Structuring Practice Time

Hey all,

Did a quick search, but didn’t see much, so I’m going to ask. How do you all schedule your practice time? Any recommendations especially for inexperienced players? I usually play do the lesson, play the slow/med/fast workouts and then mess around doing the major scale. But I think I’m leaving alot out. Like should i practice chugging at different bpm? play arpeggios?

Thoughts/suggestions? Thanks!


That is a good and extremely relevant question, @The_Baron; not least because we all don’t have oodles of time to practice…

For inexperienced players, I’d say finish Josh’s course first before doing too much else. I am convinced @JoshFossgreen put a lot of thought into how he structured his course and how to introduce (or leave out for now) certain aspects of bass playing, music theory, harmonic knowledge etc. That said, I got inspired by a lot of the stuff in the course and then went and did some more research on aspects I wanted to know more about. Still, I finished the entire course before I sat down and thought more in-depth about what I probably should focus on now.

I would definitely suggest learning arpeggios and use perhaps 2/3 of the time you have available on that. That sounds really boring, but I think the benefits are manifold.

Arpeggios will teach you about how (common) chords are constructed, about harmonic relationships, they help you learn your fretboard (still struggling with that!), they give you shapes/boxes on the fretboard for major and minor (and major/minor/dominant 7th) arpeggios, which are the basis for most basslines you might want to construct, or for soloing at some point. Also, there are tons of variations how to practice arpeggios (just one example: upwards with the C major 7 arpeggio and from there downwards the D minor 7 arpeggio, up the E minor 7 and down the F major 7, then up the G dominant 7 and down the A minor 7 and finally up the B diminished 7 and down the C major 7 again (but one octave up from where you started)). These are, of course, the diatonic arpeggios of the C major scale. Once you can play these, there are 11 other keys to try out, and thereafter other scales as well…

Finally, you can practice arpeggios with different tempi and rhythms (accents), thus working on your timing and rhythm at the same time (always using a metronome, of course!).

So, this could make up 2/3 of your practice time (and, btw, you have to practice one group of arpeggios (like the C major diatonic arpeggios) for a few weeks at a time, to get the shapes into your muscle memory, to build up the knowledge of the notes on the fretboards, and to get the sound of these arpeggios into your ears). The remainder of your practice time, I would spend on practicing tunes and learning new ones and having fun with that. This way, you can improve your feel for grooves and learn from what other bass players have done before you.


Hey, @The_Baron . . . @joergkutter has given some great advice above . . . :+1:

What I do is start warming up by playing some scales . . . then do a lesson . . . and then choose something to focus on for that particular day. It could be a song I’m working on, chugging at various speeds, working on improving my plucking technique, etc. etc.

I finish up by just letting go and playing anything that comes into my head without worrying too much about technique. This has greatly helped me, and I often stumble into finding a great combo of notes that way. . . :slight_smile:

The most important thing is to have fun and mix it up so that practice doesn’t become become a chore.

HTH and wish you good luck in your own journey, Joe


@The_Baron This is a great question.
I’d respond to it with a question of my own -
How do you experience success scheduling anything else you do? Are you a ‘when the spirit moves me’ type? Are you a ‘I need a set routine’ type?

I find with my students that when I prescribe a regular, regimented routine, some people just can’t do it. It’s not in their nature, or their personal tendencies for looser structure are too strong to be overcome.

So. Try and gauge how you work best.

THEN - my basic prescription: Have a warmup or 2. Do it for about 5 minutes TO A SET RHYTHM. Drum loop or metronome - whatever.

SCALES / ARPEGGIOS / TECHNICAL THIINGS - for about 10 minutes. Depending on what new piece you’re trying to get into your ears and fingers. If you can move it through keys, great. Have a pattern and a way you do this so it becomes regular.

THE MAIN COURSE - what are you working on? Now it’s time to work on tunes. Transcribe. Whatever musical goal - specifically - you’ve got on the docket.

This 3 part thing can be done in 30 minutes - better an hour. The more time invested, the better.

Let me know if this helps, and if there are ways you learn / schedule on a personal level that could be better accommodated. That is the most valuable piece to being successful in practicing, methinks.


I’d suppose that might depend on the persons age?? When I started taking guitar lessons back around 1962 or so, I HATED having daily practice sessions interfere with my hunting/fishing/camping times… That said, many practice times were spent just goofing off anyway - my parents paid $2 per week for those lessons and they wanted their money’s worth!...

I guess I would say ‘whatever keeps you interested in making music’ would be the regime to use - actually, it’s the regime even to this day that I use for all of my interests and hobbies.

When it comes to practicing music, on some days it might be on one of my Acoustic’s, other days maybe a Telecaster,… or even my Banjo… All I know is that (for me), when things get too regimented, I tend to rebel by backing down… Yup even at 66…

One of the reasons I really enjoy Josh’s course is that you can begin playing music from day one. For someone inexperienced on playing bass, that to me is so important. On that same line, his teaching style is one that (and I’ve combed the internet) works best for me because not only are you learning to ‘play’, you are actually ‘learning’ theory and technique without even really knowing it…

I’ve always said that once anything is no longer fun (even work), then it’s time to re-evaluate… I love playing music, and I’m finding that I love playing my bass. Although there are some things that ‘HAVE’ to be done that I really don’t enjoy so much (like playing scales), working those things into a practice session between some fun things kinda works for me. But then again, I’m an old retired dude who for no other reason plays music because it puts a smile on my face and gives me a sense of personal accomplishment.


Totally off topic, sorry
Like the bichon, @bill.lanahan :dog::smile:


Thanks all for the great suggestions. I try (and of course sometimes fail) to practice at least once a day for around 15 minutes. I do enjoy the coursework. Especially the Ska line in module 5, that thing is super fun.

I think in particular I need to work on some temp stuff with a metronome. I am not a fleet fingered individual…yet.

On a side note, you guys are great. This is pretty much the only forum I regularly visit, and I find it enjoyable and helpful. So thanks all.



@joergkutter already said what I would say!

But beyond that, the terrible answer of “it depends” comes to mind. Like @Gio said, routines that work for some don’t work for others. Different priorities, goals, experience levels, and a million other things influence what’s “best” for you to practice.

Also, as Geoff Colvin talks about in Talent Is Overrated, beginners aren’t really qualify to structure their own practice, because they don’t know what they don’t know. I personally managed to survive being self-taught through most of my playing years, but I probably would have developed faster with the help of a teacher, at least for the first 5-10 years.

So finding a good teacher once you run out of Beginner To Badass isn’t a bad idea. That may not be possible depending on where you are, money, etc., but worth a shot. Even just once a month, or something. Just don’t let any bad teachers discourage or confuse you - they are out there (looking at you, guitar players who claim to teach bass just to get more students…)

Nowadays, I have many many years of experience, and a relatively clear perception of my strengths, weaknesses, what I want to acheive, and what I should do to get there. So I’m able to decide what to practice with some confidence. But even still, I am taking a lesson tomorrow with a jazz guitarist I love just to get some much-more-expert-than-me advice on what could use some work in that realm!


In a 60 mile radius to my home, I doubt I could find 4 actual bass guitarists who teach professionally. Guitarists who teach? Gosh, I could probably throw a bass amp and hit half a dozen - and I live in rural Scotland!


There is your business plan, @PeteP - finish Josh’s course and become a bass teacher in rural Scotland :grin:


Just one tiny little problem with that, @joergkutter. (to be rectified when I’ve got some money)

On the plus side; I should eventually be in demand as the only bass player in the county. :sweat_smile: