Part of the learning process is hitting up against obstacles, and finding ways around them. Everybody hits obstacles, even the legendary musicians we all admire.
So what are y’all up against right now?
Personally, my main struggle right now is finding a way to integrate a more regular practice routine into my schedule, especially making time for transcribing. Curious if anyone has tricks they use to keep their practice consistent?
I’m having the same problem in relationship to a practice routine. When I sit down to practice I generally just work on tunes for the bands I am in or cram on something I was suppose to work on for my teacher. With the wealth of information out there it’s overwhelming to know where to start.
As I get more proficient at the bass, and the drums, like you, I’m finding it difficult to find a practice routine. There is soooooo much to practice on both instruments, that it’s hard to find a place to start. I sort of have a routine for the drums. Other than going through the lessons here, I’m still trying to find a warmup or practice exercises for the bass.
Tebmeb! This is kind of an ideal place to be.
There is ALWAYS infinitely more things that we need to work on than we can possibly work on. For me, the breakthrough was more in perspective, long-term planning and patience than in organizing a day-to-day schedule.
If you want a very wordy and detailed explanation… read on!
I have had many similar experiences, and I used to have the same concerns - too much to practice, not enough time. One nice way to view it to relieve the pressure and get some perspective is to look long term - it’s a bass season.
It’s a season of performance; Shows/lessons. That season is awesome, because it is high-stakes, the application and pressure is on to deliver, so you’re always working towards a definite goal, and you’ll know right away how you did. It’s a great season where tons of great bass practice and work gets done because it has to.
The best thing I did was to have a little notebook all the time - these little soft-cover Moleskine books fit in your back pocket, and travel easily.
When you’re in a bass-season of playing, and working towards performances or lessons, your own ideas and work can move to a back burner. That’s fine. Every idea - song ideas, transcription ideas, crazy rhythm ideas, desires to learn new techniques, things you want to improve on the instrument - all of it goes into the notebook.
When things slow down, and lessons stop, and there’s more personal time - when you’re in the focused practice - personal goals season, you can go back to working on all the things you saw/noticed/experienced/wanted to work on during that hectic performance season.
Then - when you have a moment, you can check in on the notebook. All the thoughts are there, and you can address it with some time and patience.
So. A lengthy perspective - but something worth trying, maybe? Best of luck in all the playing and practicing!
That’s a great idea. Thanks for the tip, I’ll give it a shot!
for routine, i do not watch TV and I leave my bass at sight, so I try to do the 5 min trick per day and end up playing 30-45 min.
I am struggling with playing with a pick. Feels like I am playing a new instrument
I love the no TV thiing - I am alllll about killing the distractions. For me - Netflix is huge. Gotta knock that off if I want to practice.
Yes! The 5 minute trick is amazing. It’s working great for me with language right now too - I’m two weeks deep into practicing Spanish every day because the Duolingo app makes it so easy to do bite-sized bits, that I keep wanting to do it just for fun!
I’m having a specific technique struggle. I’ve been trying to nail down the riff to Black Dog for a while and I just can’t seem to get a consistent hammer on that is required. My speed is up and my timing is good but a consistent, solid hammer on/pull off is eluding me!
Ah! In search of the elusive Hammeron.
My exercise of choice was to just put on the metronome, and hang out on the fifth fret.
I’d play 5th - 7th fret hammerons with first finger to third, or to pinky.
I’d play SUPER EVEN 1/8th note hammer-ons across all strings, both directions. I find that fixing tricky hammer-on problems is (usually) a matter of repetition and focus on using control rather than momentum.
Running fast vs running down hill.
So - a slow, methodical, easily repeatable exercise to develop the muscles, and slow everything down enough to be able to feel, listen, see what exactly is going on and where the problems might be.
Once it’s perfect slow, 5 clicks faster, and so on and so on.
Then the same with pull-offs. 7th-5th fret, across all strings.
I’ve done this course twice and one other one. The problem is what to practice now?
Well, what do you want to be better at? A technique, a style of music, song you wanna learn, anything like that?
+1 to all the hammer-on advice from @Gio!
finger dexterity, my solos just sound plain and not so interesting because I just cant move fast enough to conjure good riffs. Also, I have be been playing finger-style since I started playing but now I’m learning genres like Soukous, an african style of music where its recommended that one plucks with the thumb and index finger to uses a pick. This has taken back to the days I started… I’m finding it hard.
Soukous music is gorgeous. Have a ball with that, and good on your for getting into a new genre and taking on all the obstacles that come with that!
I love plucking like that! Totally different sound than alternating index-middle.
The idea of this as a genre-specific technique led me to some YouTube investigations. From what I could see, they played with a feather-light touch! So soft!! It really looks like guitar playing, or some other mult-string instrument technique moved onto the bass.
My advice would be - try it. If it works, great. More important though would be to hear the rhythms and melodies they are playing. THAT is what is making these lines sound so cool. You could approximate that light touch in other ways, with other fingers / other positions if you wanted to try that.
You guys might want to check out Dominique DiPiazza (he played, among others, with John McLaughlin). He has a very unique plucking style.
For example, here:
@JoshFossgreen Right from the beginning of your course, I’m struggling to break a bad habit which I didn’t fully realize I had! To wit: NOT using my pinky enough. (I had a tendency to use my ring finger AND pinky together). I need to consciously work on this.
Your course is great. All best, Joe
Keeping it laid back! Keeping it Simple!!
I’m a rusher and a fill player. I push tempos like crazy, and it is my singular goal in life to sit back and lay down a simple, tasty, lovely groove. This song has been my bassline mantra for the last month.
It is helping!!
I have to confess my first reaction was a Homer Simpson-like “booooring!” But, actually, @Gio makes a real good point here. For many of us, it is quite challenging to not get tempted to play a fill or two, and whenever you play more notes, there is a tendency to rush. So, attempting to emulate the feel of this ZZ Top tune is almost a zen exercise in restraint! Switch on that metronome and let that mantra guide you…