White keys, black keys…
Got a question, wrote an answer. This is a very fundamental one on black keys on the piano, but nonetheless important to the bassist. Without a clear understanding how notes relate to each other it is too hard to understand theory and use it. Get the fundamentals under your belt, it’s important! And, very straightforward, actually.
I am guessing that the questioner is a pianist. Typically bassists sorting out notes and note relationships will have slightly different assumptions that sometimes lead them down confusing paths, so it is great to use the piano’s visuals to grasp this.
The piano is color coded and it is easy to assume that all black keys have an accidental but none of the white keys do. Of course that is not the case. All white keys have a sharp AND a flat name as well. I love games that involve figuring out note names. Read my answer for some ideas. If you are teaching, these are absolutely great for all ages.
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Also relevant in this context:
If you want to remember something, make it emotional
Very often we can vividly recall times/moments of our lives that were very dramatic; or loaded with emotional (good or bad) responses. This means to me that we were very deeply involved with a given situation. We were living it with great intensity. And this imprints the memory of everything that happened very strongly into our minds.
We can use this same concept in our learning. Of course we don’t want to create super dramatic situations. But we can involve as much of our entire being as is comfortably possible:
Involve all your senses, track what you are playing/learning both with your physical senses and mentally (following along in your mind, visualize).
And, most important, bring the strongest purveyor of energy into the whole experience: bring in emotions.
Feel the music:
▪ If the music has an overt emotional content or context, feel the emotion.
▪ If the music itself doesn’t seem to trigger it – maybe because you are too busy with executing the notes – conjure it up. Imagine what the feeling feels like, remember a similar situation or a scene from a movie – anything that helps you get into the emotion. And then let this energy become part of your experience.
Source: Ariane Cap’s Course, Music Theory for the Bass Player, The Course – a 20-unit course on theory, technique, bass line creation and more contains a section containing practice tips. This is one of 20 practicing tips from the course. Practicing tips are located in the OUTRO Tab of each course unit.