Tips For Practicing Difficult Passages For Double Bass, Bass Guitar, Mandolin and Ukulele

 Decipher What Is The Problem Section

 Once you find the section/s that is causing you trouble analyze the area to determine what aspect of the passage is tripping you up.  If it is the rhythm of the section clap the rhythm along with your metronome, draw lines to show where the beat is.  If it is your left hand, figure out if you are using the best fingering for that particular passage.  For double bassists If you are always out of tune on the shift practice the shift until it is a natural fluid movement remembering to hear the pitch inside your head. If it is your right hand, break the section down into it's various string crossings and practice those with a metronome without using your left hand.

Slow It Down

Break out the metronome and practice the section that is giving you problems slowly.  Practice with the metronome clicks being both eighth and quarter notes.  Slowing the piece down to it's eighth note pulse really helps you focus in on the rhythm of a section as well as giving you time to have your left and right hand execute properly.

Once you are ready to speed the passage back up do so at a slow and steady rate.  As little as 5 bpm to no more than 10 bpm at  time. Write down the tempo you last were successful at after practicing a section.  The next time you return to practice start below that marking and try so surpass the old tempo.  Also I have found it is good practice to be able to play things a tad faster then they are meant to be performed.  You never know when adrenaline might kick in during a performance.  

Out of Context Back Into Context

Instead of lumbering through an entire bass line or mandolin melody, take the section that trips you up and focus just on those measures.  Once you feel that you have mastered the problem area you most put the section back into the context of the whole piece taking the time to practice going into and of the problem area.

Play It Again and Again and Again

The old adage is you don't really know it until you have played something ten times correctly in a row.  If you play it flawlessly nine times and mess up on the tenth you need to start back at the beginning.  With that being said if you find yourself getting overwhelmed or frustrated with the piece or yourself walk away for five or ten minutes.  You will more often than not find yourself able to conquer the passage after you have cleared your mind.



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