Three ways to speed up your progress on bass guitar

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Three ways to speed up your progress on bass guitar

Words by Nick Brown

Streamline your rehearsal methods with these top tips.

Many musicians cruise along doing whatever and just working on things here and there, and often get frustrated at a lack of progress and wonder why they aren’t improving.

We all know there aren’t any real shortcuts when it comes to improving as a musician, but here are three great ideas that can help focus your playing and get quicker results.

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Get some structure

I’m all for digging deep musically and diving between as many styles as you like. However, sustained practice on a single area is one of the best ways to really achieve results.

This might include making a list with some practice topics and keeping track of your playing and time spent learning, while for others, it could be just playing the instrument for at least 20 minutes each day. Whatever it is, actually writing down this structure and making a plan can be enough to keep it relevant and in your mind.

Get feedback

Yes, listening to yourself playing is good. Unfortunately, really paying attention is often harder than you think. Of course you can hear what you’re doing, but the reality is that it’s really hard to hone in on your technique with great detail whilst physically playing the instrument.

‘Feels and Reals’ is a term used in some sports coaching to differentiate between the ‘feel’ of what you’re doing and you are ‘really’ doing. Plus, as soon as you’ve played a phrase it’s often gone from your memory.

So, what’s the answer? Record yourself! It sounds so obvious, but how often do you actually record yourself practicing and listen back with a critical ear? Time, articulation, tone – all of these are great to zero in on to hear if you’re sounding how you think you are when you’re playing

It doesn’t need to be a pro level recording DAW setup to get it done: record practice sessions
on your phone, set up a little rig for gigs, rehearsals, whatever. So many great players have done this as a way of analysing their own playing and then refining what they don’t like.

Be accountable

A good teacher is quite possibly the best thing you could do for your playing. This is someone that can help with the previous two points, as well as giving you relevant material to work on and be someone that can inspire your development.

I still think you can’t beat a dedicated teacher (in person or online) that you see regularly to make you accountable. Hopefully they inspire you to practice and you feel the drive to do the work for yourself. Share ideas with them, rehearse with them, share your practice routine and get them to check in on your progress.

Having the extra push to do the work can make a huge difference. If the end game for you is to improve, put some processes in place to help it really happen!

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