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Learning New Tunes Archives

Learning Tunes: A Checklist for Bass Players
Ask Damian Erskine

Learning Tunes: A Checklist for Bass Players

Q: I’ve started learning jazz bass about 7 years ago, coming from over 20 years of violin (classical) training. The first thing I did to move from classical music to jazz was to get all Aebersold play-a-longs, and every transcription I could get on Earth, and dig them. I now feel that this is holding me back quite a bit,...

The Lightbulb Moment: Easy Come, Easy Go
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: Easy Come, Easy Go

In true professional musician fashion, I recently received a set list for an upcoming gig and had a mini panic attack when I took a look at the final song. An anthem, that’s for sure, but one that is rarely attempted in a live setting. It’s a song that most people are familiar with, thanks to the fact that Wayne’s...

Learning Lots of Songs Quickly
Ask Damian Erskine

Learning Lots of Songs Quickly

Q: I have a dep gig in 5 days and need to learn 23 songs. Any tips? I’m quite a good reader and have all the songs transcribed so I can probably read the music as I play but it’s for a rock gig and wouldn’t look particularly cool. A: For those who don’t know what a “dep gig” is...

How To Learn Difficult Bass Parts
Ask Damian Erskine

How To Learn Difficult Bass Parts

Q: I would like to know what is the best way to approach and learn difficult bass parts, for example if I decide to try to figure out the bass solo to Stanley Clarke’s “School days”. A: The best way I’ve found to tackle difficult lines is a three-fold process. 1. Get it in your ears. Put the bass down...

Learning a Tune “On the Spot”
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Learning a Tune “On the Spot”

Last week I received a question about how to memorize a tune fast: “…For example, [bassist] playing a jazz tune you’ve never played before with a pianist as they shout out the changes for one chorus, then stop for the second. How can we develop skills to memorize these changes instantly?” No doubt the situation you describe can be stressful,...

Learning Music by Writing Down Your Transcriptions
Ask Damian Erskine

Learning Music by Writing Down Your Transcriptions

Q: I have been practicing bass on my own for two years while attending college. My goal is to become a working musician and I would like to at least get a gig at a church this year. I’m at a point now where I can hear a piece of music and get pretty close to the right note the...

Focused Learning: A Bass Player’s Guide to Practice and Rehearsals
Ask Damian Erskine

Focused Learning: A Bass Player’s Guide to Practice and Rehearsals

Q: I’d like your advice on what a bassist should be thinking during a practice session or when learning new material? What do you think about during those times? What should I be thinking? A: This question struck me as interesting. Primarily, I think it’s because it relates to a conversation I recently had with a student with regard to...

Learning New Tunes: Go Beyond the Bass
I Wish I Knew That

Learning New Tunes: Go Beyond the Bass

Let’s face it, we’re not all singers. Some of us opted to join band in school instead of choir, and in doing so, we missed out on the vocal warm-ups and breathing lessons. We never took the bull by the horns and sang lead, be it on stage or around a campfire, and maybe a few of us have been...

Pace Yourself: Thoughts on the Process of Practicing and Learning
I Wish I Knew That

Pace Yourself: Thoughts on the Process of Practicing and Learning

Whether you’re embarking on a long distance run, sitting down to a delicious plate of food, or facing a mountain of material to learn, keep one thing in mind: pace yourself. Establishing a good pace for learning material or practicing a new technique is extremely important, especially when you’re looking at a deadline. It’s easy to let time slip away...

Learning the Song – Part 2: Comparing and Contrasting Multiple Versions of a Tune
I Wish I Knew That

Learning the Song – Part 2: Comparing and Contrasting Multiple Versions of a Tune

Welcome to Part 2 of “Learning the Song.” If you checked out the first part of this series, you’ll be familiar with some of the essential elements of learning a song, such as the key, the chord progressions, the form, and so on. Learning “the song” is a great exercise in ear training, adapting theory rules and being prepared for...