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I probably don't, but I am wondering...do some of you break up your routines a little by spending time on certain exercises on maybe a few days out of the week.

Here's a quick summary of mine and I've thought about breaking it up.
  • Mouthpiece Exercises (Endurance)
  • Long Tone Exercises
  • Overtone Exercises
  • Scales - Every scale in every mode and in thirds
  • Sight Reading
  • Learn something printed
  • Memorize Tunes
  • Improvise - apply ideas, such as Patterns for Jazz or other concepts
  • Free Play - which is just another word for improvising

Scales for example - do we really need to practice scales everyday once we're proficient? It probably makes more sense to switch up the type of scales each day.
 

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Question to ask yourself is 'how good do you want to be'? If you just want to get by, no.

If you want to be Joe Lovano (or pick your favorite artist), yes. BTW, add other scale intervals as well. 2nd, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths, and then start them on the other 6 notes rather than the root. Also, rather than just memorize tunes, learn them by ear from a recording, along with the chord progression, and then play them in another key -- 12 actually. Then modify the melody in the other scale types (e.g. minor, myxolidian, etc).

Again, depends on what you want to be.
 

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Scales for example - do we really need to practice scales everyday once we're proficient? It probably makes more sense to switch up the type of scales each day.
No. The thing is that if you practice correctly, then the technique you gain in one area often transfers to another. So with scales, you can get into a rotation of doing only a couple a day. But the way I do them is to play them slowly, 8th notes at 60, and making them as rhythmically accurate as possible. Dead on with the metronome. And a lot of repetitions. 3 or 4 scales for 20 minutes has more benefit for me than playing All majors, 3 forms of minor, diminished, augmented, etc. in every key for an hour.

And really, I only practice major and harmonic minor. The natural minor is just the major scale starting on a different note. Practicing it is redundant. Likewise, the descending form of melodic minor is just the natural minor (and thus a mode of the major) scale and the ascending form is like a hybrid of the major and minor scales. There's really nothing new there that needs to be practiced for techniques sake. The harmonic minor is a bit different because of that augmented 2nd. So if you practice just 2 majors and 2 harmonic minors a day, you'll have gone through all keys by the end of the week.

Now, I do run my scales every day, just for peace of mind to make sure everything is still where it should be. But I only actually practice 4 scales a day.

As far as modes, I think of scale practicing as technique building rather than practicing for recall. When I practice scales, I'm building and maintaining technique. If I know my modes already, then by practicing scales the full range of the horn, then I'm also practicing technique for the modes at the same time. Where you have to practice specific modes is when you can't recall them fast enough when you need them. So if you have trouble thinking of the Locrian scale in some keys, then you'd practice that mode in those weak keys. But if you know your modes well, then practicing them is really just building technique which can be accomplished by playing your major and minor scales full range.

I do think tone exercises should be done pretty much every day, but they don't have to take a long time so it's not a big deal.

Sight reading is a skill. Practice if you want to get better. Practice every once in a while if you just need/want to maintain your current skill level.

And the jazz stuff is up to you. If you need to learn tunes, then spend time on it. Just be thorough. Really learn a tune. Don't try to learn a new one every day because you'll just forget it. And the same goes for learning and applying vocabulary. If you are working on that kind of stuff, then you probably should practice it every day until it's internalized than then you can shift to different tunes/vocab.

Learning something printed? Only if you want to learn something that is. I wouldn't go out of my way to learn something printed if I didn't want/need to. I do think it's important to learn music. Things other than technical exercises, scales, arpeggios, etc. This can be a classical solo, a part from an ensemble piece (wind ensemble, big band, sax quartet, whatever). It can be a lead sheet, a transcribed solo, anything really as long as it's musical. It doesn't have to be written though, it can be something you've learned by ear. It's just important to have some actual musical to work on to provide some balance with the technical stuff.
 

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Just practice all of the patterns (transposed to all 12 keys) in Slonimsky's Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns as well as ( I like the Bergonzi scale patterns ) anything you happen to like... piano work in chords and scales is important as well for hearing and voicing... Working on another instrument can give you a good perspective as can singing with your guitar or piano practice (duet with yourself)...
 

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Why do you say this about major scales and not pentatonic and chromatic scales?
What I meant was if you're bored with your scale practice, there are millions ways to spice it up. Why did I say that about major scales? Because some people find them boring and basic and think they know them when they can run them up and down.
 

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I found some descending minor 9 note scales by Jerry Bergonzi... 1, 7, b7, b6,5, 4, b3, 2, 1... I wrote them out in twelve keys and play them fully and partially as I like on piano and saxophone...
 

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Short answer yes.

Long answer, sort of.

You should practice scales every day, until you have reached a point where your time is better spent practicing other things. I practice all my scales straight, thirds up, thirds down, up down, down up and so on.
You can do this with any scale, major, harmonic and melodic minor, whole tone, sym dom scale, blues scale, pentatonic scale, chromatic, the list goes on.

I try to do two keys a day moving up chromatically. Something I learned to do in college. After I do that I work on various other things, whatever I have time for.

One thing I keep consistent is I go into every practice week with a plan of some sort. I keep it realistic, knowing my time limits and how much I can get done. Some days it`s practicing improvising or running changes, sometimes learning and applying patterns, sometimes I`m using Aebersold play alongs to figure out different harmonies and resolutions trying to get my ear to understand them better.

As for longtones, endurance and overtones etc. the answer is yes. You should probably do those every day. Plan out a warm up that you can realistically do every time you pick up the horn to practice that includes these things as well as maybe some articulation workouts, and something that gets you moving around that horn in different registers, (running scales up to the 5 and back down, or up to the 12th and back down starting at the bottom until you`re at the top of your range). My warmup takes me 25 minutes but is invaluable as it does exactly what the name implies.

Hope this gives you a few ideas, try not to get overwhelmed by the amount of material that comes with this damn instrument
 

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This is VERY helpful to an amateur like myself who aspires to improve and broaden my grasp of music in general. I have more time for practice at this point in my life and it is really useful to hear from more accomplished players about their own daily drills. I'm especially grateful for jsweenie's wisdom, "Try not to get overwhelmed by the amount of material that comes with this damn instrument." Thanks to you all!
 

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I guess I have a different feeling about practice than most, in that I don't typically work on things that will wind up on stage at all, except in rare circumstances. Of course, I am not a jazz player, so I am more interested in things like texture, general facility, tone, extended techniques and such. I think the regimentation of jazz can be harmful for people's musical conceptions, since it becomes execution of patterns instead of ideas. Tone is also secondary to articulation in jazz as most people play it these days, and I think that's sad. The sax has such an exquisite tone and in my opinion patterns and rapid-fire articulation rob it of its vocal quality. Players like Oliver Nelson really got this, and focused on the shape of the line as a whole, as well as crafting a melody as a solo. For me, true improvisational playing is taking pieces from the entire musical universe at any given moment. So you could borrow from classical, jazz, folk, noise, anything. And if this is your conception when practicing, it radically changes the way you approach your preparation. You are really developing the ability to create as opposed to interpret. In that sense you could practice for hours and never play anything that you'd play in front of people. I really like that kind of thinking because it makes the connection to your audience (even if that is just you) more spontaneous and heartfelt. You are not regurgitating, you are hand-picking pieces from the entire greatness of music as a living entity. I know this sounds a little hippie-dippy, but I feel very strongly about this in a pragmatic sense.

Some of the things I specifically practice are finger movements and awkward arpeggiations over the entire range of the horn. They don't even have to be tonal. In fact I find them better when they are atonal and you simply listen for relationships. I also practice overtones, multiphonic chords, timbre changes, note flexibility, and occasionally major scales just to keep something regimented in mind. If you go to saxophone.org I documented some of my faves there.

The Slonimsky book is a really good suggestion too. The book is expensive but totally worth it.
 

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Jason... I am a little confused... You seem to be saying 'jazz' players are 'not' concerned with "texture, general facility, tone, extended techniques and such"... Please explain what appears to me to be a 'daft' statement!
 

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Jason... I am a little confused... You seem to be saying 'jazz' players are 'not' concerned with "texture, general facility, tone, extended techniques and such"... Please explain what appears to me to be a 'daft' statement!
I agree this kind of lost me. I don't think articulation takes priority in jazz... at least not the way I listen to it. To each their own I suppose
 

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No.
 

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I probably don't, but I am wondering...do some of you break up your routines a little by spending time on certain exercises on maybe a few days out of the week.

or other concepts
[*]Free Play - which is just another word for improvising
[/LIST]

Scales for example - do we really need to practice scales everyday once we're proficient? It probably makes more sense to switch up the type of scales each day.
Freeplay and improvising can be two different things. The former can be creating and the latter creating over a structure.

As for scales do baseball players work on fundamentals when they warm up?

Pepper, batting practice etc. or do they walk up and just start playing?
 

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As for scales do baseball players work on fundamentals when they warm up?

Pepper, batting practice etc. or do they walk up and just start playing?
Hmm. I suppose it depends a lot on whether you want a multi-million dollar salary for playing in the major leagues or you want to have fun playing softball on the weekend with your mates.
 
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