Steps to Learning a Lick
There are 5 steps I use and am currently using to learn any lick. In this video I’m learning a lick from Jaco Pastorius’ song Havona that he recorded with Weather Report. However, you can apply these steps to any lick you are wanting to learn, at any level of playing.
- Learn the notes
You can do this by tab, notation, or by using your ear. Always try to learn the lick by ear first. Always be working on developing your ear!
- Locate the notes on your bass
Locate the notes and figure out the best fingering for the lick. There are usually more than pattern that you can use.
- Nail down your fingering
Know exactly what finger is being used for each note, on both hands. This is tedious and can be frustrating to learn, but once you have it down, you’ll nail it almost every time!
- Practice the lick perfectly, repeatedly
Of course, in order to do the lick perfectly, you’ll need to do it at a very slow tempo. That’s the idea, work it slowly and perfectly.
- Increase the tempo
Increase the tempo while maintaining steps 3 and 4 until you have it down at the original tempo. This might take a while, but the results are well worth the time and effort.
Why don’t many of our practice routines last for very long? Because we plan an unrealistic routine. This video shows a few suggestions for creating a simple, yet sustainable practice routine. The key is in planning a routine that is sustainable. Consistency is King!
This video is a follow-up to How to Beautify a Boring Bass Line and demonstrates how to actually use 10ths in a worship song.
Songs used in this video:
0:16 – Oceans (where feet may fail) Hillsong United
1:16 – Here As In Heaven – Elevation Worship (Harmonics used)
3:07 – How Great is Our God – Chris Tomlin
OK, maybe not a boring bass line, but you might tend to get bored after playing a simple bass line and want to find some ways to play it differently, maybe even add a little more beauty. This video teaches you how to add a 10th to your one-note bass line to create a more beautiful sound. The 10th is an octave to the 3rd and harmonizes perfectly with every chord root, as long as you know the difference between a major and minor! We’ll try this out on the Hillsong classic song, Oceans (where feet may fail).
Let me know how this goes. I’d love to hear your feedback and experience with incorporating this harmonic technique!
You might have seen how artists teach students to draw a bird using familiar basic shapes. The head can be drawn from using a simple circle and a triangle, the body can be an oval, and so on. This method helps the artist focus on the main shapes of the animal, person or scene they are trying to draw without getting overwhelmed with the details. The same concept applies with learning songs. Although a melody or bass line can seem difficult to discern when listening, it’s helpful to simplify the line and learn to apply some familiar and basic melodies we already have in our heads. A Melody is simply a series of notes that move in pitch and rhythm to create a pleasing musical phrase.
However, just as every image is made up of familiar shapes, melodies are made up of familiar note, or pitch intervals.
An interval is the distance between 2 notes. As I show in this video, we number each note in the major scale and show how intervals between the 1 and 5 (a 5th) is used in Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, but also many other songs.
When we recognize this 5th interval in Twinkle, Twinkle and can sing it or reproduce it on our instrument, then we will begin to hear and identify it when used in other songs.
The idea is to be able to do this with as many intervals as you can identify and reproduce. In this video I talk about
2:00 – The 5th interval (with a 6th added) in Twinkle Twinkle.
5:00 – How to apply the melody of Twinkle Twinkle to Bethel’s Lion and the Lamb
7:35 – The 4th as in the first 2 notes of Amazing Grace (a-ma) , or Here Comes the Bride,
9:30 – Major 3rd using It’s A Small World, Swing Low Sweet Chariot
14:32 – Minor 3rd using Hey Jude
Finally, this process will ONLY be learned by working with it regularly. Our ears will never be “trained” to identify and apply these basic intervals if we don’t work at it. All that the videos on YouTube can do is inform and teach. However the practice and hard work must be done by each of us. Be patient and stay with it. You’ll get it!
Use This Technique Any Time, Any Song
Learn how to use your thumb and palm to achieve a very cool, warm, and punchy tone from your bass, without adding a stomp box or changing a knob! You will learn how to develop this very versatile palm-muting technique and use it at any time you’d like.
Main Content of this video:
1:03 – Demonstration of the technique
2:43 – How to place hands and the proper way to pluck the strings with your thumb
5:04 – How to practice this technique Really, you need to learn this!
Here’s a breakdown of the bass part, the timing, and how to play those cool fills.
Some tips to play this song well:
- Use the silence and “space” in the song. If you play in the beginning, keep it subtle.
- Count the measures – know how to count through the parts to make sure you’re coming at the right time.
- Pay attention to how the song builds throughout. The song starts off in a very meditative form, but is slowly building and getting bigger. Play with that same mindset.
I also breakdown the 2 main bass fills in the song and work through how to play and most importantly, how to count them in.
One of the keys to learning a song by ear is knowing what notes you will not need. This video provides a way to eliminate most of the notes in the song so you can begin ordering the most commonly used notes, the 1, 4, 5 and 6 of the major scale. Part 2 will expand this process.
I start off this lesson by reviewing and clarifying some of the techniques from part 1. Next, we’ll look at a couple basic Kick/Snare patterns, followed with adding the notes and finally a quick hammer-on lesson.
0:11 Review of last lesson
4:56 Kick/Snare Slap practice exercise
6:24 Adding Notes to the Kick/Snare pattern
7:58 How to Add Hammer-Ons
I’ve included a link to an interview with slap bass legend Larry Graham
Interview – Larry Graham
Remember that this technique will take time to perfect. Practicing patience and diligence will get you toward your goals much quicker! In some ways this will be similar to learning a new instrument as you work out coordinating your left and right hands; think like a drummer!
Practice tip: use a scale or any simple bass line that you already know and play it with your thumb-slap. It’ll be a little clumsy at first, but this will help you to build the technique using different strings. Have fun!
Here’s a new song by Worship Central. I decided to add some fretless to the first part of the song, even though there’s no bass guitar in the mix. The fretless inspires more melodic bass lines and feels like it works well for the early part of the song. Otherwise, it’s pretty straight forward. As always, pay attention to where the song is going dynamically and how you can play accordingly. Use various ranges on the neck and rhythms to enhance the feel being expressed.