The R.A.I.S.E Approach To Practice

The 5 Step Path To Success

 

I’m often asked the question: “What Should I Practice?”. This is a problem for a lot of players of all experience levels and it’s actually one of the most important questions you can ask. The material you choose to work on and how you choose to practice it will dictate the speed and amount of progress you achieve in both the short and the long term.

One of the problems we all face in creating a practice routine comes from the huge amount of material available. There are so many subjects, topics and exercises to work on and so few hours in the day available for study. It can seem more a question of “What Should I Not Practice?” We all live very different lives and all have very different responsibilities. Some of us may have all the time in the world for practice. Some of us have full time jobs and a full time family. Five or ten minutes of free time to practice may be a precious commodity. But even with all the hours in the day available to us, the job of  developing an efficient and effective study path can still seem perplexing.

To address this problem I’ve devised a 5 point practice system that helps to organize all of that chaotic jumble of topics and exercises and provide you with a much clearer path of study, clear of that fog of confusion.

These five points are combined into one simple acronym:

R.A.I.S.E.

By just memorizing that single word you can completely change your perspective on practice and focus on the areas that will maximize your development with the most efficient use of your time.

The R.A.I.S.E acronym breaks your study up into 5 distinct areas:

R: Reading   –   A: Applied Harmony   –   I: Improvisation   –   S: Style & Repertoire   –   E: Ear Training

By focusing on these 5 areas in combination and isolation, you can follow a path to a career as a professional musician. These broad topics of study can be expanded upon as follows:

  • Reading: The transfer of notes on the page to the instrument. This can be the reading of standard notation and also the reading of chord charts. Note: I do not include the reading of tablature in this area simply because the key word here is NOTES not numbers.

  • Applied Harmony: The study of Harmony and traditional music theory, applied to the bass guitar. This includes the study of intervals, scales, chord tones (arpeggios) and chord progression.

  • Improvisation: This is pretty much the practice of creativity and spontaneous composition. It is the study of improvising bass lines as well as solos and melodies. Walking Basslines would be a good example of improvisation practice.

  • Style & Repertoire: Learning songs and pieces in all styles. Repertoire is a very underrated area of practice but is vital to your development. Also, by learning all styles of music you develop a well rounded technique and diversity of tone. Different styles incorporate different methods of playing. Slap bass would be a key aspect of Style.

  • Ear Training: The development of your internal musical visualization and the ability to play what you hear. Transcription is an essential area of Ear Training practice.

So the next question will be: “What material can I use for practicing these 5 areas?”

This is where the Talkingbass website can be your guide. Each aspect of R.A.I.S.E will be addressed in the course and ebook releases:

  • Reading: Simple Steps To Sight Reading Course / Bassic Fundamentals

  • Applied Harmony: Applied Harmony Course / Scale Mastery Course / Chord Tone Mastery Course / Study Book Of Scales / Study Book Of Chord Tones

  • Improvisation: Simple Steps To Improvisation Course / Simple Steps To Walking Bass Course

  • Style & Repertoire: Simple Steps To Slap Bass Course / Building A Repertoire Ebook / Essential Bass Riffs / Essential Slap Riffs

  • Ear Training: Ear Training For Bass Course

There is also a R.A.I.S.E guide to the Free Youtube Lessons in the Practice Room to help you get started right away

You may be wondering “What about Technique?” Well, technique is obviously an important part of any well rounded bass practice but it should be addressed as an extra ingredient that is developed within all other areas of practice.

As a beginner, you generally learn the basics of holding the bass, plucking a string and playing a bass line with the correct rhythm. Once you understand these basics you can just start to work on learning songs. This is something I would advise for all beginners. Focus on playing music first and foremost. Your technique will develop naturally as you learn to play the music you love. You don’t need to focus on the intricacies of technique too much at that stage.

As you progress as a player you might start to concentrate on areas of your technique that need work for a specific line or style. That is fine and an essential part of learning but the key is to avoid focusing on technique at the expense of other areas of study.  This is why I use the R.A.I.S.E approach as the main spine of practice. Work on those 5 key areas and your technique will develop naturally and with practical application.

If you need to work on specific technical exercises outside of the R.A.I.S.E elements then that is also fine. But it should be seen as an added extra. Not a core focus.

So now you know what areas you need to work on and you’ve got access to a whole bunch of practice resources here at Talkingbass.net. But you’re still going to be wondering “How Do I Create A Practice Routine?”

As I mentioned earlier, organizing your practice routine is going to be based on a lot of different factors and personal responsibilities. It’s almost impossible to design a one size fits all routine that works for everyone. Everyone is different with different levels of free time.

The first thing to be aware of is that every new topic you work on will need a certain amount of focus for a certain length of time. When you first start learning to read music, it’s worth devoting a significant amount of your available time to reading practice. The same would apply to learning a new technique such as slapping. Once you’ve focused on that area for a while, you’ll find it easier to spread your practice out and cover many different areas in one practice session.

When creating a more rounded practice routine I’d advise combining the different elements of R.A.I.S.E into one practice topic. For example, practicing walking basslines over a jazz standard combines all of the R.A.I.S.E elements. We read the chord chart, we apply our harmony knowledge in understanding the chord progression and creating the line, we improvise the walking line through the changes, we add to our repertoire by learning a new tune and we work on the style of walking bass and we also develop our ear simply by improvising and hearing the kind of line we want to create as we create it.

Always look to apply the musical concepts you are learning no matter how theoretical or stylistically alien they may seem to you.

 So the next step is to R.A.I.S.E your bass game by subscribing to Talkingbass.net.

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