Essential Secrets 51: Use a Timer
Use a Timer
Freeing Yourself from Watching the Clock
Timers have a bad reputation with musicians. You may have visions of parents putting a timer on top of a piano and telling their young child to keep practicing until the timer goes off. This technique is a sure way to take the joy out of playing music.
One positive use of a timer is to decide exactly how long you want to practice and to set your timer when you start. Unlike the parent scenario above, you are making the decision to play the bass. It’s not being forced on you. This is a crucial difference. Setting a timer for the duration of your practice session does wonders for your concentration if you are very busy, easily distracted, or just unmotivated.
Another timer technique helps you develop the high level of focus needed to have major breakthroughs in your bass playing. Here’s how this technique works:
1. Pick one item to work on. This could be a single scale or exercise, a very specific section of a song, or something you’ve been avoiding. Choose just one item.
2. set your timer for a very short increment of time: 1 to 2 minutes, 3 minutes maximum.
3. Start the timer and begin playing. Work on that single item while the timer is running. Focus all your energies on the task at hand. When the timer goes off, stop playing your bass. You’re done with that item for today.
This use of a timer is actually profound. It has a surprising effect, allowing you to forget about the clock as you practice. Your mind will focus on the music because you won’t be distracted by how long you’ve been playing. (The timer is keeping track of time for you.)
You’ll feel like you’re in a race, trying to get as much done as possible before the buzzer goes off. Using a timer like this can get you in the “zone” faster than any other technique.
Books by David Motto:
THE TEN MINUTE
FOR ELECTRIC BASS
COMPLETE 3-VOL. SET