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Simple Exercise for Increased Bow Control on Bass
When using the bow, the natural tendency is to play louder at the frog and softer at the tip. We must, of course, counteract this predisposition on a regular basis. Simply playing a full bow with consistent timbre and volume requires it. Generally, we do this by adding pressure, via arm weight, to the bow...

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Beginning Exercise for Improving Left Hand Finger Independence
The four movements of the left hand fingers necessary for string playing (to paraphrase the great violin pedagogue Demetrius Constantine Dounis) are: Lifting: Raising a finger from the fingerboard/string Dropping: Lowering a finger/Pressing a string to the fingerboard Sliding: Moving a finger along the string so the pitch rises or lowers accordingly Holding: leaving a...

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Seven Planes of the Bow Arm
If we are aiming for a consistent sound, the shape of our bow arm should be the same no matter which string, or combination of strings, we are playing on. To do this, we must raise or lower our arm, depending upon which string, or combination of strings, we are playing on. For example, while...

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Beginning Jazz Soloing: A Melody First Approach
Some methods of learning jazz improvisation start out from the beginning by asking us to memorize chords, scales, and to play patterns in every key. For those unaccustomed to improvising, or inexperienced in theory, starting out this way can be a daunting task. It can make the learning curve for improvisation seem insurmountable. Some people...

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Improving Time and Rhythmic Accuracy
As important as playing with good intonation is, it is even more important to play with good time and rhythmic accuracy. Most of us know that counting, subdividing and practicing with a metronome can help. However, there are things we can do beyond these initial steps. Below are a few suggestions, and a few games,...

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The Importance of Cooling Down After Playing
Most musicians are aware of the importance of warming up. Warming up properly helps to prevent injuries, and increases our ease of play. It can even help solidify our technique and ensure we play at our best that day. Fewer musicians, however, seem aware of the benefits of cooling down. Playing the bass for hours...

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Improving Your Musical Ears
Being a musician requires a great number of skills. However, the aural component is by far the most prevalent. So, to perform at the highest levels, we must have good listening skills. Ultimately we need to hear, and understand, exactly what is happening around us. Only when we can do this can we respond in...

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Challenges to Good Intonation in a Live Situation
Good intonation is a lifelong concern for every double bassist. We train our ears, we work constantly to match pitch, and we devote large sections of our individual practice sessions to improving it. Among other things, the sheer size of the instrument demands our constant attention to pitch. Sometimes though, even players who normally have...

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Improving Practice: 4 Pitfalls to Avoid in the Practice Room
We learn and grow musically from a variety of sources. Teachers, performances, fellow musicians, etc. all play a role in our progress, but our most direct improvement comes from our time in the practice room. That’s why spending time practicing each day is so important. Sometimes, however, even when are putting in time daily, we...

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Making a Living in Music
I get a lot of questions from aspiring musicians on how to make a career in music. There isn’t one answer to this, and everyone’s circumstances are different. However, below are some of my more general suggestions for those considering a life in music. Specialize I’m usually talking to upright bassists, so I generally suggest...

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