Stuck in a rut? Looking to expand your capabilities and have more fun practicing?

Here are 3 quick tips to help you wring more results from your practice.

Tip # 3 Use a Metronome creatively!

We have all probably played with a metronome at some point in our careers, in order to help work on our timing, but what else are you doing with it?

Try setting your metronome clicks to 2 and 4 and pretending it is the snare drum of a drummer. Now use the space to make that metronome snare sound funky. Spend time making the metronome sound good. Divide the bar up differently at different times.

Do you play in four all the time? Try alternating it with halftime feel, playing each of the notes for twice their previous rhythmic duration.

Try playing in triplets, start with counting the triplets of each quarter note in a bar of 4/4; “One-trip-let-Two-trip-let-Three-trip-let-Four-trip-let-”

Also try making other triplet combinations, there are triplets for each rhythmic value. Try playing triplets in 3/4 time, which could make it like a 9/8 as subdividing the bar in to triplets creates what is called a complex meter.

Tip # 2 Record Yourself playing!

Recording devices and software have become very affordable and I recommend every musician have access to a method of recording themselves playing and to listen to those recordings that you make.

Really listening to yourself allows you to put down the instrument and step in to the music as a listener. Now you can hear the nuances of your playing.

Did I land on the down beat when I needed to?

Was I a little behind the beat?

Or was I ahead of the beat?

When I messed up, was I able to keep the timing when I came back in?

What gave me a challenge?

Did I play any fills or solos and how do I feel about them?

Listen for the hard spots. Listen for where you make a mistake.

This is what will help you improve.

First you need to be able to hear what you are doing in order to more successfully improve how you perform or write your music.

Next analyze what is happening with the mistake or with the difficult passage and choose a method to work on building the skills and techniques necessary to execute your melodies and bass lines with groove and precision.
Slow the part down, and look at your playing and your posture.

Tip # 1 Relax and Listen to Your Body!

-Are you breathing in a relaxed manner or are you short of breath?

Take a deep breath and relax. Take yourself back to your comfort zone, physically.

Relax your shoulders. Playing music shouldn’t hurt.

When your body hurts from playing, stop and listen to that signal that your body is sending you.

One major habit you can use is to practice in bursts.

I practice in short intervals of 5 to 20 minutes and I stop when I start getting distracted or my body starts to feel any pain or tightness.

This is good for your body and your mind. I believe it will allow you to develop your musculature and coordination with less risk of injury, for instance from over use.

Your mind also gives you signals when it has run out of processing power or attention span.
If you find your mind wandering away from the bass and your fingers off the strings, then take a break.

You can come back with renewed energy in 5 minutes or so for another burst as you desire.

With this method I know that you will learn techniques and passages faster and will build up to being able to practice longer and have more practice sessions.

Thank you for dropping in and until next time, go play some notes!

If you want to learn more about learning in bursts, search for burst learning or check out an article like this one:

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