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The Lowdown with Dr. D - Page 5

Improving Time and Rhythmic Accuracy

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...

The Importance of Cooling Down After Playing

The Importance of Cooling Down After Playing

Most musicians are aware of the importance of warming up. Warming up properly helps to prevent injuries, and increases our ease of play. It can even help solidify our technique and ensure we play at our best that day. Fewer musicians, however, seem aware of the benefits of cooling down. Playing the bass for hours on end can be physically...

Improving Your Musical Ears

Improving Your Musical Ears

Being a musician requires a great number of skills. However, the aural component is by far the most prevalent. So, to perform at the highest levels, we must have good listening skills. Ultimately we need to hear, and understand, exactly what is happening around us. Only when we can do this can we respond in our most communicative and artistic...

Challenges to Good Intonation in a Live Situation

Challenges to Good Intonation in a Live Situation

Good intonation is a lifelong concern for every double bassist. We train our ears, we work constantly to match pitch, and we devote large sections of our individual practice sessions to improving it. Among other things, the sheer size of the instrument demands our constant attention to pitch. Sometimes though, even players who normally have impeccable intonation can have issues...

Improving Practice: 4 Pitfalls to Avoid in the Practice Room

Improving Practice: 4 Pitfalls to Avoid in the Practice Room

We learn and grow musically from a variety of sources. Teachers, performances, fellow musicians, etc. all play a role in our progress, but our most direct improvement comes from our time in the practice room. That’s why spending time practicing each day is so important. Sometimes, however, even when are putting in time daily, we don’t see results. There can...

Making a Living in Music

Making a Living in Music

I get a lot of questions from aspiring musicians on how to make a career in music. There isn’t one answer to this, and everyone’s circumstances are different. However, below are some of my more general suggestions for those considering a life in music. Specialize I’m usually talking to upright bassists, so I generally suggest they become the “go to”...

Musical Goals and Self Evaluation

Musical Goals and Self Evaluation

For those of us involved in formal education, the end of the year is a time for evaluation in all our classes, e.g. final exams, papers, presentations etc. When it comes to instrumental study, most students play what is known as a “jury.” This is performance by the student for panel of faculty. The charge of these faculty members is...

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Improving Troublesome Passages: Five Tips for Bass Players

Improving Troublesome Passages: Five Tips for Bass Players

Continuing our series of “Tips” columns, here’s one on breaking down troublesome musical passages. 1. Take it Slow Practicing technically difficult passages at slow tempi is nearly essential for mastery. Learning something at a slow tempo is learning it well. Doing so helps us avoid unconscious errors such as incorrect notes, fingerings, rhythms, errant string hits, etc., all of which...

Freelance Gigs: Five Tips for Bass Players

Freelance Gigs: Five Tips for Bass Players

The last “Tips” column (on avoiding injury), was a popular one. So let’s continue this series with some tips on freelancing. 1. Be Musically Prepared If there is sheet music, review it. If there are recordings, listen to them. As much as possible, be familiar with all the parts. Be acquainted with the melodies, harmonies, key rhythmic devices, etc. inherent...

Avoiding Injury: Five Tips for Bass Players

Avoiding Injury: Five Tips for Bass Players

As bassists, our health is important, and paying attention to our routine is paramount to avoiding injury. Here are five tips to keep in mind to staying healthy and injury free. 1. Stay Loose Keep those joints flexible and muscles moving. Excessive tension is the enemy. Upright players tend to have problems in shoulders and upper back, followed by issues...

A Few Tips from a Traveling Bassist

A Few Tips from a Traveling Bassist

Performing on the road as an upright bassist can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. Here are a few tips I’ve learned on, and picked up from colleagues, to help things go smoothly. Be Physically Fit We don’t need have the physique of an Olympic athlete, but having a certain level of fitness will go a long way in...

Five Things to Remember to When Moving from Electric to Upright Bass

Five Things to Remember to When Moving from Electric to Upright Bass

The electric bass and the double bass (aka Contrabass, Kontrabass, Contrebasse, Upright bass, Stand-up bass, String bass, Doghouse bass, etc. etc.) are cousins. It seems intuitive that one plays both instruments. After all, we share a range, number of strings (generally) and a tuning (most of the time). However, the constructions of the instruments differ enough to make for substantial...