Why should I practice Technique? Isn’t it a waste of time and much better to practice songs instead?
Whenever I heard that argument I used to throw my hands up and say – I don’t even know where to begin!
It seems that saying – Nike style – “just do it” is a faster way to get an answer to this question than trying to put this reasoning into words. But it is a fair question, so I sat down and did think about where to begin…
The thing about tech practice is,
it tends to have a bad rap in the electric bass world. When I studied classical upright, piano, flute and the others, there was no question about the value of practicing technique. Some teachers would even go to such great lengths that they would forbid any kind of “song” playing until a technique milestone was reached. Now that, in my book, is overdoing the importance of technique a bit.
I remember when I started playing piano
my teachers had this terrible contraption that they would hang around my neck (it was made of paper that would connect to the book on the piano so the student could not see the fingers on the keys! It was a bit of a torture, and what they had me play in that book did not sound very good to boot. But it did help me find my keys without looking very fast and effectively.
No worries, I am not suggesting drapes around your neck or blankets over your bass neck… but:
How can we do useful tech exercises, keep them fun, musical, applicable and practical?
- why I love tech exercises
- several unexpected advantages they provide such as a welcome change of pace and not getting tired of the music
- how tech can aid learning in chunks and hence memorizing
- how these exercises develop discipline, set the mood and boost confidence
- the musical elements of tech practice – how technique exercises help us make sense of musical elements and help us keep the music flowing by singling out the technical challenges
- the high musical relevance of technical exercises
- the power of relaxed playing
and much more. This article is an easy, bullet-point, 10-minute read that contains lots of additional links and resources. Check it all out, do a few exercises for a few minutes over the course of a few days and then let me know if you are still thinking about
- whether doing technique exercises is useless or powerful,
- boring or a fun challenge,
- musically a waste of time or rather musically highly relevant…
What do you think?
The featured image of this post is from my book, Music Theory for the Bass Player – yes, it is a theory book, but when talking theory on the fretboard it is prudent to do these fingerings with good technique, so there is lots of technique info in the book.
Good bass technique in my view can be summarized by following a few simple principles. We are all built differently so some details vary from person to person, while others stay the same and are quite accessible – check out this handy learn-graph!.
To change bad habits fast and effectively, check out my PORA technique.
Technique practice does not need to be complicated! As Nike says – Just do it!
To practice technique systematically with me (just pop in the video and practice along) check out the Finger Kung Fu section of my Course, Music Theory for the Bass Player; 20 units chock full of technique, theory and bass line creation!