The Art of Practicing Jazz Bass: Design Thinking

Note: this post was originally published on my other site, Gig-Ready Jazz Bassist.

Lately, I’ve become mildly obsessed with “design thinking” – the process of finding creative, practical solutions to real-world problems – particularly its applications to practicing “smarter, not harder.” As I wrote about on this site, I’ve recently been dealing with some health issues that have hindered my progress in finishing the e-book. I’m hoping that this delay will actually be for the better, as I incorporate my recent research and insights into the final product.

Here are the three insights from design thinking that are most relevant to practicing jazz bass:

  1. Learn from “mistakes”: In many forms of music education, mistakes are something to be feared and avoided at all costs. In design thinking “mistakes” are merely an opportunity to assess what works, what doesn’t work, and – most importantly – how to keep improving individual and group performances.
  2. Stay focused on the positive: Not only are mistakes highly discouraged in music education, they tend to be punished with criticism, demotions, and/or bad grades. Instead, design thinking encourages people to brainstorm innovative ways to achieve better results. Instead of, “You failed because of ____________,” it’s, “How might we modify _____________ to create success?”
  3. Be empathetic: Design thinking is based on the joys and challenges of being human. Even though music is part of the humanities, it’s been infected by the one-size-fits-all, factory model of public education. Each person is different and requires different things out of their musical learning and practice. Furthermore, these needs often change over time – sometimes on a day-to-day basis! By staying focused on what does/doesn’t work, experimenting with numerous approaches, and accepting diversity, musicians can find unique, exciting ways to approach practice, rehearsal, and performance.

In future posts, I’ll elaborate more on these points and incorporate more specific insights from researching this topic. In the meantime, happy practicing!

Author: Leah Pogwizd

Bassist, Instructor, Writer

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