and can’t get independence between left and right hand. Specifically, I can’t play rhythm patterns with my fretting hand and independently play harmony with the plucking hand. Can you suggest some workout for this kind of problem? A: While I have very limited experience with two-handed tapping, I... »