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Discussion Starter #1
I'm sick of getting such a lousy tone from the high notes at having iffy low notes. So I've gone from 10 minutes of long tones to 30 minutes of long tones with a heavy emphasis on the highs and low. I've been doing it for three days and already there are noticible results. I'll let you know how it is in a month. Of course I do this with a tuner.
 

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Congratulations for not getting so sick of it that you can't stand to practice it at all - that's the great bugaboo of the late bloomer.

Right now I'm taking college freshman courses in ear training, theory and class piano. It's like shoveling chicken crap for someone who's been playing self-taught for 30 years. But if I ever want any real credentials in music, I gotta jump thru the same hoops everyone else did and do it smartly.
 

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Yep - been there done that, even with a lot of training coming up from high shcool - it was still chicken crap and very hard for most of us even then. But hey, let me assure you of something. You will NEVER lose that knowledge you gain in those classes - like - ever. Great investment in a musician.
 

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I've been contemplating doing that myself (extending the long tone practice time with special emphasis placed on the high and low register, plus overtones). But for me it is also a question of getting the right reed that plays for you in a balanced way. Please do let us know how you're progressing in about a month (but maybe a year is a more reasonable time period to assess improvement?)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
If I have to wait a year for major progress, I'll quit! A half hour of long tones is a LONG time. Although I heard someone on the list say they did for four hours a day for awhile.
 

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If I have to wait a year for major progress, I'll quit! A half hour of long tones is a LONG time. Although I heard someone on the list say they did for four hours a day for awhile.
There are ways of making it more interesting. I use drones as a backing (downloaded from Matt Otto's website) and then I do the long tones on triad notes. For example, I put on a G drone and then I do long tones starting low with Bb, then D, then G, then Bb2, etc. I often go back and forth in no particular order; some days I only do roots and fifths. It's really a kind of Zen exercise, so it's not hard for me to look at the watch and find to my surprise that 20 minutes have already gone by.
 

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You don't need to do long tones for 30 minutes. Way too boring. Just do 10 or 15 minutes maximum. Do this with the "Tuning CD" instead of your tuner. I even do them with Aebersold CDs. One called "Body and Soul" starts off with Alone Together followed by Body and Soul. They are both slow ballads and you can play long tones in the key of the songs… just changing the long tone by a half step or whole step to fit the changes (this part is not neccessary.)

Another good excercize is to play everything as loud as possible. My sax teacher in junior high made me do that for one month. Whatever the lesson was for the week, i had to play it at my full volume the entire piece. We worked on dynamics later, but this exersize was for sound and tone… breathing too.

PS, as an alternate to buying the Tuning CD, Tom Ball site has similar audio files which are free on this website: http://www.dwerden.com/intonation-helper.cfm

There are good instructions on how to use drones online. Search "using drones to improve intonation" on Google.

One final note on long tones. Don't forget to take frequent breaks. Building up your chops is just like lifting weights. It's easy to damage muscles by overworking them. Hope this helps.
 

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I'm kinda the opposite. I actually enjoy knowing I have more patience than most twenty or thirty something's, Grasshopper.
 

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I agree with soybean that in your shoes I'd do 15 minutes max and then figure you've "fought the good fight." I think playing loud is also worth a try...

The only other thing I'd consider, lutemann, if you haven't already done this, would be to grab a lesson or two devoted to sound production from a good player in your neck of the woods. Just to make sure you're not doing "something" that's keeping you from progressing!

Good luck! You really ARE fighting the good fight, for what it's worth...
 

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Hmmmm...guys, maybe I am crazy but I started in 6th grade on alto. I took lessons every year - yes - studied all the scales, etudes, Voxman, did all the Region and State work, even studied with hyper technical clarinet teachers..etc... and in my final years of high school I tried out and obtained several scholarships to college. Went to college, studied with many teachers and ultimately, played big band jobs, small pro combo jobs, Dixieland gigs, and taught lessons for high schoolers. I am no pro but I can play subtones and always had a full range from soft to full bore jazz open volume at my peak.

I say this to say this: I never did long tones---like EVER. And that was through 9 formal teachers from beggining to end. I am not saying long tones are bad of course! I would like to know though...what it is that is being developed here with long tones? I just cant' imagine doing 4 hours of what I hear as 'long tones'.
 

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If I have to wait a year for major progress, I'll quit! A half hour of long tones is a LONG time. Although I heard someone on the list say they did for four hours a day for awhile.
You're wasting your time. Five or ten minutes of long tones is plenty. Play music. Slow, beautiful music. Ballads and slow etudes. Play these with and without vibrato and at all dynamic levels. Everything you play is a tone study. If your not satisfied with your upper register, play actual music up an octave. There are those who love to play long tones and it may work for them. I have to play music.
 

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Hmmmm...guys, maybe I am crazy but I started in 6th grade on alto. I took lessons every year - yes - studied all the scales, etudes, Voxman, did all the Region and State work, even studied with hyper technical clarinet teachers..etc... and in my final years of high school I tried out and obtained several scholarships to college. Went to college, studied with many teachers and ultimately, played big band jobs, small pro combo jobs, Dixieland gigs, and taught lessons for high schoolers. I am no pro but I can play subtones and always had a full range from soft to full bore jazz open volume at my peak.

I say this to say this: I never did long tones---like EVER. And that was through 9 formal teachers from beggining to end. I am not saying long tones are bad of course! I would like to know though...what it is that is being developed here with long tones? I just cant' imagine doing 4 hours of what I hear as 'long tones'.
You're probably not crazy. I'm no long tone fan either, but then again I think that practising itself is over rated. I prefer to play. Sometimes I play the saxophone or clarinet by myself. Sometimes it involves playing the same thing more than once until I like what I hear better. I hate practising, but I love playing.

As for long tones, I've never got what they're supposed to achieve. I'm pretty happy with my tone and my breath control. It's my execution that lags behind my ideas. Flying a plane straight and level (without autopilot) takes skill, but it's manoevering that counts more in the long run.
 

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I don't play long tones and I very rarely have my students play them.
Slow tunes, using BOTH of your ears gets a lot more accomplished.
I get more of a work out going through my 'just for fun' play alongs.
Some of those Disney songs can really kick you in the behind. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
A lot of people say they don't practice long tones and have a great tone. I believe them, but I think for efficiency's sake - starting sax ant age 60 - I should practice long tones. A half hour may be too much, but I'm going to do it for a month and then maybe cut back to 15 minutes.
 

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I was a fairly well-established tenor player, in my thirties with one CD behind me, before I even attempted long tones. And they literally changed my life.

That said, I forcefully subscribe to David Berkman's advice in "The Jazz Musician's Guide to Creative Practicing," here severely edited to get his point across:

"Monitoring your level of engagement with what you are doing is another important skill that good practicers possess. It has to be fun. Really, it HAS to be FUN. [big snip...] And the things that aren't fun to work on? Don't practice them. There is enough to do working on things that are interesting and enjoyable. Still, try to stay open to what might make the thing that isn't fun, fun." [emphasis added]​

I approached long tones as if they were cod liver oil -- I wasn't happy with my sound, so I had to take this sh*tty, boring medicine. And the surprise was, after a while I found myself enjoying them... (I discuss how I got to that point here, if you're interested.)

If you HATE 'em, don't bother, because you're not likely to get much benefit, and there's plenty of other stuff to work on. However, if you can find a way to like them, they can be very beneficial -- especially if you're unhappy with some aspect of your sound. Good luck!
 

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Thanks for the responses guys! -maybe I am not crazy after all. I would also love to hear from some teachers or students that have teachers who like long tones and believe they have value in development of skills. What I want to know is what is the objective, the goal, the specifc skill that is being developed with long tones?
 

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I'm sick of getting such a lousy tone from the high notes at having iffy low notes. So I've gone from 10 minutes of long tones to 30 minutes of long tones with a heavy emphasis on the highs and low. I've been doing it for three days and already there are noticible results. I'll let you know how it is in a month. Of course I do this with a tuner.
Hi Lutemann - I don't know your background, but I wanted to mention one thing about those high notes with bad tone. I remember after many many years of playing, and I would even say even at a college performance level, I basically had an ok, but not great upper register - I mean, sometimes it was ok, but it was somewhat static -I could hit the notes and they were in tune (I think, lol) and good tone.

I started doing the overtone studies (Rauscher sp?!) - whatever that book is. I did those for a year because dude...I wanted to play some altissimo and sound cool right? Sandborn was coming out at the time strong, and geez...altissimo was now required to be a cool sax player among our inner cult of wanna be players, LOL. Was I good at this? Definitely NO. But I did it, and it did change my playing a LOT. Suddenly, although I didn't own altissimo, after doing all that overtone work, I could suddenly 'MANIPULATE' the upper register using my oral cavity, embessure and more importantly, my throat. It was an eppiphany of sorts. I could make notes go sharp, flat, whatever not just with my jaw.

I wondered why at that point, teachers didn't focus on the overtone studies more when students are much younger. Maybe these could help you, although it's frustrating work.
 

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I was a fairly well-established tenor player, in my thirties with one CD behind me, before I even attempted long tones. And they literally changed my life.

That said, I forcefully subscribe to David Berkman's advice in "The Jazz Musician's Guide to Creative Practicing," here severely edited to get his point across:

"Monitoring your level of engagement with what you are doing is another important skill that good practicers possess. It has to be fun. Really, it HAS to be FUN. [big snip...] And the things that aren't fun to work on? Don't practice them. There is enough to do working on things that are interesting and enjoyable. Still, try to stay open to what might make the thing that isn't fun, fun." [emphasis added]​

I approached long tones as if they were cod liver oil -- I wasn't happy with my sound, so I had to take this sh*tty, boring medicine. And the surprise was, after a while I found myself enjoying them... (I discuss how I got to that point here, if you're interested.)

If you HATE 'em, don't bother, because you're not likely to get much benefit, and there's plenty of other stuff to work on. However, if you can find a way to like them, they can be very beneficial -- especially if you're unhappy with some aspect of your sound. Good luck!
I am going to dig into your link and read your article. Hey, if long tones improve something - I don't even care if it's boring. I am just looking now to improve after 20 yrs. away and my tone probably isn't as good as I 'hear' to the guy listening from a distance. Good input!

PS. For future reference, statements like "literally changed my life" kinda set the hook! :mrgreen:
 

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I started doing the overtone studies (Rauscher sp?!) - whatever that book is. I did those for a year [snip...] and it did change my playing a LOT.
Fer what it's worth, ChuckSax, to my mind saying you've never done long tones in your life, but *did* spend a year doing overtones, is akin to saying you never exercise, but you *do* lift weights!

I consider overtone work to be the natural extension of long tone work, sort of "Long Tones, Part 2." For me, long tones got me ready to do overtones and get the most out of them. And my experience was the same as yours: I did them 'cuz I wanted to get altissimo happening, without knowing that they'd *actually* really help me get my sound *over the whole horn* together...

You were perhaps far enough along that you could go directly to overtones without starting long tones, but working on them is basically, at least to my mind, working on "advanced long tones."
 

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I don't play long tones on a regular basis but Ralph Lalama showed me an exercise that he does every day that only takes 10mins. Trick is that you go ten mins without loosening your embouchure, this means that by the time you're done your mouth should be stinging with pain and you will not be playing with good tone but it strengthens your chops like nothing else will. I think 10 mins of high intensity exercise does better than 2 hours of mediocre long tones. The exercise is called ha-ta-ta and I don't want to spill his secret but the general idea of shorter long tones was the point.
 
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