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  • Doing the Best You Can

    Doing the Best You Can

    Q: I tend to get very nervous before any live performance. How do you deal with performance anxiety? A: Everyone, at some point in their development, gets nervous before a gig or feels inadequate to the task at hand. It’s natural. The best thing you can do is over prepare! Still, the nerves are there.... »

  • Ask Damian Erskine: Music as a Language

    Ask Damian Erskine: Music as a Language

    Q: I often hear people speak of music as a language but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to relate to that idea and make it useful. Any thoughts? A: You’re not alone. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’ve been in the same boat you’re in. I... »

  • Plucking Patterns: Right Hand Exercises for Bass

    Plucking Patterns: Right Hand Exercises for Bass

    Q: You covered playing chords on the bass and going beyond the roots. I use chords a lot when I compose/write and when I practice different things. I often find myself short when it comes to rhythms and different strumming patterns over the chords. Do you have some good ideas for strumming patterns? A: The... »

  • The Lowdown with Dr. D: Mastering a Difficult Passage with Repetition

    The Lowdown with Dr. D: Mastering a Difficult Passage with Repetition

    In the course of mastering a difficult passage, we will end up playing the passage many, many times. However, if we do so blindly, we just waste our time. In fact, such mindless repetition can be detrimental. Additionally, if our mind wanders, then it is unlikely that we are actually improving the passage, so again... »

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  • Practice Routines

    Practice Routines

    Q: How would you describe a good practice session and how would you break it down? A: I think I’ve probably answered this in different ways in past columns, depending on the topic. In short, I’d tailor the practice time and routine based upon your own personal attention span and needs. I have the problem... »

  • Ask Damian Erskine: Uneven Playing?

    Q: Whenever I play, I tend to speed up, and my play is kind of choppy and uneven. Do you have any tips to help my playing become more consistent? A: I’ve probably touched on this in previous articles, but it’s worth repeating. The best way to work on any facet of your playing is... »

  • Ask Damian Erskine: Practicing on the Road

    Q: Do you practice while on the road? If so… how? A: Actually, I tend to be more inspired to practice while on the road because I tend to be very ‘high’ on music while traveling and doing what I love! I get very single-minded and focused when on the road and can’t seem to... »

  • Practice Technique: Note Isolation for Improved Intonation

    There are countless ways to improve our intonation, both at our instrument and away from it. Here’s one strategy, to be done at our instrument, which can help open our ears and stabilize a key center. It involves isolating and spotlighting a single pitch every time it appears. The technique works well with music of... »

  • Practicing for Performance

    Practicing for Performance

    When we are first learning a new work, we might spend many hours putting it together. We can easily spend days, weeks or even months working on small sections, phrases, passagework, navigating specific chord changes, or other musical and technical items in a piece. We do this not only to perfect individual sections and assure... »

  • Ask Damian Erskine: Your Own Voice

    Q: I’m trying to grow, but its like I’ve hit the wall. I’m trying to play like a bass player is slipping away from me. I try to play for everyone, but it’s hard to find my own “voice” in the song. I find myself trying to play stuff where it doesn’t fit. How do... »