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Yeah, it's been asked before...


picker

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...but I'm asking again, so if some smart-aleck thinks this is his chance to say something like "That's already been discussed, lower form of bass player. Hahahahahaha!", can it.

 

I just took up my first band gig as a bass player in quite a while, and despite my, ah-HEM, vast knowledge and many years of "esperience", I find myself in a weird position. I'm actually playing "okay"; my time is good and I lock in with the drummer quite well(he makes it pretty easy to; Ain't working with a really good drummer fun?). I don't lose it and clam out very often, I'm getting used to the tunes, and the guys are more than happy with my work. But I'm not playing up to what was my usual standard. It shows up most when I'm playing ala extempore'. I'm thinking of lines to play a few seconds after I need to in order to actually execute them, you know what I mean? This has never happened to me before, and I'm hoping it's not the many drugs I take (TO KEEP THE VOICES FROM TELLING TO KILL CUT CUT RAZOR RAZOR ARTERY SPURT!!!!!!!), and that it's because I am rustier than I thought. So, I am looking towards the ol' woodshed, and wondering how I ought to go at it.

 

When I started out, I never actually had a structured practice time. I began on guitar by learning songs, first one, then another, and so on. By doing so, I discovered groups of chords that formed progressions, patterns that turned out to be scales, and groups of notes that turned out to be riffs and licks. I was completely entranced by this new puzzle I had found, and just dove into figuring it out. A while later, I could play.

 

I eventually realized that I had reinvented the wheel, and it wouldn't have taken anywhere near as long as it did for me to become proficient if I had taken lessons. But, on the plus side, working at the instrument was never anything as toilsome or boring as "practice" to me. It was a genuine joy to play, and I went at it like anything I enjoy; my motto is and always has been "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing." Consequently, I played a lot.

 

But I never had any real structure or method or to the madness. And being in a position where my other motto ("I WANT IT ALL AND I WANT IT NOW!") actually has at least a somewhat reasonable basis in need, I feel the need to go at it in an efficient manner, so as to get it back together in my head and fingertips without a lot of screwing around.

 

So, for those of you who have actually gone at learning the instrument correctly, how did and/or do you structure your practice time, how much did and/or do you practice every day, and what would you recommend for a guy like me?

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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I feel your pain Picker, I am in the same boat. I've been playing bass for over 45 years but playing it haphazardly (if thats a real word). I wish I had studied music in high school and college but I was too busy with fast cars and fast girls.

Now, at my age, what do I do? My memory is not what it used to be and my attention span is poor. I study theory and attempt to read music but it is a sad situation. I know, Jeremy will say get a good teacher. But, I just don't have it in me anymore. My plan is: Don't worry about it. Enjoy what I am doing and how I am doing it. I probably play well enough to play with most bands in town, except my church, (you have to read music at a very professionl level to play with those guys.) That leaves me out.

Anyway, back to your question, don't worry about it. Just enjoy every day. Think about all the schmucks that can't play as will as you do.

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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I hadn't even considered my age as a factor. CRUD! Is my lightning fast mind slowing down at 56? Have all those years of "cigareets and whusky and wild, wild women" taken their toll?? Should I reserve a room at the local raisin ranch, and start buying stock in whatever international conglomerate manufactures Depends???

 

By the way, there was a lot more cigareets and whusky than wild, wild women. That's how come the whusky!

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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That's already been discussed, lower form of bass player. Hahahahahaha!

 

Somebody had to say it. Now that that's out of the way...

 

When I was playing original music I limited my practice time to scales, chords and fingering patterns. I listened to A LOT of music and always tried to tie elements of what I was currently listening to into the music. Now almost all of my time is taken up learning new songs...tons of them.

 

Other than "take lessons" (which isn't always practical) I'd say just hammer away at the basics and get the lead out. Whatever you feel like working, do that for a while. If you're struggling to get your fingers moving fast again, practice with a metronome and keep playing a scale or something fairly simple faster and faster. You might also want to see if your drummer wants to get together once in a while to jam. It'll help you get into each others heads even better and it'll give you more time to experiment without wasting time in a band rehearsal or fumbling at a gig.

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I wouldn't automatically say "get a teacher".

 

But I would say, get some books. If you can't read music, get the easiest books you can find and force yourself. It will not be fun, it will be painful and humbling.

 

Reading music is so difficult that only kids under the age of ten can learn how to do it.

 

Did that get your dander up? Certainly you can do something that a ten year old can do.

 

Once you learn how to read, you can start going through every bass book you can get your hands on. Some of them make take a year or two. So what? You're not going anywhere. There's no time schedule.

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When I was at uni, I'd always smile at those students who'd make all these detailed schedules and planning for all the courses they needed to study. The time they spent on making (and consequently adjusting) these schedules, I spent studying.

 

These days, I have less and less time (and I'm 28 ...) so I don't even think about making a schedule for practising. I do what comes to mind and practise what the band requires - usually the latter. Yesterday I took the WAV to rehearsal for the first time and listening back to the recordings, I sound like someone who bought a bass 5 weeks ago :)

 

But that does not mean that I'll be devoting all my time solely to the upright. In fact, I have a real big urge to learn some Iron Maiden and Deep Purple tunes. By ear. And perhaps read from my country bass book while practising upright (I blanked out the tabs from the book to force me to read the notes). And I have to work with Stuart's Slap Bass book as I've been wanting to improve that as well.

 

So much to learn, so little time. And yet, like Jeremy says, what's the rush ?

"I'm a work in progress." Micky Barnes

 

The Ross Brown Shirt World Tour

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That's already been discussed, lower form of bass player. Hahahahahaha!

 

Can it, jerkweed.

 

Somebody had to say it. Now that that's out of the way...

 

It was a good joke. So was my reply...:D

 

When I was playing original music I limited my practice time to scales, chords and fingering patterns. I listened to A LOT of music and always tried to tie elements of what I was currently listening to into the music. Now almost all of my time is taken up learning new songs...tons of them.

 

What sorts of chords did you work on for bass? I throw in a few 7th diads (I think that's what two note chords are called, anyway) here and there, but I've never really worked on it.

 

Other than "take lessons" (which isn't always practical) I'd say just hammer away at the basics and get the lead out. Whatever you feel like working, do that for a while. If you're struggling to get your fingers moving fast again, practice with a metronome and keep playing a scale or something fairly simple faster and faster. You might also want to see if your drummer wants to get together once in a while to jam. It'll help you get into each others heads even better and it'll give you more time to experiment without wasting time in a band rehearsal or fumbling at a gig.

 

I'm not painfully slow, but like everybody else,I could be faster with my left hand. As far as my right hand goes, my index-middle finger alternate picking is pathetic compared to Rocco Prestia. But I do those things about as well as I ever have. My biggest problem is just remembering things I used to know how to do. When I think of them, I can do them, admittedly somewhat sloppily on some of it, but not too far off, really.

 

I probably should take lessons. But I've drilled many bad habits into my head over the years, I would probably drive a teacher nuts.

 

Thanx Davio, I will start working with a drum machine to increase speed. Maybe if I'm working on things, I'll start getting stuff back up to the front of my mind.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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You may well have already seen this at the guitar forum, Picker, but if not ...

 

Here's what I do on a regular basis.

Daily, there's not really enough time for me to do everything I'd like, so I divide my time per week.

Some days it's voice (which can--& should-- be practiced with other instruments but also deserves it's own focus [*]), somedays keyboards, somedays guitar, somedays other things. Those rotate.

 

Each day's divided into an early morning & late afternoon/early evening period.

You don't really want to get into marathons; they have limited effect over just 1/2 hour or hour sessions. When you are learning things, a few times through them, repeated often is better than a long set of repetitions.

 

I start the mornings with free-form improv to take advantage of mental & physical "freshness" & to loosen up.

That's followed by fingering but on the guitar I try some exercises learned from a Matt Blackett article, which have to do with both gently warming up & forcing new uses of fretting fingers.

[see this thread for the exercises...but the gist of it is (1)starting by playing higher on the neck, so fingers don't have such a strech before they're limbered up & (2) not using the forefinger, as a way to force the use of other fingers & to explore different fingerings]

https://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads...ise#Post1973981

 

 

After that I play a song I'm familiar with but do so with as much expression as I can muster...but I do it as a performance, i.e., I don't start over if I feel something could be better.

Sometimes learning can be helped by focusing on fragments but sometimes that can be a distraction from continuity.

I never play anything more than twice per session; if it needs more improvement, too much repetition means I'm likely to "learn my mistakes".

 

In evenings I work on learning new things; new music or techniques & reading.

Brain studies suggest that most of us learn better when new things are closely followed by sleep, which gives the subconscious brain oportunity to review the new knowledge.

So each day's a mix of pure play, refinement & working on something new.

 

Of course everyone has their own preferences & even if there might be an advantage to doing things one way or another, whether as suggested here or by a player in GP, etc., things only work for us if we're comfortable leaning in that manner.

 

I would suggest, though, that while long term goals are good b/c learning's a lifelong activity, that one make sure that they don't let things be put off.

Every day should take you a little way into something new.

 

[*]BTW, nothing will better ingrain your relative pitch sense than singing along with what you play...& I'm beginning to think that it's the trick in developing one's neglected absolute pitch sense, as well.

 

 

d=halfnote
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I feel like learning to play simplistic jazz charts proficiently, spontaneously, and unconsciously is one of the most beneficial things any bass player can do for themselves.

 

If you can't already do that, learning to do so will make your ability to come up with good lines on the spot 100 times better. I'm serious. If it's not already in your skill set to do so, get a copy of an album like Kind Of Blue and take songs like "So What" and just run them down over and over and over and think of all of the ways you can walk over it. Whoa--suddenly you've got the Dorian mode under you fingers and can slip in and out of it whenever you want. Now work on songs that are similarly easy but use the Ionian, Mixolydian, and Aeolian as well--those are the "highest traffic" modes IME.

 

Does this mean you'll start playing Paul Chambers lines over every song you ever play, after you work on this? Nah! It's most likely that you'll never do anything like that. However you will be able to do two things very well: 1) recall notes and shapes that fit with a common chord in a split second; 2) use any of these notes at will without detracting the slightest bit from the groove.

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Can it, jerkweed.

You're a jerkweed. :grin:

If the band is happy with you then you do have the time to get organized so you can get back up to snuff. Jeremy's suggestion of learning to read can only help. Between what he and Joshua said I am encouraged to do that myself.

Play every day for 30 min to an hour and incorporate some fast licks in there somewhere. I find that if I don't play every day I have trouble keeping up at the jams with the boys who play all the time. You'll get there picker.

 

Visit my band's new web site.

 

www.themojoroots.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Until very recently, every bass player was self-taught, myself included.

 

Maybe some of them had lessons on another instrument, possibly even some classical bass lessons, but no one taught bass line construction. No one taught how to play rock, jazz or funk bass. There were no decent books until the mid-seventies.

 

It's really the same for all the jazz horn players. People learned how to play by listening, copying and trying to make sense of what they were learning.

 

Even classical theory (which I studied after I already was a professional bass player) was developed after the music which it describes had been created.

 

You can figure out by yourself what you need to know in order to play the music that you want to play. And nowadays, if you get stuck on something and know how to ask the proper question, you can find someone who will be able to give you the answer, or even better, who will steer you in a direction which will enable you to find the answer for yourself.

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Sorry I can't be of much help here. My practice schedule admittedly is genuinely crappy. I'll noodle around with a technique or just to get my fingers going or I'll work on a song the band wants to do or I need brushing up on. Probably why I'm still a hack after 30 years of playing.

Lydian mode? The only mode I know has the words "pie ala" in front of it.

http://www.myspace.com/theeldoradosband

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Sorry I can't be of much help here. My practice schedule admittedly is genuinely crappy. I'll noodle around with a technique or just to get my fingers going or I'll work on a song the band wants to do or I need brushing up on. Probably why I'm still a hack after 30 years of playing.

 

My practice schedule sucks too, I try to make up for it by playing with people who are a lot better than me. It's about the only way I've ever gotten better...

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A suggestion to those learning to read on their own would be to split up the rhythm and pitch. Get a book for drummers to learn the rhythms and start off playing one note over the rhythms. Learn scales and such to get used to recognizing and remembering the notes on the staff. Then put the two together.

 

I didn't take music courses in school and taught myself to read after already playing a few years as a traveling musician on the road. I may not be able to sight-read everything but I can take a piece of music and learn from it.

 

Wally

I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
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