#1
Sorry for making another of what seems to be a rather common thread on this board, but I'll try to be more descriptive than the usual "tell me how to practice" thread is. Thanks for taking the time to help me out.

Now that I've graduated from college I'm going to be spending a large portion of my free time working on my bass playing and musicianship. My goals are to raise knowledge and confidence, attend a weekly jazz jam, and expand the scope of my band. For the jams, I want to expand my knowledge of theory and walking bass in order to improvise comfortably and freely. For the band, we're hoping to work out some new covers and actually write a few of our own tunes, then record a decent demo so that we can play in a few bars around our town.

I've been playing for six years, and am almost entirely self-taught. Although I consider myself pretty decent for the amount of "formal" training I've had, I've never really been focused enough to have a methodical routine. In the past few months I've been looking at various books in order to figure out a routine that will help cement my foundational skills as well as help me to progress from where I am.

So, the point of this thread is to ask for advice on doing just that - getting a grasp of fundamentals, then going in a positive direction. I have a number of resources (books on theory and technique) but wanted to talk to you, my fellow bass players, in addition to consulting written texts.

One aspect of playing that I've neglected is work with a metronome. I've started off by playing, along with a metronome around 76 BPM, ascending and descending a major scale, then ascending and descending through that scale in thirds, and moving in the same manner through the circle of fifths. I hope this will help improve my knowledge of scales, as well as my familiarity with key signatures and the ever-elusive circle of fifths. I noticed that I make a lot of mistakes when I try to sing the names of the notes at the same time - clearly something to work on.

I can tell that I'm not playing consistently so I feel like this is a good place to begin. What are your thoughts on the benefits of such a routine, and where I can go from here to improve my playing?
#2
That's definitely a good start, but they key is to play at a speed where your notes are clean and articulate and you are making NO mistakes. You might make a few mistakes but you'll know whether or not you're comfortable at that speed. If you're making tons of mistakes you might have to slow down and just focus on your bass playing for the time being and save the vocal accompaniment for later.

I would also start adding other scales plus some chords and arpeggios into your exercises to maximize the knowledge you gain from each practice session.

If you're planning on playing Jazz and you don't have much experience improvising or building bass lines I would consider choosing a key and improvising walking bass lines over chord progressions like the II-V-I or the I-IV-V. I did that and I found that I benefited from it immensely.
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#3
Yeah, I realized that the speed was too much so I dropped it back down to 66 in order to get the playing and singing down together. I feel like the goal with singing should eventually be singing the right notes without playing - but that can wait until after I shred.

After I made the first post I realized that I wasn't listing all the exercises I'm going through. Major and minor arpeggios and scales are also a part of it, as well as working with different sixth and sevenths chords. Right now I'm just doing chord construction - the next exercise in my booklet is building walking lines with chord tones and sixths/sevenths - I just need to buckle down and work through that, then get to the section that cover diatonic and chromatic passing tones.

I think the scale idea will really come in handy because I can use it to finally get my key signatures down - and with that I can a lot of places. Too bad it took me that long to figure out how useful that knowledge would be.

Also, Isn't the II-V-I a progression for switching from one key to another? Like a useful means of modulation?
#4
Umm I'm not sure about the last question but it might well be
That would explain why it's one of the most frequently used chord progressions in Jazz.

There's another thing that I picked up while I was on Talkbass yesterday that might really help. Personally when I practice scales I go from root to root for one or two octaves but I read a lesson where the guy suggested practicing scales by playing every single note on your fretboard that falls within the sale, from your lowest note to your very highest. I'd never thought of doing this before but I figure if I'm going to learn my fretboard better that's as good a way as any.
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#5
Learn your scales based on intervals and not just the patterns. A good book for jazz improvisation is Scales for Jazz Improvisation: A Practice Method for All Instruments by Dan Haerle. It breaks down the seven modes and related modes to various chords and chord progressions.

The ii V I progression is one of the most common in jazz. What my teacher has me doing is taking a song like Autumn Leaves or Tune Up and work the progression in all the keys. It really opens your playing and creativity and gets you away from always relying on a chord chart.
#6
First off, you want to make sure you can play the following scales.
1. Pentatonic (very important)
2. Natural Major (you already know it)
3. Natural Minor (also very important)
4. Blues (very cool sounding)
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Next, I woud advise learning the E natural Minor all over the fretboard. PLaying it in all the modes will help you develop fretboard movement and you will find other scales this way.
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Lastly, always work on your right hand. Good speed obviously comes from the right hand unless you are awesome at legato technique. Getting speed built up with the right hand will require time and patience, but it is worth it.
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One last thing. Make sure to listen to all types of music. This will help you develop your own style.
STRAIGHT EDGE

I have chosen this path...


not to fit a mold,

not to join a trend,

not to follow a crowd,

but because it is right for me


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#7
another great book for jazz is The Evolving Bassist by Rufus Reid. It's helped me a ton, and still is.