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Well, here is the video. I think I'm definitely going to hear some differing opinions on this one, but that's what I'm about - learning new things and continually trying to grow! Please watch before randomly commenting...or not...it's all good - just let me know what you think!

 

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Well, here is the video. I think I'm definitely going to hear some differing opinions on this one, but that's what I'm about - learning new things and continually trying to grow! Please watch before randomly commenting...or not...it's all good - just let me know what you think!

First Rate! Thank you. I have been doing much of what you outline as well as the long tones.
 

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I watched the video and it was very interesting. At points you were almost manic though, as if you were in a hurry to go off and practice some long tones ;)

One way to discern your commentary would be to refer to "static long tones", ie let's see how long I can play this G concert and be in tune.

You mentioned in the video playing a segment of a song/exercise and holding a tone and checking intonation. .That's something I do from time to time even before watching the video. It's a good way of checking a note in a musical context.

Another great way of learning intonation is to play along with someone who plays with great intonation. Greg Fishman's Jazz phrasing books are a solid resource for this. Impeccable style and spot-on intonation on the playalongs.

Thanks for sharing this, it's a good watch / listen for those who haven't viewed it yet.

Sent from my LGUS997 using Tapatalk
 

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Well, here is the video. I think I'm definitely going to hear some differing opinions on this one, but that's what I'm about - learning new things and continually trying to grow! Please watch before randomly commenting...or not...it's all good - just let me know what you think!

You offer a lot of good points to clarify this issue. Thanks for your videos.
 

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Well, here is the video. I think I'm definitely going to hear some differing opinions on this one, but that's what I'm about - learning new things and continually trying to grow! Please watch before randomly commenting...or not...it's all good - just let me know what you think!

You offer a lot of good points to clarify this issue. Thanks for your videos.
I appreciate that! I am just trying to help in anyway I can. Just like with listening, people now have the luxury of watching tons of different "instructional" videos online and can take bits and pieces from each. I do the same, and there's a lot of good stuff out there!
 

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Hi Dave,

Some background: I think I have a strong and personally identifiable sound: technique - meh, ideas - meh, creativity - meh, but I am pretty happy with my sax sound and I get a lot of good comments from people I respect about it. I developed that sound, I think, through a lot of things but a big part of it is what I might call "long tones" but which might be closer to what you are demonstrating in your video.

You're right, just holding a single note at a mezzo-blah volume while staring at a tuner is unlikely to do much other than train you to hold a single note at a mezzo-blah volume while staring at a tuner. That's not what I think of as long tone work, that's what I would call "middle school sax student was told to play long tones for 15 minutes so he's going to do the bare minimum to prevent getting nagged at."

The two things I have focused on most, and that I have counseled others to work with, are dynamics on a note, and moving from one note to the next.

1) Dynamics - my favorite exercise on this is to hold a note from pppp to ffff and back to pppp, while paying close attention. (I do not use a tuner for this kind of thing. When I was a boy there weren't tuners, so we LISTENED rather than LOOKING. I have tuners now and I use them a lot for certain things, but for this exercise I think it's important that your attention be EAR-focused not EYE-focused.) At the pppp level, the note's going to want to drop out, or turn into subtone, or get sharp, and your job is to pay attention and keep it from doing that. At the ffff level, the note's going to want to break up, or split up or split down, or go flat, or sound bad, and again the job is to pay attention and keep it from doing that.

I believe that this exercise teaches you, at the muscle memory level (yes, yes, I know there is no such anatomical thing as muscle memory, but let me use the term as a metaphor) what it feels like in your embouchure and airstream, to maintain control throughout the full dynamic range of the instrument. When you start out you might be able to keep in tune with decent tone quality and control, from pp to ff and back again, and running quickly out of air on the low notes. As time goes on, you can keep the sound under control at softer volumes, and at louder volumes, and you improve your air utilization. This also means that you have better and better control in the middle of the dynamic range.

Is this a "long tones" exercise"? Maybe, but as you note in your video, it adds a context to the playing of a single note. You learn how to push a note right up to the edge of control, maybe a bit past and into the out-of-control range, and bring it back. I'm sure you would agree this is important. You have to be willing to sound like poop, to get the benefit out of this.

2) The second exercise I like a lot is a moving exercise kind of like you were alluding to, but very systematic. Basically, you have a "base note" and you play every interval less than an octave that's based on that note. For example, we start on low Bb (shall we call it Bb0?). You would play Bb0-B0-Bb1-B1-Bb2-B2-Bb2-B1-Bb1-B0-Bb0 - in other words a set of sevenths and half steps. Next pattern is Bb and C, next pattern is Bb and C#, and so on, going as high as you can play on the horn. By the time you go through all 12 base notes, you will have played twice every single interval on the horn that's smaller than an octave (you could add octaves or even larger intervals to this exercise but I have not yet done that). Oh, by the way, don't use a tuner here either. You want to be focused on the sound, not on a green or red light. Your ears will be accurate enough, you don't need to be within 3 cents of tune for this exercise.

OK, so what's the point of the exercise? The point is the TRANSITION from one note to the next. By playing these patterns SLOWLY (no tonguing - all slurred), you can focus on one transition at a time. The objective is that each movement from one note to the next occurs - as much as you can - instantly, with no break in the sound, instant adjustment of the embouchure, and instant movement of the fingers with no bobbles. If a transition is rough, for whatever reason, you go back over and over it till it is a bit better.

If you practice scales, for example, especially at any degree of speed, the upcoming finger movements start to occupy your attention, and it makes it hard to focus properly on that one note-to-note movement that isn't clean. With this exercise each interval on the horn gets isolated and looked at individually. There's no shucking possible about that middle D to low A that never comes out clean, when you are doing just that one movement slowly and by itself, unlike when you are doing it in an arpeggio exercise at MM120; then you can get away for years with a bobble or a bubble in the sound.

Speaking personally, this interval exercise I learned from my flute teacher Wally Downs and I credit this one exercise with my ability to go to and from high E on the flute (the most notorious note on the flute) with ease, from and to any other note, at any dynamic level. Focusing on that one set of transitions teaches you how to set your blowing to go onto and off of the note in a way that scales or arpeggios won't do.

So is this "interval" exercise a "long tone" exercise? Not really, but it is focused on one.note.at.a.time - or as I said, to be more accurate, it's focused on one note-to-note movement at a time. You demonstrate some similar things, but I would respectfully suggest that the pace is still too fast. If students do these moving note exercises at the speed you're demonstrating, I think they are going to get caught up in the line and it'll be hard for them to focus on the transitions between the notes.

Maybe a new adage would be "it's not the notes, it's the transitions between the notes that matter." or something like that.

So, there's my thoughts, plus a bit of feedback on the exercises you're presenting. My suggestion, in summary, would be to emphasize more the RANGE of dynamics, and to emphasize more playing longer-duration notes in moving exercises so one can focus better on the TRANSITIONS between notes.
 

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Dave, I have chatted with a couple of people who graduated from various prestigious classical and jazz programs in the past 10 years, and they tell me their professors insist, like its some crazy Islamic fatwa, that their students do LOTS of long tones... at least 20-30 minutes per day... To me this is some combination of sadism, masochism, manipulation, and perhaps some hostile method of stifling future competition in these young students. I wouldn't spend tens of thousands of $ to have some *** wipe professor telling me to waste 1000s of hours of practice time over years doing moronic long tones.

If I ever find myself teaching more advanced older students, I will certainly analyze and advise them to correct any bad habits I observe in their embouchure and general posture. If that involves doing some variation of long tones for a temporary stretch, that is about the extent I would advise anyone to spend any time doing LT. Otherwise, I would tell them to concentrate on exercises that, as you say, integrate a natural basket of skill together and not have them waste time on isolated skills that are out of any musical context.
 

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I think the most effective long tone for me is copying Coletrain or Kenny Garret playing Equinox or another ballad. I pick up phrasing , timing , and tonal colors. So if you do do long tones you should have a goal/end result in mind. When I had next to no time to practice years ago I just did long tones full range of horn loud to soft for 16 seconds. I took a lesson from Al Garth of the Eagles band and he said I had more control in my Altissiimo than he did. So if I only had 20 minutes to paradise in a busy day it was 5 minutes long tones. 5 minutes speed on scales and the rest on whatever tune I had to play at the nest gig. K
 

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I mean, it seems like you don't hate longtones, you just hate mindless longtones. Contextual longtones are a good thing and (imo) think that most people who preach longtones don't preach mindless longtones, but that people often don't pay full attention to the intent of the exercise. I certainly didn't when I was first instructed to do longtones. In high school, I said "THAT'S BORING I'LL NEVER DO THAT".

Then in college, I heard it again (and again). So...I tried it in earnest (contextually) and...well, the results spoke for themselves.

There are absolutely people who are ego-driven long-toners (I do 5 hours of longtones a day), but the majority I've found have been purposeful in instruction, but the students can be *ahem* less than receptive.
 

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...the majority I've found have been purposeful in instruction, but the students can be *ahem* less than receptive.
My comment earlier:

You're right, just holding a single note at a mezzo-blah volume while staring at a tuner is unlikely to do much other than train you to hold a single note at a mezzo-blah volume while staring at a tuner. That's not what I think of as long tone work, that's what I would call "middle school sax student was told to play long tones for 15 minutes so he's going to do the bare minimum to prevent getting nagged at."

Having been a middle school student, I suspect much of the hate for long tones comes from a combination of poor communication from teachers and middle-schooler unreceptiveness.
 

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Having been a middle school student, I suspect much of the hate for long tones comes from a combination of poor communication from teachers and middle-schooler unreceptiveness.
Hey now, don't just dump on middle-schoolers, full grown adults are known to ignore pertinent instructions as well (and full agreement about poor communication).
 

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Hi Dave, inspired by your video I switched from nerdy loooooong tones to intervals, appregio and scale playing with a long tone feeling. Yes, I clearly had deficits here, and my playing becomes better. Thanks for that simple but necessary and efficient advice, all the best and looking forward to more of your vids!
 

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Felicidades. Long Tones are like a Church of Scientology cult for woodwind players. They are indoctrinated by manipulative and ignorant teachers and college professors who who brainwash, coerce and threaten them them into wasting thousands of hours of precious practice time with that BS. You have emancipated yourself from the religious cult of Long Tones. After one week at the beginning, woodwind players absolutely do not need to do long tones, they just need to PLAY. You develop your embouchure and sound by playing MUSIC. Scales with a metronome are eternally important too. You will find life after dreary and ridiculous long tones is much better. Soon you will look back on these days and wonder how you did that nonsense for so long.

Just remember it is extremely important, fast or slow, to always use a click metronome when you do you scales. You're brain needs to learn to anticipate a steady pulse and you will be 100x more productive with the metronome.

Hi Dave, inspired by your video I switched from nerdy loooooong tones to intervals, appregio and scale playing with a long tone feeling. Yes, I clearly had deficits here, and my playing becomes better. Thanks for that simple but necessary and efficient advice, all the best and looking forward to more of your vids!
 
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I'm not a teacher, I'm a student.

I'd like to see the video shortened - More than 4 minutes go by explaining a philosophy. Get to the point. Long tones aren't bad. You're simply offering another useful method to use during practice. Which is great and helpful But I have to wait more than 4 minutes to get to this idea. An example is provided and then we're back to another diatribe that repeats what was provided in the first 4:44 of the video. Your idea is a good one. I would have enjoyed the video a lot more if it had been about 2 minutes long and not fourteen.


Simplistically
Long tones are an independent and aural exercise. Practicing them and incorporating a drone' is a great way to embed pitch qualities into the players ear/brain. Benefits are obvious. Using a tuner is bad - it trains the player visually, which defeats the purpose of the aural exercise. So much to practice so little time.
 

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I'm not a teacher, I'm a student.

I'd like to see the video shortened - More than 4 minutes go by explaining a philosophy. Get to the point. Long tones aren't bad. You're simply offering another useful method to use during practice. Which is great and helpful But I have to wait more than 4 minutes to get to this idea. An example is provided and then we're back to another diatribe that repeats what was provided in the first 4:44 of the video. Your idea is a good one. I would have enjoyed the video a lot more if it had been about 2 minutes long and not fourteen.


Simplistically
Long tones are an independent and aural exercise. Practicing them and incorporating a drone' is a great way to embed pitch qualities into the players ear/brain. Benefits are obvious. Using a tuner is bad - it trains the player visually, which defeats the purpose of the aural exercise. So much to practice so little time.
Sorry you didn’t dig it! I’m not for everyone, and that’s okay with me.

Everyone has their own video style, and some do shorter ones and some longer. I just love the fact we have the opportunity to view FREE content and tutorials online- since most teachers charge over a dollar per minute for lessons, the availability of these really help people out.
 

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This is pretty amazing

...I've never done long tones,....until yesterday! whaaaa!?

All I did was play scales or intervals, with a strong volume and steady pitch as possible, for a slow moderate four beats per note.

I found an immediate, if somewhat shortlived, improvement in so much of what I was doing. It didn't break the bad habits of many years, but in the immediate-term, I was a stronger (actually, just more disciplined) player.

So, this to say I'm no one to say they are good/ bad as I have next to no experience with them. That said, any intervalic type exercise slowed down and turned into long tones is great. Yes it is the articulation of jumps that matter. Is that something like a contextual approach?...I think so, and I think that's the key, which is a point he made in the video. A LOT!


BTW< I actually had to check that I didn't have the video setting on accelerated playback. Why the manic pace of speaking? HINT- It doesn't make it any more important to talk fast!
 
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Sorry you didn’t dig it! I’m not for everyone, and that’s okay with me.

Everyone has their own video style, and some do shorter ones and some longer. I just love the fact we have the opportunity to view FREE content and tutorials online- since most teachers charge over a dollar per minute for lessons, the availability of these really help people out.
Length of video is not a style of video, it's a by-product of the story told. I appreciate the effort that goes into the creation of an instructional video. Monetarily free videos are wonderful yet still come with a cost. The time spent to watch them. Time has a value to us both and in today's online video world, viewing time can be monetized. I tend to shy away from those creators that don't use my time well.

I watched both the Long Tone video in this thread and your video on how to Transpose! There is no question both have very helpful content. In the How to Transpose! video, the story (how-to content) ends around the five minute mark yet the video continues for another 6 minutes.

Like practicing the saxophone time is a tyrant. If you're going to go to the trouble to make a video why not pack the entire video with useful content? It is afterall a video and not a conversation. If I need clarification I can rewind the video.

I'm assuming one of your goals in addition to teaching the saxophone, is to capture an audience. The creators that capture my attention use their and my time well. I set no time limits to this requirement. One minute, one hour, one week.

You're suggesting alternative methods that include contextual practice of the saxophone. Fantastic! I'm simply suggesting your ideas might be more powerfully presented with some video editing to tighten up their presentation. It ain't easy but it's all fun. Keep on truckin!
 

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I don't have any real strong opinion on time management for an instruction video, but I didn't really find the conversation in Dave's video irrelevant or too long. There is so much information, both good, bad, accurate, and inaccurate out there that it is of some importance and helpful to some people to put these exercises in context and provide some explanation regarding their use or value. And in some cases it may be important to explain why the 'standard approach' isn't the only one that works.

So taking a few minutes to explain the reasoning behind what is being presented or even to philosophize a bit is not a problem, in my opinion. In some cases it could be, but not in this case. Thanks for taking the time and providing valuable information and insight, Dave!

It's kind of ironic how the internet is both chock full of info (both useful and useless), providing a lot of opportunity to waste a huge amount of time, while at the same time conducive to a short attention span & the need for instant gratification.
 
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