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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,
I'm new here (late-late bloomer - 48 Years old). I've been playing Alto-Sax for the last 3 Months. I love this forum.. lots of nice folks it seems.

I practice every day for about an hour and a half. I start with long notes and then scales, followed with a few tunes at the end. I learnt all the Major scales, but I thought I needed some structure in how I practice them. So I bought Joseph Violas "Technique of the Saxophone: Scales". Funnily enough, I actually like playing scales (is that wierd? :shock: ).

Here's my question: How exactly is the best way to study this book?
Should I just go through it from front to back at a slow beat and then again faster. Or should I practice each exercise, until I can play it comfortably at a certain speed?
If so, at what speed should I go to the next exercise?

Thanks for any input.
 

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Welcome. I am a late bloomer too, playing only a year and a half.

Won't someone answer this guy's quetion?
 

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I think a scale should be learned well enough to have developed automaticity, that is, you play the scale without thinking of the individual notes, preferably memorized--unless you need to reference the notes in order to improve your reading skills.

At your level, I think that evenness is more important than speed.
 

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I've actually never used that book, but I can tell you as a general rule the scale should lay on your fingers easily and should come from muscle memory almost more than mental memory. Exercises are completely different in that scales are scales. As far as speed, I don't know that speed is a determining factor as much as evenness of rhythm, tone and articulation. If you're not already, play the scales in the full range or "extended range" as Meghan called it. (i.e. C scale starts at low C and extends up all the way through high f and back down to low B and ends back on C) In other words start at the lowest tonic of that particular scale and extend up every note of the horn in that scale and come all the way to the lowest note on the horn in that scale and then return up to the tonic. These are extended excercises that really prepare your fingers and your embachure for different keys and different passages in ANY musical setting, not just warm ups. Hope that wasn't too confusing...I tried to make it make sense...=P Also, arpeggios are not bad to practice either, especially if you like doing solo/improv work, as they keep your fingers and ears in tune with the major pitches of that scale (key).

- Pat
 

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the full range scale playing is a GREAT idea...because you end up practicing the whole range of the whole on every scale. you really learn your horn this way...as far as playing scales at a certain speed:
you should play your scales/patterns at the fastest tempo possible at which you can perform them flawlessly.....and then try to go a little bit faster.
if you do that every time you'll constantly be pushing yourself to get that little bit more of speed. it's very important, though, not to push yourself too much or get impatient. also, learn how to break down your scales and practice just the part of the scales that might be giving you problems. i would say the majority of your practicing should be this way. example:
play a scale. notice which parts are uneven...then isolate that part of the scale and practice only that part until it's improved.
another part to learning scales is being able to play them in any way. starting on the tonic and going up and then back down by step is a good way to get them under your fingers and in your head. but, ideally you should be able to play any scale in any pattern...so it's good that you like playing scales, because there are endless exercises to be done with them. !
becoming fluent on an instrument is a very long process. you just have to keep sheddin.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the input. I see I shouldnt get hung up with speed, but that playing them flawlessly is the key. I´m practising with a metronome, so that should help with the evenness.
 

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Metronome is our friend, don't forget that scales are your friends when it comes to articulation and metering also, play all kinds of articulation patterns, syncopations, and sub-metered notes once you think you've got em, it'll feel like you're starting all over again...=P
 

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In regards to general scale practicing and not the Viola book:

First, find out where you are tempo wise. At what tempo can you play all your scales evenly and effortlessly? From there, tack on 20 BPM and set that as a goal. When you reach it, tack on another 20 BPM. You don't move on until all scales can be plays flawlessly and effortlessly. That's the key, to be able to play them perfectly with as little muscular tension as possible. If you have to tense up to try to play a certain scale, you don't have it and it needs more work.

I went from eighth notes at quarter=120 to 160. At that point I switched to 16th notes at quarter=80. My current goal is 16th notes at quarter=120 full range for all major and minor scales. I know some guys who set their stopping point is 16th at 152.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yoiks.. that's fast.:shock:
 
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