It will come with time. You can try to speed it up by playing while looking at the score as much as possible, but the main objective should be to hit the right notes.
Muscle memory and practice will get you there sooner or later
Yeah that’s exactly the motivation behind it - I want to be able to read the score while I’m playing. I hate memorizing music, but 9 times out of 10 I have to pause the lessons first and spend a couple of minutes memorizing what Josh wants me to play.
@akos I watch through the lesson including the slow med and fast. I then do it from the sheet slowly to get my fingering. Then I try it along with Josh, if I’m not getting it right I go to 50 on the metranome until it flows, which may take running the lesson many times. I think my best tip for fret memory is doing scales. Ive not cracked it yet but I do feel that I’m progressing albeit slowly.
This is still something I’m working on as well. The best tip I can give you is when you are not watching your fretting hand, you said you notice by ear when your hand is out of position (buzz, wrong notes)… The next few times that happens freeze your fretting hand in place on that bad note and look to see if you missed it because your hand is on the low or high side of where it should be. Repeat this a time or five to see if you have a tenancy to move your unsupervised hand in one direction or the other. Next time you hear your notes going bad, you can now try to fix it without looking by adjusting slightly against your tendency.
Of course the goal is to not make those mistakes in the first place to need to adjust from, but you will get there eventually so long as you keep making music.
I would say it just takes time. I have been learning and following the course for 7 months now (adagio ) and learning easy bass lines at the same time. When I start to feel comfortable with a song I try not to look at the frets for a couple notes or more until I fail and have to correct or I get them all right! Jumps are challenging but it is cool when you get them right!
From my experience with the piano it is the same, it takes time but eventually you can close your eyes and play without mistakes.
I worked on this for a while and then had a minor epiphany when I realized it doesn’t actually bother me at all that I look at my hands while playing anyway, was only trying to break the habit because you “should”, and am now at peace with it
I mean maybe I will try and break the habit again someday but really it doesn’t bother me. Then again I am not trying to sight read while playing.
One way to look at your frets without it being so distracting is to point the neck of your bass towards the music you’re playing from. You might have to sit or stand a bit sideways. But if you get the neck closer to your music, then you’re not having to look back and forth as much.
It’s a time and practice thing, as others have mentioned.
Even the best players in the world occasionally look at the fretboard while playing, and I don’t think it’s because they don’t know what their playing it’s habit.
The occasional glance at the fingerboard for “grounding” purposes is perfectly normal and is seen in just about every bass player’s performance. The bottom line is, once you’ve gained an understanding of where everything is on the board, and have mastered intervals and shapes, the need for staring at the board goes away. Muscle memory is a huge help, and is developed over time through many hours of practice.
@akos tonight as I was turning lights out I passed my bass in the shadows of the nightlights. Picked her up and in the dark tried a few scales in the dark. I think I may look at the fretboard than I thought
Still it may be good to practice in the dark, if you dont trip over your bass
As soon as I got over being afraid to screw up, it started getting better. I’ve learned to play lots of instruments in my life, and it’s the same with every one. With some, like a clarinet, you can’t see your hands. With the piano, you can. I’ve had to relearn with every instrument that it’s okay to make mistakes. That’s about the point at which it gets easier and you (surprise!) make fewer of them.
This also goes to the statement that others have made, that it takes time to get comfortable. When you do, see if you don’t think that it was also about the same time you started trusting yourself. If you’re like me, you’ll look at your fretting hand occasionally, like when you change positions up or down the neck, but you’ll mostly be okay with just playing.
Thanks for bringing this up.
I have to link to this, because it has Star Wars references:
Some of the things that will allow you to play without looking are:
Tons of practice, so that you have as much confidence in the physical movement as you do the visual-led movement.
This happens with solid, repetitive, predictable, and logical fingering exercises, or patterns, or choices for songs and passages.
You want your musical brain and memory to eventually live in your fingers. It’s fine to use your eyes during the process, but check yourself at intervals to see if you can predict the movement without your eyes.
… which brings us to point number 2, and a big one it is (see the Yoda thing there? Back to Star Wars?):
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and - (here’s the real secret sauce) - don’t let a mistake derail you.
When you play without looking, it’s real easy to hit the wrong stuff.
But - making mistakes is part of playing. Learning to move through mistakes and maintain confidence and calm and your place in the music might be the single most valuable survival bass skill there is.
Practicing without looking (whether you want to look at sheet music, watch a movie while noodling, make eye contact with other musicians or cute audience members, catch the eye of the sound person because they accidentally turned the terrible singer’s vocals up in your monitor, etc, etc) is a great goal.
And you’ll make mistakes.
The constant and focused physical practice will help minimize the mistakes.
BUT - when the mistakes happen, keep calm and play the next right note. That’s the big one. Don’t let the momentary mistake disrupt the flow and train wreck the whole piece!
That’s some of the first advice for live performance I ever got in music lessons as a kid and remains some of the best advice ever. Especially in a mix, people probably won’t notice anyway, or for some styles, think you did it on purpose to begin with. Just keep your bass face on and keep going.
Things can go hilariously wrong on stage, it just happens. One gig we had, we had a guest guitarist/singer who wanted to go on with us and do one of his songs. He liked to talk a big game but totally froze up in front of others once he was actually out there. My friend (our guitarist) just started singing mostly correct lyrics while the ego guy just stood there and honestly I don’t think anyone noticed.