Talking Technique: Efficient Practice Hacks #3 – Put Your Bass Under Your Pillow

Bass on bed

Installment three in my series on my favorite practice “hacks” may almost seem too good to be true. However, this has nothing to do with wishful thinking, the law of attraction (I am more of a “law-of-action” kinda gal), or superstition. It has everything to do with brain science and the power of the mind! Get your handy infographic on multi sensory learning at the end.

Okay, so: Put your bass under your pillow?

I am a bit facetious here – that alone won’t boost your performance. However, a powerful night routine will. Here is how and it takes only two minutes.

Step one:

Practiced today?

Step Two:

Give yourself one minute to recap the practice session.

One good and super fast way to facilitate this is to write down short notes of what you remember working on in a diary.

For example:

  • Did D minor pentatonic big box/little box pattern. That pattern has the root on the first finger and pinky. Root is on the A and G strings!
  • Learned two new tunes for my cover band. One is this pop thing in E and bounces around 1 5 6 4, and then there was that funky E minor one with the bridge going to the 4 chord. There was a cool fill at the end of that bridge (must review tomorrow).
  • Did some random permutations. It is getting easier on the D string. Could try A next!
  • I jammed over a G minor 7 chord loop, and that was fun.

Another great way is to review any practice notes you took while you practiced earlier in the day. Those notes, for example, might contain:

  • The exact diagram for the big box/little box pattern in D minor with the roots marked out
  • The exact chord progression of the songs (focus on the tough spots, no need to review the whole thing)
  • The exact permutation you did

You can cap it right there and get a great pay off. If, however, you wanted to take this even one more step further (now making it 3 minutes total):

Step 3:

Pick one of the list items (the big box/little box pattern in D minor for example) and mentally rehearse it.


  • Look at the figure below: It shows the big box/little box shape with fingerings, scale degrees and note names.
  • Make your pre-sleep routine as multi-sensory as possible:
  • Imagine moving your fingers in this shape on the fretboard – reinforcement through visualization. Look at the graph and close your eyes: Can you still see the dots? Can you see yourself playing this?
  • Hear the sound inside your mind – auditory reinforcement (don’t wake anyone, but you can also hum it softly.)
  • Feel your fingers move in that shape – kinesthetic reinforcement (if your fingers want to wiggle along here, let them!)
  • Internally say the note names and scale degrees – conceptual reinforcement (music theory)

Doing barely a minute of that right before sleep does wonders for retention and motivation! This is because whatever you learned last – right before drifting off into sleep – your mind tends to process it heavily during your snooze. So it is really not just zzzzzz’s, it’s ABZzzzzzzzz’s and Do Re Mi’s, the whole thing makes you ? out ?, all while you nap!

One more thing:

Finish the exercise with a little positive nod to yourself. This can be as simple as reminding yourself: I did this today, and this means I moved along on my path. High Five! Smile!

But now place that notebook under your pillow and sweet dreams.

As always, I have a step-by-step guide for you. This one is on multi sensory practicing. Access it here.

D minor Pentatonic- Ari’s “Big Box/Little Box” Shape*

D minor Pentatonic- Ari’s “Big Box/Little Box” Shape

* For more on these patterns check out Ari’s Pentatonic Playground for Bass

Austrian-gone-Californian Ariane Cap is a bassist, educator, blogger and author. In her book Music Theory for the Bass Player and corresponding 20-week online course, she teaches music theory, bass technique, bass line creation and fretboard fitness in a systematic, practical and experiential way. She just released a brand new course on ear training for the bass player: Ear Confidence - 6 Paths to Fearless Ears. Contact her via her blog or website.

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