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  • 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... »

  • 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... »

  • The Lightbulb Moment: Antici…pation

    The Lightbulb Moment: Antici…pation

    It’s 6:57pm. I made it — and with three minutes to spare! Sixty minutes ago, I was at work, way across town, biting my fingernails as I shut down my computer for the day and ran out of the office. Thankfully, the traffic gods smiled upon me and aside from a few inescapable red lights,... »

  • 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... »

  • Learning Music: A Discussion on Bass Tab, Notation and Ears

    Learning Music: A Discussion on Bass Tab, Notation and Ears

    Q: I have been interested in music all my life, but never played an instrument. Now that I’m retired, I have taken up playing the bass for the last six months from an instructor. I started out learning the notes on the bass itself and one song using notes. But since then, all of 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... »

  • Bass Players to Know: Phil Lynott

    Bass Players to Know: Phil Lynott

    Jumping back into the world of rock and roll, I can’t help but appreciate the bass players that infuse a band with their energy, musicality, and personality, making us fall in love with both the person and the music. Providing far more than just a bass line, players like Jack Bruce, Rick Danko, and the... »

  • 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,... »

  • 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.... »