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Practice Archives

Playing How You “Should” Versus How You “Want”
Ask Damian Erskine

Playing How You “Should” Versus How You “Want”

A reader sent Damian a question that starts like this: “Sometimes I feel like I am supposed to be a certain type of player (especially after watching too many YouTube speed demons).” Check out this week’s column on “playing how you ‘should’ vs. how you ‘want.’”

The Lightbulb Moment: In Sync
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: In Sync

Nothing tears up my heart more than the moment I realize an obvious flaw or inconsistency in my playing. I mean, what have these ten-thousand-plus hours amounted to anyway? If you’re the kind of person who strives for precision—clean playing, the perfect execution of a favorite bass line, or the ability to effortlessly play a musical idea—then you probably spend...

Choosing a Direction: Focusing on Your Approach to Bass and Music
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Choosing a Direction: Focusing on Your Approach to Bass and Music

Q: I am an intermediate bass player and I am a fan of several different bass players. I love the way Janek Gwizdala composes, plays chords and creates music using a looper. I can’t get enough of Gary Willis and his amazing groove as well as his fretless tone. I also love listening to guys like Sean Hurley and Jonathan...

Is It Okay to Multitask While Practicing?
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Is It Okay to Multitask While Practicing?

Q: I’m hoping that you can chime in on a debate my friend and I have going. He tends to multitask while he practices (Netflix shows streaming, social media feeds running, etc.) I always give him a hard time about because I feel like when you practice, you shouldn’t be doing other things but he feels like, as long as...

Incorporating What We Practice
Ask Damian Erskine

Incorporating What We Practice

Q: In your opinion, how does what we work on when practicing make it’s way into our playing? I’ve been thinking about the best ways to incorporate what I shed into my “vocabulary.” A: There are as many ways to incorporate what we practice into our actual musical vocabulary as there are ways to absorb abstract life concepts into our...

What To Practice When You Don’t Have Gigs
Ask Damian Erskine

What To Practice When You Don’t Have Gigs

Q: My question to you is this: what do you do when you’re not playing with a group and have no gigs on the horizon, particularly what to practice? Without a set of songs or even a style to give the context of what the bass should be playing, I find myself grasping for inspiration on what to practice. Also,...

Practicing Slower Tempos
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Practicing Slower Tempos

Q: I don’t know about you, but when I was a younger and less experienced player, I used to dread playing the faster, up-tempo passages or songs. But that all seemed to resolve itself with practice, and now as an older – hopefully wiser – player, I have come to realize what I have should have been worried about were...

How Can I Play In Any Setting?
Ask Damian Erskine

How Can I Play In Any Setting?

Q: I’ve been checking out this site for a while. Love it all. However, I have a problem: I don’t know where to start. Let me tell you a little about me. I’ve played bass for quite some time and even taken lessons by some famous players. I’m the student that everyone dreams of. I practice incessantly. With all that...

The Lightbulb Moment: Creative Space
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: Creative Space

Every now and then, you may get lucky enough to do a gig or to jam with players in a truly creative and inspired way. You get to play in the greatest sense of the word, and better yet, you get to be your best musical self. You feel a sense of camaraderie with your fellow musicians and you walk...

Should I Study Music Written For Other Instruments?
Ask Damian Erskine

Should I Study Music Written For Other Instruments?

Q: I was recently talking to a guitar player friend about feeling bored with practicing, and he recommended that I try to incorporate studies from different instruments into my routine. You’ve talked about using drum rudiment books to practice rhythm, and that totally makes sense, but what could I gain from studying a book on piano voicings or guitar stuff...