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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm 50, soon to be 51 and as of today going to get serious about my sax practice. It seems I've been taking music lessons most of my life (piano, theory and composition), but have only had a dozen or so on the horn. Plan to study on my own for a year or so, and then resume lessons locally. I should mention I played tenor through Jr. and Sr. high school so I know my way around the horn.

I plan to start with long notes - G1 down to Bb - each note as long as I can with even tone, then C3 up to F#.
Then some scales and arpeggios, two keys per day, so every six days I'll have gone through all 12. Plan to vary patterns based on chord modes and also minor scales.
I then plan to study the Greg Fishman etudes, spending about two weeks or so on each one before moving to the next.
Also plan to pick some solo's to transcribe, spending some time on it each day.

I realize each person has to practice what works for them, but would very much like some feedback on my practice plans. Suggestions and advice please!! I know private lessons would be best,
but my work schedule changes from week to week making it very difficult.

Thanks in advance!!!!
 

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I figured these would be best because there the hardest for me to play soft with even tone. What would you recommend as for long note practice?
Thanks.
Play all of them and use a different sequence every day.
It's great to practice technique (I love it) but don't let it become a goal in itself.
 

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I have not any "pro's" advice, so you may wish to discount this offering.

My best advancements came from trying to play songs that required tone quality as part of the performance, such as Billy Holiday's ballads.

The long tone stuff made the most sense to me when it was connected to the goal of direct performance --- making a song where every note sounded good by itself.

I could tell a good note from a bad note better in context of a song, and the same note should not sound the same in every song, as it is serving a different purpose.

Playing the song as written and then altering it as she did, thinking about the shaping of the note and choice of the intervals and why there is a difference.

Mimic her vibrato usage to gain control. Practice vibrato all the time. Leave it out all the time. Mix it up.

Holding out ugly tones until I could get them to sound better.

Playing a note I could get right for as long as I could.

Thinking like a golfer: get as many good shots connected together in a row as possible, and hit a bucket full of 6 irons at the practice range if that stick is giving you trouble.

Doing this was the best way I had of finding my limitations and my clunkers and doing something about those.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I figured these would be best because there the hardest for me to play soft with even tone. What would you recommend as for long note practice?
Thanks.
Too much to put in one post (but I did write a book on this)

I like to slur octaves. Currently I start at with G1/G2/G1 then work upwards chromatically.

Then do downward slurs B3/B2?B3 and work chromatically downwards. But i will sometimes vary the starting note, e.g. start right at the bottom for octaves up, and right at the top for octaves down.

Then I add all the other bits that are crucial to long notes to cover pitch and dynamic variation.
 

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"have only had a dozen or so on the horn. Plan to study on my own for a year or so, and then resume lessons locally. I should mention I played tenor through Jr. and Sr. high school so I know my way around the horn."

"I know private lessons would be best,
but my work schedule changes from week to week making it very difficult."
 

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Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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"have only had a dozen or so on the horn. Plan to study on my own for a year or so, and then resume lessons locally. I should mention I played tenor through Jr. and Sr. high school so I know my way around the horn."

"I know private lessons would be best,
but my work schedule changes from week to week making it very difficult."
I understand that. I guess when I think of the times I got serious about practicing those were the times I found an expert. When I got serious after college I studied with Charlie Banacos and Jerry Bergonzi, When I got serious about flute after playing it for 20 years I called a symphony flute player and set up lessons, when I wanted to get serious about website design and management after being frustrated with reading random things on the net I found a few experts that I could learn from. In all 3 of those cases I made 100x the progress and I had 100x excitement about what I was learning, practicing and the direction I was going in. I'm thinking about learning how to ski..........I could just mess around with it and hope for the best but why not take some lessons and get up and running in the fastest amount of time............
 

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Just a note on the Fishman etudes, which I like a lot: you probably won't want or need to spend two weeks on each. Depending on what level you're at, and which book you're using, you may find that some of the etudes you can more or less sight read and will be able to very well after just a couple tries, while others are more difficult and might take you two weeks of steady effort, maybe more. I guess what I'm saying is that it probably makes more sense to just play a given etude until you master it, no matter how long or short a period of time that takes.

Note that his books aren't in any particular order in terms of difficulty: like, Volume 3 is easier than Volume 1, as I recall. Duets are generally easier than the solos, IIRC. Greg is very accessible and he will usually answer email questions you may have about the best place to start, if you haven't already decided.

Good luck! Be patient. Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you all very much!!! This site is amazing. Is there a way, every now and then, to post a recording of my playing? Just for some honest critique?
 

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Plan to study on my own for a year or so, and then resume lessons locally.
I know you said that taking private lessons right now is difficult due to your work schedule, but I see that teaching yourself for a year and then taking lessons could be a big waste of time. Without realizing it, you may be practicing bad habits for a year and then have to un-learn them when you start with a teacher.

I've been playing flute for 20 years and just started taking lessons again. I've found that I've been doing a few basic things wrong for 20 years that I now have to unlearn. It's challenging, to say the least.

Perhaps in addition to your own work, you could have a random lesson once a month, just to make sure you're not practicing mistakes or developing bad habits?
 

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Yes yes yes and yes
I understand that. I guess when I think of the times I got serious about practicing those were the times I found an expert. When I got serious after college I studied with Charlie Banacos and Jerry Bergonzi, When I got serious about flute after playing it for 20 years I called a symphony flute player and set up lessons, when I wanted to get serious about website design and management after being frustrated with reading random things on the net I found a few experts that I could learn from. In all 3 of those cases I made 100x the progress and I had 100x excitement about what I was learning, practicing and the direction I was going in. I'm thinking about learning how to ski..........I could just mess around with it and hope for the best but why not take some lessons and get up and running in the fastest amount of time............
 

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Take lessons from someone who you'd like to sound like. or someone who's done what you want to do. i take alto lessons after playing since 1978 because I want my teachers facility and I want 6 CD out there of my music. He's done it already and knows how. I take flute lessons from a great player who's sound I love. I take personal training lessons from a fit 30 year old. I could do this all my self but I am 62 and don't have 30 years to kill. K
 
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