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Ear Training Using Familiar Songs

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!

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Do It Again – Elevation Worship Bass Tutorial

Here’s a breakdown of the bass part, the timing, and how to play those cool fills.

Some tips to play this song well:

  1. Use the silence and “space” in the song.  If you play in the beginning, keep it subtle.
  2. Count the measures – know how to count through the parts to make sure you’re coming at the right time.
  3. 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.

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Slap Bass for Beginners – part 2

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!


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How To Play Slap Bass for Beginners

Slap Bass – This lesson teaches the 4 basic elements of slap bass and begins to put them together with a basic practice exercise.  Additionally, this lesson teaches the importance of having a relaxed “whip” action on your right hand, along with some percussive elements necessary to create the slap groove.

The elements are:

1. Thumb Slap

2. Left-Hand Mute

3. Right-Hand slap (mute)

4. Finger Pop/Pluck

Have fun!

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How I Learn a Song – A Bass Vlog

Here’s a little look into my flood-recovering basement space, where it all happens:-).  As I was preparing for my upcoming cover video for the Planetshakers’ song Alive Again, I decided to turn on the camera and let you see a little of my process for learning a difficult song.  This song involves some cool slap licks and the first couple parts of the vlog will involve learning one of the licks from the played by Josh Hamm in his Bass Feature video of the song.  The lick can be found on his video at around the 2:18 mark.

The drama of this vlog is that I have to have this song ready to go by Thursday at the latest!  Hopefully I can get it done!

Part 2 coming tomorrow.

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How to Play Steady 16th Notes: Some Techniques, Tricks, and Tips

This tutorial builds from last week’s 8th note lesson.  Learn two finger-style techniques for playing smooth, steady16th notes.
Bassists (bands) mentioned in video:
Jaco – The Chicken
Tower of Power – What is Hip? –
Vulfpeck – 1612 –