How to Cope with the Practice Rut Blues Part 1
[zephyr_dropcaps style="withbg" firstcolor="#333333" bgcolor=""]I think all us musicians, from complete beginners to seasoned pros, have been there at some point - we hit some kind of wall in our practice routine.[/zephyr_dropcaps] What used to be the most joyous and creative part of the day has easily become the most mundane routine task. While applying the "Seinfeld Strategy" to my bass playing over the past several months, I have hit that wall plenty of times. I started messing around with some ideas to bring back the fun and wanted to share. I believe these are ideas for any level and are easily adaptable to any instrument.
[zephyr_chapter number="1" title="Play Along" bgimg="" bgcolor="#40cec9"]Play along with a recording or video of your favorite band. This is my go-to when I'm in a practicing rut. I most often utilize this when picking up my bass is the last thing I feel like doing (hey we all have those days, right?). Basically the point of this is to get your hands on your instrument and have fun again. I find it's especially helpful to really get into the energy of pretending I'm actually playing with that band live. Bonus points for finding a video that's from the perspective of the band looking out into the crowd.[/zephyr_chapter]
[zephyr_chapter number="2" title="Sight-Reading" bgimg="" bgcolor="#40cec9"]Try sight-reading in a different genre than your usual one. Sometimes I think I get in ruts musically when I limit my vocabulary. Think of it as eating different flavors/cuisines of food to keep your palate interested. Keep your musical palate inquisitive and work on a different genre. When I was a jazz major in college I had a classical upright bass etude book that kicked my ass. Nowadays, playing a lot of rock music, I ike to randomly read through this on the electric bass. Another example would be if you're a classical trumpet player, you could get a book of jazz tunes and sight-read that.[/zephyr_chapter]
[zephyr_chapter number="3" title="Transcribe" bgimg="" bgcolor="#40cec9"]Moment of truth - I hate transcribing. Always have. That being said, I find that sometimes my ears are what are actually in the rut. They're stale and not being challenged. Transcribing is the only thing that cures this for me. Make sure you actually NOTATE what you're working on to internalize it. I can't tell you how many times I thought I had learned a tune or solo by ear, didn't write it down, and then had it fade away into a distant memory.[/zephyr_chapter]
[zephyr_chapter number="4" title="Video" bgimg="" bgcolor="#40cec9"]Video record yourself. This is my new favorite. I usually wince when I see footage of myself performing (holy crap...my left hand is that sloppy?). Last week I randomly whipped out my ipad and video recorded myself practicing. So frustrating, yet so eye opening. Sometimes all we need is a little more awareness to kick those nasty habits before they become big problems (hello tendonitis!).[/zephyr_chapter]
Next week I'll be back with four more ideas I've been trying out.