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  • Playing Metronomically vs. Musically

    Playing Metronomically vs. Musically

    Q: I have a hard time not sounding stiff when focusing on my time. Any suggestions? A: I’ve been noticing this phenomenon lately, especially with students who are working on various cello suites. There’s a tendency to try and play the piece metronomically as opposed to musically. Remember that, while we are expected to have... »

  • Beyond the Weekend Warrior

    Beyond the Weekend Warrior

    Q: I wanted to know if you have any advice for players like me who still work a full time 9-5 but want to eventually move to playing professionally. My goal is to session/sideman and teach, but opportunities are harder to come by and I’m having trouble getting my foot in the door. A: Man,... »

  • Ask Damian Erskine: Working with Tricky Drummers

    Ask Damian Erskine: Working with Tricky Drummers

    Q: I was wondering how you play with jazz drummers who seem intent on messing everyone up with syncopation. I’ve seen and played with drummers who will start a polyrhythm and repeat it for two measures to set up a downbeat, and they expect me to come in on time? I want to be able... »

  • Ask Damian Erskine: Breathing

    Q: I’ve been playing for over 30 years and I’ve heard the subject of breathing as relates to playing. I’ve come to know that disciplined relaxation while playing can work wonders for stamina and affects the accuracy and musicality of one’s technique. I’ve become aware that breathing is very closely involved too, e.g. holding ones... »

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  • Ask Damian Erskine: Regaining Inspiration

    Q: I’ve been playing professionally (clubs, studio, festivals) since I was about 18. I’m 43 now, and I find myself in a bit of an uninspired phase. My urge to play, practice and create is currently AWOL. Do you ever go thru periods where you and the bass are mortal enemies? if so , how... »

  • Should Bassists Be Multi-Instrumentalists?

    Q: I’m curious as to your opinion of secondary instruments for bassists. From a well-rounded musician perspective, I can see the value of being a multi-instrumentalist. From a gigging perspective, I would think that a bassist might be more marketable if he or she had show-ready skills on keys, or guitar, or ???… A: I... »

  • Ask Damian Erskine: Becoming a Well Rounded Player

    Ask Damian Erskine: Becoming a Well Rounded Player

    Q: Through the years I have often heard the term “well rounded player”. I have been wondering what makes a “well rounded player” in your opinion? A: Well, I would imagine that any well rounded player has more than just a few tricks up their sleeve, but is instead both versatile and flexible in their... »

  • Practice Routines

    Practice Routines

    Q: How would you describe a good practice session and how would you break it down? A: I think I’ve probably answered this in different ways in past columns, depending on the topic. In short, I’d tailor the practice time and routine based upon your own personal attention span and needs. I have the problem... »

  • Ask Damian Erskine: Teaching

    Q: Do you teach? If so, how do you approach different players needs and styles and needs? Do you like teaching or would you just rather gig? A: I do teach occasionally, although I’m usually too busy playing and traveling to take on too many students. That said, I did just accept an adjunct position... »

  • Ask Damian Erskine: Uneven Playing?

    Q: Whenever I play, I tend to speed up, and my play is kind of choppy and uneven. Do you have any tips to help my playing become more consistent? A: I’ve probably touched on this in previous articles, but it’s worth repeating. The best way to work on any facet of your playing is... »