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Discussion Starter #1
I'm not sure where / which category this would be best to post in, and, I wasn't able to find a prior thread on this. I hope its not too redundant.

I'm looking for recommendations or reviews from people who have done lessons on line. I'd like to know especially why and what made them remarkable and most importantly, effective. I dont' have big $ to spend.

I'm a lifelong player, with some decent music theory background, but not advanced. I play a fair amount and can sit in with most R n B / funk gigs pretty easily. I know all basic scales but certainly not all. I can sing fairly well; I say that because I think it is an element of musical/ear knowledge. I think my sound production and technique are adequate/good.

But with standards and the like, without a lead sheet, I can either sound worse...or better!? than with. What does that tell one...? I'm not sure but I think a sharp eyed teacher may know what the significance of that is! Part of the goal is to unlock the means to hear and respond to chordal movement readily.

So with that background, FWIW, please let me know your thoughts.

Off line if you think that 's the way to go.
 

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Well I think I'd start with Tim Price and Steve Neff. They've both been active members here for many years and shown a willingness to share their knowledge, experience, and insight often for free with the sax community at large. In my book that makes them pretty good people and that's half the battle. That being said you first need to decide what it is you are looking for. Are you trying to improve your sound, technique, altissimo, improvisation, doubling, etc., as well as the type of music - rock, funk, jazz, classical, ect. and find someone who will be comfortable helping you with that. Steve may be a good match since he's based out of New England (I think New Hampshire) so you might be close enough to take an in-person lesson at his studio to begin with or maybe every few months and go with online lessons in between.

I've been thinking about taking a few lessons but haven't found time to fit them into my schedule. I haven't convinced myself I want to go with online so I have a few local pros who's playing I really like and I'm thinking about asking them.
 

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Bill, regarding the lead sheet/standards thing, I'll certainly give you my .02 cents worth!
Are you talking about general playing, or improvising?........or probably both! The first thing I'd ask you is do you REALLY....and I mean REALLY know the melody? Enough to not just play it as you might memorize it from the music, but to play with the notes and rhythms a little without getting lost time or rhythm-wise. In my experience teaching this to many students over the years, they simply do NOT know the melody well enough, period. Also, one you *think* you have the melody memorized and can play it unaccompanied and WITHOUT losing your sense of time, try playing it a whole step up or down from where you just memorized it. I'm going to go back one sentence and reiterate how important it is to be able to play a melody (no matter how simple) IN TIME and without stumblin' and bumblin' all over the place. This might include using a metronome on beats 2 and 4 to simulate the high hats on drums.
When you start attempting to improvise.......well, that's a whole other, but not that different topic.

John
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hmm, well if you put it that way, I may not know the melodies down stone cold and definitely not readily played a step up or down. If I bumble a bit yes it happens,,,sometimes working it into a modification of the melody!?! Louis As modifications of melodies in the "second A' of the head often come to mind (not the bumbling aspect! tho)

So for example: Sweet Georgia Brown- I was memorizing it recently in one key, then went to play with a small group and they said, no we want to do it in F. It took me a little bit, say, 10 mins to practice to get it 90+% down but haven't played it in a group setting enuf to be really ready

But Another example: Sunny - I can play that 100% and definitely can "play with" the melody, split/double notes,shift time a little, and not get lost. I've played it alot with small groups. So maybe that's the idea/concept/ level you're referring to/

Another is Samba de Orfeo. I can play/play with the head and improvise that very solidly without lead sheet and it just feels good, even with a missed note here or there, compared to "reading along"

As far as playing in time, and playing with time, I'm good with that overall, to your point, esp if Im relatively solid on the head/melody. Maybe my Jon Hendricks influence early on...?

But what I was referring to also, was that improvising either gets better or worse, as I try to 'read the changes' on the sheet. ( As far as melodies, yes of course I can read the melodies and its better with the sheets.)

In any case, I was listening to Teddy Edwards, a fav of mine and he does alot of those jazz blues/where the 8th measure (of a 12 bar basic form) sets up the last 4 to make it more interesting. I KNOW that is some very basic stuff (lots of tunes just like that), but I'd like to walk thru that kind of thing with a teacher. Basic chordal movement/patterns.

I'm practicing diatonic (?) triads as triplets, played in time, going up, as iii*, vi, ii, V**, I in various major keys as an exercise, and getting it down, but then I can't tap into that 'skill' in a song.

*would be E, G , B for example in C
** would be G, B, D in C

anyway,,,,thank you for your input/observation!
 

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I was in a similar situation to yours. Self taught, knew all the basic theory, playing in a funk/soul/blues band, but wanted to advance my jazz chops. I believe you are located in the Boston area, so I would suggest doing what I did, which was to hook up with a Berklee prof for private lessons. I had to stop after 6 months due to some physical issues, but those few months of lessons made a huge difference in my playing and provided some much-needed direction and discipline to my practicing which is still paying off today.

Some years ago, when I was going for a doctorate degree in organization science, my research focused on the relative effectiveness of face-to-face vs "mediated" communication (viz., email, text, video, etc.) for creating and exchanging knowledge, and at a later point in life I started up and ran the online graduate programs for the college at which I was a faculty member. So I like to think I have a somewhat informed opinion regarding online learning. And....IMHO, you will get way more out of taking lessons face-to-face than online. Online lessons are a great second option when you can't arrange for face-to-face lessons for whatever reason, or if there is someone you really want to study with and they are not local. However, there were so many subtleties we addressed during my lessons in my playing and in my thought process that I could not imagine replicating that via online lessons.

But you could always try the online route and see how it goes. In fact, even if going face-to-face, I would also do a trial session to see how it goes.
 

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Hmm, well if you put it that way, I may not know the melodies down stone cold and definitely not readily played a step up or down. If I bumble a bit yes it happens,,,sometimes working it into a modification of the melody!?! Louis As modifications of melodies in the "second A' of the head often come to mind (not the bumbling aspect! tho)

So for example: Sweet Georgia Brown- I was memorizing it recently in one key, then went to play with a small group and they said, no we want to do it in F. It took me a little bit, say, 10 mins to practice to get it 90+% down but haven't played it in a group setting enuf to be really ready

But Another example: Sunny - I can play that 100% and definitely can "play with" the melody, split/double notes,shift time a little, and not get lost. I've played it alot with small groups. So maybe that's the idea/concept/ level you're referring to/

Another is Samba de Orfeo. I can play/play with the head and improvise that very solidly without lead sheet and it just feels good, even with a missed note here or there, compared to "reading along"

As far as playing in time, and playing with time, I'm good with that overall, to your point, esp if Im relatively solid on the head/melody. Maybe my Jon Hendricks influence early on...?

But what I was referring to also, was that improvising either gets better or worse, as I try to 'read the changes' on the sheet. ( As far as melodies, yes of course I can read the melodies and its better with the sheets.)

In any case, I was listening to Teddy Edwards, a fav of mine and he does alot of those jazz blues/where the 8th measure (of a 12 bar basic form) sets up the last 4 to make it more interesting. I KNOW that is some very basic stuff (lots of tunes just like that), but I'd like to walk thru that kind of thing with a teacher. Basic chordal movement/patterns.

I'm practicing diatonic (?) triads as triplets, played in time, going up, as iii*, vi, ii, V**, I in various major keys as an exercise, and getting it down, but then I can't tap into that 'skill' in a song.

*would be E, G , B for example in C
** would be G, B, D in C

anyway,,,,thank you for your input/observation!
Totally understand! Yes, you're talking about what some called as the "extended turnaround" at the end of a blues. Not a bad thing to work on at all. There are so many different ways you can go about practicing something like that, it's almost mind-boggling. Again, I'd recommend working of a few basic licks or as you've been doing patterns and playing it in another 2 or 3 keys at least. Do you practice with playalongs (Aebersold, etc)? I'd highly recommend that too. There are drawbacks, such as tempos decided for you, etc., but also try (if you can) turning the comping instrument off and playing with only bass and drums. Speaking of bass, another thing I do (as well as make my students do it as well) is to play with a playalong and eliminate the bass track. Don't "improvise", but play a bass line along with the recording. Playing bass lines is very much akin to improvising in the sense that it'll force you to stay close to the changes, play chord tones more and follow the harmonic rhythm with your playing more so than just by flat out improvising as you normally would. I also highly recommend listening to your favorite players as much as humanly possible. By default, you'll eventually start to do (or at least attempt to) some things that you're hearing in your head from listening to them, rather than simply approaching your improvising from a theoretical standpoint. I hope that makes sense... Again, SO many different ways to go about this. Stick the horn in your mouth and play as much as possible! Lastly, I have some very good friends in the Boston area who are superb players/teachers. Shoot me a PM if you'd like and I could get you some contact info.

J.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Totally understand! Yes, you're talking about what some called as the "extended turnaround" at the end of a blues. Not a bad thing to work on at all. There are so many different ways you can go about practicing something like that, it's almost mind-boggling. Again, I'd recommend working of a few basic licks or as you've been doing patterns and playing it in another 2 or 3 keys at least. Do you practice with playalongs (Aebersold, etc)? I'd highly recommend that too.

There are drawbacks, such as tempos decided for you, etc., but also try (if you can) turning the comping instrument off and playing with only bass and drums. Speaking of bass, another thing I do (as well as make my students do it as well) is to play with a playalong and eliminate the bass track. Don't "improvise", but play a bass line along with the recording. Playing bass lines is very much akin to improvising in the sense that it'll force you to stay close to the changes, play chord tones more and follow the harmonic rhythm with your playing more so than just by flat out improvising as you normally would.

I also highly recommend listening to your favorite players as much as humanly possible. By default, you'll eventually start to do (or at least attempt to) some things that you're hearing in your head from listening to them, rather than simply approaching your improvising from a theoretical standpoint.

I hope that makes sense... Again, SO many different ways to go about this. Stick the horn in your mouth and play as much as possible! Lastly, I have some very good friends in the Boston area who are superb players/teachers. Shoot me a PM if you'd like and I could get you some contact info.

J.
J.,

Yep, I kind of think of the modified/extended turnarounds as a microcosm of jazz overall (!?) They're really not complicated, in their various configurations, so I'm just being lazy in not focusing on them to sort it all out.

I used to play with Aebersold CDs but they just drove me nuts...I don't know why! I just didn't like the feel of them. Im disciplined enough to keep time in my exercises (including a couple from Greg Fishman on You Tube that are cool) in time. But I should get back to it I suppose.

Because I play in a lot of R and B session stuff and pop / Brazilian stuff Im decent at picking out leading tones (is that what they're called? chord tones?) to set up nice little fills or backing lines. then adding transitional notes to make a "line". that's kind of the bass line concept I think, as you mentioned. My ear-intuition has gotten pretty good in my old age, or at least greatly improved.

I don't listen as much as I used to ...not sure why. But Art Pepper, the legendary tenors (hawkins, young, webster,others, some "newer" guys (Mintzer). But lots of vocalists too..incl D Washington, ODay, LHR and the sax players they have. I've been told that I play really nicely rhythmically and interesting ly (without much fireworks...cause I can't anyway!), as in "make your drummer sound good" (did T Monk say that?)

Im at the point where my self created exercises are "not enough" or not doing enuf enhancing of my playing/soloing. anyway, thanks again for the advice. much appreciated. I probably know the names of some of the people you know. But i think there is a strong tendency for many of these teachers to basically recycle what they did at Berklee. I know that wont work for me, for a number of reasons. But I wouldn't mind checking into some folks.
 

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J.,

Yep, I kind of think of the modified/extended turnarounds as a microcosm of jazz overall (!?) They're really not complicated, in their various configurations, so I'm just being lazy in not focusing on them to sort it all out.

I used to play with Aebersold CDs but they just drove me nuts...I don't know why! I just didn't like the feel of them. Im disciplined enough to keep time in my exercises (including a couple from Greg Fishman on You Tube that are cool) in time. But I should get back to it I suppose.

Because I play in a lot of R and B session stuff and pop / Brazilian stuff Im decent at picking out leading tones (is that what they're called? chord tones?) to set up nice little fills or backing lines. then adding transitional notes to make a "line". that's kind of the bass line concept I think, as you mentioned. My ear-intuition has gotten pretty good in my old age, or at least greatly improved.

I don't listen as much as I used to ...not sure why. But Art Pepper, the legendary tenors (hawkins, young, webster,others, some "newer" guys (Mintzer). But lots of vocalists too..incl D Washington, ODay, LHR and the sax players they have. I've been told that I play really nicely rhythmically and interesting ly (without much fireworks...cause I can't anyway!), as in "make your drummer sound good" (did T Monk say that?)

Im at the point where my self created exercises are "not enough" or not doing enuf enhancing of my playing/soloing. anyway, thanks again for the advice. much appreciated. I probably know the names of some of the people you know. But i think there is a strong tendency for many of these teachers to basically recycle what they did at Berklee. I know that wont work for me, for a number of reasons. But I wouldn't mind checking into some folks.
Yeah, the Aebersold's (and other play-alongs) definitely can drive one nucking futs after a while! ;-)
I too used to play a ton (still do quite a bit) of RnB and blues band stuff and I distinctly remember the first yr. or so, it drove me crazy.... Playing in "guitar keys" of E, A and B concert. Sure as heck forced me to get my shat together playing blues in those keys though!
I'll say again how important I feel listening is. As improvisors, we all (ultimately) play what we hear, no matter how many jazz etudes or patterns books we spend time with and if there's no "reference point(s)" to go from, well........all you have left are those pre-determined and predictable patterns, etc.
I'm sure you do know some of the names of the guys I know out there. They've all been there since they were kids and have been playing professionally and teaching since the 80's. I don't know if it's a bad thing regarding "recycling what they did at Berklee", because in general, that stuff certainly works, but you have to take your own path!
Good luck with it!

John
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The reason for not wanting to take part in the "recycling" is that I believe that it works for a certain setting and certain learning/teaching pathway; Namely the path that the teacher took, if I'm taking an absolutist perspective.

I have a background in learning and development, and it tends to make me apprehensive about what a chosen (by the teacher) method or learning path is for, and is it the most effective. And is there a better way? Or does a teacher do what he/she has always done because "it seems to work, and there are many satisfied customers". If there are any learning/development professionals out there, you know the value of Level 1 evaluations and the virtual absence of Levels 2 thru 5 out there!
https://www.td.org/learning-and-development
 

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The reason for not wanting to take part in the "recycling" is that I believe that it works for a certain setting and certain learning/teaching pathway; Namely the path that the teacher took, if I'm taking an absolutist perspective.

I have a background in learning and development, and it tends to make me apprehensive about what a chosen (by the teacher) method or learning path is for, and is it the most effective. And is there a better way? Or does a teacher do what he/she has always done because "it seems to work, and there are many satisfied customers". If there are any learning/development professionals out there, you know the value of Level 1 evaluations and the virtual absence of Levels 2 thru 5 out there!
https://www.td.org/learning-and-development
Allow me to play devils advocate....... Then why are you "seeking teacher recommendations"? Personally, I teach (for 28 yrs now) my students a combination of ways. A LOT of it is based on my personal experience in playing professionally since I was about 15. A good chunk is also related to what I've found that works and unfortunately DOESN'T work with students over those 28 yrs. In that time, I've taught students as young as 9 and as old as late 70's, with every conceivable ability and interest level thrown in to boot. Having said that, I'll say one thing with 110% certainty. Playing the saxophone and improvising is not rocket science. It's ALL about desire, want, commitment, etc. I've had far too many students over the years who had ALL of the talent, ability and support in the world, but they pissed it away. Flip side, I've had the opposite as well, but with drive, desire, etc., anyone can overcome their shortcomings.
I firmly believe ANY teacher.......whether it's Bergonzi or someone down the street from you......is going to do some "recycling" with you. Meaning they'll teach you and recommend you do things based on their teaching experience, no matter what setting or pathway they're coming from. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. I'll leave with recycling this little gem: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

*Edit*. Allow me to clarify something. I don't (and I'd confidently say that no good saxophone/music teacher does) use the exact same "cookie cutter" approach/method with every student they teach. When I have a new student, it usually takes at least 3 lessons before I really figure out how I'm going to approach teaching him/her and quite often, it takes even longer to be honest with you. A good teacher will fully understand that everyone is coming from a different experience, learning, drive/desire, ability angle. The challenge then is how to present those known things that work to the student. Everyone's different and I fully realize that. This will be my last reply to this thread and I wish you luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
That's all good observations.

Im mostly reacting to the Berklee reference and the few lessons I had in the past that seemed to be just what you're referencing...cookie cutter. I don't think the teacher had any sense of where I was at; not that we/I am SOOO different than many of the students he presumably had before, but it certainly didn't seem collaborative or creative in its approach.

So, my request was as much looking for names of teachers as much as "whys" of teachers as to what made them good in your respective experience.

As far as "if it ain't broke", the problem is the means to assess that state, are very tricky Simply put, as an instructor (not music) I've observed many teachers/trainers who do awful, stupid things in the classroom, from an androgogical-adult learning perspective, and everyone is simply happy as clams because they had fun or it didn't suck or the instructor was personable, or some other "standard" of reference. But let that stop there.......I don't want to go down that trail.

I think some of the younger folk would be especially prone to excessive recycling vs. your experience and ability to recognize the attributes of the person in question, their goals/level, and tailor accordingly.
\
In any case, ain't been too many suggestion/mentions here anyway!
 

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I'm not going to say you don't need a teacher, but if you engage one they will need to understand where you're at and you'll need to decide on where you want to go. Reading your description of your playing and ambitions makes me think that you are stuck between two opposing ways of playing and will either need to use one or the other as your "go to" style of playing. Trying to have a foot on each side of the divide isn't likely to work.

You are a singer, so that says you hear the music you sing in your head (any other way to do this?). The sax is a mechanical instrument which can be played as a singer would sing, or mechanically by reading notes and pressing keys (not necessarily hearing the note you are playing). "Theory" the way it's often meant and used, is generally a cut and past method of playing riffs and arpeggios that fit the changes. It doesn't require hearing where you are going. It's the musical equivalent of paint by the numbers. For those who don't have talent it's the music teachers way of promising "anybody can be a musician". That style of playing can be satisfying for the player, but isn't necessarily much of an audience pleaser.

You, as a singer can go the other route and practice becoming one with your instrument so that it's exactly the same as your voice. You hear in your head and you play what you hear. It's an extension of you rather than a mechanical impediment. If you can do this with your voice there's no reason why you can't do this on a sax. If asked to sing a tune you have heard (but never practiced) you may be able to do this. A talented sax player who is one with their instrument can also do this. How difficult is it when singing to be asked to sing the tune in a different key if you're given the first note? Not too hard at all! It's in the hearing in your head that this gets sorted. Being one with your instrument and fluid playing in all keys means that you can also do this playing the sax.

Improvisation especially divides between the mechanics (theory, playing changes) and those who sing through their instrument and play alternative melodies. Mechanical players will usually try to play to impress with fast flourishes that show off technique that ultimately means little as they are just playing to impress. The player who sings through their horn can tell stories, develop emotion and take the listener on a journey. But, and it's a BIG BUT, they must have talent and hear those melodic lines as they play. The music flows through you.

The reader or theory player is locked in mechanical mode and is continually translating dots on the page and chord charts to utilize theory to mechanically press keys playing lines they often can't hear in their heads...it's theory that's working, not musical thinking. The practice of memorizing theory is a matter of what fits where within the chord flow and developing finger memory to execute those theoretical solutions. It's useful if: 1. you don't have talent, 2. wish to limit yourself to playing mainstream jazz and that style of improvisation.

If you have talent (being able to sing is a good sign) then you may wish to take a different path. The player who sings through their horn as no limitations other than what they can hear in their heads and their dexterity. There are simple exercises that can help.

Not knowing where you want to go, I'll leave off there.
 

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My advice is to find a teacher who doesn't just want a piece of ***.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Haha! I should be so lucky!
....I was up in Ogunquit with 4.3 people per sq. foot a week or so ago. Does that really count as being Maine?!?

whampton...you're pretty much spot on! I'm kind of stuck somewhere inbetween camps its true. As far as locked into a 'mechanical mode", I could use a dose of that I'd say, to round out my intuitive side. I think the most guilty of that mode are the recent grads who have to play everything gymnastically, but maybe as you say without alot of feeling.

OK well again, thanks for the perspectives. I think my path would be something like doing some focused "weight lifting" as I call it, that will give the more intuitive side same new wheels and 'strength' to spread out a bit more on/with. I just came from a loud guitar blues thing and everyone was saying;...oh you're killing it!...but well, its a blues jam and even given that I know I was playing it safe. And my new (used) Theo Wanne Mantra makes it easy to "sound great" ; ) - (my first metal piece, ever!)
 

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If you play alto I'd recommend Tevet sela at 45 an hour he's reasonable and you can get a free consult half hour if you'd like. Just google his name. for tenor I'd take lessons from Randy Hunter. I took a lesson and if I had continued tenor that where I'd spend my money. The other teachers mentioned previously are great also. But these two is where I"d go K
 
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