Sunday, 7 June 2009

Freedom To Fret

Hi. Today's post is a slightly weird one for me because there is no real way that I can give you a definite example of what I'm suggesting you do. Intrigued? Then read on....

As bass players, or indeed any instrumentalist, it can be very easy to allow our hands to fall into patterns they are comfortable with rather than playing what is right for the music. Then, when we try to escape the comfort zone, we may find that our playing suffers - notes are cut off or buzz, wrong strings are plucked. As a result, it's very easy to fall back into the same patterns as we know they are "safe".

So this exercise aims to free us up from playing "safe" and, if I'm honest, you may not want your nearest and dearest hear you playing this one! Basically, what I want you to do is play constant 8th notes but completely freely in terms of pitch. As soon as you find yourself playing a pattern, change direction - go in the opposite direction or change strings. Play chromatically, play tonally, skip strings, make sudden position jumps - just play! If you find something that makes you stumble, play it again :-)

So why am I making you play this free jazz nonsense? Simply because, you will be playing patterns which your hands may well find alien and won't be "built in" to your muscle memory. I have found that this exercise has not only improved my accuracy, playing it for several minutes also does wonders for your playing stamina and may well help you find new ideas that you can introduce into your everyday playing.

Until next time, have fun and comments/questions are welcome as always :-)

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