Mr. Bradetich has been proclaimed by the New York Times as “the master of his instrument,” and regarded as one of the leading performers and teachers of the double bass in the US today. He served as Executive Director of the International Society of Bassists from 1982-1990 and during that time established the ISB International Conventions, ISB Solo Competition, ISB Endowment Fund and ISB Magazine.
In this video below, conducted by Hans Jørgen Jensen, Mr. Bradetich shares with us his six rules for successful practice.
Expanding on this, below are the six rules for successful practice in their complete form as they appear in Bradetich’s book The Ultimate Challenge (pg. 136-137)
Rule #1 – Strive for a higher standard than what is expected
This rule has broad applications throughout life. Applied to the bass, it is vital to not allow someone else’s lack of expectations of the bass, or of the individual, weaken or lower self-expectations. As in most aspirations, the end is often not reached but a certain percentage of the goal is achieved. If the bar of expectations is raised higher, then the level of accomplishment will rise accordingly. A good example of this on the bass can be seen in shifting. Generally, a one-octave shift is the largest that is asked for in music. If that is the largest shift practiced it represents the limit of ones technique and therefore cannot be expected to be 100% controlled. If two-octave shifts are practiced, then they become the limit and a one-octave shift is merely 50% of what can be accomplished. By pushing the standard to a higher level than what is needed or expected ,everything else will also rise to a higher level.
Rule #2 – Set Goals
Know where you want to go in the long term. Know what you want to accomplish in the short term. Know how to work on it in the immediate term.
Rule #3 – Why practice?
What are your reasons for practicing?
- To Improve
- To prepare a performance
- To get a job
- To get an “A”
- Because my teacher told me to
- Because my parents make me
- For enjoyment
- Because I am never good enough
Rule #4 – Be a good learner “Once you have knowledge, you can’t return to ignorance.”
- The best student brings something “to the table” at every lesson.
- Learn everything you can from your teacher. Ask questions.
- Be involved in the learning process. Who writes all of the bowings and fingerings in the music, the student or the teacher? If the student does, he or she will remember and internalize the information more thoroughly.
- Put yourself in an environment where you can learn from others
- Attend bass recitals and master classes
- Play for peers and other instrumentalists
- Attend other instrumentalist’s master classes, especially the cello
- Go to as many concerts as possible
- Learn from teachers of other instruments and from singers
Rule #5 – Avoid self-imposed limitations (The seven last words of a dying musician: “I’ve never done it that way before”)
- “I’m a bass player, I can’t do that bowing” (fingering)
- “I don’t like it that way”
- “That’s not the way we did it at my school”
- “My teahcer won’t let me try that”
Although these may sound petty, they are common in any language. Many young players, especially those recently out of school and on their own, suffer from the Glass Ceiling syndrome. This is where they can see their goal but they don’t seem to make any progress towards it, like a helium balloon hitting a glass celing. The balloon knows the goal but can’t negotiate its way past the glass ceiling. Often, the player thinks that all they must do in order to improve is practice six hours per day, when, in fact, a simple adjustment in technique, practice methods, or awareness is what is needed.
Rule #6 – Become the Teacher
Ultimately, who is the real teacher? The student, of course. With but a one-hour lesson per week, the teacher cannot be with the student daily and remind him or her of what is needed and how it should be done. Wheras, the student is in the practice room alone many hours each week and must take on the role of the teacher each day. It is paramount that the student understands the concepts behind the teacher’s instructions and applies those concepts in their daily practice.