Ask Damian Erskine: Recommendations for starting out?
Q: What would you recommend to someone just starting out on bass?
A: These are the things you will regret NOT doing if you stick with any instrument, so be ahead of the curve and do the work now, instead of later or never!
1. Learn to read music (not tab, but actual notation!) Read EVERY DAY, even if only for 10 minutes.
2. Learn as many tunes by ear (also solos, melodies, etc.) as you can.
3. After you’ve learned anything by ear, write it down and save them. It’s great for your reading to practice writing and you won’t believe how much you’ll forget throughout the years. Keep a catalogue of stuff you’ve worked on.
4. Practice your scales, modes, arpeggios, chord shapes, and get your teacher to help you work that knowledge into playing over tunes.
5. Play as much different music as you can, with as many people as you can.
6. Get in over your head and get your musical butt kicked! You learn so much when you are forced to stare head on at everything you don’t know yet. Always try and play with people better than you.
7. Ask questions! The only stupid question is the one that’s never asked.
8. Have fun with the music and practice things that are fun but also practice things that will serve you as a working bassist! (Don’t just slap all day long… practice playing in time, with good tone and with different techniques. Playing Victor’s “Classical Thump” is definitely awesome but can you also play “Oh Darling” by the Beatles?
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