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I play the tenor, and have been doing so for several years. Have been following this form for most of the time.

I have a question on practice discipline, as my preferred practice is a nice Saturday morning when I can spend up to 1 hour 45 minutes enjoying my tenor. I practice on my horn normally at least 1 hour per day. It has been a while since I haven’t played at least 6 days per week.

As I have followed SOTW posts, I have seen a lot of contributors advising that shorter practices, like 30 minutes, more than once per day, are better. I have tried this, but I find it completely not helpful. Am I the only person with this experience?

During concert season, I find that if I practice for 30 minutes in the morning, my mouth does not respond well during either an evening rehearsal, or evening concert. The problems I experience include playing sharper and being less nimble in passages involving both low notes and high notes. (Signs of fatigue). I don’t have this challenge if I skip a morning practice on the day of either a rehearsal or a concert.

Now that I am not on the schedule for any concerts, I find that if I have to break up my practice sessions into 2 (morning and evening) due to time constraints, my second practice always.......well for lack of a better word....sucks.

When I practice once a day for 60 - 90 minutes, I find that I can still complete my more technical workouts in the second half of the session.....though granted, at the 90 minute mark, I find myself doing less taxing stuff.

I have a theory, that after using my lip muscles, they need 24 hours to recover/rebuild. So taking a break is actually not beneficial.....but it could be brain stuff too......I haven’t seen any threads on this forum indicating that anyone else has similar experiences. Do you?

Any thoughts?

Setup:
Mark VII
2.5 Legere Signature
Vandoren Java T75
 

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I believe that ANY time spent behind the horn is helpful. Even noodling, doodling, and tootling. Your tone improves with each lungful of air. Your ear improves with every note. Your familiarity with the instrument grows every time you pick it up. A practice that sucks is better than no practice.

....and you don't actually have to call it practice - pick it up just for fun sometimes...
 

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+1 to what Fader said ^^

But to try and answer your question, I'd say there is no absolute answer or rule regarding how to structure your practice sessions. Do what works best for you. In my case, I find that after practicing for an hour or so (I say 'or so' because I don't time it and I sometimes lose track of the time, finding that a couple of hours have flown by, which I take as good sign) if I take about a 15 minute break, I feel refreshed and seem to play better and have more energy after that break.

You mention a 60 - 90 minute practice session. If you start getting tired, just take a short (5-15 minute) break and then continue. It's not 'rocket science.' Well, maybe in a mental sense it is, which is why a break can be helpful...
 

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I have wondered this also. I thought maybe on my days off I could practice classical at one time and jazz at another time since I change MPs. I've just recently got into playing classical on saxophone the last year or so and it's REALLY helping my technique and stamina. However, actually having it together enough to practice twice would be pretty challenging- even if it is for shorter periods. I'd have to put my horn away- my dog and cat chase each other and I'm scared they'll knock it off the stand, so that would be a hassle. I've been trying to put time in on both alto and tenor, every week and this would be a way to maybe hit both- shorter time on both, but twice a day. Too bad practicing isn't ALL I had to do! Maybe when I win the lottery...
 

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More time on the horn is always a good thing as long as you keep up standards. You shouldn't lose focus on time, tone quality and intonation ever really (although I will). Also If I did a practice later in the day I do a very short warmup and don't practice things I've already done. As far as endurance goes if you do anything like my long tone demo for a month your chops will get alot stronger. At least mine have after 13 days. k
 

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One note on short practice times: if you always practice only 30 minutes per session, you never get used to playing longer which means that if you ever encounter a situation when you do have to play for 2 hours straight, well, it will be difficult (if not impossible). I learned this the hard way: I practiced several times 20-25 minutes/day but when I had to play 1 hour at a rehearsal, after my usual 25 minutes my emboucure started to loosen and I played flat and a bit later could not play at all. It took me over 2 months to learn to play a full hour at a time. So I definitely do not recommend only short practice sessions.
 

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I view it similar to race training back when I was doing triathlons competitively. There is value in doing shorter intense workouts and to longer endurance workouts. As it happens for me and my work schedule, that's pretty much the way I can squeeze it in anyway. I can get in 30 minutes of practice at lunch working on scales and long tones usually, then once home can get in another 30 minutes to an hour or so, and longer if you count band rehearsals. But I find if I don't get that 90-120 minutes digging in session on at least one or two days of the week I don't keep my strength up. It seems fit a "race training" theory and even if it isn't the best routine, it is what I can/desire to do at the this point in my life. Seems to be working ok.
 

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I believe that ANY time spent behind the horn is helpful. Even noodling, doodling, and tootling. Your tone improves with each lungful of air. Your ear improves with every note. Your familiarity with the instrument grows every time you pick it up. A practice that sucks is better than no practice.

....and you don't actually have to call it practice - pick it up just for fun sometimes...
This is perfect!
Its a struggle sometimes for me to also realize this. I'm very 'OCD' when it comes to things... If I don't get 6 solid hours of practice in, if I don't work on X,Y,Z during that time I tend to beat myself up, and I'll think well what's the point of practicing today if I can't get everything in (Big hindrance) Or if I feel to tired / fingers aren't working 100% top notch I'd think to myself why bother practicing, I'll wait until tomorrow.
I've had to learn and tell myself that ANY time on my horn is valuable. If I can't articulate fast lines and play like lighting, I'll change focus to working on my tone, or trying to come up with new melodic Ideas and Phrases.
The biggest thing is consistency, pick it up everyday! You will continue to strengthen your embouchure and allow the horn to become like a part of your body.

Recently I've moved away from my scheduled practice routine - Sometimes I'll spend hours just with a metronome and my major scales - First practicing them very quickly, then practicing improvising using the key - I want to develop and learn my own patterns and Ideas vs always practicing other peoples warm ups (I like Chad LB for example, I have his approach note book) Instead of losing my **** over doing this I am starting to embrace it and recognize that anything I work on I will improve on, and improvements put me in the right direction!

You also have to spend time just playing! Forget the technicals, forget trying to get better, just play from the heart and let the music out. Thats ultimately what will enable you to find our sound, create new wonderful melodic Ideas and improve your soloing.
I've put way more stress on myself than I have needed to. For those that have read my previous thread, you'll know that I use to play over 12 years ago. (Took 12 years off) Picked it back up 6 months ago and my goal is to get to a level where I can gig and start making a little money on the side. I have the luxury of staying at home right now, I have been for the last 6 months. But in 4 months time I need to start working again (Maybe only part time but still) I'm trying to do everything I can to be ready within the next 4 months, but thats only 10 months total time on the instrument which is not a lot... I had to stop obsessing about the perfect practice session and getting everything done right, and just start doing the best I can and support myself every step of the way.

I'm also living with my girlfriend and her two kids. (1 year ago I was a bachelor, now I'm living with her and kids!) That puts a damper on my practice as well. Once school is out it tends to be chaos around here.
I'm getting a little sidetracked so I do apologies.

Bottom line, just play the horn! And if you play from the heart, unlock your hidden musical talents, follow your gut when it comes to certain things you'd like to try / practice / experiment with, you'll excel as a musician in brilliant and magical ways!

I split up my practice sessions, mainly because I need a break! If It's a good day I'll play from 9-12. After three hours or so I like to eat lunch and take a 30-60 minute break. I'll then play from 1-4, and sometimes again from 6-8 if the kids are doing there own thing.

Keep it up man!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
....and you don't actually have to call it practice - pick it up just for fun sometimes...
If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t be practicing. I save chords for last, because I can just wail any way I like :). The bright side of having health problems is that I can only work 6 hours per day. It opens up time for the Sax. When life gives you lemons, you gotta make lemonade.
 

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Studies show it's better to learn in small chunks. So what's learned in many short sessions is retained better than the same information learned in one long session. If you prefer one long session, at least take frequent breaks so you brain can move the smaller bites into long term memory.

If, on the other hand, you're trying to build stamina and control rather than learn new things, then longer sessions make sense.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/...-such-an-effective-way-to-learn/#775c36d260a9
 

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Studies show it's better to learn in small chunks. So what's learned in many short sessions is retained better than the same information learned in one long session. If you prefer one long session, at least take frequent breaks so you brain can move the smaller bites into long term memory.

If, on the other hand, you're trying to build stamina and control rather than learn new things, then longer sessions make sense.
+1. This is what I was getting at, but you said it far more coherently. And I think you build stamina not just by long practice sessions, but also by daily practice over a long period of time. I built most of my stamina playing gigs and practicing, but the practice sessions have been mostly devoted to learning/drilling new things, reviewing the basics & tunes, learning new tunes, messing around, and maintaining that stamina.
 

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I find that if I cannot dig into a practice session, I do not make real progress. I take breaks during the session, but nothing long enough to consider a separate session.

But if on a time constraint, then I do what I can! 30 mins here would be a quick session indeed! It usually takes me a few minutes to get my fingers and reed in full playing order, even longer for my brain!
 

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I find that if I cannot dig into a practice session, I do not make real progress. I take breaks during the session, but nothing long enough to consider a separate session.
Yeah, a short break (5-15 minutes) during a practice session does not turn it into two separate sessions, imo. And I can easily spend an hour or two (with or without a short break) on one, single thing. For example, a ii-V phrase, running it through 12 keys or even in 1 key working out different permutations of that single phrase, or a diminished pattern, or a tune, etc.

That's what I mean by breaking it down to small chunks. Not necessarily small chunks of time, but rather a single concept.
 
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