...how to practice?

So, I’m sure this has been done in other threads, but I couldn’t find one. And this might be a really dumb question, but… how do you practice?

Not literally, like, how do YOU practice. But… what’s the, I dunno, regimen of practicing? I don’t actually know that.

I’m going through two different online courses, Bass Buzz (of course) and Fender Play. And I know I need to practice. But… I don’t know… what or how. I play my bass - A LOT - but it’s really just… noodling. There’s no sense of purpose (other than I love playing my bass and it makes me happy) or guidelines on what and how to practice.

I want to get better. I know I need to practice with a metronome. But is that just… turn on the metronome and noodle in time? Or should there be some structure to it? Scales, or exercises or whatever?

I know this sounds dumb. But I’m a software developer and when it comes to bass, I feel like I’m just sitting down and writing code that has no structure or purpose or anything, so it’s just long, rambling, “what in the HELL am I writing?” stuff.

So. Yeah, any help would be appreciated.

6 Likes

I don’t, I just play music. I do have a few technique points I could improve with some targeted practice but for probably two years now my practice has just consisted of working on songs.

5 Likes

I practice scales, but I’m a weirdo that likes scales. I improv a lot. I also do finger exercises to build dexterity. I find the same notes across the fretboard. I jam a lot to drum loops (I have an extensive library :sweat_smile: And sometimes make my own)

7 Likes

I do do this too. If there’s one thing I can do well, it’s program drum tracks :rofl:

5 Likes

Hey Tim, I guess there’s no one size fits all here. But after I completed B2B I took other courses with Mark Smith and recently Dan Hawkins. I like his relaxed style and here’s a great video that may give you some ideas on what to focus on for practice.
I’d also add that picking a song you like (because you’ll listen to it a lot) and learning it is IMHO one of the best ways to practice. It’ll teach you to listen, improve your technique and at the end you’ll have a whole song you can play. I think that’s key to why we play bass?

7 Likes

I try to always have some sort of course or lesson work that I creep along with for new concepts. From these I build a ‘menu’ of things to work on…scales, etudes, exercises, etc.
I also try to always work on a new cover tune.
And will go back and play things I know and / or look at new songs to play.

I take the above and do what moves me when I sit down, being a little mindful of getting back to technique building things (vs. songs) if I don’t hit on it for a few days.

Current lineup I am focusing on Rich Brown’s YouTube channel The Brown’Stone.
So the menu looks like this:
Rich Brown…

  1. Metronome series 2 & 3 patterns (I pick a couple to focus on)
  2. Metronome series 4 patterns using Gm scale
  3. Triads exercise across fretboard in different keys
  4. Pentatonic exercise across fretboard in different keys
  5. His OCAJ exercise, forward and reverse

I will do a bit of some then work on a song or songs.
If getting ready to record a cover, I focus a lot more on that, then focus more on technique.

Then somedays I just stand in front of my pedalboard, mucking about and see what cool stuff I can do and try and make up a bassline or two.

4 Likes

I’ve been a bit aimless the past few months. I learned a few songs, noodled around, wrote some bass lines.

Restarted B2B a couple days ago. I had to check and doublecheck the module to make sure I restarted on the right one, it was so ridiculously easy.

I expect you are getting better, but so gradual that you don’t see it. Go back to some past lesson, see how easy it is to you. It sneaks up on you.

2 Likes

I think there’s lots of good advice and ideas mentioned. The only thing I can add is - what do you want to improve? Practice that thing. Do you want to know the fretboard better? Do you want to improve fretting speed? Do you want to improve some technique like picking or floating thumb? Work on exercises that improve that thing - you can likely find specific exercises for anything you’d like to work on… Build your practice routine around what you want to work on… And I agree with what was said above that “learning songs” can be the answer to that…

Having said all that, I understand the “rudderless” feeling post-B2B. I practice way less than I should because there’s nothing guiding it any more. I don’t have something specific to work on, so I end up not working on anything. When I have something specific to do, I feel like I accomplished something when I do it - without that “something specific”, I have a hard time feeling like I’ve accomplished anything, and if I’m not accomplishing anything, it’s hard to get started…

Good luck!

3 Likes

Przechwytywanie

Lol but seriously it depends on your goals. I want to eventually play in a covers band so I learn covers and practice in front of the mirror. If you want to ascend to the pure knowledge of bass playing then you probably need to discipline yourself to scales, modes, ear training etc.

I would say if it feels good, do it

4 Likes

For me, the answer is… A lot. Being a beginner is tough, so i get what i can where i can.

In the mornings,45-60 minutes with a headphone amp and try to learn a new line every day. Whether i forget it or not( a very Real possibility) i try to nail something i haven’t done before.

After work, cleaning, shower and any various adulting requirements in the afternoon, i do a more regimented practice. 60-90 minutes with the amplifier. Work some finger exercises, play some scales, solidify fundamental play. Focusing on things like posture and hand position.

But the most important thing about practicing for me is that i need to WANT to do it. So, i keep it fun. I don’t owe anything-this is something i enjoy doing. If i can’t let it be organic and fun, it would be a task. I do Enough work at my job.

However, whenever you practice, the answer is have fun with it. This shouldn’t be boring, or something you feel obligated to do.

1 Like

There is nothing wrong with this.
Structure practice is great, and just playing bass, or learning songs is very good too.
A mix of them all works.

If you are doing courses right now, you get some structure from those.
Its more when you stop doing courses that you need to find some structure.

Find out what is your weakness and work on it.
Noodling is great if you are learning the fretboard, not necessarily the note names of each fret, but where to play to make the sound you want to play.

If you do lots of noodling, and have an idea where to play to get the sound you want, then look to other things for structure.

How is your groove? Can you play 8th note syncopation very well? How about 16th not syncopation? If not work on your Rhythm. There are some good things online that can help. If I find the one I am thinking of, I will link it.
What about your ear? there are great apps to help you train your ear, and you don’t even need your bass for it.
Scales and Chord tones are great things to learn and practice.
Most important, just pick the bass up every day and do something for at least 10 minutes.
Learning songs, if you do it often, you are bound to pick up a lot of this stuff, so if you spend a week just learning a hard song from start to finish (or a mont), you are going to pick up a lot from that.
I think variety is important, but structure. Don’t be afraid to stick with something for a while, but also don’t be afraid to switch it up a bit from time to time.

It could be really good if you take a few lessons with a good teacher such as @JoshFossgreen. Even if you just take a few, he will help you realize your weaknesses, and help to turn them into strengths.
If you are dedicated to practice, a glass once a month or so will be sufficient, if you can fit it into your schedule, and budget that is.
I would finish B2B first. I don’t know anything about Fender Play, so I can’t say how far you should go before getting a private lesson or 4.
I would sure be taking them if I had the budget for it, but its just not possible for me now.

1 Like

Why on earth would you tune the Hofner @Ed?
McCartney seemed to never bother! :upside_down_face:

3 Likes

:grin:

2 Likes

I’ve seen a few of Dan’s videos and enjoy his teaching style. Which courses would you recommend?

2 Likes

@Ed
Przechwytywanie
You are spending 65% of your time adjusting the tuning, setting up your bridge, and noodling. WOW

I always check the tuning when starting a session but that only takes a minute or so and as far as the bridge is concerned I cannot remember the last time I had to touch it. Maybe it’s a Hofner thing :slightly_smiling_face:

2 Likes

sure is

2 Likes

Oh yeah :wink:

1 Like

Hey @RoyB I’m doing his beginner to bassist course. There’s some duplication of the B2B but also there’s maybe a new way or different way of looking at the same thing. A couple of his lessons have filled in in some of the gaps in knowledge that I didn’t know I was missing. It’s a 30 day money back guarantee, so no risk to see if you like it. Learning online is really about whether you connect with the instructor. It’s the cost of a pedal and I’d rather spend my money on learning than gear. Shocking I know :slight_smile: I just like his presenting style. Cheers

2 Likes

I just went down this list and jammed to them:

It was… odd, but also fun at the same time. You really have to get an ear for what the key is, and it forces you away from open strings (which as a metal head is good for me because trololol JAM ON THE LOW STRING CONSTANTLY FOR THE HEAVY ahem).

Anyone else have to wash their hands after practicing? I don’t notice it playing my basses with nickel strings, but the EB Cobalts on the C-5 leave my hands stinky :joy:

This is a really good question! It means you’re aware of what you’re currently doing and want to expand. I think I’m pretty similar to @John_E tbh.
In short I’m not very good at sticking to a structure/routine as I simply don’t always feel up to it. But I have a couple of courses on the go that I’ll dip into and progress a little (primarily for applicable theory stuff), I’ll noodle when I’m unsure, I’ll attempt new songs/riffs when I want to push my technique and try my hand at something new. For example I’m currently using a riff from a Flobots song to get more used to hammer-ons.

If you can build a schedule of sorts for yourself then that’s great. But if not, then I think it’s perfectly okay to ‘just play’, be aware of your playing, find specific things about your playing that you want to get better at then look for songs or lessons online that can help you practise them. :slight_smile:

1 Like