Essential Secrets 42: Concentrate Exclusively on Pitches
Concentrate Exclusively on Pitches
Knowing You Can Hit Every Note Comfortably
You can usually save the most time by practicing many musical elements (pitch, rhythm, tone, dynamics, articulations, and phrasing) at the same time. As you saw in the previous secret on isolating rhythm though, sometimes you need to step back and fix a specific problem in order to get any work done at all.
Playing the right notes—that is, the correct pitches—remains the chief concern of every bass player. Missing a note is seen as a mistake of such great magnitude that bassists actually stop to fix the note. But, stopping and re-starting will not help you play better. You need a completely different strategy.
Here it is: Focus exclusively on pitch without worrying about anything else. To conquer a string of especially challenging notes, try these techniques:
· Play the notes in order, but pay no attention to the rhythms. Don’t think at all about time or tempo. Hold each note as long as you need until you’re ready to play the next note with the correct fingering. This will give you the chance to plan and control the exact left hand motion needed to get from one note to the next.
· Put on a metronome at an excruciatingly slow tempo and play the notes on each click. This turns every note into a slow quarter note.
· Play the last note only. Then, the last two notes. Then, the last three notes. Keep building one note at a time. This backward approach will give you a fresh perspective.
Isolating pitches is a secret used by professional bassists. Unfortunately, very few nonprofessionals know how to work on pitch. They’re stuck in the endless cycle of the SAD Syndrome. Whenever they make a mistake, they just stop and do it again. To make the most of your time, change to the strategy the pros use!
Books by David Motto:
THE TEN MINUTE
FOR ELECTRIC BASS
COMPLETE 3-VOL. SET