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  • Finger Independence for Bassists: A Preparatory Double Trill Exercise

    Finger Independence for Bassists: A Preparatory Double Trill Exercise

    Complete independence of the left hand fingers is a laudable goal for every serious bassist, guitarist and string player. Below is a short beginning exercise designed to prepare us for playing double trills, (trills on two notes simultaneously). Strictly speaking, there are no double trills in the exercise below. However, it is a necessary step... »

  • Ten Prescriptions for Productive Practice

    Ten Prescriptions for Productive Practice

    Playing is fun, and important, but real progress happens when we practice. In fact, the most significant element in our development is our daily practice regimen. So, how we approach it is vital. To help us get the most out of our sessions, here are ten principles for productive practice: For best results, practice 6... »

  • Thoughts on Improving Your Technique on Bass

    Thoughts on Improving Your Technique on Bass

    There are voluminous technical exercises designed to make us better instrumentalists. Nearly all have benefit when executed properly. Unfortunately, many people focus solely on the musical result expected (e.g. How fast can I play that trill today?) when doing technical work. However, the best results are gained when we balance our focus between the musical... »

  • Exercises and Schedules for Building Stamina on Bass

    Exercises and Schedules for Building Stamina on Bass

    My experience has been that when musicians work, they really work. It is completely feasible that we can play gigs morning, afternoon and evening. When times are good, we can find ourselves playing nine hours a day, or more, many days in a row. Needless to say, when these periods come around our stamina needs... »

  • The “Bloody Thumb” Exercise for Thumb Position Playing

    The “Bloody Thumb” Exercise for Thumb Position Playing

    Thumb position is an essential technique for upright bass. Players like Steve Bailey and Brian Bromberg have even adapted it for use on the electric bass. However, when people first start using their left hand thumb to stop a note (i.e. play in thumb position) they often experience discomfort. This is sometimes due to their... »

  • Shifting Exercises for Bass

    Shifting Exercises for Bass

    Sometimes, just for fun, I like to work on the short shifting exercise below. It helps me measure my accuracy, ensure I am light during the shift, and that I am using minimum pressure with my fingers, all while keeping my shifting fluid. It’s short, fun and challenging. Keep the following things in mind: Play... »

  • Pyramiding: An Approach to Musical Exercise

    Pyramiding: An Approach to Musical Exercise

    There are many ways to approach a given exercise (e.g. trills, vibrato, etc.) and each have benefits. Some, of course, are more thorough than others. When I want to truly want to intensive on a particular area of technique I sometimes apply a concept borrowed from bodybuilding known as “pyramiding.” In simplest terms (when applying... »

  • Settling into a Groove: A Guide for Bass Players

    Settling into a Groove: A Guide for Bass Players

    One of the most important things we do as bass players is to create and lock into a groove. When I practice this I prefer a drum machine to a metronome. Here’s a guide to working with a drum machine to master the groove: 1. Set the tempo and style. Choose all the styles you... »

  • Finger Stamina Exercises for Bassists

    Finger Stamina Exercises for Bassists

    In our quest to develop left hand strength, flexibility, speed and stamina, we will discover and create many exercises and finger twisters. Sometimes, however, the simplest exercises are the best. Apply the two practice techniques below to your trills and reap the benefits. Trills for time Play a fast trill between two fingers (i.e. 1-2)... »

  • Understanding and Getting Around Roadblocks in Musical Development

    Understanding and Getting Around Roadblocks in Musical Development

    For this column, I wanted to answer a question I received on Facebook, as it is an important component in our musical development. Q: I’ve been working on these exercises for six months now and I haven’t made any progress on them. I am very frustrated and do not know how to move forward. Do... »