Sax on the Web Forum banner
21 - 37 of 37 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,140 Posts
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...)
I'm very impressed with your discipline and your regimen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
323 Posts
(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...)
Recordings and self-hatred can be quite the motivator! :)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member & Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
1,603 Posts
Recordings and self-hatred can be quite the motivator! :)
Pssh...I stopped bothering recording live gigs. I like the way I sound live....just hate hearing it back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
678 Posts
Work on being a person people want to have around..not just musically, but personally as well.

Self improvement is often overlooked by aspiring musicians, it was by me until I got it kicked out of me by older, wiser and more experienced players.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2016-17
Joined
·
1,146 Posts
Long tones and breathing ex at the same time, Joe Viola Berklee series vol I and II, all scales diatonically, broken thirds, fourths, inverted and every which way I could think of. Major, melodic minor, harmonic minor, whole tone, dim, and I'm likely forgetting something....obviously, all 12 keys. 1/8 notes at 220. I agree with Dan, work on getting along, it will help as much as chops....I'm a big fan of Dale Carnegie's how to win friends and influence people....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
241 Posts
Really depends on what you want to do at your gigs. If you're looking to make money, you should get into managing bands and being a booking agent. =P

In all seriousness though, if you're chasing money via playing the horn you don't need to be soloing like a mofo. You need to be a good networker, easy to get a long with, and make sure you can do what's asked of you.

In terms of good skills to have, know lots of songs, and learn strategies of how to get through songs you've never played before. A friend of mine once said, the difference between a good breakdancer and a great one, is that great ones know how to make falling look intentional and lead it into something else. I recently played a gig with a pop covers band I've just started with where we had a new trumpet player, a 3rd year jazz major, but when we asked him in the short rehearsal if he had ever played any of these songs he hadn't, and he had never really listened to them either, nor had he ever done a covers/corporate gig. I was baffled, when I was in my degree I was doing these gigs every few weeks, it's how I paid rent and bought reeds. I'm not saying i'm world's best player, but I thought covers gigs was essential to someone trying to make money out of music (unless you are teaching all the time)

In terms of saxophone technique, your sound is always first. Long tones and harmonics. Then scales, my strategy is play them all slowly and evenly over the full range of your horn start from low B/Bb on every scale, and end up as high as you can play in altissimo - make sure its all slow and even though. Learn a few patterns just to get your fingers around the horn. Knowing how to approach jazz tunes is handy to help with soloing, but really how often do you get to solo?

So in short:
Sound good,
Know songs,
Be friendly,
Learn to play the gig.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,799 Posts
There is a lot of wisdom in this thread.

I had excellent private teachers and musical mentors from middle school on up through college. I practiced whatever they asked me to.

In terms of time commitment, I practiced/played for hours on end for about a 7 year period from late high school through college.

As a saxophonist, I get my work from being able to read anything on sight, play with the appropriate sound and style for any type of music, improvise and play other woodwinds fluently. In a word, versatile.

In addition, as mentioned earlier in the thread, do not underestimate the importance of having the ability to work with others. Networking and building a good reputation are very important.

In the early years of my career, I didn't pick and choose my gigs. I took just about everything I could get. Now that I am established as a teacher and performer in my area for over 20 years, I can be very picky about my gigs. However, even when I turn down a gig, I am pleasant, professional and thankful for the offer.

Last, I listened (and still do) constantly to anything and everything.

Good luck!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
878 Posts
Agree with the previous comments -- study with a private teacher. While it's been more than 20 years since my last lesson, I still go back to some of the basics that I was shown while I was studying. Two of my favorite books are Abe Most - Jazz Improvisations - it is out of print, but you can find it periodically on eBay or Amazon. It's technical studies over chord changes. The McGee book "Modal Studies for Jazz Saxophone" is another one.

Versatility is very important -- multiple instruments definitely helps your value. If you can double on keyboard, that is a very good trump card to have. Not every song requires a sax, and being able to fill out the sound by doubling up on keys certainly is better than starting off into space.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
678 Posts
Versatility is very important -- multiple instruments definitely helps your value. If you can double on keyboard, that is a very good trump card to have. Not every song requires a sax, and being able to fill out the sound by doubling up on keys certainly is better than starting off into space.
+1 here - I had a beer with Victor Goines (Jazz at the LC) in Cambridge and he was talking about how as a musician your skills need to be like a stock portfolio - as wide spread as you can
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
alto: 82Zii/Medusa/Supreme, tenor: Medusa, bari: b-901, sop, sc-990
Joined
·
7,571 Posts
...Two of my favorite books are Abe Most - Jazz Improvisations - it is out of print, but you can find it periodically on eBay or Amazon. It's technical studies over chord changes. The McGee book "Modal Studies for Jazz Saxophone" is another one.
Thanks for the tip. Is the Abe Most book for clarinet or sax?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
188 Posts
Read everything you can get your hands on. Anything and everything in your range, flute music, oboe music, violin music, etc... Read the Omnibook over and over again. Learn to transpose, read up a step, bass clef to treble, all that whatnot. And be versatile as fast and as early as you can. Learn every style possible, everything from bebop to Klezmer. Listen, listen, listen, all the time, every day, all day.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
Joined
·
5,624 Posts
If you intend on living on music income. Learn to play and teach piano. I know many flute teachers who would starve without all the piano students they have. I dont' mean to be dark but by the time you come up and start gigging gigs might still not pay well and might be hard to find.So anything you can play and teach at a high level will become crucial unless you want to do door dash 5 nights a week. I played trpt back in high school and even though I was accepted at Berklee College of music my trpt teacher told me to learn arranging and learn a rhythm section instrument , bass, guitar or piano. You'll get a much better grasp of harmony quickly from piano than sax Imo. Lastly, if you go to college, go in the city you intend on living in. Take the 4 years of college to find anybody and everybody who might hire you for gigs. People get gigs because they are good players but often its the best player who people know about and is around/available. If you tour with a band kiss all your local gigs and students goodby? Post covid the 100 dollar a man gigs we used to complain about probably wont pay that unless the wineries can get all their customers back? Theres a good book called making it in the new music business. Well worth the price. Good luck. I've said this many times but I know happy , great musicians who used to be docs, lawyers, engineers, and I know miserable good musicians who still at retirement age have to take the crappy 50 dollar gig or teach a whole day of beginning music store kids to make ends meet. Do what you love to do but be realilstic about where your income will come from?
 

·
Forum Contributor 2017
Joined
·
8,210 Posts
Long tones, Etudes in every key signature, All Scales major/minor, pentatonic, etc..., Lots of Tunes, transcription.

I have been working out of the Eddie Harris' "The Intervallistic Concept" for the last few years. I'm only mastered about 1/2 of book one. Two and Three are incredibly complicated but I can play them slow and it gives me a great warm up.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2017
Joined
·
6,301 Posts
You should practice living poor...
I'd also spend time practicing networking, ass kissing, and playing in the rain....
Practice making self-repairs with rubber bands and duct tape.
Practice staying up all night and doing manual labor all day...
If you have time left over practice the music necessary for your next show....
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
Joined
·
34,756 Posts
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
OP is now 22. I wonder how well he is doing with all the great ideas shared here?
 

·
Registered
Tenor, alto, Bb Clarinet, Flute
Joined
·
2,531 Posts
There were certainly a lot of good ideas. Actually following through and making a lifestyle out of them is another thing. I couldn't imagine practicing 12 - 16 hours a day even as a young guy but I guess it takes that kind of dedication to be a top notch soloist. I will never know. :)
 
21 - 37 of 37 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top