Is exercise important for musicians? It’s just taking up time that could be spent practicing surely?
I started 2018 with the fun challenge of spending 30 minutes a day doing yoga with the help of YouTube and the excellent Yoga With Tim (www.yogawithtim.com). In my spare time I like to work out at the gym and take part in endurance sports. I find working out and challenging myself helps to balance the lifestyle of late nights, long drives and occasionally over indulging in tour catering or even the band rider!
Last year I raced 3 triathlons and in September completed Ironman Wales which is a 2.6 miles swim, 112 mike cycle and a 26.2 mike run to finish off. I loved the challenge despite the wind and rain of Wales on the day but understandably after 9 months of training and the big day itself I found myself with a few aches and pains afterwards which weren’t helped by then spending a month sleeping on a tour bus. Now I’m 6’3” and the bunks on most busses seem to be about 6’2” so it’s far from ideal especially if you already have very tight legs, back etc from too much triathlon. By the end of the tour and then lots of driving for my December gigs I needed to do something different hence yoga.
All of that may not be relevant to everybody but there is certainly something to learn from it and parallels between exercise and learning bass or guitar. The key to any good practice routine is making it habitual. I have always said to my students that 10 minutes a day is better than 2 hours the night before your lesson. My Ironman training schedule wasn’t actually that different from my practice routine back when I was studying bass for my degree in Jazz back at university. Regular focused sessions every day with some extra long or intense practice when my schedule would allow.
My yoga challenge this January is another great example especially for students who already have busy lives. I’m a total beginner so 30 minutes a day every day was plenty of time to make some big improvements. I feel more relaxed, more flexible and my back is thanking me for remedying some of the damage done by that tour bus!
So if your looking for a challenge to get your bass or guitar playing to the next level how about it? 30 minutes a day for 30, in the words of Aristotle:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is therefore not an act but a habit.”
And on that note I have two hours of double bass practice to do now in Kew before a guitar lesson in Chiswick and a jazz gig later on in Chelsea.
So somewhat disgracefully it’s been a full 2 years since my last blog but I do have a few excuses I promise!
Like many people I’ve been using the start of 2018 to refocus, assess and try to work on a few things I let slip last year. 2017 was arguably the busiest year i’ve ever had as a professional bassist. I spent 3 months on tour with Collabro and EARL both headlining and supporting 80’s legends Rick Astley and Brian Ferry all over the UK and Europe. I played the Albert Hall for the first time, did my first West End Shows on Bat Out Of Hell the Musical, played Glastonbury, supported a trio of jazz Icons in Chick Corea, Brain Blade and bassist Eddie Gomez, played a few festivals with Gabrielle, recorded 2 albums and played more weddings/parties/conferences and bar gigs than I care to remember!
I’m lucky enough to have a very loyal group of students who diligently kept their practice routines up without my weekly nag while I was away on tour or checked in for a Skype lesson for a few pointers from the road. Most of my lessons take place at my home in Kew Gardens but I also teach bass and guitar in Kingston, Shepherds Bush, Barons Court, Marylebone and Chiswick. Are these areas near you? Im looking to expand into other parts of west London so if you’re a budding bassist or guitarist in Kensington, Chelsea, Putney, Knightsbridge, Barnes or anywhere else on this side of town you should definitely get in touch. This week I have a new student starting up in Thames Ditton and two more who will be coming to me in Kew but I still have plenty of spaces in the diary.
Some time to reflect and catch up on West London Bass Lessons admin has been a great way to start the year for me. If you’ve been thinking about booking some lessons for yourself or someone in your family get in touch!
So 2016 is now well underway at West London Bass Lessons. New students taking up the bass guitar and electric guitar as well as old students coming back from Christmas needing to brush up on a few areas after the festive break. For me personally i’ve moved just up the road from Chiswick to Kew so fortunately still very much based in West London and have been setting myself some goals for my own practice routine.
Professionally I have been lucky enough to cover a huge range of styles of music. Studying Jazz but performing in Rock, reggae, soul, funk, disco and everything else in between over the years but the one area I really didn’t have a huge amount of experience in was always Classical music. Like most double bassists playing Jazz the bow was something I owned but never really had much use for until fairly recently. Over the last few years I have been steadily picking up more and more work on the double bass and with that an awful lot of musical theatre gigs which required me to play ‘arco’ passages with the bow. This has lead me down a hugely rewarding path of study almost starting from scratch as I tried to develop a solid grounding in this new discipline.
Books like the Simandl method, Giovanni Bottesini method for double bass, Mastering the Bow by Gaelen McCormack, the Evolving Bassist by Rufus Reid as well as the ABRSM grades, scales and pieces have been fantastic resources over the last few years and have taken my playing to a new level. The next step? Lessons! I am very fortunate to have a fantastic opportunity to study with one of the best double bassists in the worlds of both classical and jazz music living here in Kew so in 2016 i’ll not only be teaching bass lessons but taking them again as well!
As musicians we should always be striving to improve our playing and one of the best ways to do this is analyse and identify the areas we need to improve on. For me it was my classical studies with the bow but for many of my own students it tends to be Rhythm/Time feel, mastering the entire fingerboard or the dreaded sight reading.
There are heaps of great resources out there now to help us improve our bass playing but by far the best one will always been to take lessons with a properly qualified and experienced bass teacher regardless of our age, level of ability or experience.
With a great practice routine, proper bass guitar/double bass related resources and most importantly a great teacher you could be starting off 2017 having made major breakthroughs in your playing and looking for a whole new musical challenge.
My new teaching studio here in Kew has all the resources you could need for lessons and new ideas, Logic pro to record lessons and a fantastic selection of bass guitars, double basses, guitars, effects pedals and amps for you to try in your lessons. We are on the 65 bus route so ideal for Kew Gardens, Richmond, Ealing, Chiswick and Acton or the District Line and London Overground station is less than a 3 minute walk.
For Mums and Dads waiting while your kids have a lesson Kew has a brilliant section of cafes, shops and pubs as well as the beautiful gardens themselves.
I’m really excited for my own personal studies this year and can’t wait to see more students make their own musical breakthroughs. Happy practicing! Dan
Check out my other site: http://www.danezard.com
Or our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/westlondonbasslessons/
Using arpeggios to cover the entire bass guitar is such a key element to unlocking the fretboard. Too often badly taught and explained it’s great to see a student having a breakthrough after just two lessons.
Thank you, great lesson, connecting the dots and I have had the eureka moment I was waiting for, 2 octaves arpeggios are opening up the fretboard and I can now see common notes between different keys while I am playing them, great stuff.
Thank you and see you at the next lesson.
8 year old Miles practicing for his grade 1 guitar exam. Miles has been having been guitar lessons from his family home in Kingston for the last year and now reads music, composes songs and most importantly has loads of fun! Guitar lessons for all ages in Chiswick and all over West and South West London!
West London Bass Lessons was founded by Dan Ezard to provide Guitar, Bass Guitar and Double Bass Lessons to students of all ages and abilities. Dan has over 15 years live and studio experience touring throughout the UK and abroad and his teaching experience includes Head of Bass Guitar Studies at Exeter College, Head of Bass at Portland Place School in London alongside a large number of private students of all ages. Bass lessons will be suited to your individual needs and can be focused on your favourite music style / taste and will be taken at your own pace.
A few of the topics normally covered in my lessons are: Left hand positioning, Right hand finger style, Slap bass, Advanced techniques (tapping, harmonics, chords/solo bass) Pick /plectrum technique, Style files – An in depth study of ground breaking bassists such as Jaco Pastorius, Marcus Miller, Geddy Lee or Larry Graham, Scales & Arpeggios, Sight Reading, Harmony & theory, Ear training, Composition, Music Technology.
Double Bass lessons focus on posture, hand positioning, jazz pizzicato and walking bass bass lines, classical double bass techniques including the ABRSM Grades, how to hold the bow (French & German Bow) and how to choose the correct instrument for you. Purchasing your first double bass can be a daunting prospect so i’m always very happy to recommend certain luthiers, shops or websites.
I also teach acoustic guitar and electric guitar lessons to children and beginners in the area. See my testimonials page for a great review from Miles who is currently studying his Registry of Guitar tutors grades and getting distinctions on every exam!
Lessons can be taken from my home in Windsor, at Students homes around West London or via Skype/Facetime. Please get in touch for more info and prices.