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One of the things that eludes me as an adult recreational learner has always been fast shredding.
When I played trumpet I had the same issue, and an instructor once told me “so don’t play fast”.

Seems the sax, however, is one of those instruments that shredding is expected or tour just not a good player.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have that ability and continue to work on it but it’s not my wheelhouse.

Are there others here that are the same?
 

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One of the things that eludes me as an adult recreational learner has always been fast shredding.
When I played trumpet I had the same issue, and an instructor once told me "so don't play fast".

Seems the sax, however, is one of those instruments that shredding is expected or tour just not a good player.
Don't get me wrong, I would love to have that ability and continue to work on it but it's not my wheelhouse.

Are there others here that are the same?
Yep, me. I can from time to time play a quick run for a few beats, but not one of those crazy sustained runs that goes for several measures. I'm not going to quit trying, but at this point I'd much rather just play a nice melodic solo that says something instead of trying to dazzle people with finger speed.
 

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We play what we hear. Miles said he couldn't play high like Dizzy 'cause he didn't hear up there. Following your inner voice seems more interesting to me than technical accomplishments. However, if you wanna hear fast listen to a lot of Dolphy, Brecker, Potter and Trane. And Griffin, Rollins, Parker and......
 

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I think too many players get caught up in the trap of wanting to sound like the pro's that they listen to for inspiration.

All the information overload of "How Too's" give me examples of licks I might use but the ultimate use of the jazz language comes down to individuality
and incorporating those learned ideas while developing your own sound and methodology of playing over the changes.

My inspiration is Sonny Rollins and he doesn't sound at all like anybody else ever. I learned from from his recordings how to build a solo by starting simple and add a little bit as you improvise over changes.

The keys to good solos are keeping in tempo and playing the right group of notes over every single change or an over-arching solo that fits the key and changes.

Be yourself
 

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My all-time favorite tenor player is Getz. He didn't shred. Occasional bursts of speed, but mostly lyrical. Turrentine is second. Favorite all-time alto player is Desmond.

I can play fast. Whenever I find myself playing too fast too often, I consciously try to back off and play more melodically. The way I figure it is if you play too fast all the time, it loses it's impact and becomes a blur to the average listener.

There are plenty of other tools in the expressive tool-box. Long tones, themes and variations, solo development, pitch deviations, dynamics, ornaments, dissonance & resolve, and even silence.

But I play for a living, and I play for a general audience. I figure I'm not there to lecture them on the cerebral points of playing, but to have a dialog with them and entertain them.

When playing solos, I like to think of my playing with the audience like playing with a cat on a toy at the end of a string. If you let the cat catch the toy too often, the cat loses interest. If the cat seldom catches the toy, it loses interest.

So I want the audience to be able to predict where I'm going for much of the time (catch the toy) but surprise them part of the time too (didn't catch the toy). I've been playing pop music since I was in high school, and I can usually size up an audience and know how far to push them. Then once the gig starts, I just pay attention to them.

I paid off the mortgage, didn't have to work day jobs as a wage slave to some faceless corporation, take vacations every year, and don't live in the upper crust by any stretch of imagination, but I'm loving life and making a living doing what I would do for free.

I wake up in the morning, go to bed at night, and in between do what I want to do. In other words, I'm successful.

If I played nothing but bebop none of this would have been available to me.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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Interesting topic. I don't/can't shred either and when I hear endless strings of lightening fast noodling I lose interest. I find it boring. It's always more interesting to me to hear a soloist play lyrically and melodically rather than endless eighth note arpeggios.

Every time I hear a player demonstrating the sound of a particular horn it seems like they MUST play fast random arpeggios. Why not play a few lines of a song we all know. To me that's more interesting. After all for a song to have become a hit and sell a million records back in the day it had to be pretty good. Do they think their noodling is better? I don't know.
 

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One of the things that eludes me as an adult recreational learner has always been fast shredding.
When I played trumpet I had the same issue, and an instructor once told me "so don't play fast".

Seems the sax, however, is one of those instruments that shredding is expected or tour just not a good player.
Don't get me wrong, I would love to have that ability and continue to work on it but it's not my wheelhouse.

Are there others here that are the same?
So, the sax style most accepted in academic environments is pretty busy stuff, befitting many hours of study, practice, examination, classwork and instructor approval. I'd love to shred. Lester Young. Coleman Hawkins. Brecker. Its so very sax-like to shred. Some can't conceive a sax without that ability. Its certainly distinctive, and impressive.

But my favorite players from the past were more successful with non-shred performances. Walker, Curtis, Allen, Jordan, Randolph - their seminal solos didn't shred, they screamed. I try to capture that with the music I'm playing now. Very gratifying, and seems to please as well. You can get away with it, when you are the only horn in the band.

I still hold out that one day I'll buckle down and really learn the keys, develop some real faculty and a good collection of tribute licks to play some straight up jazz and swing, and bust out with a really good solo, suitable for the style. But, for now, I'm enjoying what I'm doing, and feel humble to get to do it.
 

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There will ALWAYS be someone who can "shred" faster than you, so don't worry about it/them! You do YOUR OWN thing! If you WANT to play faster, work on it! Until then, enjoy what you can do and make the best music you can make.
 

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I'm still learning, starting from an older age (57) and right now my fingers just don't know how to go fast. I tend to like the ballad or more lyrical songs anyway, so no drama for me. Someone else already mentioned some of my favourite players, Getz or Turrentine or Desmond. If I can play a ballad or bossa or blues like them I would be happy. Or Art Pepper, another favourite.

So no, I don't shred, nor do I aspire to. I would like to learn to play a bit quicker, That's more than enough to keep me busy and happy. Good luck with your sax journey
 

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When I was younger I studied with a guy who wanted me to play like Bird/Stitt, but I wanted to play like Desmond. It didn't work out so great. I will always remember my very last lesson with him where he said "all right, let's hear the Desmond thing." He took out his bari and we played "All The Things You Are" with a backing track like on the Mulligan/Desmond record. It was the best I had ever played in front of him and I'll never forget the look on his face and the high fives he gave me. I was finally able to to study with a different teacher after 3 years and learned more in 3 months with my new teacher than I did in 3 years with the other guy.

Wasn't until I started playing tenor and had a completely different concept that I learned to play faster. I just didn't hear it on alto.

If you want the faster thing, work on it, and play SLOW and transcribe as much as you can. The easiest way to play fast is to play slow. Always use a metronome on literally everything. Work on a 4 bar phrase for as long as you need to. Start at 60 bpm...play the phrase perfectly 10 times in a row with and without a backing track, then move the metronome up a click and do it again. If you make even 1 single little mistake, move back down to a speed you can do it perfect 10 times in a row with a backing track. Then click the metronome back up a notch. Build on it until you get it up to speed. It might take you 3 months. Doesn't matter. Play it slow until you can play it fast.

But most of all, don't sweat it. A good tone, good intonation, and melodic playing are far more important. 3 notes can say a whole lot more than 30 notes if played with great time, phrasing, and control.

- Saxaholic
 

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Who is that ikea guy with the unvarying noodle?

...he plays fast...
 

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The sax by it's nature is a fast instrument. The hands don't need to change position like on the guitar or piano and the fingering is relatively logical and easy.

But that doesn't mean you have to play fast all the time.

If I need to learn to play a passage with difficult fingerings quickly, I practice it as fast as I can without making a mistake (I repeat: without making a mistake) for two minutes. Then I put the sax down for two minutes. Pick up the horn and play it as fast as I can without making a mistake, set the horn down for two minutes, ... ... repeat as necessary. (If you practice mistakes you will embed them into your brain.)

It seems letting the fingerings settle into myself in those two minutes of rest make me learn the passage in much less total time.

I don't know if that would work for everyone.

You can play for yourself, you can play for other musicians, or you can play for the general public. If you are good enough, you'll get the audience you asked for.

You know what you like, many musicians like shredding, the majority of the general public likes melodies.

IMO, Save the little bursts of speed for an effect, and don't wear it out.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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When I was younger I studied with a guy who wanted me to play like Bird/Stitt, but I wanted to play like Desmond. It didn't work out so great. I will always remember my very last lesson with him where he said "all right, let's hear the Desmond thing." He took out his bari and we played "All The Things You Are" with a backing track like on the Mulligan/Desmond record. It was the best I had ever played in front of him and I'll never forget the look on his face and the high fives he gave me. I was finally able to to study with a different teacher after 3 years and learned more in 3 months with my new teacher than I did in 3 years with the other guy.

Wasn't until I started playing tenor and had a completely different concept that I learned to play faster. I just didn't hear it on alto.

If you want the faster thing, work on it, and play SLOW and transcribe as much as you can. The easiest way to play fast is to play slow. Always use a metronome on literally everything. Work on a 4 bar phrase for as long as you need to. Start at 60 bpm...play the phrase perfectly 10 times in a row with and without a backing track, then move the metronome up a click and do it again. If you make even 1 single little mistake, move back down to a speed you can do it perfect 10 times in a row with a backing track. Then click the metronome back up a notch. Build on it until you get it up to speed. It might take you 3 months. Doesn't matter. Play it slow until you can play it fast.

But most of all, don't sweat it. A good tone, good intonation, and melodic playing are far more important. 3 notes can say a whole lot more than 30 notes if played with great time, phrasing, and control.

- Saxaholic
100%!! I did a video on playing fast, and the key is playing SLOW!
 

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I play with a guitar player in a duo for the con hospital folks . when I start running 16ths he'll do the same and show me how unmusical and not fun to listen to that can be. Melody is always king K
 
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