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  • Structuring Your Practice: A Checklist for Bass Players

    Structuring Your Practice: A Checklist for Bass Players

    Any serious musician will practice regularly. While consistency is the most significant factor in our progress, we need to make good use of our practice time if we want continued improvement. No one set of specific materials (i.e. specific etudes, etc.) will be appropriate for everyone, but any successful long-term plan will hit on a... »

  • What’s In My Gig Bag? Part 2: Jazz/Rockabilly, Solo Shows and Flying

    What’s In My Gig Bag? Part 2: Jazz/Rockabilly, Solo Shows and Flying

    One of the things every gigging bassist needs to refine is what they bring to the gig, in addition to their bass and amp (if appropriate). We all have items we might need for gig emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. Showing up to the gig and having an equipment problem is no fun and ultimately it... »

  • What’s In My Gig Bag? Part 1: Classical

    What’s In My Gig Bag? Part 1: Classical

    One of the things every gigging bassist needs to refine is what they bring to the gig, in addition to their bass and amp (if appropriate). We all have items we might need for gig emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. Showing up to the gig and having an equipment problem is no fun and ultimately it... »

  • Focus on Breathing: An Essential Guide for Bass Players

    Focus on Breathing: An Essential Guide for Bass Players

    So many of us play with unneeded tension and spend a great deal of time trying to remedy this. We spend untold hours searching for the freedom of motion that will allow us to transcend our instrument. One aspect of tension that is sometimes overlooked is a player’s breathing. If you have never paid attention... »

  • Left Hand Thumb Independence for Bassists

    Left Hand Thumb Independence for Bassists

    Last time, we talked about left hand “pivoting” and its potential to make difficult passages more accessible. In order to execute a pivot with ease, however, we must have a supple thumb. In fact, for masterful left hand technique of any sort we must have a thumb that is light, flexible, and easily moveable. It... »

  • Left Hand Technique: Pivoting

    Left Hand Technique: Pivoting

    Although I advocate a traditional left hand foundation (i.e. 1-2-4 fingering system), any bassist who plays long enough will come across passages that don’t lie well using this fingering system. “Pivoting” can be an attractive solution for such passages. Often, especially when playing two consecutive notes on the same string more than a step apart... »

  • Starting Your Day with Open Strings: A Warmup Routine for Bassists

    Starting Your Day with Open Strings: A Warmup Routine for Bassists

    Many people simply pick up their instrument and start playing without any warm-up. While there is value to this approach, I generally advise a gradual warm-up for students. Although slow scales can often serve as a warmup, even a slow scale can be quite complex technically. After all, it involves tone production, shifting, light left... »

  • Musical Growth: Thought Process, Practice and Dedication

    Musical Growth: Thought Process, Practice and Dedication

    Over the years, I have had the opportunity to hear expressed all manner of explanation as to why someone is not progressing as they wish. Although every situation and individual is unique, some common “explanations” are the result of fallacious thinking. For those who wish to be serious in their study, the two ideas below... »

  • Improving your Technique: Habits and Awareness for Bass Players

    Improving your Technique: Habits and Awareness for Bass Players

    Most bassists are looking to improve some aspect of their technique. Certainly if there is something in our technique that is creating a problem, physical or musical, then we need to make a change. Sometimes this is a major change, other times this is simply a refinement. Oftentimes, it is the acquisition of technique that... »

  • Artificial Harmonics: The Basics

    Artificial Harmonics: The Basics

    In the last several columns we have talked about harmonics using open strings. These are often referred to as “natural” harmonics. If we play harmonics on a string while fully stopping the string somewhere else, (for example, if we press down an A on our G string and then play a harmonic above that) these... »