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Practice Archives - Page 4

The Lightbulb Moment: Super Powers
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: Super Powers

“We can fly!” “You can fly!” “We can fly!!” “Come on, everybody! Here we gooooooo… Off to Neverland!” With just a few happy thoughts and a sprinkle of pixie dust, Peter Pan, Wendy, John and Michael swooped around the nursery, singing, laughing, and soaring with the greatest of ease. It was off to Neverland for an adventure… second star to...

A Quick Warmup for the Left Hand
The Lowdown with Dr. D

A Quick Warmup for the Left Hand

Sometimes we need to warmup in a hurry. When I need to warmup in two minutes or less I do exercises like the ones below. Some things to remember when doing these: Start slowly and speed up as you go Keep the fingers light and flexible, don’t press any harder than necessary Don’t’ go any faster than feels easy, slow...

Simple Exercise for Increased Bow Control on Bass
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Simple Exercise for Increased Bow Control on Bass

When using the bow, the natural tendency is to play louder at the frog and softer at the tip. We must, of course, counteract this predisposition on a regular basis. Simply playing a full bow with consistent timbre and volume requires it. Generally, we do this by adding pressure, via arm weight, to the bow as we move further from...

Increasing Concentration for Focused Practice and Performance
Ask Damian Erskine

Increasing Concentration for Focused Practice and Performance

Q: I play at a semi-professional level. I work a regular 9-to 5-job and play in the evenings. I am lucky enough that I get a few hours every evening to just shed and work on my playing and lately I’ve been doing a lot of classical etudes to work on technique and maintain my reading chops. My question is...

Beginning Exercise for Improving Left Hand Finger Independence
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Beginning Exercise for Improving Left Hand Finger Independence

The four movements of the left hand fingers necessary for string playing (to paraphrase the great violin pedagogue Demetrius Constantine Dounis) are: Lifting: Raising a finger from the fingerboard/string Dropping: Lowering a finger/Pressing a string to the fingerboard Sliding: Moving a finger along the string so the pitch rises or lowers accordingly Holding: leaving a finger down on the string...

Exercises for Improving Time
Ask Damian Erskine

Exercises for Improving Time

Q: What are some good exercises or practice routines to develop a strong sense of time? A: When I want to work on time, rhythm or technique, I think “What would a drummer do”? There are any number of ways to develop that internal clock. Here are a few ideas for you: 1. Playing Along. One of the most fun...

The Lightbulb Moment: You Make It Look Easy
The Lightbulb Moment

The Lightbulb Moment: You Make It Look Easy

“Are you ready for bed?” “Yes, mom.” “Did you pick out a book to read?” “Yes!” “Did you brush your teeth?” “Ye-es” (with a slightly sarcastic tone). Twenty-odd years later and I’m still brushing my teeth, as I’m likely to do for another twenty years, and hopefully another twenty after that. Needless to say, I’m well practiced in the art...

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...

Improving Time and Rhythmic Accuracy
The Lowdown with Dr. D

Improving Time and Rhythmic Accuracy

As important as playing with good intonation is, it is even more important to play with good time and rhythmic accuracy. Most of us know that counting, subdividing and practicing with a metronome can help. However, there are things we can do beyond these initial steps. Below are a few suggestions, and a few games, for taking your rhythmic accuracy...

Exploring Vertical Harmony in Bass Playing
Ask Damian Erskine

Exploring Vertical Harmony in Bass Playing

Q: I have never studied an instrument aside from bass. In watching countless guitarists pick up my bass and rip out some cool lines (and the left hand of pianists), I’ve realized that I’ve never really found an effective way to internalize “vertical harmony”, and thus my lines lack coherence as a whole. How do you suggest I familiarize myself...

Quickly Figuring Out Available Notes For Given Chord Types
Ask Damian Erskine

Quickly Figuring Out Available Notes For Given Chord Types

Q: I’ve been trying to learn how to figure out what notes are available for any given chord type. I’ve read columns here (yours are very helpful), Googled it, bought books… I just seem to get more confused at every turn. Once I think I’ve got it, I’ve lost it. Do you have any quick and dirty tricks for remembering...

Exploring New Ways to Practice Chord Changes on Bass
Ask Damian Erskine

Exploring New Ways to Practice Chord Changes on Bass

Q: I was wondering if you had any new ways of practicing playing through changes? I have been working on my arpeggios and modes but feel like I’m just hitting a wall. A: I don’t know if this counts as a new way of playing through changes, but there are an endless number of options available to you. So many...