Jump to content
Nickthebass

How do you structure practice time?

Recommended Posts

Ok BassChat hive mind ... I need some advice on how to structure practice time.

There are lots of useful things that could be done in each session (transcription, technique, time, scales and harmony etc.) and ideally you should hit them all on a regular basis.

Is it more productive to do a little bit of multiple things in each session or to focus on one thing per day in each session? 
 

For example ...

15 mins each on technique, scales, shifting between subdivisions and walking through a jazz standard or ... 

Monday is just technique, Tuesday is just subdivisions, Wednesday is just major scales in broken 3rds, Thursday is walking on Autumn Leaves etc...

Thoughts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I structure my practice time by writing down what I’m working on at the time, and I break it down into sections like, modes and scales 15 minutes , pentatonics 15 minutes, speed exercises 15 minutes etc, if I find any weaknesses I increase the time each day until I’m happy, for me it’s important to write everything down otherwise I just end up noodling and learning nothing 🙂

               

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It’s an interesting question. I used to write everything down, but I found it was draining the enjoyment out of learning, so now I roughly do the following (this is DB)

5 - 10 minutes warm up, scales and exercises from Simandl book to improve intonation.

10 minutes of ii v I working on a different approach each time (chromatic, scale approach, dominant approach, targeting the 3rd etc)

One exercise from a book (at the moment I have the Bopland licks book which is amazing)

Play something I want to.

This is usually the process I follow, but some days I’ll just turn on the iPad and play through an album I like. Currently really enjoying the Laura Marling album.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A big part of practice is down to where you are in your playing and what you want to achieve.

Personally, a lot of my practice involves grabbing a book like Chord Studies for Electric Bass, or Janek Gwizdala's ii-V-I and playing through them. By doing that, you're working on reading, arpeggios, technique, and time.

Even if you don't like Jazz, Real Books are a goldmine for practicing. You can read the melody, walk and solo through the changes using chord tones and scales, work on techniques because a lot of the melodies don't always fall naturally on the bass.

I've never liked to set a time limit to my practice sessions. For me, if I'm focusing on a specific exercise, it takes as long as it takes. If I try to seperate it in to 15-30 minute sections, I don't feel like I'm getting enough chance to really dive in and study any particular thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Generally I’ll do theory at random throughout the day. (Lunch breaks at work etc). TheN15 minutes on scales and scale shapes . 15 minutes practicing a certain technique. 15 minutes improv with a drum beat. Then play along with a few songs. Generally whatever I feel like at the time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Reggaebass said:

I structure my practice time by writing down what I’m working on at the time, and I break it down into sections like, modes and scales 15 minutes , pentatonics 15 minutes, speed exercises 15 minutes etc, if I find any weaknesses I increase the time each day until I’m happy, for me it’s important to write everything down otherwise I just end up noodling and learning nothing 🙂

               

Same for me

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't. I do what I can when I can as there's too much else going on in life.  I don't study as such but learn by following online lessons, mainly Mark Smith's Talking Bass and SBL and Rick Beato's YT channel for theoretical stuff.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once our band set list is learned i will pick something to work on that taxes me a little bit more otherwise i will faff about for a bit and get fed up.

Usually its something from Bilbo's collections.

That also keeps my interest in practicing especially under current climate.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m probably a little more simplistic in my approach, I learn the songs I want to play then I play them. It’s probably why I’m not as good on the bass as I should be, but I can play what I need to do I’ll settle for that.

  • Like 9

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finger exercises and warm up for around 15 minutes with the metronome. Then arpeggios, walking around the fretboard singing the notes with my eyes closed, and then i'll open the book that I'm learning at the time. At the end I may do some jamming to varying rhythms and time signatures with the metronome or a drum track so that i put into practice inversions, quickly finding the notes and intervals on the neck and making up basslines.

Edited by TheLowDown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Lozz196 said:

I’m probably a little more simplistic in my approach, I learn the songs I want to play then I play them. It’s probably why I’m not as good on the bass as I should be, but I can play what I need to do I’ll settle for that.

Ditto for me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is this 'practise' of which you speak..? :scratch_one-s_head:

...

...

:lol:

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Dad3353 said:

What is this 'practise' of which you speak..? :scratch_one-s_head:

...

...

:lol:

^ this ^

When in a covers band I learn songs but I don't practice.  Sometimes I'll learn a song for fun but rarely on bass.  When writing originals I normally start with whats popped into my head - it might be a lyric, a bass line or a lead line. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Lozz196 said:

I’m probably a little more simplistic in my approach, I learn the songs I want to play then I play them. It’s probably why I’m not as good on the bass as I should be, but I can play what I need to do I’ll settle for that.

This is pretty much exactly what I do.  Not sure how much better I am going to get but hopefully I won't get any worse :) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Generally I play along with records / YouTube / demos etc. I play a lot at the moment but my practice is definitely geared towards what I need to know, rather than some quest to be better. That said, on a semi regular basis, I try to teach myself a new trick to keep my playing fresh. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Lozz196 said:

I’m probably a little more simplistic in my approach, I learn the songs I want to play then I play them. It’s probably why I’m not as good on the bass as I should be, but I can play what I need to do I’ll settle for that.

If I get around to picking up my bass this is what I do. I just learn songs I need to learn or want to learn.

For the last 10 years if I've been in a band it's been a covers band so that's all I need. The originals band I was in was a bit like being in a covers band as most of the material had been written before I joined.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm terrible at practicing. Back in the days when gigs were a thing, I'd learn whatever new songs we were going to try in the set. More often than not, we'd agree a few new songs at the weekend, give them a bash at rehearsal on Wednesday and gig those that worked out on the Saturday. 

Practice would start by listening to the songs on Spotify which travelling to work, then I'd spend some time learning the bass part as closely as possible before rehearsing with the band.

I studied music as secondary school, and learned a reasonable amount of theory back then. But I can't remember the last time  I worked on scales, arpeggios or anything. 

I honestly feel that gigging regularly (25-30 times per year) has done much more for my ability than any specific theory, scales or technique exercises ever did.

In saying that, I've often toyed with getting a tutor or signing up for a Scott Device course or something similar. I've no doubt plateaued, but  I tell myself that my playing's good enough to get me through three hour sets a couple of times a month without stress, so what more do I need? Perhaps if I find myself financially stable enough to quit the day job my perspective will change.

George

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The way I see practice structuring advice is that it's something that heavily, heavily depends on the person, what they play/like to play and how their character is.

At the end of the day, it just depends on what someone wants out of their music playing.

If you're someone who's happy with not knowing why things sound the way they do, and are happy knowing the songs in your set to do your 30-50 gigs per year to enjoy having fun with your mates, there is no reason for you to spend any time on theory/modes/scales/read charts/etc... You will never need that knowledge applied in any way (you're never going to jam to an improvised tune which is not part of your set or follows the same standard), nobody is ever going to put a chart in front of you, you will have the time of your life and enjoy playing you covers/music. To do this, commitment to theory and structured practice is a big old zero.

For EVERYONE ELSE who does NOT fit into the above category, I would suggest to add some degree of structured practice. Coming from a classical studies background (and having let that slip for the past...10 years, and my technical playing is now completely shite because of that) I know the benefits of such a thing, trusting the process and so forth. However, structure has to change based on you. In any structured routine, something that is vital and necessary is to play some actual music you like/are learning during the session. You just keep going at your scales for a month straight without anything else in between, you will get burned out. (This excludes people that tend to have a more obsessive behaviour, for which structured practice is a blessing instead). 

However the point I want to make is that neither approach makes you an inherently better musician. Plenty of cats never learned how to play a phrygian when called for, and they're among the best players in the business. They still play the fricking phrygian, they just don't know how it's called. They know how it sounds. 

On the other hand, plenty of people deep in technicalities and with plenty of theoretic knowledge, never played with a live band before and would fall down to their knees at the first drum fill. 

Obviously I'm talking extremes here for the sake of example, and the best is in most cases somewhere in between. I've just in the past few months started adding structured practice again, and I tend to do 20/30ish minutes of modes/arpeggios to warm up, then a bit of note hunting on the fretboard (learning some spots I never did learn), then pratice whatever music/songs I'm wanting to study or play for an hour or two (or whatever it takes, longer when I'm learning something complex by ear), and follow up with some slow chords practice at the end. The idea is that the songs/music/learn new material takes still the majority of practice time - with an unchangeable head to the session (modes/arpeggios/scales) - a variable middle (songs to learn/pratice/etc) - and a variable ending (currently on chords but can be any other technique you want to be working on). This should keep my fingers and mind limber and allow me to have plenty of fun both in the music I'm playing and the techniques I'm studying. As always, progress is bite size, but visible and very rewarding. 

So in closure, I'm very pro structured practice sessions, however I do not deem them necessary for someone to be a good musician. As long as we understand each other when we're playing together and it works and sounds great.

As the good ol' Vic would say: "The objective is getting you to learn the language of music. How you get there is almost irrelevant, as long as you do" :)

Peace!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Im pretty chilled with my approach to practice. The only rigid, inviolable rule is that I must do an hour a day.

Today I chucked my playlist on random and played along for 60 minutes. Yesterday I was sweating reading music trying  to learn a new choon for half an hour, then just played for another half an hour.  A few days before that I did 20 minutes of scales, and then played for 40 mins.

I try and make sure that all aspects get a roughly even rotation, but nothing is set in stone.  I do it for fun and id be worried that if I got too regimented over it then itd lose some of its shine,

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, akabane said:

Plenty of cats never learned how to play a phrygian when called for

Most bands I've played with have less formal music knowledge than I do and wouldn't know a phrygian mode if it cropped when they started jamming something. The chances of me "needing" to play phrygian are pretty remote although no doubt I end up doing it sometimes. 

I agree it depends on the type of player that you are but as a guitarist turned bass player I tend to visualise the chord on my fretboard and pick out the chord tones to form a bass line or a lead line.  This doesn't require me to "know" my modes although I'll sometimes backtrack and try to figure out what the hell it was that I played over the progression but actually I'm not sure it matters much if it sounds good.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Nicko said:

Most bands I've played with have less formal music knowledge than I do and wouldn't know a phrygian mode if it cropped when they started jamming something. The chances of me "needing" to play phrygian are pretty remote although no doubt I end up doing it sometimes. 

I agree it depends on the type of player that you are but as a guitarist turned bass player I tend to visualise the chord on my fretboard and pick out the chord tones to form a bass line or a lead line.  This doesn't require me to "know" my modes although I'll sometimes backtrack and try to figure out what the hell it was that I played over the progression but actually I'm not sure it matters much if it sounds good.

Exactly. Which is why nobody really *needs* to know that theory side of those things, as long as one learned how and when to slot them into the music! :)

Edited by akabane

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Bassfinger said:

Im pretty chilled with my approach to practice. The only rigid, inviolable rule is that I must do an hour a day.

Today I chucked my playlist on random and played along for 60 minutes. Yesterday I was sweating reading music trying  to learn a new choon for half an hour, then just played for another half an hour.  A few days before that I did 20 minutes of scales, and then played for 40 mins.

I try and make sure that all aspects get a roughly even rotation, but nothing is set in stone.  I do it for fun and id be worried that if I got too regimented over it then itd lose some of its shine,

I see people talk a lot about playing along with the radio, playlists etc. Would love to be able to do that.....do you mean these are songs you already know how to play or do you figure out the key on the fly and improvise along?

Thanks for any advice

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Ado said:

I see people talk a lot about playing along with the radio, playlists etc. Would love to be able to do that.....do you mean these are songs you already know how to play or do you figure out the key on the fly and improvise along?

Thanks for any advice

Playing along to a song does not require you to know the key.  Learn to identify intervals and you will be able to play along just fine, although a knowledge of the key is useful if you are planning to improvise its more a case of hearing what sounds good.  Plenty of "correct" notes from a given key will sound pretty awful in the wrong place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Ado said:

I see people talk a lot about playing along with the radio, playlists etc. Would love to be able to do that.....do you mean these are songs you already know how to play or do you figure out the key on the fly and improvise along?

Thanks for any advice

They're songs I already know. I sweated them the hard way by reading the music, with a little bit of ear learning thrown in, and then practiced until I could play them blindfolded. There are about 400 songs.on my playlist that I can play at least competently.

I'm not intuitive enough to simply listen to it once and than bang out a bassline.  I need to sweat it the hard way, but that's like pilots - the ones that work at it, do their learning and practice diligently are usually better pilots than those with a natural talent for stick and rudder.  That's not an iron clad rule, but generally speaking those who who have to do it the hard way are usually more competent at the end of the process.

I love music but I'm not a natural, intuitive musician, so I have to work at everything I do. As a result I'm doubtless better than it I'd just picked it up and instantly figured it out, because I wouldn't have had the need to develop myself.

Or maybe I'm talking bollards? Who knows?

Edited by Bassfinger

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Ado said:

I see people talk a lot about playing along with the radio, playlists etc. Would love to be able to do that.....do you mean these are songs you already know how to play or do you figure out the key on the fly and improvise along?

Thanks for any advice

When I was younger it was literally turning on the radio (usually the Top 40) and trying to play every song that came on, most of which I didn't know. It was a big help in being able to busk songs on gigs years later.  It's great for your ear training, and you start to recognise chord progressions, and common bass patterns. It's great for your repertoire too- you never know when someone might call a certain song and if you have at least a rough idea of how it goes, you can get through it even if you've never sat down to learn it properly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...