Take the time to listen to what you have just played….

// Yesterday I had a session in Cologne with Dieter Manderscheid, from which I took away some fantastic points of advice. The list below relates directly to solo performance and discovery – all of which I endeavour to implement further into my own practice:

  • Instead of beginning with the most difficult part of a piece, allow yourself to warm up towards that moment —> ground yourself with the instrument – tune in, resonate with the sounds and connect yourself to the intonation. For the double bass, the partial series is particularly useful in this regard – starting from subtlety and building further from this.
  • Start with a mood. As a soloist, it is both normal and useful to choose from a pool of ideas during performance. However, it is important to take time with this, and to build form gradually and mindfully in consideration of the listener. Development takes time.
  • Practice silence. Barre Phillips previously said that he would perform a solo concert for himself each and every week. And indeed, this is something that can often be overlooked as a soloist. With so much solitary time spent in a practice room, one can forget to see the bigger picture and to practice the moments that matter most – for example, silence and pause.
  • We don’t have to play all of the time. Instead, take breaks. —> Take the time to listen to what you just played.
  • What comes out during a solo performance is what we often do most in the practice room.
  • Experiment with rest and density.


On a personal note, I particularly resonated with the idea of listening to what has just happened. This in itself can add a sense of mindfulness and relaxation to the pressures of solo performance, training one as an individual to feel comfortable within the moment and to be guided by the energy that is felt from within, and also from the room.

On a broader note of reflection, the aforementioned topics above can be made relatable to any musician who is embarking upon a journey of soloistic development. Irregardless of level, it takes a certain shift in mindset to embrace the vulnerability of individual discovery; thus, a deeper level of awareness is vital in preserving the beauty of spontaneous exploration and intuition (in combination with progressing technical discovery).


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