Essential Secrets 38: Always Be Expressive
Always Be Expressive
Thinking Musically at All Times
You can spend so much time building your technique and learning songs that you neglect the other skills that make playing music worthwhile. Dynamics, phrasing, articulations, and tone production are important if you want your music to be expressive. To make the best use of your practice time, always include these musical elements in your playing.
Traditionally, bassists learn new songs like this: First, learn all the pitches and rhythms. Next, build up to performance speed. Finally, just before needing to perform the song, start thinking about how to be expressive. This complicates things by adding a whole new list of items to practice before the song can be played in public. You don’t have time to learn in this outdated way.
If you want to be efficient, here’s a better idea: Always be expressive—right from the start. As you learn pitches and rhythms, decide exactly how the notes should sound. Include these subtle effects in your music from the beginning. Then, as you work your way up to the performance tempo, you are already playing with the expressions you want.
This approach will save you enormous amounts of time by making the expressiveness part of the muscle memory you’re building as you learn your song. Every step of the way, you’ll know the exact touch you need to shape the notes just the way you want them.
Being expressive needs to be part of your practicing every day. Expressiveness should be integrated into your thoughts and actions every time you play bass—not just before a performance. Start using this approach immediately. Eventually, working out articulations and phrasing will become as natural as playing the correct fingerings. You will bring your music to life and save time in the practice room.
Books by David Motto:
THE TEN MINUTE
FOR ELECTRIC BASS
COMPLETE 3-VOL. SET