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The Doctor Is In – Back to School by Dr. Randall Kertz

randallkertzGreetings- as summer is winding down I would like to include some excerpts from interviews I have done with some exceptional bassists as regards injury prevention. Some are specific to that subject, some are just plain good advice- all have taught me things about my playing and myself. I wish the same for you. The complete interviews can be found in my book, “The Bassist’s Guide to Injury Management, Prevention and Better Health.”

Enjoy.

John Clayton- Grammy winning bassist/composer/conductor, regarding upright bass playing and ‘proper’ technique-

-“The bass should lean on the body. With some players like Edgar Meyer and Christian McBride, talent trumps the ‘proper’ way to play. Unorthodox may work for them in some cases but they know the ‘proper’ way to play. I don’t believe there is a ‘proper’ way to play, but playing in this way you will have more control over the notes and playing when standing behind the bass rather than to the side of the instrument.”

David Ellefson- Megadeth bassist, regarding problems he may experience as a result of performance

-“As soon as I play the bass, whether sitting or standing, my body seems to have cellular memory and my muscles and spine revert back to the cramped positions they assume when one is misaligned by holding an instrument, especially one as long to the left as a bass guitar. Specifically, my upper neck goes out as does my mid to upper back. When performing live I tend to stand in the ‘combat ready’ position. Therefore my sacrum (triangle shaped bone just below the last vertebrae in the spine) gets twisted and misaligned too.”

Lemmy- no introduction necessary- regarding advice for players

“Do what you want. Don’t worry about what everybody is doing, technique or otherwise. There are no rules. A musical instrument lets you be free to do what you want and gives you the ability, the strength, and the balls to play what other people won’t play.”

Esperanza Spalding- Grammy award winning bassist, regarding advice for players

-“Stretch after playing. When my muscles are warmed up it is good to stretch them afterwards. Also, practice slow and relaxed, otherwise muscles tighten up and fatigue, and this is not good. When you practice slowly, you can play it fast later no problem, because you build up muscle memory and kinetic memory. Know the objective of posture, know why it’s good for you to hold yourself and your instrument in a certain way so that you can avoid problems later on. Know how everything works.”

Victor Wooten- regarding performance preparation

– “Most importantly, even if I do nothing else, I make sure that I am mentally ready. I breathe deeply, quiet my mind and then fill it with good thoughts. Sometimes when there is no time or space before a show I will warm up my body through my mind. I have found that, for me, a strong mind  makes for a strong body.”

And finally the words of the great Putter Smith, jazz bassist, educator, composer-

-“Remember that what we do we are doing by choice. Our lives are not just a reaction but something we’ve chosen to do. Very few in this world live like this-be grateful. It’s not easy but it’s so cool.”

Thanks to all of you,

Randy

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