It is important to start off playing the bass or any musical instrument on the right foot. Bad habits can develop quickly from improper left/right hand technique or misconceptions of musical concepts. It is far easier to learn correct technique from the get go then having to break bad habits.
So what should you expect from your first lessons on the bass? When I start with a new student the first thing we will cover will be all the parts of the instrument. From the headstock to the bridge we discuss the terminology and purpose of the various parts of the bass. Next we will focus on exercises for both the left and right hand, with a focus on achieving the desired hand placement/position. Once we have both hands starting to work in unison we will begin a basic song at same time continuing to focus on proper technique. Once we have a few songs under our belt I always encourage my students to bring in a song that inspires them to want to play the bass.
Setting goals and practice routine
As you start your lessons we will discuss what is the end goal of these lessons. It maybe to be able to play with friends, start a band or playing the bass is just something you always wanted to do. Whatever your end goals is establishing waypoints for the coming months or year not only gives you something to strive for, but more importantly will provide you a path to look back on to see how far you have progressed in the learning process.
The most important part of achieving these goals is having a great practice routine. This will very from student to student based on individual needs but will break down into the following category’s:
This can include playing through your scales or any other etudes your teacher has giving you. It is an excellent time to go SLOW!(a mantra of Music Teachers) I personally concentrate on a skill for left hand and a skill for my right hand in this phase of my practicing.
After you have warmed up it is time to enter the nitty gritty portion of your practicing. It is during this portion where you will concentrate on certain aspects of the piece you are practicing, be it intonation, mastering a difficult left hand passage, or correctly playing a complex rhythm.
You need to break down the song into manageable sections so as to not get over whelmed by the whole piece(see the trees through the forest grasshopper). Mastering a section of song is far more useful then playing through the entire song just to say you got through it even though you made multiple mistakes along the way. Once you can navigate the difficult passages then put the song back to together and see if you can play through it in its entirety. This may take multiple practice sections.
It is during this period when playing with a metronome is very important. Keep track of your tempos, always starting below the end goal a gradually working you way up to it by 5-10 bpm intervals.
Review of Old Material-
I liken this to keeping tunes in your fingers or mind it does not to be every tune you know but songs that you enjoy the bass part to. This is another excellent opportunity to work on technique while not having to worry about learning the song. It is during this portion of your practice session where you can work on the groove or feel of the piece. Are you able to internalize the rhythmic feel?
One Final Note
Try to always come to your lesson armed with questions for your teacher. Write down anything through out the week that you are not sure of or want to know the answer to/more about. These questions will help your music teacher steer the your lessons into topic’s that are of interest to you.
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