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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everybody, I'm a young sax player (i'm 16 years old) and i want to play music for a living a little later on in life. THis got me thinking-exactly what did all of you pro players practice over the years to get to where you are currently, and are getting lots of gigs?

thanks,
michael
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
thanks for that guys, really good stuff in those threads. if theres anyone else who can help out here, please do! i'll be super grateful!
 

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The most important thing for me was long notes, tonal effects, blues and rock and roll. Plus learning to read, arrange and compose, learn lots of tunes and aural training.

For a while I practised some jazz patterns and licks, but soon realised if I wanted to be professional,that wasn't going to get me as far as the other stuff, and it has probably been the best advice I got.
 

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Major scales, playing all 12 fluently is essential..add your diminished and whole tone scales, as you must know these as well..when playing standards or jazz tunes learn and play the melody first..when improvising do not think, just play..and don't ever forget, long tones with controlled or no vibrato is a must for good tone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hey again guys, hate to be annoying, but can we please get some more posters here coz I'd love to get more help and advice.
 

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Play major scales in all configurations(thirds, triads, sevenths, intervals, etc). It is one of the most basic ways of ear training. Then play the same ideas in melodic, harmonic, diminished, and any other scale that you can discover.
 

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Major scales, playing all 12 fluently is essential..add your diminished and whole tone scales, as you must know these as well..when playing standards or jazz tunes learn and play the melody first..when improvising do not think, just play..and don't ever forget, long tones with controlled or no vibrato is a must for good tone.
I agree with almost everything you said except long tones. I'm reticent to admit here that I've never practiced long tones given that "the church of long tones " vicars will come after me with pitchforks and torches.

However there was a period in my 44 years of playing that I practiced 12-16 hours a day and some of those days were devoted to playing ballads. To me it is the most enjoyable way to develop all the components of a great sound, especially correct intonation. This went on for 16 years, 7 days a week, and 3 days a week I would go to a jam session after practice.

It also doesn't hurt to listen to Dexter, Coltrane, Parker, Getz, Joe Henderson, Zoot Simms, Frank Morgan, Joe Farrell, Ernie Watts and Michael Brecker play ballads and everyone should listen to Joe Henderson play "Black Narcissus.

I was fortunate enough to hear Frank Morgan, Joe Farrell and Ernie Watts up close and personal without a microphone, Frank Morgan and Joe Farrell at the same club sitting about five feet in front of them and hanging out with them gleaning what I could. Ernie Watts and I were being produced at the same club, The Vine Street Bar and Grill, so I got to hang out at Ernie Watts' rehearsals.

I've said many times that you have to hear a master without a microphone to really hear how great they are and what it actually takes to produce a sound on that level. As for Ernie Watts I heard him take 14 choruses on "Autumn Leaves" in the rehearsal. Also heard Hadley Caliman take about 14 on "On Green Dolphin Street".

I let Bob Sheppard borrow my neck strap at the Namm show to try out the new Serie III, another educational moment. It was the only one in the country at the time. Came back to the Selmer booth the next day and someone had bought it for $12,000.

I've had the good fortune to play with Azar Lawrence several times, most recently with Azar and Benito Gonzalez. Benito took about 12 choruses on "Moments Notice". Azar has one of the best tenor sounds I've heard live by the way, also with no microphone.

Anyway back to the topic, I hate long tones. Never played them never will. There I said it!

I can hear them coming with the pitchforks and torches, gotta go.
 

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Long tones were very helpful to me but if you're playing 12-16 hours a day they probably aren't needed. Playing ballads are a great help. IMO.
 

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I don't like long tones much myself, but thanks to Bob Reynolds I have started playing long overtones, which I feel really works on my tone. i.e. Play low Bb, sound the first overtone and hold it. This is also worked on in Rascher's Top Tones, so clearly there is some benefit.
 

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I rather suspect that more "working sax pros" get asked to:
"play this perfectly, as written, first time -
you'll need saxophone, piccolo and bass clarinet"
than get asked:
"give me 160 bars of Michael Brecker style improv here,
with the last 64 in altissimo"...

...so learn to read well, & maybe learn to double.
 

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I don't like long tones much myself, but thanks to Bob Reynolds I have started playing long overtones, which I feel really works on my tone. i.e. Play low Bb, sound the first overtone and hold it. This is also worked on in Rascher's Top Tones, so clearly there is some benefit.
Now I should be doing that.
 

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Long overtones were a part of my time with Joe Allard. Ballad playing speaks to developing musical concepts. Always the best path, once you figure out that other crap. LOL!!!
 

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I rather suspect that more "working sax pros" get asked to:
"play this perfectly, as written, first time -
you'll need saxophone, piccolo and bass clarinet"
than get asked:
"give me 160 bars of Michael Brecker style improv here,
with the last 64 in altissimo"...

...so learn to read well, & maybe learn to double.
Hey, no problemo. I do that every night...

In my dreams.
 

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I never really do long tones on sax. Practicing overtones and the beginnings of notes is much more helpful. I do long tones on flute every day, but I feel that they have a different place there.
 

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I let Bob Sheppard borrow my neck strap at the Namm show to try out the new Serie III, another educational moment. It was the only one in the country at the time. Came back to the Selmer booth the next day and someone had bought it for $12,000. .
Wow, that's a pretty good sale: Your neck strap for $12,000!

Back to long tones, I heard an interview with Stanley Turrentine where he stated he developed his tone playing long tones. No doubt that's an over-simplification, but given that imo Stanley T had about the best tenor tone possible, I don't take his statement lightly. I do agree playing ballads can accomplish the same thing as long tones, assuming you are using your ear and totally focusing on your tone quality.
 

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Long tones were/are huge for me (I consider overtones to be Long tones, Part 2...). When I seriously and methodically starting working on these, it felt like someone had given me the Secret Owners Manual on how to play the sax...

As for licks and whatnot: I'd think of a musical phrase I thought was interesting, figured out what was in my head (transcribing my own ding-dang brain) and then shed it in all 12 keys. Nothing written down while I'm working on it. Depending on the lick, I'd move through the keys chromatically, by whole steps, and by minor thirds, and sometimes fourths...

Finally, and this was HUUUUGE for me: I started keeping a practice diary or practice journal or whatever you want to call it. Everything I worked on, tempos, keys, licks, formulae, etc., along with gear info when pertinent (mouthpiece if not my normal one, horn [alto/spare alto/tenor/spare tenor] , reed...), along with some post-practice thoughts about how the session went and what needs work. It really takes very little time, but it REALLY started to guide me and clarify my strengths and weaknesses.

(And post-finally, not necessarily a practice thing specifically: I started to record Every Damn Gig Always Always Always, and then pore over those recordings and let my self-hatred wash over me. I worked to do less of the stuff that sucked, and develop and enhance the stuff that didn't...)
 

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Wow, that's a pretty good sale: Your neck strap for $12,000!
That was a mere pittance compared to what the horn went for!:yikes!:

Thank you brother for having a sense of humor and keeping an open mind. Now you know we may have to strip you of your vicarship, no room for dissent in that church.
 
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