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The Lowdown with Dr. D - Page 8

Finger Stamina Exercises for Bassists

Finger Stamina Exercises for Bassists

In our quest to develop left hand strength, flexibility, speed and stamina, we will discover and create many exercises and finger twisters. Sometimes, however, the simplest exercises are the best. Apply the two practice techniques below to your trills and reap the benefits. Trills for time Play a fast trill between two fingers (i.e. 1-2) as quickly as you can....

Understanding and Getting Around Roadblocks in Musical Development

Understanding and Getting Around Roadblocks in Musical Development

For this column, I wanted to answer a question I received on Facebook, as it is an important component in our musical development. Q: I’ve been working on these exercises for six months now and I haven’t made any progress on them. I am very frustrated and do not know how to move forward. Do you have any suggestions? –...

Structuring Your Practice: A Checklist for Bass Players

Structuring Your Practice: A Checklist for Bass Players

Any serious musician will practice regularly. While consistency is the most significant factor in our progress, we need to make good use of our practice time if we want continued improvement. No one set of specific materials (i.e. specific etudes, etc.) will be appropriate for everyone, but any successful long-term plan will hit on a few distinct areas each day....

What’s In My Gig Bag? Part 2: Jazz/Rockabilly, Solo Shows and Flying

What’s In My Gig Bag? Part 2: Jazz/Rockabilly, Solo Shows and Flying

One of the things every gigging bassist needs to refine is what they bring to the gig, in addition to their bass and amp (if appropriate). We all have items we might need for gig emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. Showing up to the gig and having an equipment problem is no fun and ultimately it makes you look bad. Everyone...

What’s In My Gig Bag? Part 1: Classical

What’s In My Gig Bag? Part 1: Classical

One of the things every gigging bassist needs to refine is what they bring to the gig, in addition to their bass and amp (if appropriate). We all have items we might need for gig emergencies and unforeseen circumstances. Showing up to the gig and having an equipment problem is no fun and ultimately it makes you look bad. Everyone...

Focus on Breathing: An Essential Guide for Bass Players

Focus on Breathing: An Essential Guide for Bass Players

So many of us play with unneeded tension and spend a great deal of time trying to remedy this. We spend untold hours searching for the freedom of motion that will allow us to transcend our instrument. One aspect of tension that is sometimes overlooked is a player’s breathing. If you have never paid attention to how you breathe when...

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Left Hand Thumb Independence for Bassists

Left Hand Thumb Independence for Bassists

Last time, we talked about left hand “pivoting” and its potential to make difficult passages more accessible. In order to execute a pivot with ease, however, we must have a supple thumb. In fact, for masterful left hand technique of any sort we must have a thumb that is light, flexible, and easily moveable. It should be independent of the...

Left Hand Technique: Pivoting

Left Hand Technique: Pivoting

Although I advocate a traditional left hand foundation (i.e. 1-2-4 fingering system), any bassist who plays long enough will come across passages that don’t lie well using this fingering system. “Pivoting” can be an attractive solution for such passages. Often, especially when playing two consecutive notes on the same string more than a step apart (for example: A-C on the...

Starting Your Day with Open Strings: A Warmup Routine for Bassists

Starting Your Day with Open Strings: A Warmup Routine for Bassists

Many people simply pick up their instrument and start playing without any warm-up. While there is value to this approach, I generally advise a gradual warm-up for students. Although slow scales can often serve as a warmup, even a slow scale can be quite complex technically. After all, it involves tone production, shifting, light left hands, lifting and dropping fingers,...

Musical Growth: Thought Process, Practice and Dedication

Musical Growth: Thought Process, Practice and Dedication

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to hear expressed all manner of explanation as to why someone is not progressing as they wish. Although every situation and individual is unique, some common “explanations” are the result of fallacious thinking. For those who wish to be serious in their study, the two ideas below can be very damaging to...

Improving your Technique: Habits and Awareness for Bass Players

Improving your Technique: Habits and Awareness for Bass Players

Most bassists are looking to improve some aspect of their technique. Certainly if there is something in our technique that is creating a problem, physical or musical, then we need to make a change. Sometimes this is a major change, other times this is simply a refinement. Oftentimes, it is the acquisition of technique that motivates a young student to...

Artificial Harmonics: The Basics

Artificial Harmonics: The Basics

In the last several columns we have talked about harmonics using open strings. These are often referred to as “natural” harmonics. If we play harmonics on a string while fully stopping the string somewhere else, (for example, if we press down an A on our G string and then play a harmonic above that) these are referred to as “artificial”...