Essential Secrets 31: Tackle the Tough Stuff
Tackle the Tough Stuff
Mastering Difficult Material
In every piece of music, there is inevitably one section that seems unplayable. It’s either too high or too fast, or it just seems too hard. Sometimes there are many of these sections. Throughout this book, this difficult material will be called “Tough Stuff.”
The Tough Stuff is important because it reminds you of the main purpose of practicing the bass: learning material you cannot play right now so you can master it and perform it successfully later. As much as you might want to go over everything you already do well in the limited amount of time you have for practicing, you need to build new skills. Sure, playing what you know is fun and comfortable, but new skills will only be obtained by mastering the Tough Stuff.
How can the Tough Stuff impact your bass playing? Essentially, you must rethink your use of practice time and make the Tough Stuff the primary focus of your practicing. More than half of your practice time should be spent mastering the new and difficult.
Most bassists avoid the Tough Stuff by using the “Top to Bottom” method of practicing. This practice method works like this: You play through entire songs, starting at the top, making some mistakes along the way, and finishing at the very end. You do this over and over, no matter how bad you sound. Top to Bottom practicing stops you from mastering anything and is an unsuccessful practice method. With this method, you’ll never figure out what is causing your difficulties, and you’ll never learn your music thoroughly.
Focusing on the Tough Stuff will improve your bass technique, give you confidence, and help your performances. Instead of practicing what is comfortable or fumbling your way through whole songs, give yourself a new goal: Turn what you can’t do into what you can do. This is the best use of your time.
Books by David Motto:
THE TEN MINUTE
FOR ELECTRIC BASS
COMPLETE 3-VOL. SET