Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
54 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Im just at the end of my fourth month into Alto sax and I feel like I have made good progress with the 'help' of being furloughed recently but my biggest frustration is my speed of progress.

I'm sure everyone progresses slower than they would wish to but I'm due to go back into work next week and fear that my reduced practice regime of one hour per day is going to kill the glacial momentum I have currently and stifle my further progression.

I have been given Bourree by Handel as a project to work on and I can now play through at up to 70 bpm after a week of solid practice but the odd errors are frustrating and still sounds mechanical unless I slow down the tempo to 60.

I wonder how many run throughs or hours/ days/ weeks a student should expect to do in order to accomplish this kind of piece? I realize everyone is different but I'm trying to determine if I'm especially slow to not have this tune singing yet after 10 hours of grinding so I can tackle it from another angle ... or just accept that I'm impatient.
 

· Forum Contributor 2015-2017
Joined
·
4,848 Posts
Patience ... start working on a new tune if you are anxious or frustrated.

These things often take their own time.

An important martial arts lesson holds that attaining perfection is an illusion.
Still, we strive for it and pursue it, knowing that it is not possible.



Ask anybody with decades of practice behind them.


dat
sax
man
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,229 Posts
Many people point out that practicing just one thing flat out isn't great.
The idea is we learn most efficiently when there's novelty around... If "grind" is how you find it, maybe you need to mix it up a bit?
 

· SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
25,295 Posts
I'm pretty convinced that one reason a lot of people who take up a musical instrument and end up giving up is due to a lack of patience. There just are no short cuts and if you really want to get anywhere, you have to put in the hours (and hours and hours) of time. And there's always more to learn, no matter how many years you spend on it, which is actually a benefit in a way.

If you feel you've made some good progress in only four months, then you're doing great! Four months is not even the blink of an eye in terms of the time required to become competent, let alone 'master', the sax. So my advice would be not to worry at all about how long it takes, but simply concentrate on the task at hand and feel good about any tiny improvement as you go along. Try to enjoy every step of the way and simply keep at it.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
205 Posts
As others suggest, I find that leaving a song for a while to practice basics, scales, overtones, other songs that I like, the next time I go back to the original song, some of the things in the song come faster and more naturally. There's a moment when you realize that you're just playing it and not reading notes one-by-one. Reading notes to jst keep track of where you are in the song works for me. If I try to read each note, I finger-bobble quite often and play the wrong note just as often. I think it's all about my brain learning the song and it seems to do some of that when I sleep or go work on something else.
My brain is slower than my fingers (which are still very slow BTW.)

I'm one of those impatient learners, but I realize it takes time to sink in and practicing other things only shores up my playing. I'm close to playing Take 5 all the way through but there are some places that I go completely off the rails. I go practice something else then come back to it and it's better. The brain is a funny organ!
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
9,428 Posts
I wish I had studied, practiced and had a teacher. I just grabbed a tenor (was already doing well on baritone - section leader, all state band, etc.) and started learning the hit records of the time. 60 years later, when I finally have time to practice, I find out it drives one of my cats crazy - he thinks somebody is getting killed!:mrgreen:
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
4,362 Posts
Often times it is not the amount of time we practice, but how effectively we practice that makes a difference. It often helps to isolate the measures and/or sections that are more difficult and just practice those rather than going through the entire piece. That way you are working on what you can't play instead of what you can. Another way to practice is to just finger the notes in rhythm with a metronome without blowing or tonguing. That way you can isolate the technique and just work on moving the fingers. Then work on coordinating the tongue and fingers, first by saying or singing the note on a "tu" and then by playing the instrument. Another method that you probably know but is worth mentioning is to slow the tempo down to your comfort zone and then keep repeating increasing the tempo just 5 bpm each time. Do this until you can play the piece faster than the tempo indicated then when you play at that tempo it will be more relaxed and you can focus on the tone, phrasing, and dynamics.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
Sax, Flute, Keyboard, Vocal
Joined
·
7,172 Posts
I tell students that running the track will help speed but not strength and lifting weights helps strength more that speed. So the track is your major scales and your long tone or tonal work is the weight room. I dont' have much patience to learn new songs so lucky I have lots of patience to play many scale and arpeg and pattern work. That all makes learning the song much faster. Just the way myself and my students operate. I tell them to wiggle their fingers fast. Thats how fast they can play if they are willing to run the track. K
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
Sax, Flute, Keyboard, Vocal
Joined
·
7,172 Posts
as far as how fast is your progress. write down on a daily basis what you work on an at what speed. The goal is 1 percent better every day. You don't need to be amazing in one week. Just one percent better everyday. Track your progress on paper. When I do that an go back 6 monthes I say, I couldn't do that , couldnt do that etc . All these things I've learned in the last 6 monthes. Im not the sharpest tool in the shed. Just someone who has the character to be steady. . K
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,391 Posts
First off, if you can get in one hour of practice a day when you return to work that is really great. Before I was retired I was lucky to get in a couple of hours a week. So, I think five to seven hours a week practice time is pretty good for a saxophone hobbyist. Unless you aspire to something more, then you would have to put in mega hours to play like Michael Brecker.

Also, you seem fairly young so you have plenty of opportunity for growth. If you've been given a piece to work on then you probably have an instructor and that's a good thing. I would get his/her opinion on moving forward with less practice time available. Last but not least you have to remember to have some fun with all this. Pick a tune you really like and spend a small amount of your practice time learning it.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
I use the 10.000 hours for mastery as my guideline. I know the debate on this subject. But it is more about the talented getting a lot further than questioning the number of practice hours in itself.

I practice aprox 1 hour a day. After 3 years I clock 1000 hours. So for me the path to become a master of saxophone would take me at least 30 years. And I'm leaving out the quality of my practice, quality of tuition, my age (at 56 I learn a lot slower than these youngsters) and my (lack of) talent.

I finished this spring my 4th year. So I agree with your estimate: the progress is glacial

I'm also a strong believer of the 80-20 rule: You can get 80% of the result with 20% effort. So I hope in another 2 years to be a decent basic saxophone player. And I see progress. I play a lot more musical than I used to. Although I still consider myself as a slow player, I can play a lot faster now.

With 4 months under your belt you only started. And the more you learn the more you see how huge the task of learning the saxophone is, the better you see your own limits.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,541 Posts
As "they" say......practice at a speed where you make no mistakes. Increase the speed slowly. If you start making mistakes, again, slow it back down till you're not making any.
Otherwise, you're just practicing making mistakes.
I don't always follow that advice often enough, myself, but it's good advice. And then again, a wrong note isn't wrong until you play the next one. One wrong note can be a different direction. Two wrong notes side by side are a definite mistake!
 

· Forum Contributor 2013-2019
Joined
·
1,052 Posts
One of the characteristics of learning is that it exhibits what economists call "increasing returns," often paraphrased as "the rich get richer." In the case of learning, the more you know the more you can learn from some experience. If you practice a piece you have never played before, and Chris Potter practices the same piece (assuming he also never played it before), chances are pretty good he is going to learn to play it (well) faster than you. As your learning how to play increases you will make greater progress for the same amount of effort - at least for a while - as there are also reasons we plateau in our learning. (Not enough time to get into that, but changing things up drastically among other possible strategies, helps if/once you hit a plateau.)

I've been back from an almost 40 year layoff for about 10 years. Progress that first year back was painfully slow. Just a long slog through scales, arpeggios, long tones, and the whole fundamentals rigmarole. Fast forward and I am amazed how much more effectively I am able to shed new stuff. Not great, but way better than before. Better ears, embouchure, technique, vocabulary, etc. create a much richer and more solid foundation on which to build. Record yourself now so you can play it back in a couple of years to see how much progress you made. I'm embarrassed by some of the playing I did even just a couple of years ago. Hang in there!
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
Sax, Flute, Keyboard, Vocal
Joined
·
7,172 Posts
Dave Pollack has a great saying. Practice doesn't make perfect . It makes permenent. Something to consider . K
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top