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A Little Trick that Works Wonders: Check, please!

A Little Trick that Works Wonders: Check, please!

check please - practice habits music theory for the bass player

Check it out, one of the questions I get a lot is

“How much time do I need to devote to practice?”

Most folks expect my answer to be something like “6 hours/day minimum, 7 days/week… ya know: eat, sleep and drink the bass, right?”

But the truth is a lot can be achieved by practicing the right way for 30-45 minutes, 5 days a week.

The right way is key – I have met many bassists who had clearly put the hours in, in bands or on their own, yet, they were frustrated by a plateau.

This here post is not about the right practice, but if you are in my course or have read my book, you have come across some of the “tricks” I use and recommend:
  • My PORA Technique (Practicing using the Principles of Rotating Attention)
  • Bite-sized, doable and well-thought-out practice units
  • Keeping track in a practice journal
  • A systematic, step-by-step approach
  • Learning to be your own coach

The point of this post is a simple idea that will help you stay on track: checkmarks!

Get yourself a cheap wall calendar. Each day you practice, put a big red (in my example) check mark on the calendar. Do the same (with a black check) for your intended and planned days off. The off-days should never be back to back.

  • Step 1 – Make a plan: make a time-limited plan that is doable, reasonable and will get you results. I recommend 30 to 45 minutes five times a week of a good course.
  • Step 2 – Commit to your plan. Say it out loud. Tell somebody. Post it on a forum. “I will practice in a focused way for at least 30 minutes five times a week.”
  • Step 3 – Do it.
  • Step 4: Put a big fat checkmark on your wall calendar to celebrate the occasion! Congratulate yourself. Do a little Happy Dance. You earned it.

Now never break the chain of checks! 

If you are part of a cohort, we do this together. We even include commitment/planning and post homework.

Yes, it’s very cool. In the cohort, it looks like this:

Never break the chain of checkmarks! Enjoy!


PS: Remember, the keys to success are:
  • Make the required activity small*
  • Make sure to high-five yourself when you achieved your small goal
  • A visual proof in front of your eyes: ✅

My Music Theory course gives you small, bite-sized nuggets of information and practice tasks that move you forward incrementally (without wearing you out along the way!). It just makes sense that “doing the doable” is going to be much more effective than “trying and failing” to complete tasks that are too difficult or time consuming.

So get your calendar and markers ready to go in your music room.

One day at a time, one week at a time, and one check mark at a time.

Keep that chain of check marks unbroken!

And guess what? 10, 20, 30, 40 weeks from now you are going to look back and smile because you can see how much you have improved! Let’s do this!!

Also, check out these blog posts:

*To start out you can even use a technique such as tinyhabits.com – check it out, it’s free! Note: a 30-minute practice routine is not a tinyhabits method, but tinyhabits can get you there.

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