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Performing Archives

How to Deal With Bandleaders That Change Your Part
Ask Damian Erskine

How to Deal With Bandleaders That Change Your Part

A reader is dealing with a bandleader (pianist) who is rewriting the bass parts and asking them to be played that way. He asked Damian for advice on how to cope with this situation. Check out what Damian has to say.

How Do You Deal With Performance Anxiety
Ask Damian Erskine

How Do You Deal With Performance Anxiety

Q: Do you ever get scared? How do you deal with performance anxiety? A: I’ve written a fair amount about various types of musical situations I’ve found myself in, related anxiety, and how I’ve navigated it but this may be the first time I’ve written purely on fear. I’ve mentioned in the past that I spent quite a while living...

Learning to Jam
Ask Damian Erskine

Learning to Jam

Q: Okay, I am an old rookie bass player. I always wanted to play, but I just took a long time to get started. I am playing with the praise band at my church currently, which is great; it’s making me take it seriously, and is a very forgiving environment as I learn. So far, I’m learning songs, and in...

Accompanying “Smaller” Instruments on Bass
Ask Damian Erskine

Accompanying “Smaller” Instruments on Bass

Q: I have a question in regards to the best way to accompany “light sounding” instruments such as a ukulele, mandolin, banjo, or even just auxiliary percussion. I find that whenever I’m playing with these types of instruments I have to limit my style to playing more open, simple lines so as to not drown out the other instrument. The...

Memorization: Tips for Bass Players
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Memorization: Tips for Bass Players

I received the following question this week from a concerned double bassist: “How can I keep from having memory slips on stage?” Even experienced performers may have the occasional memory faux pas on stage. However, there are some things we can do to minimize the risk. Be prepared early. The earlier you can play something from memory in the practice...

Playing without a Chordal Instrument
Ask Damian Erskine

Playing without a Chordal Instrument

Q: I was curious about your approach to playing jazz without a piano player or guitarist. I lead a secret, soon to be a quintet because our piano player is moving away. I respect the kind of stuff presented by Charlie Haden in his work with Ornette Coleman, but aside from the free really “out there” jazz, I’m at a...

Turning Exercises into Real Music
Ask Damian Erskine

Turning Exercises into Real Music

Q: I’ve been studying for a while now, and I’ve been practicing my scales and modes as much as possible over changes. I’ve also been working through arpeggios, including the methods you talk about in your Improvisor’s Path book. For example, I’ll work arpeggios through tunes in different inversions and so on. However, when I go to solo freely over...

Practicing vs. Performing for Musical Growth
Ask Damian Erskine

Practicing vs. Performing for Musical Growth

Q: I’ve been playing the bass in a blues band for two years. Then we started playing rock and funk songs, and my practicing has always been based on what I hear and what I feel. I don’t really count in my head, and I’ve hardly worked my scales but my band keeps telling me that what I play is...

Making Theory Work
Ask Damian Erskine

Making Theory Work

Q: I’ve tried to learn music theory many times. I’ve studied it in a classroom setting, private lessons and on my own, but it just doesn’t click with me for some reason. I’m classically trained, so I can read bass music just fine, but when I play anything that relies heavily on memory or improvisation, I generally just play by...

The Lightbulb Moment: A Quarter Note For Your Thoughts
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: A Quarter Note For Your Thoughts

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of the college admission process — the worst part about being in high school. Clearly, a full day of classes followed by extra-curricular activities and homework isn’t enough to deal with; there are standardized tests to study for, essays to write, schools to visit, interviews to prepare for, and meetings with your...