As a teacher for many years a common question I get from many students is about how and what to practice. Sometimes it’s from a beginner, other times it’s from a player wanting to take “the next step” in their musical journey. Below are just a few opinions/ideas regarding the subject.
My advice is to find a credible teacher that can give you concepts and ideas you can develop and ultimately learn about how music works and how that transfers to bass. Your goals should be to obtain and understand the elements of music and also how it all applies to bass.
A good teacher will also see what areas you need work in and give you specific things to work on to accomplish your goals. Steer away from teachers that just want to show you songs or just teach “random” things without any real understanding of why, where and how something works.
I cannot say enough about getting with a good teacher that can help you obtain your goals.
I would recommend playing with as many people as you can. I’ve even told students to post an ad in your local area looking for other players (with your skill level or better) to get together to jam. Interaction with other musicians (even other bass players) is a great source for learning and sharing info.
Jam nights are also a great place to play and meet other musicians.
I’m amazed at how things have changed since I started playing bass (showing my age here…LOL). There are now so many ways to access information. It’s still amazing to me that with a simple Google search you can find transcriptions, tabs, videos, etc. The Internet is like having your own personal library at your fingertips. You Tube has become a constant source of inspiration for me, being able to see and hear players live is a great resource.
Music in a box
Drum machines, looping devices, sequencers, etc. Here is another area that can be very valuable for a musician. These tools are all great for practicing & composing.
Creating exercises to help you obtain your goals is very advantageous. I do this by taking something I want/need to work on, maybe a scale, technique, whatever and make music with it. Create a groove, write a song, and again make the learning process musical. When you do, it has a purpose and you retain it better.
This is a big part of any journey in music and even other things like sports, martial arts, etc. In the beginning of learning anything we see results almost every day, as time progresses we see these “advancements” farther and farther away with “plateaus”, time periods where it seems we are not moving forward. This is just the natural process of learning.
There is a book I HIGHLY recommend regarding this subject in detail. It is “MASTERY – The Keys To Success And Long-Term Fulfillment” by George Leonard.
For many, music is their passion and a labor of love, if so you should be able to look at practicing/learning/discovery as a ongoing process that is a benefit of music and not something that seems like work or you don’t look forward to. Just like life itself, it’s more about the journey and not the destination.