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As a first step to learning to solo, I have been transcribing some tenor solos by Ben Webster, studying these and comparing with the chord tones.

My notation skills greatly exceed my playing ability, so I often write something which I cannot play. The only solution then is a “half speed thrash” to sort out the fingering and the wrong notes. After some time, I can play the solos fairly accurately, but only slowly. I need to be able to get them up to tempo. I play scales and arpeggios, but these don’t go very quickly either. Maybe that goes with being a very late bloomer? :(

Any suggestions how I can improve my speed and accuracy?
 

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You've done the first step right, slowing things down to where you can play accurately. Now, just up the tempo little by little, say five bpm at a time. Use a metronome, religiously. It takes time, but it works. Good luck, and I hope I've been of some help!
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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ARC54 has got it right, all I would add is to make sure you vary your practise enough to keep a concentrated mind. If you spend a whole practise session on learning one transcription it's possible to lose focus, so split your sessions up into transcriptions, scales and finger dexterity exercises and long notes.

Obviously the long notes per se don't help your agility, but the happier you ae with your tone the better you ]feel about practising in general and the more value you get from every aspect. That's the way it works for me anyway.
 

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And get a teacher to show you the alternate fingerings to speed up your playing. You must use the side keys, palm keys and sometimes alternate fingerings to play some passages.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You've done the first step right, slowing things down to where you can play accurately. Now, just up the tempo little by little, say five bpm at a time. Use a metronome, religiously. It takes time, but it works. Good luck, and I hope I've been of some help!
You have indeed, and thanks for your encouragement. Besides the big band material where tenor II sometimes need to solo, I am currently working on Fishman vol.III. I am boxing a little above my weight here, but I like a challenge.:bluewink:

I have a digital recorder to which I transfer the trio backing tracks from CD. It has the advantage of being able to play back at slower tempos, down as much as -50% without changing the pitch. I guess, as you say, this is going to take some time.
 

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Hi Ian,

Get 'amazing slow downer' or 'transcribe' on your computer. Any track you have on computer or cd you can slow down to 20% or up to 200%, change pitch, loop sections or hold a note to give a reference. ASD has shortcut keys to slow down to 90%, 75 or 60% i'm sure transcribe has the same.
 

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This may or may not be relevant to your situation, but make sure that your setup is responsive. When I started out I was playing on reeds that were too stiff for the mouthpiece that I was using and as a result I was working really hard to make a sound and keep it in tune. This makes it very hard to play a rapid sequence of notes. You can also experiment with the reed placement in relation to the tip, I find this also affects responsiveness (at least on my setup), the further in from the tip I go (within reason of course) the more responsive it gets. Also, if you have a horn with leaks you will be working hard to produce sounds which again will make it hard to play quickly, so make sure your horn is leak free. Other than that, everything else that has been suggested is what I would have said.

I hope you don't mind a self-confessed perpetual beginner trying to give advice, so take it for what it is.
 

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And get a teacher to show you the alternate fingerings to speed up your playing. You must use the side keys, palm keys and sometimes alternate fingerings to play some passages.
+1000. I had been playing about 15 years, 8 of them professionally, before I made this discovery. I had taken lots of lessons but ran into one particular instructor when I was in college who showed me all kinds of fingerings I would have never considered on my own. Apparently my other instructors had never considered them either. A few simple tips and lots of practice later and I couldn't believe how much my technique improved. Here's just one small example. A lot of guys don't realize you can play 1 and 1 A# using the F# key in your right hand. Instead of xoo xoo you can use xoo oxo. Comes in real handy when playing in sharp keys because there are lots of times you can just leave your right hand down. Here's another: You can play a C#/Db arpeggio without ever releasing the low C# and low C keys since the C# pinky key also opens the G# key. I've seen guys really struggle with trying to get their left pinky off the C# and onto the G# key while also lifting their RH pinky on and off the C key. A C#/Db arpeggio becomes one of the simplest of them all when you take the pinkies out of the equation.
 

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Just don't get discouraged with Fishman Vol. III. I'm sure you have heard that it is the "easiest" of his etudes. But the sixteenth note runs on the second page of "Ravenswood Ave." are still kicking my rear end. It's great stuff, I really enjoy it, but there is no shame in taking it slow!

Regards,
George
 

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Hi Ian,

Get 'amazing slow downer' or 'transcribe' on your computer. Any track you have on computer or cd you can slow down to 20% or up to 200%, change pitch, loop sections or hold a note to give a reference. ASD has shortcut keys to slow down to 90%, 75 or 60% i'm sure transcribe has the same.
Actually, Transcribe has even more shortcut options for slowing down.
 
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