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Forum Contributor 2015, seeker of the knowing of t
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Earlier this year I applied to go back to uni. The local one offers part time certificate courses in music and the Jazz School there is quite highly regarded. Somehow I managed to get through the testing and audition process and got a spot.

Up until this week it's been quite good, there's lessons on aural development, theory, there's an ensemble part and 1 on 1 teaching. So basically I've gone from one lesson a fortnight with a private teacher to 5 contact hours a week.

The "load" of information flow I'm actually handling quite well, conceptually I understand it all. There's nothing so far I have comprehension issues with, it's extending the stuff I already had a good grounding on and I'm enjoying the learning journey.

All my life I've been clumsy and not very well coordinated, just walking and remaining upright at times is a challenge for me, I never played sport as I just plain suck at it. I'm not complaining or whinging, you get the skills and strengths you get and I've more than made up for that shortfall in developing abilities in lots of other areas.

This week my teacher gave me an exercise in running a simple Dom7 pattern around the circle to a certain rhythm that had a note start on beat 2. I couldn't even come close to achieving this in the lesson and left feeling like I shouldn't even be doing the course.

I've spent hours on it this week (inc 5 hours a couple of days ago) and I've probably got it right all of about 3 times....

I can play tunes on the beat and keep time well enough to play tunes at gigs that people like and compliment me on, but when it comes to playing things with a real 2 and 4 swing feel, especially patterns through changes I just don't seem to have the coordination to pull it off.

I understand everything conceptually but just don't seem to be able to align my fingers and brain consistently.

Any other clumsy oafs here? Did you get through this? If so I'd love to hear what helped.
 

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Aw, c'mon... you know the answer to this one:
Do it SLOWLY. Set the metronome at whatever crawl will allow you to play it without a mistake, and don't go faster until you can do that at least twice in a row.

And don't get too annoyed with yourself--everyone has an Achillies' heel of some sort. At least you're dealing with yours. :)
 

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I found "The Inner Game of Music" a really helpful book for addressing this kind of thing. And be patient with yourself. It will come together if you keep at it and don't overwhelm yourself with too many expectations. Keep it up and give yourself permission to have some FUN while you do it. Best of luck!
 

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Pattern practice is a humbling experience. You will find areas of your horn and hands the will make you want to quit. When I work patterns I feel like a bad beginner all over again. Good Luck
 

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Michael Brecker said in an interview that even he found this hard to do
 

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bari_sax_diva is spot on with her advice.

I recently decided to have a go at flute.
I've been playing sax for years, however my job forces me to travel a lot and I
can be away from home up to six months each year. It's not practical to take
a sax with me. I tried that last year by purchasing a cheap chinese sax, but
the extra hassle at airports etc., was a pain, and it's too damn loud to play
in a hotel.

So I buy myself a nice Yamaha flute. It's similar to sax right ?? Wrong !!
There are enough subtle differences that it started to drive me crazy.

So I looked up a good free metronome software package on the internet.
Then I started practising scales and arpegios real slow to begin with.
I also tried playing tunes that I knew blindfolded on the sax. Of course
now I am playing them a tone lower, but that doesn't bother me as I
can pretty much play anything by ear, if I know the tune.

Some tunes I went over and over. I knew what the notes should be, but
there is so much lifting fingers on and off when playing flute. I didn't
realise until now that I had been holding some keys down on sax, and
using alternate fingerings in places. Well you can't get away with that
on flute, because it results in a different note, usually a semi-tone away
from the one I wanted. ughh.

So again I slowed the speed right down and made sure I used the correct
fingerings, not the sax fingerings that I would use when I wasn't concentrating,
or trying to go too fast. After a while, I could do it, then I just slowly inched
the speed up. Soon I was ripping through the parts because I had played
them correctly slowly at first.

I good example is One Note Samba in Bb concert. I figured that if I could play
the bridge, then I was doing okay and at the same time I was getting in a bit
of scale practise in Db and B, because that's basically all it is. I had to play it
in the upper octave to fit it all in without jumping octaves half way through
the licks. Well this drove me crazy for a couple of days, but then if I took it real
slow and the mistakes became less and less. Now I have it up to a reasonble speed.

Today I got 'a night in Tunisia' down. I couldn't even look at this before.
'Round Midnight and Spain were a couple of others that had me working, but
they're coming together - slowly. That's the trick.
 

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It sounds to me more like a lack of a sense of rhythm and tempo than a coordination problem. An easy way to find out is to sing the rhythms of your exercise along with a metronome, drum machine, or backing track. Your pitches do not need to be accurate, only the rhythms. Use doo dah doo dah syllables for the swing eighth notes. Use dot for all quarters, and for eights only when they are the last note before a rest.

If it turns out singing the rhythm is in fact the problem, then the good news is practicing singing the rhythm is also the solution. Start slowly at first and then pick up the tempos. Do it along with a recording if you can. Maybe the teacher will record the exercise for you. When you begin to "feel" and sense the rhythms, then start to finger the notes AS YOU SING THEM. The last step, of course is to play the rhythms on your saxophone.

If having the coordination to play sports were a requirement to play the saxophone well, I would not have been able to get a degree in music and play and teach for the last 50 years.
 

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Aw, c'mon... you know the answer to this one:
Do it SLOWLY. Set the metronome at whatever crawl will allow you to play it without a mistake, and don't go faster until you can do that at least twice in a row.

And don't get too annoyed with yourself--everyone has an Achillies' heel of some sort. At least you're dealing with yours. :)
This is an uber good answer. Ironing out the wrinkles at slow speed will train both your ears and fingers for higher speed execution. Don't judge yourself too harshly and keep working at it patiently and it should come. Good luck!
 

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Forum Contributor 2015, seeker of the knowing of t
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Discussion Starter #11
It sounds to me more like a lack of a sense of rhythm and tempo than a coordination problem. An easy way to find out is to sing the rhythms of your exercise along with a metronome, drum machine, or backing track. Your pitches do not need to be accurate, only the rhythms. Use doo dah doo dah syllables for the swing eighth notes. Use dot for all quarters, and for eights only when they are the last note before a rest.

If it turns out singing the rhythm is in fact the problem, then the good news is practicing singing the rhythm is also the solution. Start slowly at first and then pick up the tempos. Do it along with a recording if you can. Maybe the teacher will record the exercise for you. When you begin to "feel" and sense the rhythms, then start to finger the notes AS YOU SING THEM. The last step, of course is to play the rhythms on your saxophone.
This pretty well sums up half of my problem, I really struggle to play anything that doesn't start on beat one. I've looked for libraries online of different rhythms where i could practice them and then hear what it supposed to sound like without much success, maybe I should just buy Auralia?

The other part is knowing the chord tones in an instant which I don't seem to be able to keep in my head without going (to myself) "right, 3rd of F major, F-A-C-E, A"..... instead of just "A"

If having the coordination to play sports were a requirement to play the saxophone well, I would not have been able to get a degree in music and play and teach for the last 50 years.
Well that's encouraging! :)

Thanks to the other people that replied for your thoughts, I'll take the exercise back another 10 BPM today. Interestingly it seemed easier at 120 than 90 yesterday, what's that about?

I was pretty down about all this, My wife just bought me a Herbie Hancock CD (he's in town next month) to cheer me up... she rocks :)

Cheers
 

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just keep practicing and give time to time....known is not the same thing as doing...we quickly understand things, but in order to accomplish as a players we need to formart/re-format our brain, sometimes of bad habits acquired... don't worry
 

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The other part is knowing the chord tones in an instant which I don't seem to be able to keep in my head without going (to myself) "right, 3rd of F major, F-A-C-E, A"..... instead of just "A"
That will come with time. Just keep working on appeggios.
Scale up to the 9th and back down the chord, Then chord up to the 9th
then back down the scale. Go through all the keys up and down
chromatically, then around the cycle.
Do this everyday at the start of your practise. It only takes 5 minutes.

Thanks to the other people that replied for your thoughts, I'll take the exercise back another 10 BPM today. Interestingly it seemed easier at 120 than 90 yesterday, what's that about?
That often happens through lack of concentration. Don't let your mind drift
when you are playing the piece slowly. Try to work at doing everything perfect,
such as keeping your fingers low, producing a good sound etc. This will stop
your mind wandering.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I took just about all of the advice here... slowed it down and just did it over and over for a week. I can almost nail it in every key now.

Thanks
 

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Good on ya mate. See it can be done. Some of us lesser mortals just have to work a bit
harder to achieve the same thing.

I have a friend I was showing some guitar chords to one time and
he said he would never be able to play them, because he had a problem with his grip. I told
him BS, we have all struggled at first. Just give it time. Now he plays those chords and is
incorporating some of them into his own original tunes. I like to remind him every so often that
he told me he would "never" be able to play them. We chuckle over that.

If you are struggling with which note comes next in an exercise, such as the F-A-C you mention
above, then you have no choice but to slow it down. This gives you time to think. It's important
to play the exercise in the correct time no matter how slow. While you play it slow, work on
finger positions and sound. Then once you get it, you can speed it up very easily.

It's important to play the right notes and not stumble, otherwise you will trip up in that place everytime.
 

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my goal for the 2011 marching band season is to march and play my saxophone at the same time. multitasking!
It was my first time marching a full show during the first semester of college(I participated in drill downs for fun at band camp since I was in the pit when I was 15). 2 weeks after the homecoming game, was our first night game. During the halftime show, while I was marching backwards, I tripped over my ankles and fell on my butt. Saxophones were in the front row, so EVERYONE who was paying attention probably saw me. I made a nice recovery according to the drum major, but my tutor put me on the spot and explained that this is WHY we don't pick up our feet when we march. I was mortified at first, but now I just laugh about it.
That's the extent of my clumsiness. Marching band has helped me with my posture.
 

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So far I haven't had this problem. I use a metronome when I practice so it doesn't matter to me where the note or rest occurs. I play slow at first then increase my speed. Muscle memory then takes over.
 
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