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  • Lesson: Stance on the Upright Bass

    In this week’s lesson, Jon takes us through some key fundamentals in upright bass playing. Balance Balance is the key. It takes many pounds of pressure to hold a string against the fingerboard with enough firmness to get a good fundamental tone; this force needs to have a counterweight applied against it. The objective is... »

  • Thinking in Minor: Alterations

    In the previous lesson I talked about using melodic minor arpeggios to change the sound of an underlying chord structure. This lesson will take that concept a step further and focus on identifying functioning and static dominant seventh chords and how to apply the melodic minor scale in various ways to control multiple degrees of... »

  • Lesson: By the Numbers

    There are 2 elements that are helpful to gain fluency in all keys, making transposition much easier. The first is, learn fingerings avoiding open strings as much as possible, so that interval and visual mapping is consistent. The other is to learn to think by the numbers; think of each pitch not as its letter... »

  • Lesson: Thinking in Minor

    Lesson: Thinking in Minor

    The minor keys offer a diverse sonic palette for you to use in improvisation. The darker quality of the tonal sequence gives you a cool sound and the minor keys are very versatile over different chord changes. This lesson will focus on some basic applications of minor keys in different scenarios so you can start... »

  • How to Learn Tunes Quickly

    How to Learn Tunes Quickly

    One of my Facebook friends raised the subject of remembering tunes, which led me to another thought: how do we learn tunes quickly? A seasoned bass player might not even know the tune you’re hearing him play. I used to go watch Bob Cranshaw play obscure tunes all night with Jimmy Rowles – nobody, I... »

  • Radio Airplay: A Beginner’s Guide

    Who doesn’t want to be on the radio? If you’ve gotten a solid response from live shows and have a strong local or niche following, radio airplay may be the next big milestone toward meeting your music business goals. These are a few things to consider when you’re trying to get into a radio rotation,... »

  • Lesson: Practicing Chord Changes

    Lesson: Practicing Chord Changes

    There are many ways to get better at the changes on a particular tune, but this approach works really well. First, play just quarter notes, and play all the arpeggios to get a “mental map” of all the chord tones in the progression (try to do it with a metronome): Then, still in quarter notes,... »

  • Lesson: Practicing and the Mind

    Today’s lesson is a preview from Jon Burr’s forthcoming “Physical and Mental Programming for the Improvising Bassist”… In order to gain an understanding of how to practice effectively and efficiently, it is useful to have some understanding of the structure of the brain, mind and nervous system. It is possible to “practice” and not get... »

  • Lesson: Melodic Construction

    Another Look at Melodic Construction in Improvisation What do we play? Where does it come from? How do we make our own melody? The melody of the song or tune The rhythmic structure An alternative positive melodic statement derived from the harmonic or rhythmic environment, or a melody from another song that fits the “changes”... »

  • Lesson: Bass Chords

    It’s time to focus on the guitar aspect of bass guitar and learn to play chords. Why bother with this technique? First, it will improve your ability to hear the chord structures other band-mates play and give your ear a head-start on making a strong line. Second, you’ll get to learn a lot about what... »