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Exercise Archives - Page 2

Three Exercises for Releasing and Relaxing the Left Hand Thumb
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Three Exercises for Releasing and Relaxing the Left Hand Thumb

Keeping the thumb of our left hand flexible is a key component in achieving an agile fingering hand. Ideally, any pressure exerted by the thumb against the neck should be minimal. Below are a few exercises that should help you keep your thumb relaxed and your left hand injury free. 1. Thumb independence Pick a note, pick a finger (perhaps...

Grouping Multiple Notes Into a Single Action/Thought
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Grouping Multiple Notes Into a Single Action/Thought

When playing at slow speeds we can concentrate on our physical movements for every single note we play. However, this becomes impractical at high rates of speed. When playing at high speed it helps to group notes, and motions, together into a single action. The number of notes we can combine will depend on the requirements of the specific passage,...

Exercises and Schedules for Building Stamina on Bass
The Lowdown with Dr. D

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 to be high. The demands...

The “Bloody Thumb” Exercise for Thumb Position Playing
The Lowdown with Dr. D

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 inexperience with the new hand...

Finger Stamina Exercises for Bassists
The Lowdown with Dr. D

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) as quickly as you can....

Playing Through Changes with Arpeggios: Exercises for Bassists
Ask Damian Erskine

Playing Through Changes with Arpeggios: Exercises for Bassists

Many of my past columns have focused on answer readers’ questions related to playing through changes. So for this week’s column, I decided to put together the video below to cover a few approaches to getting comfortable with changes, through the use of arpeggios. (Side note: I’m frequently asked about the software I’m using in these videos. The software I’m...

Left Hand Flexibility for Bassists
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Left Hand Flexibility for Bassists

When playing the bass, flexibility is far more important than strength. In fact, if body mechanics and gravity are used intelligently it takes surprisingly little strength to play our instrument. Flexibility, however, is paramount to many of the things we must do well. In the left hand (or fingering hand for the lefties!) it is especially important. Lack of flexibility...

Enclosure Tone Exercises for Bassists
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Enclosure Tone Exercises for Bassists

One way to give more interest to your improvisations is to add enclosure tones to otherwise simple note choices. Enclosure tones are two tones which “enclose” (i.e. one higher, one lower) another note. Generally, but not always, the note which gets “enclosed” is a chord tone. For example, if we begin with the root of a C7 chord: …and precede...

Trill Exercises for Bassists
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Trill Exercises for Bassists

For better or worse, trills grab the listeners attention. If a trill is quick, clear and under the performer’s control it can generate excitement in the listener. If it is slow, clumsy and uncontrolled, however, it can have a most deleterious effect. To ensure trills are at our command, we should train our fingers to execute them well. The exercise...

Thumb Position Exercises for Bassists
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Thumb Position Exercises for Bassists

“Thumb position” is a left hand technique in which the thumb is used on top of the board to press down the strings. In essence, we use it just as we use our other fingers. Although the technique can be used anywhere on the instrument, this technique is most often used at the midpoint of the string or higher. Thumb...