Sometimes I wake up with no inspiration or enthusiasm to practice. Sometimes the thought of picking up my double bass makes me cringe. Sometimes every note I play sounds like claws dragging on metal. Perhaps I am alone in feeling this way, but in case there are others who, at times, feel the same way I thought I would share some tips for practicing that I’ve learnt through my own experience tackling this conundrum.
1: The first and hardest thing I find is accepting that it is okay to feel this way. Like any learning process, playing double bass will create feelings of inspiration, excitement and progress along with frustration, failure and disappointment. The fact is, if we didn’t have the bad days, the good wouldn’t exist either. If we can prepare ourselves for both kinds, the hard days become less of a shock.
2: Just pick it up. Take exercise for example. A lot of the time getting dressed to workout is the hardest battle. After doing that, actually exercising seems like the natural thing to do. It increases the chances dramatically. Likewise, once the bass is in my hands, the natural thing to do is play. One thing I find helpful in getting this done is to always have my bass out and ready, making it as easy as possible to start. I have a stand in my room with everything I need set up within arms reach. This might sound lazy but it certainly helps!
3: I tell myself I’ll just play for ten or fifteen minutes. It may not be a long time but it’s amazing what can be achieved in short bursts. A lot of the time when I get warmed up inspiration will begin to flow and I’ll end up playing for far longer. It is the initial trick of telling myself I only need to do a short amount that gets me started. The rest flows naturally. And if it doesn’t, at least I’ve worked on something.
4: Have a plan. Write it down and make it very specific. Try and solve just one problem at a time. It may be 4 bars or just 2 notes. Sometimes separating left hand from right hand helps when practising separate skills.
What do you think? What helps you to play when you don’t feel like it? Let me know in the comments below!