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Greetings and salutations fellow SOTWs...

So, I had hoped that with plenty of practicing my runs/scales/arpeggios would become more fluid, but they are all choppy and it is hard to "ta-ta-ta" at faster tempos.

Here's the problem, when I do try to slur, the notes are not full nor distinct, but... I think I am noticing something (and maybe this is the point of slurring) is that slurring really forces me to hear the note in relation to the other notes and I think it helps my voicing to sound more connected.

I would like to sound more fluid and to have wonderful clean/fast runs that the greats run off at a moments notice. Any suggestions or thoughts on slurring and improved sound/technique?

Thank you.

Eflat.
 

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Practice this way - think of the transition between one note and the next as instantaneous. Do this SLOWLY - so many times people play slowly and then move their fingers slowly. Play slow scales and arpeggios, but move your fingers as lightly and quickly as possible from one position to the next. The transition between two notes should be as quick as possible.

Regarding voicing, again, the transition from one note to the next should be smooth. Just make sure to keep the breath flowing evenly while changing fingering. Stay away from large leaps (more than 1 octave) until you are sure of your voicing.

Putting all that together, slurring a scale or arpeggio, should be done by playing the exercise as if it were a single note, at a single dynamic (say, mf), and moving the fingers quickly and lightly from one note to the next at exactly the right moment. Play the exercise slowly and evenly. Do not accept even the slightest flam, and do not try to go fast. Only when you can play, say, 8th notes at 60 perfectly evenly should you try to play them at 64.

A few months of this and you will have stellar technique. The trick of course is to transfer this exact same approach when you are playing a piece of music, or harder yet, improvising.

Watch the fingers in this video - see how economical the movement is. Come to think of it, watch the embouchure too. This video is a master class on how to play tenor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0vhqDCy9eQ
 

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Practice this way - think of the transition between one note and the next as instantaneous. Do this SLOWLY - so many times people play slowly and then move their fingers slowly. Play slow scales and arpeggios, but move your fingers as lightly and quickly as possible from one position to the next. The transition between two notes should be as quick as possible.
Absolutely. I 100% agree.

Whether you're playing 60 BPM or 360 BPM, your fingers are pretty much moving at the same speed. What changes is how long you stay on a note before moving to the next one. Make sense? The problem with practicing fast is that it's often easy to gloss over or even miss mistakes. And while you make be aware you're making mistakes, it's harder to pinpoint exactly when and where those mistakes are happening. If you practice slowly, it's much easier to see where your weaknesses are and what you need to work on.

When I have trouble with something, I slow it way down and figure out where the problem is. Then I isolate those spots (it may only be a measure long, or 4-8 notes) and repeat them many times at 60 BPM. Most often I convert everything to quarter notes. So I only change notes when the metronome clicks. This is really slow (almost painfully slow) but an invaluably effective practice technique. With the tempo so slow, it completely exposes any glitches you have moving between two notes. It does wonders for your time because if you're out of sync with the metronome (and you will be if you've never done this before) you're going to notice. If you're out of time a little at a faster tempo then you may not notice, but you can't miss it a really slow tempo. The cool thing about this is that it all translates to faster tempos. Because your fingers always move at the same speed (or should) regardless of tempo, if you fix glitches at a slow tempo, it will help fix them at faster tempos. And if you learn to play exactly in time playing quarter notes at 60, that's going to help solidify your time at faster tempos as well.

The key to this kind of practicing is to break things down in small chunks. I don't practice anything longer than a measure using this technique. You can't practice everything and when practicing slowly, you have to practice even less. So you need to ignore what you can do well and only isolate the sections that aren't up to par. If I need to work on something longer, I'll break it down into chunks and then work on connecting the chunks together if they need it after I've mastered the smaller pieces.

The thing about tonguing is that if you have a small glitch moving between two notes, tonguing can cover that up because the glitch can be occurring in the brief moment when the tongue has stopped the sound. You can be making mistakes but not hearing them because of the tongue. When you slur, these mistakes become readily apparent. So when you practice, practice slurred. I practice slurred even if there are articulations marked. Then I add in the tongue later when I know for certain my fingers are moving in time the way they should. I might even practice the articulations separately on a single note at a variety of tempos before combining everything together.
 
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