Essential Secrets 20: Stay Relaxed
Eliminating Tension to Make Playing Easier
Both physical and mental tension can be debilitating in your musical life. Mental tension, more commonly called stress, affects your ability to concentrate, to listen carefully, and to remain interested in results as you work on technical challenges or difficult material.
An intriguing way to deal with stress is to make sure you play the bass every day. The very process of playing music has a calming effect. Playing daily also eliminates any feelings of guilt you have about avoiding your bass. Getting rid of guilt will surely lower your stress! Read more stress-reducing strategies in this book: Blow off Steam, Develop Rituals, Don’t Get Frustrated, and Practice Without Your Bass.
Physical tension causes even more problems for bassists than stress does. You may use too much force when you play or unknowingly tighten muscles that aren’t even needed to play the bass. If you have these types of habits, be careful! Physical tension builds up over time and can threaten you with fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, and even injury.
Physical tension also has a negative effect on your sound. If you are tense, you’ll have difficulty playing fast riffs and controlling dynamics. Your phrasing will sound stiff and lifeless. Creating the tone you desire will be next to impossible.
To make your music flow more freely—and to feel good whenever you play bass—you not only have to eliminate tension from your playing, but also work on staying relaxed from the start. First, be on the lookout for any discomfort, tightness, pain, or muscle clenching. Stop playing and let go of the physical tension. Then, focus your efforts on keeping that part of your body relaxed and moving naturally as you begin to play again. The next day make sure you are tension-free at the beginning of your practice session and try not to let the physical issues come up in the first place.
Books by David Motto:
THE TEN MINUTE
FOR ELECTRIC BASS
COMPLETE 3-VOL. SET