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  • Making Music Your Career

    Making Music Your Career

    Q: I have a job which a) takes up a lot of my time and b) doesn’t pay very well. I’ve been thinking about something you’ve mentioned before about when you quit your job and made your music career your job. Do you have any advice on how to manifest that? A: I will preface... »

  • Playing Outside the Harmony

    Playing Outside the Harmony

    I often get the question about how to play “outside” the changes. There’s no easy answer to this, but I do have several tips to keep in mind. This week I made a video to dig into how to create tension and release by playing outside of the harmony. »

  • How To Structure Limited Practice Time

    How To Structure Limited Practice Time

    Q: I work a “real job” – as in four 10-hour days a week. I get up at 3:15 am Tuesday through Friday, commute to work, put in my 10 hour day, plus a half-hour for lunch, and by the time I get home from my afternoon commute, it can be as late as 6... »

  • Exploring Pedal Tone Rhythms

    Exploring Pedal Tone Rhythms

    Q: What kind of rhythms should I play during pedal tones? A: I get asked this more often than one might think. The quick answer is to use whatever rhythm you think compliments what’s happening around you. Of course, I’ll suggest a heavy dose of listening to hear how different players have approached pedal tones... »

  • Staying Creative While Practicing

    Staying Creative While Practicing

    Q: So I reach a point now and again where I feel like I’m not practicing musically or in a creative way. Instead, I seem to be practicing things that are useful (technique, location of notes on the fretboard, arpeggios, inversions, and scales) but the way I’m going about it feels rote and not much... »

  • Should I Learn Older Music To Understand Newer Music?

    Should I Learn Older Music To Understand Newer Music?

    Q: I struggled with asking if I HAVE to learn trad jazz or if I SHOULD learn it, so take this question as both. And just as a disclaimer, I’m using “trad jazz” to mean the standards and the jazz being played predominantly from the ’20s to the ’60s and the styles that encompassed. I’ve... »

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  • How High Should I Set My Bass Strings?

    How High Should I Set My Bass Strings?

    Q: What’s your take on string height? For over a decade, I’ve subscribed to Anthony Jackson’s view that the neck must be as flat/straight as possible and the strings as low as possible. And while I’ve spent as much time refining a light touch, I sometimes wonder if I’m spending too much time worrying about... »

  • Should I Go Active? A Discussion for Bass Players

    Should I Go Active? A Discussion for Bass Players

    Q: I’m once again considering using active electronics on my bass, a pre-amp of some kind. It is still a bit of a debate I notice amongst bass players. Some say it’s “colder,” some say it’s difficult to work with, especially on stage. I even had stories from sound engineers who are not too keen... »

  • Preparing for Multiple Gigs

    Preparing for Multiple Gigs

    Q: What advice do you have for making time for all the different gigs that you have to prepare for? I freelance with more than 20 different groups ranging from standards on the upright, to a wedding band (lots of pop soul tunes to learn accurately), to original music and sometimes orchestral reading concerts. It’s... »

  • Getting Your Students to Practice

    Getting Your Students to Practice

    Q: I’m a semi-professional bassist who has been taking more students lately. I find that it’s a good way to challenge myself, maybe help somebody along in their path, and it’s a nice way to make a little extra bread. I’ve been struggling lately, though. It seems that most of my students are attentive during... »