You are on page 1of 2

Grock the Laborers Guide Syllabus

This is basically a guide or as I like to call it: Suggestions. I dont like to call them rules since rules sounds
like Im running a labor camp or a military drill. I like to keep things loose and fun. BUT at the same time
there are certain guidelines that need to be followed or else the rehearsals generally degenerate into
anarchy and hangouts. This is not always a bad thing, but in order not to waste time and maximize
everyones time and efficiency I have compiled this list as my observations:

TIME KEEPING
This is number one. Without this ability, you will never get any work as a bass player. Forget all the fancy
slapping, tapping, cool solo techniques that you see Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey, or totally super
awesome X bass player here. Thats all cool when youre playing solo or if you can book your own gigs,
but if you want people to play with you, then you absolutely MUST MUST MUST have excellent time.
Exercise: Metronome of course, but practice EVERYTHING with a metronome, even intonation exercises
(such as Vomits as well get to below), sight reading exercises. Once youve gotten into the habit of
practicing and playing with a metronome, youll be able to develop an inner metronome or sense of
time.
Heres another fun exercise you can try if youre like me and you like sitting at the computer. On
audacity or a similar program you can generate a click track. So for example generate a click track for say
40 bars. Lets divide each 8 bars by A1A2BA3 and A4. Now find a way to mute A2 and A3. So it should go
something like you hear the metronome for 8 bars, then it stops for 8 bars, then it comes back on B.
During that time when its muted, you REALLY need to focus. Its hard, but it really helps.
Now Ive heard somewhere that they use a click while theyre playing. Unless theyre playing along to a
midi/computer generated track or the drummer is also listening to the same synchronized click, I
wouldnt recommend it. The majority of the time music is organic, while it is good to have a steady
sense of time, the time will organically speed up and slow. Now Im not saying dont practice time, that
is important, but just realize that also realize that every drummer has their own style and quirks and
that you and the drummer are human beings, not robots and thats what makes the music breathe
(which is consequently according to my hypothesis why most modern recordings/backing tracks for
pop stars sound dead/robotic since they go by a click, theres no room for the music to breathe or
grow organically). Listen to Autumn Leaves on Cannonball Adderlys Somethin Else, listen to the
beginning and then fast forward to the end, the tempo picks up at least 20bpm and they RUSH like a
motherfucker, but its still swinging and it still sounds great.

INTONATION
The 2nd most important, if youre notes arent in tune then youre going to sound terrible no matter how
cool your ideas are. This is where the bow comes in handy, pizzicato allows you to get away with all
kinds of mistakes, but the bow with be a merciless magnifying class and magnify every little mistake by
ten fold. Vomits and scales are key here for developing your intonation. Also realize that while
pianos/guitars and other keyed or fixed instruments use equal temperament, but fretless instruments
like voice, strings, trombones use just temperament because we can adjust and slide the pitch while
they cant. This makes it NOTORIOUSLY difficult to play in tune especially if youre playing something in
unison with a piano.
PLAY-A-LONG
Not necessarily play-along tracks like Jamey Aebersolds (though those are good too), but I would
strongly encourage to play-along with your favorite recordings, with the exception of going out and
playing with real live people at jam sessions, this will also help your playing as its the equivalent of
batting cage practice.