– Use SEPARATE bows when you first read a piece to:
• establish a concept of the notes and rhythms
• establish a concept of the dynamics and phrasing
– Play at 3/4 tempo – no mistakes
– Say note names while playing
– Sing the line using note names (solfege) with or without playing
– When memorized, play through in head preferably when you have insomnia. It’s a great cure.
RHYTHMS – turn the metronome on
-Melodic Rhythm – count the pulse out loud while clapping the melodic rhythm
– 3 times 3 practice
– Rhythmic Layers – structure and durational patterns
– Count out loud while playing, start with inner most subdivisions, such as 16th notes, progressing to ever larger durations until you are counting the measure.
– Count the “big” measures out loud. i.e. four measures might form a phrase that can be considered a big measure.
– Conduct and sing
– Segmented practice for appropriate rhythmic stress and
relationships between upbeats and downbeats
DYNAMICS – are easy to ignore.
– Reciting what the dynamics are doing while playing will help to integrate them early. Don’t wait.
– One-note-samba is a good way to become easy with everything but the notes – melodic rhythm, dynamics, pacing, bowings. Then plug the notes in.
FINGERINGS – write them in– use pedagogical fingerings at first if necessary, then
make sure they work musically. Pedagogical fingerings are usually in one position so that it is easier to control pitch. Sometimes they work musically, but often staying on one string is more effective, especially for lyrical passages.
BOWINGS – write them in – they must work musically. Stick to your written bowings and fingerings when doing detail work.
TEMPO & PACING – establish final target tempo early and start 3×3 practice.
– conduct and sing
– play with CD or midi
– think/sing through in your head, then play
– do at tempo with one-note-samba before adding notes
– drone – use an external drone or play a drone on the bass while singing the phrase, then reverse – sing the drone while playing the phrase.
– at slow speed – center the pitch both with vibrato, and without vibrato
– play with midi flie accompaniment
– match pitches with midi file or keyboard
– underpinnings – find the correct harmonic under each note. This is especially useful when tuning chords
– what chords accompany the line?
BASS SOUND & PROJECTION
– wire nag
– arm weight
– baby bow
– keep eyes on right arm
– soft focus – keep both left and right hand in your field of vision. This will also help you keep you head back
– consciously practice slow bow at 1/2 tempo when doing 3×3. Also do open strings next to bridge.
– have memorized one month before performing whether you perform with or without music
– make no mistakes at 1/2 tempo
– play 3xs in a row (see counting stick )
– play through in head ( proprioception )
– sing with note names
– one-fingered scale to target problem areas and develop consistent speed
– one note samba to examine that vibrato supports the phrase
– vibrato should be a subdivision of the tempo youʼre using.
– “vomit” through the problem area
– mark the board!!!! until you can hear and feel it. (dots)
– “swinging doors” 3xs. Slur up, slur down three times to feel and hear the shift.
– stop/relax with bow weight on string, lift and place the left hand to the new note, vibrate it then play with bow.
– know what kind and speed of shift will sound best.
– shift between the harmonics that underlie the given notes to get a kinesthetic feel for the placement.
COORDINATION OF L/R HANDS
– stuck bow – especially for long passages under slurs, keep the same bow pattern, but use a slurred staccato so that each note gets it’s own little piece of bow.
– left hand alone – pound and pluck. The passage should come from the Lhand, the Rhand just opens it up.
– pizz the passage – this will help the Lhand move faster, stronger, more precise
– “hot plate” – touch the finger board firmly but get off of the note quickly – as you would when testing a hot iron.
– bounce – let the fingers glide on the string when not firmly on the board.
– feel the floor with your feet (or sitting firmly on the chair)
– think from your center, or base of spine
– spine should be flexible and free
– head back, stand freely straight – head stay back when shifting
– back of the neck open, not collapsed
– shoulders down
– no weight on the thumb, no squeezing against thumb
– can your arms move freely
– can the bass move with you
BOW ARM AND BOW HOLD
– hold the bow gently – be able to feel the vibration in the stick while playing
– watch bow arm in the flesh or in the mirror
– use the cuff to keep the arm extended and moving minimally at the elbow
– keep both shoulders down
– sometimes it helps to push the upper arm down
LEFT HAND ISSUES
– keep both shoulders down
– work through the difficult section 3 notes at a time, 123, then 234, then 345 etc.
– work through the difficult section 5 notes at a time 12345, 23456, then 34567 etc.
– segmented practice, 12, 34, 12, 34 etc. then 1, 23, 41, 23 ,41, also 2341, 2341
– also 4/1 or 6/1 practice 1(23)41(23)41 – 1(2345)61(2345)6 etc.
– look yourself in the eye (using a mirror)
– chin down, back of the neck open, shoulders down
FACE AND BREATHING
– watch yourself in the mirror – relax your jaw. SMILE!
– practice observing your breath while doing open strings, warm-ups or scales. If this is problematic, practice following your breath while doing household tasks
CONTINUITY & FLOW
– think ahead, use your back
– 3×3 practice
– 10 times in a row
– soft focus – watching what both hands are doing at the same time
– effortless playing – find out how much sound you can get by eliminating effort
– analyze professional recordings
– sing it inside to see how you really conceive the musical idea
– use your IMAGINATION – be an artist
RECORD or VIDEO YOURSELF to:
– practice performance pressure (make it convincing in one pass)
– record your whole program twice before performing it
– enhance critical facility (listen back as if you were making a CD)
Use your EYES consciously because your attention goes where your eyes go – watch your left hand, your contact point, your bow hand, your elbow and see if you can keep you eyes there