Practice tips & thoughts

What is your goal?
  • You want to be an allround player that can play many styles of music and techniques?
  • Or do you just want to be good in your preferred style of music?
How many hours should you practice?
  • Well how much time do you have to your disposal? Work, school, children, husbands, wifes take their cut...
  • Also depends on your ambition - se previous.
How to practice Do it on a regular basis, preferably every day from 30 minutes to 6 hours (!). Find a certain time of the day where you can concentrate and not get disturbed by the outside world - i get up early in the morning (when my work schedual permit) and do 1 to 4 hours practicing. Start with the "boring" stuff (i kinda like it though), playing scales , arpeggios, chords. Go here for specific scale practice advice I usually set my alarm clock to 10 minute intervals - then i play a certain exercise for that time period before moving on to something different, makes it easier for me when i have to "obey" the alarm 😀 Always practice with a rhythm device - metronome, rhythm machine, software drum machine ( free soft drummachine Hammerhead ). NEW! Ive recorded some drum patterns from my drum machine, go listen HERE Play everything slow at first, dont speed up until you can play your lines with fluidity and in perfect time. Keep track of your progress - keep a ledger with your practice routines/goals and maybe write in tempos. Get some accompagment software or gadget to practice to - nice alternative to simple rhythm or metronome beat and you get chords and harmony to play to
  • Band in a box software where You plot in chords and pick a style. An example could be: Make a song with i.e Major 7 chords in all 12 keys (8 bars each), and practice your scales, arpeggios, licks to that.
  • A free online alternative to Band in a box on - click on the menu item track builder
Music minus one (bass) recordings - same examples below:
  • Ultimate playalong by John Patitucci level 2 - you play with Mike Stern, Dave Weckl and other heavy players
  • Francis Rocco Prestia - Sittin in with Rocco Prestia - you play with the Tower of power rhythm section!
  • Jamtracks - different styles can be purchased
Eartraining - which is what you should practice every day.
  • Learn /transcribe songs you "lift off" albums by ear, start with easy ones - simple blues, rock, pop songs with few chords and simple rhythms ie "stand by me", "knocking on heavens door", "Walkin on sunshine", "one of us"...
  • Dont limit yourself listenening and learning from bassplayers only, listens to singers, guitarists, pianists, hornplayers, banjoplayers....well, on second thought...;-).
Transcribing music from albums If you get tired of hitting the pause button again and again, there's more practical solutions
  • A really good software "trainer" / transcribing program is TRANSCRIBE , it allows you to loop sections, slow the tempo down and keeping the pitch intact (timestretching its called), cancel the bass and many other great features.
  • The Korg Pandora PX4D and the newer Korg Pandora PX5D has builtin a "slow music down" feature too if you prefer hardware
Record yourself
  • And listen back with critical ears.
  • Make youtube videos (not war), it'll make you even more critical, when you have an audience.
  • "Steal and incorporate" , your idols - had idols - had idols... they borrowed licks, riffs and basslines from. Its ok to take material and transform it into your own stuff, but do not fall into the trap of only listening and learning from a single artist, I actually heard several cd's with bassists playin their "own" compositons, but totally "copycatting" Marcus Miller's tone, playingstyle, composing style, you name it! And the funny thing, the players are awesome - technical and playingwise. But you dont care, you'd rather put on a Marcus Miller cd. **DISCLAIMER! I myself "copycat" (tone, style , songs) certain songs on youtube but only for education or exercise purposes, as we should learn from the great landmark Bassplayers, but i would never pass it as my own.**
  • And try all kinds of music, even if you have a favorite style (i like funky stuff)
Learn to read music A little goes a long way, go to the library and borrow everything written for the bass clave ; doublebass, cello, trombone, tuba... There's a lot of easy classical pieces that is fun to play, and if you have a bassplaying friend you can read together and play duets, its very effective (and fun) when you're two, you know right away when you (or your friend) make a mistake.Play with as many bands you can get into, always play with people at the same level or better than you. Dont say no to a gig or experience. Be willing to play for free (until you're so good they'll have to pay you). Join the bassplayer forum, you can find a lot of answers to technique, exercises, theory.... Practice the Homer Simpson way Practicing technical "no brain" related exercises while watching TV are possible - I frequently just lie on my sofa watching a movie while practicing various right hand finger plucking methods, just getting into the "automatic" mode - ie thumb, index, middle, ring - thumb, index, middle, ring, again and again for hours and hours (or a movie's length) HAVE FUN!