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Okay second lesson, and Im sure you teachers have all said this to people, my teacher said I lack rythym. Eg I dont spend the right amount of time on each note. Ive used metronomes and I completely loose count, ive tried the foot tapping and that just stuffs me way up. Shes got me clapping the song out first prior to playing it. Any other suggestions from people
Steve
 

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Hi simso. That's an interesting article Harri has dug up there.

Like you I'm quite junior when it comes to the sax, but when it comes to playing music I've been playin guitar and doing a few bits and pieces of composition and sound engineering for over 20 years, so this is one problem that I don't have but might be able to help you with.

I suggest you make rhythm become a part of your everyday life.

Actively listen to all music you hear (and if you're not hearing much then you need to fix that). Listen to the structure of it, count the bars, count the beats (is it 4/4, 3/4 or something else?), get familiar with where choruses begin and end, where a turnaround is coming up, how many bars of intro there are and so on. Count the beats in your head or out loud. Count them all even if they're suspended or there's a musical rest - just keep counting. Count Beat 1 a little louder than the others (1, 2, 3, 4). Tap along with your feet or fingers or whatever, try to anticipate what's going to happen next, make it a game with yourself, maybe even add your own rhythms in between the song's ones (which can be quite fun to do if you're sad like me). I reckon with a bit of patience you'll soon be there. Naturally it will be a good idea to start with more simple and repetitive music forms like blues or rock rather than complex forms like free jazz or heavy classical!

Musicians do the above all of the time without even realising it. Most musicians at some stage or other will have turned to a non musician friend and said something like "mmm, nice bass line" and the friend will say "which bit is the bass line?" because musicians listen to music differently to non musicians - in fact maybe that's the definition of a musician :D
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeh shes spot on, when she mentioned I had no rythym I didnt understand to start with, but when she got me to play with my hands and not the sax I couldnt even clap out the tune, I just lost it every time to the point I couldnt even work out what to do. Today is a new day and Ive got the swinging arm metronome click clacking away next to me ayt a beat of 80, and Im clapping out all my songs prior to playing them. I can now clap out the songs "that was just damn embarrasing" but when I play the song I cannot count in my head or Ill loose the notes Im playing and same with the foot tapping ect. I guess this is where experience starts to come into play. I can now play the sax, but then theres playing the sax and playing the sax. So its going to be difficult this one getting a way of counting the beat whilst Im playing it wiothout loosing control over my note. Example I had to hold c for a cou8nt of 4 and I ended up puffing out 4 c's.
Thanks for the links, Im going to keep clapping out all my songs now prior to playing them and maybe itll start to break me in
Regards
Stevee
 

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practise your scales with a metronome. when you are comfortable enough, try tapping your foot with the metronome while playing your scales.

when playing a tune, try to break the tune up and look at each bar seperately. what i do, is singing the bar, while i tap away with my foot (or metronome).

remember to go slow, speed is counter productive if you are not comfortable with the tune.
 

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simso said:
Okay second lesson, and Im sure you teachers have all said this to people, my teacher said I lack rythym. Eg I dont spend the right amount of time on each note. Ive used metronomes and I completely loose count, ive tried the foot tapping and that just stuffs me way up. Shes got me clapping the song out first prior to playing it. Any other suggestions from people
Steve
Hi Simso - the advice given so far is all good stuff, particularly Rick's 'make rhythm part of your daily life' approach.

Your teacher is right to have you clap the song out first. However, it might be better if you ask her to home in on shorter passages. Identify only the phrases that are causing the problem - and then, repeat them continually in a loop-like fashion. That's the way to practise. Big things are made up of small things.

In my experience as a saxophone teacher, the single biggest problem for intermediate players is rhythm, especially reading it. Most people have 'got rhythm' otherwise none of us would be able to dance and enjoy listening to music. What throws budding musicians is reading it.

A good many sax players I've taught will be able to repeat a simple sung or played rhythmic motif. Getting them to read the very same motif is another matter entirely. They get it eventually, some faster than others. But when they next practise at home, it's gone. They return for the next lesson none the wiser and we have to start all over again.

This lead me to develop a 'learn with loops' approach to reading the most commonly used jazz rhythms and phrases. Instead of just reading music note-by-note, they now learn how to 'back off' and read entire rhythmic phrases using a series of short practice loops - between two and four bars long - and some longer ones, typically eight bars in length.

To help them understand and read these phrases, each written loop has a matching audio file that they listen to, practise to, loop continuously, slow down, speed up, turn a metronome on or off. It works a treat, even if I do say so myself. But you can read what others say at my site (see sig). Look up the Jazz Phrasing Kits and the Blues Kits. Both these products employ these methods.
 

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Simso,
There have been several excellent threads devoted to this subject; the advice and hints contained therein are many and you will surely benefit from taking the time to read those which seem most closely related to your situation. Use your "search" button and do a search on "rhythm"---use the advanced search function and limit the search to topic titles, rather than to all posts.
Regards, Ruth
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Okay folks, Im after any ideas, has anyone seen or know where to buy a unit that has different coloured led's which light up when you acquire the right length of sound. If not then Ill have to make one myself. I was thinking along the lines of red led for a single crotchet, yellow for a minim and green for a semibreeve. Ill have to rig a potentiometer into the unit so that way you can vary the rythym speed eg 80 or up to say 140. Anyone seen anyhthing like this, if so yell out itll save me making one
Steve
 

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Steve, I know you're a handy person and like to build things. I'm sure your scheme would work but....

As an alternative to hardware-based metronomes, there are a number of software metronomes that are quite nice (of course this also assumes that you have access to a computer in your practice area). Here's a few, and the price is right.;)

http://www.freedownloadscenter.com/Best/metronome-free.html
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Thanks mate, I am actually after a stand alone unit. It appears that no one makes these so I guess Ill be a first. I ordered the parts today to make two versions. One is simply going to be a sound operated counter from 1 to 8 depending on how many beats to the bar I need and the other is going to be the same but withg led's instead of a counter, Ill set that one up as a bar led that works from one side to the other and illumintae more leds as the sound remains longer. Ill set the nominal 2 and 4 count as different coloured leds. I think the second one will work the best because the first version will probably have you going over your count because your holdiing to the number where as the second unit will simply show you via led lights approaching and then hitting your count no. Well see how it works. Ill let you know next weekend. It could just end up being a piece of crap.
I also dont know whether I want it counting and flashing single notes, that could end up being annoying, maybe just set it to flash minims and above
Steve
 

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Simso,
I've become confused :? . Is your objective to learn how to count and play rhythms correctly, or is it to invent a better mousetrap (i.e. to create a new and improved, and possibly marketable, device to assist budding musicians). If the latter, then have at it and keep us informed of your progress.

If the former, then I will respectfully suggest that you devote time to reading and using the wealth of existing advice about mastering rhythms, use the currently existing technology, and, above all, practice, practice, practice! Thousands of saxophone players have done so with great success.

Best regards, Ruth
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yes, I intend to practice practice and practice to become good at this the same way as everyone else has. I do not intend to take short cuts . But that being said I see something that is lacking, well as far as I can see a very simple but helpful tool for new struggling musicians. It will take me less than 20 minutes to make it, when I get the parts in, so theres no loss on my part. On top of that Im a firm believer of innovation, we would never have a car if it wasnt for someone that said, wouldnt it be good if we could get rid of that horse and go a bit faster. Not saying Im in that category but I definetly believe in thinking outside the square. Ive made things from speakers to home stereo amplifiers to steel folders for myself and friends. Ill give anything a go. Especially if it challenges me.
Thanks for all the feedback. I appreciate it all
Steve
 

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you're a thinker, simso

I get the sense that you a quite a thinker.

And that intellectual gift you have might actually be getting in the way of your rhythmic development.

You see, on a certain level, there is something dumb about making good music. Even music that reaches the highest levels. The very best has something primitive at its base. Take Coltrane for example. Even at his most abstract, there is always a deep underlying groove. There is an intelligence there, for sure, but it is not intellectual. It is, for lack of a better term, the intelligence of the body.

The object of the clapping exercises is to get you in touch with this deeper, non-thinking intelligence.

Although I admire your technically innovative spirit, this is not where you should be spending your energies right now.

Keep clapping. Don't think about it. Just do it. Listen to the metronome or the song and just clap.

And don't analyze it too much when you get it wrong. If you're having problems, simplify the exercise.

Maybe just try to clap on the first beat. Beat one is quite a beatiful beat, and you might want to get to know it better.

Then try clapping only on beat two. Then move to beat three. Then beat four.

Each beat has its own flavor and feel.

My hunch is that at this stage of your development you have to begin to learn not to think.

Now, it's not easy for any of us.

In fact, the aim of working on all of the drills and scales and progressions and patterns is bring things into consciousness in order to ultimately forget them, so that you are beyond thinking even when engaged in what (to others) is a complex improvisation. (For you as the improviser it will seem simple, obvious and inevitable.)

Anyway, you can start experiencing this non-thinking intelligence right now with your clapping exercises.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think you nailed it on the head. My wife always saids I over develop or overmake things. Ive always been one of these people that say why should I pay someone else to make something when I can do it myself eg paving or rebuilding the engine in the car. This is the crux of my problem, I look at things as a job and thereby it has an exact science method of fixing. Eg push this key down and you get a c note, as simple as that, but as Im learning with music its more than just a simple solution, this is why its all new to me and definetly a challenge and probably why I have so many issues with the simple stuff, becuase im after a mechanical solution, I guess more than a ????? does this make sense.
Steve
 

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Ive had students with a similar problem, and after the 'stop thinking' line because they often are, i start having them clap simple quarter notes. When they can do that, then at a slow tempo I have them subdivide the clapping at a slow tempo with accents on the beat. Once they can do that fairly easy, and they are able do so with a little confidence, I have them start to clap simple rhythms and phrases to songs.

Some students it helps to visually see how the beat is broken down. try writting out below the staff each measure. for example, "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and" would be straight 8ths and for 16ths, "1 e and a 2 e and a 3 e and a 4 e and a" etc The numbers represent the notes right on the beat, and thats where your hands come together clapping. for someone that analyzes everything, that may help.

I hope that makes sense
 

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so..you've got an opportunity

If you are naturally inclined to think your way through issues (or maybe sometimes overthink), this new musical study is an opportunity to develop this other side of yourself.

I wouldn't worry too much about getting it right all the time, or progressing too fast. Or even understanding what you are doing. After all, none of us is going to make any money doing this. And for the most part, we don't even have an audience for the music. So there's no real pressure to advance at all.

But that's the point and the beauty of studying this stuff. It is wonderfully useless in an economic or even social sense.

So what it can be is a personal journey where you learn to hear new things, feel new things, be exposed to weird new concepts.

Looks like you are enjoying it already.
 

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Tenorocity, You have quite nailed it, and quite beautifully! And I'll add this for Steve(being inclined to be somewhat overly analytical myself), one of the many beauties of music is that it is highly mathematical--so, even though I may have the beat or groove going really well within myself, there are always passages whose rhythms are difficult to read, but when playing in concert band or big band it is essential to the integrity of the piece that it be played exactly and with others. At that point, working it out mathematically note by rest by note is my fall back position (at home by myself of course) until it falls into place and then becomes as automatic as breathing and folds flawlessly into the groove with the rest of the ensemble.
Can you dance, Steve? If not, learn; take lessons with your wife---great for rythym and probably for your marraige as well. :)

Regards, Ruth
 

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Simso

Can sympathise with you completely. As one of the other responders has suggested look at previous posts on this subject.

I found using phonetics to be a big help also the material at www.saxlessons.com because it comes with a soundfile so you can hwear how it should be played.

On the "mousetrap" idea - I also found the freeware Noteworthy composer to be particularly helpful - you can type in the music then when it plays back the notes are highlighted so you "see" the rhythms.

I found that I couldn't keep a steady beat with my foot and if I had to play a series of quavers (eighth notes in US speak I think) - my foot would speed up to the speed of the faster notes. I've never been able to count 1 and e 2 and e etc hence use of phonetics

Norman
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for all the help guys and gals. I appreciate it. I can clap out a beat now quite comfortably, I can play my notes eg crotchets easily on the dot of a metronome beat but I still when playing a semibreve or minim or a rest loose my count, Ill be like part of the way through the sound and think **** is that a count of two ive done already or do I need to hold it longer. When I try to use a metronome here it works for the first count of a 2 beat but then I end up missing the fingering for the next note ect, and it all falls apart. Like I said the problem is in my head trying to substantialise a count of 2 3 or 4 without an outside source to help me. I guess this is why music is just one of those things, youve got to let go and become one with it and not try to validate everything. Im trying
Steve
 
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