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Hi,

I am off to the states for 2 weeks in August, staying an a detached house with my family. My question is:

Should I take a break from playing? or should I take my alto with me, flying long haul from the UK, (as hand luggage) and practice for my usual hour a day? My wife doesnt mind (she thinks I am crazy though)

Does time away from the horn matter that much, and might it be good to take a break anyway?? I get twitchy if I skip a day, let alone 14.

If only they made pocket saxes.....
 

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You could take a recorder with you. That's what I do. Not nearly as satisfying , though. I just hate to fly with my horns anymore. Sometimes I just take mouthpieces and reeds and try to beg/borrow/steal a horn where I'm staying.
 

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baritone saxophone said:
They do make pocket saxes called xaphoons.
Those are hardly a proper sax.

I'm thinking of tracking down a cheap curved soprano for practice when camping, etc. I've already got a junker clarinet for that purpose.
 
C

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Try and find a cheap beater once you get here. You can ship it back
snail mail, cost you around 30-40 USD to ship to the UK. You may get
lucky and find the bargain of a lifetime, or possibly a future lamp.
 

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If it works out that you can't take a horn with you, or you decide not to, don't stress out about taking time off. In the long run, it probably won't matter much. Plus, you'll have lots of motivation to get back to playing when you return.
 

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Supposedly Coltrane used to fly with a broom handle with bottle caps nailed to it in roughly the areas keys would be in to practice fingerings while flying.

Good luck getting one of those on a plane nowadays though.....
 

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I bought a cheap soprano for exactly that purpose.
 

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Take a break.

Enjoy your family. Think of them instead of yourself.
Unless of course you want something to do while wifey shops at
the mall.

It's only two weeks. You will be refreshed and keen to resume
when you get back.

Go and listen to some fine players. That's as good as a practise.

You will only miss a few hours of practise from a lifetime. Not much
sacrifice.

My job takes me away a lot. I have to carry gear so taking a sax is
out of the question. Also finding a place to practise is difficult.
Sometimes I'm away for three months. I miss the sax, but have
no choice. I'm in Greece right now for a month. Feb/March, I was
in the US for a month. Can't do much about it.

It doesn't take long to get back into it, apart from the embrouchure
needs to toughen up again.

The Xaphoon is hopeless unless you spend years at it.
I had one, but the finger positions are crippling.
It is not a substitute for a sax.

I might check out the soprano option, with sound dampening.
 

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I personally think, unless you're in the early days of learning, then a couple of weeks out aren't any trouble at all. I've gone for longer than that, for various personal reasons, with no detriment to my playing. Case in point, I was asked to play at the last minute at a birthday party after about a month of not playing and everything was spot on still. But, beginners - don't try this at home - practice IS important, even for veterans and professionals.
 

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Where in the States are you going? If you're coming through Texas I'll be happy to let you borrow one of my (cheap) saxes...
 

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As Art Pepper tells it in his autobiogtaphy "Straight Life" he hadn't played in months, was badly strungout and his wife and Les Koenig who was the president of Contemporary Records arranged a surprise record date for him and Miles' rhythm section. Art describes in his book how he'd left the mouthpiece on the horn and the neck cork came off when he tried to remove it. Anyway, "Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section" is one of his best recordings and in my opinion one of the, dare I say most organic jazz records
around. Art plays from the heart and Red, Philly and PC do their thing. Art didn't even have any tunes in mind. I highly reccomend it. Anyway, Bill Evans is an avid outdoorsman and has been know to fish for two weeks and not touch his horn.
 

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They do make pocket saxes; they're called altos (says the primarily baritone player).

If I'm going to be in one place for a month or so, I'll take a small horn along (clarinet alto sax or whatever). Otherwise, it's not worth the trouble, particularly if traveling by aircraft.
 

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Traveling with an alto as carry-on is no trouble at all, and a soprano is easier still. I got a used LA Sax sop specifically for that purpose, though sometimes I take the alto. Or the tenor, if I'm driving. But I really try not to be away from a horn for more than a day or two. Maybe in ten years or so, missing a week won't matter as much.
 

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Take the alto with you because it's great to play your own horn in new places,I practise in hotels in the day when traveling,or parks,bridges or streets.I think a soprillo would fit in pocket, but they cost alot.Plus you never know who you'll meet because you're carrying a horn!Yes,I do agree that you can take time off because sax is more forgiving than most instruments,but why take time off when you can play?There will be times when you can't play and wish you could.
 

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Like several other respondents, I bought a curved soprano (in my case, a Yani SC-991) for exactly this purpose -- so I could bring it as a carry-on and practice wherever I'm going. I thought an alto was too long to bring as a carry-on (it sure doesn't look like it would fit into one of those "Does Your Bag Fit Here?" measurement cages you see at the security lines...) but if I'm wrong about that, I'd love to travel with my alto from time to time as well.
The nice part is, the Yani screams and has actually become my preferred soprano.
 

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I have to agree with Kavala on this. If you're practicing for an hour a day, then the sax is just a hobby right? It's not like you've got a major gig, or recording date waiting for you. An hour a day is hobby level stuff, and whilst there is certainly nothing wrong with that, it seems to me that you're attaching "Trane" level practice anxiety to your hobby.

If my "signifigant other" wanted to do what you're suggesting, I'd be trading her in, on someone less self centred. At an hour a day, you're commendably well ahead of the game for most hobbyists anyway. My point is, that your not at a level where taking a 2 week holiday is going to make any signifigant impact upon your playing anyway. So just enjoy the things you are a pro at. Your wife and kids.
Take your wife antique shopping, visit a theme park with your kids.

RELAX

I'm not trying to talk down to you, I'm no great player myself. It just never ceases to astound me, how angst riddled most amateur sax players are. Whether it's practice schedules, reeds, necks, mouthpieces, horns, or what have you. The sad truth is that for most of us, we're spending way too much time worrying about this stuff and too little time just enjoying the horn for what it is: A great hobby.
 

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Just take your mouthpiece and a tuner. Work on the funny face you make when you play. :D
 

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Sorry Pants, I take issue with this. 'Amateur' or 'hobbyist' does not equal 'not as good as a professional'. They may not be so-called 'professional' due to choice or life circumstances but many are every bit as good as someone who gets paid for a gig. Unfortunately, I have seen amateur stage productions where the general consensus is 'oh we're amateur, so it doesn't matter if we're crap'. Paid or not, you do the best you can and don't settle for second best. Mind you, I can think of a number of so-called 'professionals' who are crap anyway!

Sorry to go off topic. As I said in my earlier post, two weeks laying off your horn doesn't matter - whether pro, semi pro or - ahem - amateur. You're there for your family. I took my soprano on holiday for the first time last year (but still in the UK) at the behest of my fiance, otherwise I'd have left it at home. If I went abroad, I wouldn't take my horn on a plane anyway - too much fuss and bother. One of my students has the answer. He bought a second alto and leaves it in Spain, since his business takes him over to his HQ there a lot.
 
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