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Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
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Do not do that in public - you could get killed. Find out what 'long tone practice' is and get busy on it.
 

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Do not do that in public - you could get killed. Find out what 'long tone practice' is and get busy on it.
Listened to it before you took it down, and though you may not be killed, I have to agree with this ^ regarding the long tone practice thing.
 

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I agree, long tones! Need more space, need more nuance, and more dynamics. Sounds choppy. For the record, how long have you been playing? From the tone and choppiness, I'd hazard a guess of no more than 4 years.

I agree, don't do that in public! You'll just embarrass yourself! Sorry.
 

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Not as bad as I expected from the comments. For a relative beginner or a junior high or even high school kid who just plays in band, it sounds like you have a good musical sense that you need to keep developing.

What you do well:
Articulations make musical sense.
You build your solo in intensity as you play.
Intonation is decent given your tone.
You vary the type of ideas you play.

If I had to guess, I'd say you do perform live on a fairly regular basis. A lot of what you do goes over well in a gospel or R&B context. Church musician?

What needs work:
As has been mentioned, tone. Long tones are key. A clear concept of embouchure needs to be developed. If you've already learned one and practiced it, you need to find the right mouthpiece and reed for you.
Rhythm. Practice everything you do with a metronome, while tapping your foot. Be a stickler for rhythmic accuracy. Do not consider yourself to have practiced something right if you are not playing everything exactly in time.
Phrasing, or as NissanVintageSax put it, space. Practice varying phrase and rest lengths as an exercise. Try playing a one bar phrase and then resting for 2. Play for 2, then rest for 1. Etc.

Keep practicing!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Not as bad as I expected from the comments. For a relative beginner or a junior high or even high school kid who just plays in band, it sounds like you have a good musical sense that you need to keep developing.

What you do well:
Articulations make musical sense.
You build your solo in intensity as you play.
Intonation is decent given your tone.
You vary the type of ideas you play.

If I had to guess, I'd say you do perform live on a fairly regular basis. A lot of what you do goes over well in a gospel or R&B context. Church musician?

What needs work:
As has been mentioned, tone. Long tones are key. A clear concept of embouchure needs to be developed. If you've already learned one and practiced it, you need to find the right mouthpiece and reed for you.
Rhythm. Practice everything you do with a metronome, while tapping your foot. Be a stickler for rhythmic accuracy. Do not consider yourself to have practiced something right if you are not playing everything exactly in time.
Phrasing, or as NissanVintageSax put it, space. Practice varying phrase and rest lengths as an exercise. Try playing a one bar phrase and then resting for 2. Play for 2, then rest for 1. Etc.

Keep practicing!
You're right about a few things you've said, and I'll take your suggestions. I've yet to find my perfect mouthpiece/reed/ligature combination, but I want a somewhat bright sound.

Do you think the quality of the recording may have something to do with the choppiness, however?
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member
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Not as bad as I expected from the comments. For a relative beginner or a junior high or even high school kid who just plays in band, it sounds like you have a good musical sense that you need to keep developing.

What you do well:
Articulations make musical sense.
You build your solo in intensity as you play.
Intonation is decent given your tone.
You vary the type of ideas you play.

If I had to guess, I'd say you do perform live on a fairly regular basis. A lot of what you do goes over well in a gospel or R&B context. Church musician?

What needs work:
As has been mentioned, tone. Long tones are key. A clear concept of embouchure needs to be developed. If you've already learned one and practiced it, you need to find the right mouthpiece and reed for you.
Rhythm. Practice everything you do with a metronome, while tapping your foot. Be a stickler for rhythmic accuracy. Do not consider yourself to have practiced something right if you are not playing everything exactly in time.
Phrasing, or as NissanVintageSax put it, space. Practice varying phrase and rest lengths as an exercise. Try playing a one bar phrase and then resting for 2. Play for 2, then rest for 1. Etc.

Keep practicing!
I said space, instead of phrasing, because as a beginner improvisor back in high school, the "phrasing" word never sank in. I had a several very good players translate that to me as "space", and it's been the best way to get those "phrases" out :) . Not play a few bars, is as essential as playing them :)
 

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You're right about a few things you've said, and I'll take your suggestions. I've yet to find my perfect mouthpiece/reed/ligature combination, but I want a somewhat bright sound.

Do you think the quality of the recording may have something to do with the choppiness, however?
Though a room w/natural reverb, or artificial reverb added (w/taste, not overpowering) would help, it isn't a cure. You still need tone and phrasing. Reverb would just clean the rough edges. Phrasing (space), dynamics, and tone. Your notes (for the most part) seem to be there.
 

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Thanks for the comments. I can appreciate the use of space, but it doesn't occur to me probably as much as it should when I'm actually playing.
It takes practice. It took me a while, and even now, if I get overly excited, I forget to use "space".
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member
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5,092 Posts
You're right about a few things you've said, and I'll take your suggestions. I've yet to find my perfect mouthpiece/reed/ligature combination, but I want a somewhat bright sound.

Do you think the quality of the recording may have something to do with the choppiness, however?
Honestly, without seeing you play or knowing your background, I'd assume that a further study of tone production is more important now than a change in setup. If you learn how to properly voice your notes and get a good sound, the ultimate choice in "best" mouthpiece will likely be very different from what you'd choose today. The quality of the recording had no bearing on my assessment, though I don't really know what "choppiness" is describing.

Thanks for the comments. I can appreciate the use of space, but it doesn't occur to me probably as much as it should when I'm actually playing.
That happens to most people when they start out, and as it develops, phrasing can become one of the most unique aspects of your playing. That's why it's very important to focus practice on phrasing. The example exercise I gave is a good one to start with.
It takes practice.
Zackly!
 

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Yes, give us more information about your situation.

I listened to some of your other clips. You're really trying to move too fast and do too much too soon. You really need to take a bunch of steps back and work on the fundamentals, not only of improvisation, but of playing saxophone in general. You're mostly just noodling mindlessly. And you need a lot of work on tone, intonation, technique, playing in time, etc . . . I think that you're very anxious to get good quickly and you're rushing your development with detrimental results. Progress isn't going to be as fast as you'd like it to be. You need to thoroughly learn the basics so that you have a firm foundation. This isn't accomplished in only a few months.

And I agree with Dan, at this point trying to find a magical mouthpiece/reed combo is a waste of time. You need to work with what you have at the moment.

PS - I see the links in your signature. Please don't write articles on how to play the saxophone unless you've reached an acceptable level of proficiency. No offense, but after listening to your clips, I really doubt you're fluent enough in the altissimo register to be telling other people how to do it. You seem like a virtual beginner who doesn't yet know how to play the saxophone the "right way", so how are you supposed to give advice on learning how to the "right way"? I don't mean this to be harsh, but I don't take advice from SOTW or other online sources without a grain of salt unless I've come to learn that that person has 1) shown they are a great player and/or 2) has previously demonstrated they know what they're talking about. But a lot of beginners are more naive and take and follow advice indiscriminately. I hate the thought of a novice developing bad habits because they took advice from somebody who has yet to even accomplish what they are attempting to teach. Sometimes you just need to know what you don't know and only offer advice on what you really have mastered.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
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5,528 Posts
I don't know the words to use because I'm self-taught and live in a saxophone vacuum. But basically, what your missing is the ability to "voice" the sax and play musically. Beside long-tones, you need to slow way down, listen to yourself and learn to make your horn sing. Right now it just sounds like you just blow and move your fingers.


The good news is that it sounds like you move your figures pretty well. Once you can voice properly, that will come in handy.

If you had the drive to teach yourself to move that quickly on sax, then I expect you also have the drive to teach yourself better voicing. The way I gained this, as a teenager, was to listen to recording and then match the expression of the instrument or human voice I was listening to. The use of expression then quickly became natural. And I believe it would for you too. Of course, the best way to get there is to find a good teacher and start getting one-on-one lessons. :bluewink:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks for the comments. I've been playing for almost three years. What do you guys mean when you say voicing?

Also, about the articles, I have enough experience with these things to write articles. It's my improvisation which needs work, which is why I haven't written anything on it yet. I have good embouchure, pretty good intonation (but I think I can work on that), sense of time, etc. I'm somewhat fluent in altissimo (though I do experiment a bit on my clips). In a real life performance, I really don't use it or experiment in general that much because I have the mood that it is a performance, unlike when I play in the videos. I also have a slight feeling that my recorded self is out of sync with the backing track, but I may just be imagining it.
 

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I'll have to side w/ Agent27 on this one. If you havn't a clue what a "voicing" even is, you have no place writing articles. I learned what that was back in 9th grade (after 4 years of playing). I started learning HOW to "voice" around 11th grade (after 6 years of playing). Now, there are many sax players w/far less years of experience (of which I now have 23 years of), but far better technique than myself, and I have witnessed some very professional sounding High School Seniors (that isn't including the Greats of the past!).

BUT, you're playing style, and attitude is so close to what mine was at your experience level, that it's eerie! I didn't have SOTW at that stage of development, but what I did have, was real world gigging experience, and some great pro sax players to help me out along the way. Some of the advice I was given (on technique and equipment) I didn't heed to until years later. Had I listened to them sooner, I'd have been further along in my development as a player!

A good private sax teacher could help you refine your pitfalls. It isn't an end-all-be-all, but what it is is a one-on-one guidance, that we can't do over the web.

I don't call myself a pro, but a paid amatuer for a reason. I'm not pro level, but I can "hold my own", and do really well at teaching beginning and intermediate students of all ages. I know when they can move on to a better source of instruction.

Oh, and here's a clip w/some great phrasing. Listen to the trombone player. The others are great, but the trombonist emphasizes the use of "space" more. :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nxthSkRT6g
 
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