If you’ve been reading the How-To-Play-Bass Ezine in the last few weeks you’ll have seen numerous mentions of my upcoming project – a multimedia course called Deliberate Practice.
This article will give you an overview of what to expect from the Deliberate Practice course. But first, we’ll start by looking at what Deliberate Practice isn’t.
What Deliberate Practice Isn’t
Deliberate Practice isn’t a blue pill product. There are no promises along the lines of: If you try this for 10 days (or 30 days, or 81 days) then you’ll develop monster chops.
Deliberate Practice isn’t a pre-written, one-size-fits-all practice routine that you can take out of a box and start using and see immediate results.
Deliberate Practice isn’t some hocus-pocus system that I’ve developed – it’s based on a detailed study of violinists at the Berlin Conservatory of Music by Dr. Anders Ericsson that took place in the mid 90s.
So What Is Deliberate Practice?
Deliberate Practice is a system, that anyone of any ability level can use as the backbone of their practice routine. And the system is designed so that if you follow it rigourously – and adopt its principles – then your bass playing will improve.
And continue to improve. Not just for a week. Or a month. But for however long you use Deliberate Practice to structure your regular practice sessions.
If I Use Deliberate Practice How Good Will I Actually Get?
You’ll get better – that’s a given from using the system. How far you’ll actually go – how good you’ll actually end up – will depend on you. And specifically, it will depend on how much practice time you’re prepared to put in.
There’s a train of thought that says to get to be world-class you need to put in approximately 10,000 hours of dedicated practice. If you practice 3 hours a day, every single day, it will take you 10 years to rack up those 10, 000 hours.
There are very few of us that have the discipline or the motivation or the sheer bloody mindedness to clock up 10,000 hours. But using Deliberate Practice WILL help you get better, and more importantly you’ll experience constant and consistent improvement.
And you’ll also understand why some people stop making improvements despite regular practice and utter the dreaded words: “Hey man, I’m on the plateau.”
So How Exactly Does Deliberate Practice Work?
The key to constant and consistent improvement is making sure that your daily practice is always challenging, and that you’re always working on exercises and material that are stretching you as a player.
If you practice material you can already play then you’ve drifted into your Comfort Zone – and you won’t make any progress no matter how much practice time you put in.
I Want To Be A Rock Bass Player, Or A Reggae Bass Player, Or A Funk Bass Player. Does Deliberate Practice Still Apply?
It doesn’t matter what type of music you want to play, Deliberate Practice works by aligning your short, medium and long-term musical goals to a graduated series of exercises that will eventually allow you to achieve those goals (although by then you will have undoubtedly developed a new set of goals).
And it works for rock, pop, punk, reggae, jazz, funk, fusion, death metal, classical – any type of music you want to master.
So If I Start Using Deliberate Practice, Will I Still Need A Teacher?
If you’re a beginner, or intermediate player the answer is yes. Having a teacher means you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. You can take your goals to a teacher and get his or her assistance in building your Deliberate Practice oriented Practice Schedule.
If you are a more advanced player you should still use Deliberate Practice. But there’s a fair chance that you’ll be able to build a practice schedule without a teacher’s help.
How Will I Know I’m Getting Better?
One of the Principles of Deliberate Practice is making everything that’s part of your practice routine measurable. By keeping a detailed practice journal (whether real or virtual) you’ll be able to measure your progress merely by glancing at your journal. You’ll be able to see that you’re playing exercises and bass lines at tempos NOW that were difficult or impossible only a few weeks previously.
By making EVERYTHING measurable you really will be able to see this constant and consistent improvement. Though please note, it doesn’t happen overnight. But over time you will see a clear improvement in your ability levels.
Why Deliberate Practice Is Important
Few of us get the opportunity to go and study the bass guitar at places like Berklee College of Music – whether it’s because of time, or money or location. So we have to teach ourselves – or find a good, local teacher. When I was in my mid 20s I had a burning desire to get better at the bass.
So I took lessons with one of the most renowned teachers in the UK at the time. And I practiced my butt off – 6 hour practice days sometimes. 8 hour practice days a few times. I even got dumped by one girlfriend because I wouldn’t go to a party with her because I was practicing.
And though I was getting fractionally better – the improvements in my playing just weren’t correlating to how much time (and money!) I was spending. I figured that if I kept at it it would click into place.
Only it never did. And with the benefit of hindsight I can tell you it was because the ‘course’ I was following was pretty random, and not designed using the principles of Deliberate Practice. And the new material and exercises presented to me were not challenging my playing, or taking me out of my Comfort Zone.
And eventually I got frustrated. And stopped taking lessons.
The Laws Of Physics
If I could send something back in time, the Deliberate Practice muli-media course that I’m working on would be it. I’d send it back to myself just before I started taking lessons with that guy – who I call the Arch Guru of Scales – and I’d give myself a precious gift. A gift of knowledge. Knowledge on how a practice schedule needs to be built so that you’re always improving.
The laws of physics dictate that I can’t send something back in time to myself. So all I can do is the next best thing – make sure I get this multi media course out there so all you bass playing guys and girls who want to get better can do. So that you’ll have a system that will help you get from Beginner to Intermediate. Or intermediate to advanced. Or wherever you want to go on your bass playing journey.
It’s the only system I’ve ever come across that allows you to do it. And that’s why it’s so important.