If you have been following my prescriptions for good bass technique you have come across my recommendations for permutation exercises (powerful technique exercises to get your fingers nimble and moving independently from each other, yet in sync with your plucking hand); check out the basics of permutation exercises here, a few variations to permutation exercises, and how to do them if you struggle in lower registers of the instrument. There are many ways how you can do permutations, so here is one other way: I call them “pivot” perms.
The idea of the pivot is that we keep returning to the same finger throughout, and also place it on a different string. Here is a whole series on pivot perms. They will get your fingers moving and grooving, also with an application in the last episode of the three.
I often hear discussions about these types of exercises:
- doubt about their usefulness – wouldn’t it be better to play some songs or music instead?
- or worry how dangerous they are – will they break my fingers and give me tendonitis?
- or maybe just how boring they are – not at all if done right!
Do yourself a favor and just do them.
- Stop wondering, just do them and your songs will sound better.
- Will they break your fingers? No chance! Not if you relax. Tension is the problem; learn to monitor for tension and let go of it. Permutation exercises give you the perfect opportunity to do just that! Pivot permutations are great for practicing relaxed playing!
- If they are boring to you, you need to do something about that – use the PORA method and you will be sweating these little exercises mentally!
Three times for three minutes a day is plenty and your technique, tone, and playing comfort will soar. Also, your speed, if that is important to you. And, your phrasing, if you tune your ear to it.
These seemingly innocent exercises help you to stop fighting against yourself and let your music flow.