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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all! I’m going to be filming a video in the next couple days about long tones and my thoughts on them. I was just wondering:

Do you currently or have you used long tones as a practice tool?

Why or why not?

Have they helped your saxophone playing in some way?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Yes. Helped me undo a terrible biting habit, center my intonation, find my voice, and improve control over the whole horn.
 

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Regardless of what the context (practice, band rehearsal or gigs) I try to start with long tones. For rehearsals or gigs it isn't always possible.

It's never one thing with long tones. I work on breathing, consistency of embochure, intonation etc.

I also do an exercise Adam Larson calls "the hinge". It's long tones with intervals. You use middle D as the hinge point. I run these an octave up and down. Sometimes I'll use increasing intervals:
D-C#-D-one bar rest.
D-C-D-one bar rest
D-B-D-one bar rest

Or Decreasing intervals
D2-D1-D2-Bar rest
D2-Eb1-D-rest

The same thing going upward.

I try to make the transitions as seamless as possible and to be as consistent in quality as I can.

Sent from my LGUS997 using Tapatalk
 

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Yes, I ignored them for 35 years and just did whatever tech work I thought I needed. Now that Im with a new teacher doing his routine, My tone color is much more in my control, my intonation better, and I'm adding all the overtones to sound when I hear someone I want to copy. I "know" what they aredoing. So for the short amount of my practice time I spend well worth it. For flute, my tone has gotten better consistently over the 4 years I've studied and its all about long tones and harmonics. That is why I went back to them on sax. My flute has show improvement and sax has stayed static K
 

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I do long tones as part of my daily practice routine. 5 to 10 minutes of long tones and overtones. My teacher say that my tone is good.
 

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Sure. I feel as though settling tones into place that way zeros the sound in as part of the warm up and reveals defects or problems quickly.

And in the long run it helps with control and range, as well.
 

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I think i could benefit from doing them more. Anyway i am doing them but incorporated to other exercises. For example if i play a phrase that goes to a high note i usually maintain that goal note to check the color, intonation and fuller sound of it. Or i transcribe a little fragment of a player i like his sound and then he plays a sweet sounding note high, i try to imitate it. I consider this long tones too.
What i am doing which is rather similar, is harmonics and real fingering comparison, for sound control.
 

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I don't do long tones per se much these days.

When I did them my routine was pppp-ffff-pppp over the full range of the horn. I feel like doing this gives you a bigger dynamic range and teaches you how to manage air stream and embouchure without biting.

An exercise I still do is what I call my "interval study" which is to play every interval less than an octave that can be played on the horn. For example, the first set would start on low Bb:

Bb-B-up almost an octave-Bb-B-up almost an octave-Bb-B-Bb-down almost an octave-B-Bb-down almost an octave-B-Bb.
Bb-C-up almost an octave-Bb-C-up almost an octave-Bb-C-Bb-down almost an octave-C-Bb-down almost an octave-C-Bb.

And so on. So when you're done with the "Bb" version of this, you have played every interval smaller than an octave that has a Bb in it. Repeat with B as the focal note, and so on.

The objective is to - first - make every note change as clean as possible both acoustically and fingering-wise (no bobbles), and -second - to match the tone quality of each note to the one before and after. This exercise is done slowly so the emphasis is on one note change at a time.

Anyway, the combination of the "interval exercise" and long tones from pppp-ffff-pppp, preferably both done outdoors if possible, has in my opinion given me a big flexible tone, allowed me the ability to make large interval jumps, and improved my control over the horn. If you spend time on these or similar exercises, you will be able to understand a great deal about embouchure and breath that is not readily communicated by just talking about it.
 

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For me personally, after I developed my tone some 40 years ago, I stopped doing long tones on sax. I still have to do them a lot on flute to maintain my chops because I only gig with it occasionally. Besides that, I think brass players need to do long tones to warm up and maintain chops. Sax needs zero warm up if your reed is wet and straight. I already get my ideal tone on every note and have plenty of stamina, so I don't see what I would gain doing long tones at this point in my development. All of the above also applies to harmonics, IMO.

Having said that, everybody is in different stages of their musical development. If you're still working on your sound or need to build stamina, long tones are very useful and necessary. But once you've reached that milestone, they're not much use.

BTW, I absolutely love your videos and your take on music in general. Looking forward to this one, even if you're in total disagreement with me. My gut says we might be on the same page.
 

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I split my overtone practice as follows:

1. Sustained Note - I pick a target note each day, such as B2. First, I play JUST that note, focusing on intonation and core sound. Attack, sound it, hold it, repeat. With this I can vary how I attack the, work in anything I might want to do with dynamics and articulation, etc.

2. Interval Practice - Next is interval practice landing on my target pitch. First I play descending intervals starting on the minor second and land on my target note. IE C2 - B2. Then C#2 - B2. Then D2 - B2. I work my way up the scale chromatically in this fashion until I play the octave (B3 - B2) or I reach the top of the horn's natural range. Then I do ascending intervals while working my way down to the next octave within the horn's range. Bb2 - B2. A1 - B2. Ab1 - B2, etc., until I get down to B1 - B2. All the while, I focus on matching my landing pitch to the sound I established at the beginning of the exercise, and try to internalize the sound of the intervals.

Each day for #1 and #2 I'll pick a new target note until I've covered the full range of the horn

3. Overtone Practice - After I finish the above, I play exercises using the overtone series, and try to match my tone between the overtones and the fingered notes.

4. Vibrato Practice - Finally, I work on developing my vibrato using the exercise from Taming the Saxophone: On day 1 I set the metronome to 60 bpm, and bend the note down over 4 beats, then back up over 4 beats. Starting on B2, I work my way down the scale to Bb1, then play C2 and work my way up to the top of the horn. Each day I increase the speed of the metronome by a notch until I get to 120bpm. I then reset to 60bpm and now I bend down 2 beats, then back up 2 beats. Then 1 beat down, 1 beat up. I'm currently up to one "pulse" per beat. I'll keep doing this until Ive got my targeted vibrato speed.
 

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The first week of learning saxophone I did.
After that my face knew what to do and they were no longer necessary.
Now the only time I use long tones is if I'm trying a new mouthpiece.
 

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Spot on. First week of playing yes, then after that do scales with a metronome.
Maybe 2 minutes of overtones. Long tones are pointless and delusional.
I urge all of you people to emancipate yourself from this foolishness. Pick up the horn and make music. That is how you should develop your embouchure.
Brass players are the ones who have no choice but to suffer through the stagnant brain cell killing drudgery of long tones.

The first week of learning saxophone I did.
After that my face knew what to do and they were no longer necessary.
Now the only time I use long tones is if I'm trying a new mouthpiece.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Spot on. First week of playing yes, then after that do scales with a metronome.
Maybe 2 minutes of overtones. Long tones are pointless and delusional.
I urge all of you people to emancipate yourself from this foolishness. Pick up the horn and make music. That is how you should develop your embouchure.
Brass players are the ones who have no choice but to suffer through the stagnant brain cell killing drudgery of long tones.
YES!!!! You’re going to love my video!
 

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Putting my trumpet player hat on for a minute here.

When I started on sax and even into college years later I never really did long tones seriously, it wasn't until I studied trumpet seriously that they became effective.

With my students we discuss at length what the point of the long tones is, and that is to focus on a solid, consistent airstream. If you have that, the rest is manageable from controlling intonation, dynamics, good tone etc. That all requires a smooth and strong airstream. With my younger students that means things like basic long tones holding the note, or simple Remington exercises or things from the Irons book. With my more advanced students we have the fingers more involved, doing scales, patterns, and I use things from the Clarke book as well, where the point is that even though the fingers are moving the airstream must still be consistent, and when it changes we can hear that out the bell of the horn!
 

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Putting my trumpet player hat on for a minute here.

When I started on sax and even into college years later I never really did long tones seriously, it wasn't until I studied trumpet seriously that they became effective.

With my students we discuss at length what the point of the long tones is, and that is to focus on a solid, consistent airstream. If you have that, the rest is manageable from controlling intonation, dynamics, good tone etc. That all requires a smooth and strong airstream. With my younger students that means things like basic long tones holding the note, or simple Remington exercises or things from the Irons book. With my more advanced students we have the fingers more involved, doing scales, patterns, and I use things from the Clarke book as well, where the point is that even though the fingers are moving the airstream must still be consistent, and when it changes we can hear that out the bell of the horn!
I'm with you. To me, "long tones" (and different things can be called that) are much more about airstream than about embouchure, though that comes into play as well.

To me, it's like road work for a boxer.

I am sure there are people who can build and maintain high quality airstream management and a strong yet soft and flexible embouchure over the full range of the horn and at all dynamic levels from pppp to ffff, by just playing music and not playing exercises. I suspect, however, that the number of people who can ACTUALLY do this without the so-called "boring" work, is a lot smaller than the number of people who THINK they can.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I'm with you. To me, "long tones" (and different things can be called that) are much more about airstream than about embouchure, though that comes into play as well.

To me, it's like road work for a boxer.

I am sure there are people who can build and maintain high quality airstream management and a strong yet soft and flexible embouchure over the full range of the horn and at all dynamic levels from pppp to ffff, by just playing music and not playing exercises. I suspect, however, that the number of people who can ACTUALLY do this without the so-called "boring" work, is a lot smaller than the number of people who THINK they can.
:)
 

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I played long tones a lot more when I was younger, but I still start with long tones whenever I get my horns out. it kind of helps put my ears together with my face, center pitches, test reeds in extreme ranges, stuff like that. If I can play good long tones on altissimo Bb it's a good reed. I definitely think it's helped my playing: breathing, embouchure, pitch, tone.
 
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