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Ask Damian Erskine - Page 38

Ask Damian Erskine is a weekly column featuring reader questions and Damian’s advice on the topic. Have a question for Damian? Send it to [email protected].

Wanna Be Great?

Wanna Be Great?

Q: In your opinion, what is it that separates the “greats” from the rest of us mortals? A: In short, thousands of hours spent working hard at their craft. Great work really is 99% perspiration, and 1% inspiration. I see this constantly in my students and my peers. The one thing that every great musician I know or have read...

iPad as a Musical Study Tool

iPad as a Musical Study Tool

Q: I recently bought an iPad. Do you have any suggestions for apps that you find useful for music study and practicing? A: Hello, my name is Damian, and I’m an app junkie. Addiction aside, there are some wonderful apps that can help you to either practice more efficiently or just inspire you in new ways. Here’s a little list...

Chord Tone Exercise

Chord Tone Exercise

Q: Can you give an example of how one might get more comfortable with available chord tones? A: An exercise that I’ve been enjoying lately addresses this exact issue! I’ve previously stressed the importance of developing the ability to arpeggiate chords in every inversion while working through any tune in the Real Book. To refresh (briefly), you would practice playing...

Exploring Alternate Chord Voicings

Exploring Alternate Chord Voicings

Q: Do you have any thoughts on how I can explore some alternate chord voicings? I’m having a hard time going beyond the typical root position chord shapes. A: Yes! I recently posted a Youtube video in which I work through a Steve Swallow tune (“Falling Grace”) in real time and demonstrate a great exercise for discovering new voicings. This...

Focus and Time

Focus and Time

Q: I’ve been playing bass for five years, and I see that bass players that have been playing for three years who are way better than me! I focus on my modes, then on chord structure and then I focus on arpeggios… and it becomes hard for me to get technique down. What do you recommend? A: It sounds like...

Rants and Doodles

Rants and Doodles

So, I had a night off and decided to go see some music at a local club here in Portland, Oregon. It was early in the night when I was faced with one of my biggest musical pet peeves: noodling on stage before your set. In short: please, don’t do it! This was a friend’s pop band and although they...

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Ready, Set… What To Play?

Ready, Set… What To Play?

Q: When I’m in jam situations and someone asks me to “kick it off” or start something, I just freeze and draw a blank. How do you know what to play? A: This is something we’ve all dealt with at some point. The problem is all in our minds. Our analytical and critical minds see the myriad of possibilities and...

Doing the Best You Can

Doing the Best You Can

Q: I tend to get very nervous before any live performance. How do you deal with performance anxiety? A: Everyone, at some point in their development, gets nervous before a gig or feels inadequate to the task at hand. It’s natural. The best thing you can do is over prepare! Still, the nerves are there. What do you do? This...

When the Song Plays Itself

When the Song Plays Itself

I just got back from a week spent in a recording studio in Northern California, a singer-songwriter session with Alice DiMicele. The band was absolutely smoking and we tracked 16 tunes in four days (complete with horns). The band included some guys who have been around the block quite a few times and have recorded and played with just about...

Soup or Sound (aka, the Diva Complex)

Soup or Sound (aka, the Diva Complex)

Although I was not asked a question relating to the following, a recurring theme came up in several conversations while at the NAMM show last week. I’d like to say first that I had no bad experiences with anyone while hanging at the show. I did hear some fans talk of a few negative experiences they had when approaching their...

Ask Damian Erskine: Music as a Language

Ask Damian Erskine: Music as a Language

Q: I often hear people speak of music as a language but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to relate to that idea and make it useful. Any thoughts? A: You’re not alone. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’ve been in the same boat you’re in. I have chosen to think of...

Plucking Patterns: Right Hand Exercises for Bass

Plucking Patterns: Right Hand Exercises for Bass

Q: You covered playing chords on the bass and going beyond the roots. I use chords a lot when I compose/write and when I practice different things. I often find myself short when it comes to rhythms and different strumming patterns over the chords. Do you have some good ideas for strumming patterns? A: The rhythm you use is one...