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Where is the part where you waste your whole hour between work and dinner time trying going back and forth on mouthpieces in your drawer instead of learning the song you pulled up on YouTube to figure out?
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Thanks everyone! Ya’ll make me cringe at my own post and laugh at the same time! I did search the other posts around and everyone suggests the same sort of things so I guess I am on the right track.

Just keep on keeping on!
 
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Thanks everyone! Ya’ll make me cringe at my own post and laugh at the same time! I did search the other posts around and everyone suggests the same sort of things so I guess I am on the right track.

Just keep on keeping on!
I understand the desire to do the mouthpieces exercises. I know some teachers recommend them for checking your embouchure. And you probably think it's a good warmup and a way to ease into playing. But unless you're an absolute beginner who can't even make a sound yet, it's a waste of time. Once you're able to make a sound, you've graduated from the mouthpiece and need to play the assembled horn from this point forward. Mouthpiece-only practice has the most value for brass players who can indeed warm up somewhat before they put the horn together. Sax players don't need to warm up that way.

For adult beginners, long tones and actual tunes should be top priority, in my opinion. That will give you the quickest results and the most personal satisfaction as well as build your ears, style and overall musicianship. When you're happy with your sound on every note, stop with the long tones and play ballads to maintain your chops. They're much more enjoyable than long tones and accomplish the same thing. When you want to build some more technical facility, then dig into the scales and other rote exercises.

One last thing that I use as my main guiding principle - practice what you CAN'T already do. If you can rip up and down the mouthpiece and rip up and down the easiest scales, you don't need to do that anymore unless you just want to impress your friends. If you can play something perfectly the first time, you don't need to practice it. I hear people play stuff they mastered years ago in their practice sessions all the time. You don't learn anything from that. You grow when you tackle new material.

Learning how to limit your practice to only what you really need to practice will be essential later on if you join a band. At that point you have no choice but to limit your practice to just the tricky parts on each tune that you need to woodshed.
 

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Where is the part where you waste your whole hour between work and dinner time trying going back and forth on mouthpieces in your drawer instead of learning the song you pulled up on YouTube to figure out?
Yeah, don't forget this important exercise, LOL; guilty as charged!

But seriously, I never saw much benefit in the mpc only exercise. It's fine at some point to see where your embouchure is at and what note you blow with the mpc only, but once you've done this, I don't see any need to keep doing it, let alone include it in a daily practice routine.

And I second what lydian said above about working on new material. That's the way to progress. That's not say never review anything you've more or less mastered (so you don't lose it!), but spend plenty of time on things you still have to learn, which of course you'll never run out of. I said 'more or less' in regard to something you've mastered, because it's kind of relative--you haven't truly mastered it until it comes out in your playing without even thinking about it.
 

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Last night on assembled Martin C Melody. Just tuning MPC. Hands off.
108016
 
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Unless you’re practicing 6-8 hours a day and are a university student or have studio musician-level ambitions/ chops to maintain; then mouthpiece-only exercises on three pieces in addition to overtones and long tones (presumably on multiple voices also) is a pretty serious routine. I was only joking a little bit in my initial comment saying to mix in fun daily. We all have our own ways and each learn differently, but if I had the drive and focus to practice that long everyday you can bet I’d be learning tunes and improvising 95% of the time. The thing about mouthpiece exercises, overtones, and long tones is that while they’re each good for keying in on certain things, if you know how to work it, there’s a ton of overlap and you can work all the things while doing any one of the exercises.
 

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I'm still waiting to find out what OP is being sentenced for.
Me too...everytime I read the title in passing, I keep thinking "jeez the Judge imposed PRACTICE ? Well, if it avoided jail time, I guess it was a decent plea bargain...."
 

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SaxJ, what level are you at? How much average practice time are we talking about daily? What are your short term/long term musical goals?

Your answers will affect the recommendations.
 

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I understand the desire to do the mouthpieces exercises. I know some teachers recommend them for checking your embouchure. And you probably think it's a good warmup and a way to ease into playing. But unless you're an absolute beginner who can't even make a sound yet, it's a waste of time. Once you're able to make a sound, you've graduated from the mouthpiece and need to play the assembled horn from this point forward. Mouthpiece-only practice has the most value for brass players who can indeed warm up somewhat before they put the horn together. Sax players don't need to warm up that way.

For adult beginners, long tones and actual tunes should be top priority, in my opinion. That will give you the quickest results and the most personal satisfaction as well as build your ears, style and overall musicianship. When you're happy with your sound on every note, stop with the long tones and play ballads to maintain your chops. They're much more enjoyable than long tones and accomplish the same thing. When you want to build some more technical facility, then dig into the scales and other rote exercises.

One last thing that I use as my main guiding principle - practice what you CAN'T already do. If you can rip up and down the mouthpiece and rip up and down the easiest scales, you don't need to do that anymore unless you just want to impress your friends. If you can play something perfectly the first time, you don't need to practice it. I hear people play stuff they mastered years ago in their practice sessions all the time. You don't learn anything from that. You grow when you tackle new material.

Learning how to limit your practice to only what you really need to practice will be essential later on if you join a band. At that point you have no choice but to limit your practice to just the tricky parts on each tune that you need to woodshed.
I like what Lydian wrote, but I also like to periodically review basics. Sometimes other problems that crop up are rooted in basics that have slipped.

This can particularly happen on soprano, I think it is a good idea to periodically check your mouthpiece-only tone. I find that the tension in my embouchure can gradually increase. This can cause intonation issues and other problems. So, when I have problems I go to basics like mouthpiece-only exercises first.

The pitch recommendations for soprano are split, some recommending Concert C and others Concert C#/Db. I’ll let you figure out which works better for you and your equipment.

I was trained classically on trumpet and have tried to train similarly on the sax. However, since I am playing sax just for fun, unwinding, and hobby, this has never been particularly fun or unwinding for me.

A while ago, I was introduced to Jay Metcalf’s A Better Sax program. He gets you doing most of the things you listed. But, scales start with pentatonic instead of diatonic, and he immediately has you playing by ear songs written with only pentatonic notes. He then has you making your own pentatonic improvisations. It gets you playing recognizable music pretty quickly.

It was a new approach to practice and training for me. I had only ever played from sheet music or memorized sheet music. It sort of reminds me a little bit of descriptions of the Suzuki method a violinist friend teaches. At least, in that you are training your ear to hear and "pre-imagine" music that you are playing on your instrument. It also starts building a foundation in jazz.

It is definitely not the only teaching method, but it has been fun, and in an area of music to which I have little playing exposure. I have even been able do the unwinding that I wanted.

You’ll have to examine your own goals.
 
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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
SaxJ, what level are you at? How much average practice time are we talking about daily? What are your short term/long term musical goals?

Your answers will affect the recommendations.
I’m a beginner been playing or well quaking for almost a year now. My practice time typically is an hour or two every evening. Ultimately, my goals are to sound awesome and be able to play Gerry Mulligan and David Sanborn tunes with some Kenny G tunes thrown in there too.
 
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