Bass lesson

Lesson 1 Relaxation
Lesson 2 Practicing
Lesson 3 Playing fast
Lesson 4 Plucking
Lesson 5 Walking bass
Lesson 6 Ethics in jazz
Lesson 7 Bass solo
Lesson 8 Your story
Lesson 9 Listening
Lesson 10 Mistakes
Lesson 11 Questions
Lesson 12 Standards
Lesson 13 Rehearsing
Lesson 14 Tensions
Lesson 15 Timing
Lesson 16 Price/Quality
Lesson 17 Taking lessons
Lesson 18 AABA
Lesson 19 Your own style
Lesson 20 Basic theory
Lesson 21 Modulating
Lesson 22 Rapid changes
Lesson 23 The left hand


Lesson 2 Practicing

A commonly believed myth about becoming a great bass player, is that it is necessary to play the same boring material for hours at an end. Most musicians are nor satisfied about the time they spend on studying. Usually this means that they believe they should practice material all day long that would make you sick if you had to listen to it for more than five minutes.


I believe the contrary: if you want to become a good musician, find material that really interests you. It should not be a punishment to play on your bass; you’re doing this for your enjoyment. You’re not playing to torture yourself, it should give you great pleasure! Always play something you like playing and you’ll make time for your instrument, even if you’re a very busy person. If you want to play well, just play, don’t work on it. So lets throw all the depressing material by for instance Simandel or Rufus Reid into the wastepaper basket, except of course if you enjoy playing this stuff.

So play your favorite music when practicing. After all, you probably started playing the bass after being moved by particularly beautiful bass playing. Why not play that very same piece? After playing for a short period, you’ll hear something that you believe you could do better. Spend a few minutes trying to improve your playing – a few minutes, no more, except if you’re having a great time. Think how you would like to play this and just try. Maybe you’ll find a way to improve your playing immediately, maybe you’ll discover a technical problem. This probably means you’re tense. You’ll have to learn to relax more while playing (see lesson 1).

I do not mean to suggest that it is never good to practice the way it is suggested by most manuals. If you like to practice this way, by all means do so. But never practice this way if you hate it, for you’ll start to hate your instrument, which means you’ll play worse than before. If you’ve got a teacher, it is wise to demand interesting material. If he does not comply, find another teacher. You’re wasting your time and learning to hate bass playing.

Why are people so keen on making bass playing their personal hell? This may have something to do with the puritan, Christian background a lot of us have. If so, you’ll probably believe something like this on a subconscious level: there is a lot of terrible work to be done, life is a form of punishment, we’re not on earth to enjoy ourselves and in the end we’ll have to die in order to go to heaven and earn the right to be happy. Brrrrr! Shall we try to stop thinking this way? Let’s believe life is beautiful instead. Lets believe that its fun to play the bass, that we don’t have to work hard to become great bass players, that we don’t have to practice on terribly boring material, but that we should only play material that makes us happy!

I think this way – will you join me?

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