Essential Secrets 26: Slow It Down
Slow It Down
The Magic of Muscle Memory
Here’s something most bassists never think about: Whenever you play, your muscles create every sound that comes out of your instrument. If your muscles don’t perform perfectly, you get wrong notes, imprecise rhythms, and poor tone. But, you can’t consciously think about the movements your muscles make. Your thoughts need to be on more important things. So, your muscles must be able to do their job without receiving conscious commands from your brain.
The good news is that your muscles have a memory system of their own. Muscle memory lets you execute precise sequences of actions automatically. When the muscles learn a musical passage correctly, you will perform that music without thinking about it.
One thing is clear though. Don’t teach your muscles mistakes.
If the muscles learn some music incorrectly, they will make mistakes each time you attempt the sequence. You’ll play your bass wrong—automatically! This is the single, biggest mistake made by musicians.
There’s only one way to be certain you’ll play everything accurately: Slow down! You must practice slowly enough that you have total control of your muscles, fingers, and the fretboard. This means you will need to play very slowly when you’re first getting acquainted with a song. At an excruciatingly slow speed, you can correct any mistake before it even happens.
You might think that playing slowly will be too time-consuming. Actually, this trick will save you enormous amounts of time. By staying in control of your music, you’ll eliminate the endless cycle of struggling with a riff and getting it wrong over and over again.
Slowing down is a well-kept secret of the world’s best musicians. It could be the most important piece of advice you’ll ever receive about learning to play the bass. Use this strategy, and you’ll completely change how much you get done when you’re practicing.
Books by David Motto:
THE TEN MINUTE
FOR ELECTRIC BASS
COMPLETE 3-VOL. SET