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Practicing for Performance
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Practicing for Performance

When we are first learning a new work, we might spend many hours putting it together. We can easily spend days, weeks or even months working on small sections, phrases, passagework, navigating specific chord changes, or other musical and technical items in a piece. We do this not only to perfect individual sections and assure technical fluidity, but also in...

Speaker Impedance: How to Properly Match Your Amp Head with Cabinets
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Speaker Impedance: How to Properly Match Your Amp Head with Cabinets

Amplification can be confusing to a newbie coming from a combo amp. If you are new to amps and cabs, this article should be helpful in explaining what speaker impedance is, and how it works with your amp head. You may also want to read my previous article, “Decoding Graphic Equalizers: Get Past ‘Scooping’ Your Tone”, for some more helpful...

Ask Damian Erskine

Ask Damian Erskine: Your Own Voice

Q: I’m trying to grow, but its like I’ve hit the wall. I’m trying to play like a bass player is slipping away from me. I try to play for everyone, but it’s hard to find my own “voice” in the song. I find myself trying to play stuff where it doesn’t fit. How do i dig deeper than I...

Ask Damian Erskine

Ask Damian Erskine: Following Up On Patterns

Q: I’ve almost gotten through all three videos, really good stuff in them. I really like the concept of knowing patterns/visualizations to have handy when your soloing, like your ascending 4ths, alternating major/minor, and alternating 6th/7th fingerings. I think I got away from having a set of licks/patterns when improvising, which I can see now is a big mistake! Seems...

Ask Damian Erskine: Landing Endorsements
Ask Damian Erskine

Ask Damian Erskine: Landing Endorsements

Q: I am in the process of getting endorsements, but I want to know what the most effective way to get it done right the first time. I was at NAMM this year and spoke to a variety of people just to meet and greet, but I didn’t ask for artist endorsements. I have an EPK (pics, vids, recordings, and...

Ask Damian Erskine

Scales vs. Chords

Q: What scales are best to know for improvising and how can I go about trying to memorize them? A: Although it is important to learn your major and minor scales as well as all of the others (melodic minor, harmonic minor, blues scale, etc.), I’ve found that scales don’t really help me at all. I also find that guys...

The Star M Method

How To Start A Fire

As bass players, we brethren of the low end are aware of something that normal listeners, and even other musicians, take for granted. We know that a song starts and stops with us. We know that a great drummer can make or break a band in general, but once that slot is filled with a solid player he can’t really...

Ask Damian Erskine

Ask Damian Erskine: Reductive Practice

Q: I have a question regarding funk slap bass techniques. Are there any certain key techniques to doing this? I listen to a lot of bass-heavy funk lines in music and want to play them, but the speed at which they are able to do that stuff is incredible. I have often wondered if I am too heavy with my...

The Lowdown with Dr. D

Rhythm Series: Improving Rhythmic Accuracy by Subdividing

Rhythmic Accuracy Last time we talked about one of the major physical components rhythm: feeling the beat internally. However, for the performer there are two components to rhythm, physical and mental. Accurate execution of musical rhythm requires the cultivation of both aspects. One important mental element needed to precisely perform rhythms is active subdivision. Subdividing Most of us understand that...

Reading a Lead Sheet – A How To Guide
Ask Damian Erskine

Reading a Lead Sheet – A How To Guide

Q: Do you know how to read a lead sheet? What is a good way to learn how to play with a lead sheet? A: Learning to navigate a lead sheet is one of the most useful and important things a working musician must get comfortable with. While lead sheets seem to baffle many musicians who are unfamiliar with them,...