Bass Lesson 2: Practising

Stop practising by playing boring material!

Love what you play when practising!

Practising: 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 happy about the time they spend on studying. Usually this means that they believe they should practice much more and play their study material all day long. Material that makes you sick if you have to listen to it for more than five minutes. They love playing bass and firmly believe this is the only way. But this way studying equals torture.

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. Playing should be fun! Always play something you like and you will be happily make time for your instrument, even when you are a busy person (as everybody seems to be). If you want to play well, just play, don’t work. So let us throw all depressing studying material into the wastepaper basket (except of course if you enjoy playing this stuff – some people seem to do) and say goodbye to the bass teachers who demand that you play this.

Play your favorite music when practicing! After all, you probably started playing the bass after because you were moved by a particularly beautiful bass part. Why not play that very same piece?

After playing for a while, you will hear something in your playing that you believe you can do better. Spend a few minutes trying to improve that – just for a few minutes, no more, except (again) if you’re having a great time. Think how you would like to play that part and just try. Maybe you’ll find a way to improve your playing immediately, maybe you’ll discover a technical problem. This probably means that you are tense or that you do not precisely hear in your head what is is you want to play. You’ll have to learn to relax more while playing (see lesson 1) and it is a good idea to sing along with what you are playing (you can do this in your head).

I do not mean to suggest that it is never good to practise the way it is suggested by most manuals. If you like to practise this way, by all means do so. But never practice this way if you hate it, for you will start to hate your instrument, which means that you will not practice enough and play worse than before. Then you will hate the bass even more.

If you have a teacher, it is wise to demand interesting material. If he does not comply, find another teacher. Otherwise you are wasting your time and you are learning to hate bass playing.

Why are people so intent 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 will 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 us believe life is beautiful. Let us believe that it is fun to play the bass, that we don’t have to work hard to become great bass players, that we don’t have to practise terribly boring material, but that we can and should only play material that makes us happy!

You may find this link about practising interesting.

And this one to.

contrabas
contrabas
practising: the Baumgarten bass

The video below is not exactly about this subject, but I believe it is very interesting.