Touching off of last week's post, I'd like to share with you how getting personal training helped improve my musical skills.
I've been into lifting weights for a couple years now as a way to blow off steam and keep myself healthy. After hitting a frustrating plateau in my weight lifting for a couple months, I decided to get over being stubborn and ask for help from a personal trainer.
I've had more progress in these last six months than in the last four years. Wow.
Lessons I've learned:
-There's a limit to how long you can have an effective workout. Anything over an hour and you're getting diminishing returns. 30 minutes of optimal practice a day is more effective than two hours once or twice a week. Not only will you be more focused, but you'll retain more of your practice over the long term.
-Change your workout every 6 weeks. Your body adapts to how you train it. When you hit a plateau, it's time to change your patterns. P90x calls this concept muscle confusion, but that's primarily a marketing term for what trainers have known for decades. Plus, constant change keeps you from getting bored and not focusing intently on your practice.
Even better, midway through a workout, an idea pranced through my head. What if I were to take what I've learned from my trainer and applied it to my practice?
My Current Bass Guitar "Workout"
Grinding on scales can get boring, so this practice regimen aims to sandwhich in the boring drills with fun improv stuff. Practice sessions are to last ONLY 30 minutes. If I'm "in the zone", I go on to the next day's routine because Practice is more effective if you vary between different tasks, such as between dexterity and improvisational exercises.
-A Day, Speed Scales: One scale, two octaves starting at bottom, 3 different fingerings, fast. Then do it in 3rds, arpeggios (135 and 1357), picked and fingered.
-B Day, Ear Training: I'll pick a song solo I like, preferably not a bass solo so I'll expand my style, and try to learn it by ear. Miles Davis has brought my solo game up a few notches already.
-C Day, Slooooooo Scales: Same scale as A day, two octaves starting at top, all conceviable fingerings, played painfully slow, arpeggios (135 and 1357), played as eighth notes, triplets, doubles, and triples both picked and fingered.
-D Day, Brain to Instrument Improv: This exercise is to help improve the connection between what I think and what I can play, which has been something I've been wanting to fix for some time now. First, I listen to a 30 second segment of a song I want to work with. Then, I'll sing an improvised bassline into my computer's sound recorder. After that, I'll try learning the part I sung on my bass.
Two important things I've learned:
Everything is connected.
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