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Discussion Starter #1
I wish someone had turned me towards the work of Steve Neff long ago. I have a library (not an exaggeration) of other music books: technique, theory, and compendiums. Some more some less useful. Some I keep for reference.

WHAT I DID NOT WANT:
Out of all the books I have spent time with, most were for me either, too pedantic, too intellectual, too rote-learning academic, or just poorly written, poorly organized. Lick-books and ones instructing the reader to play specific scales over specific chords are nice but not what I wanted.

WHAT I WANTED:
A book providing the missing pieces; those essential molecular pearls I can build with my way.

WHAT I FOUND:
Steve Neff of neffmusic.com has numerous tools including videos he uses in conjunction with his work. PDF books, my preferred, of Neff's include APPROACH NOTE VELOCITY, which he provides in both major and minor, and conveniently writes out all keys. Everyone understands the "value" of writing out exercises an author provides in one key into all the keys. Steve Neff, thankfully, saves his readers from this labor in order that they concentrate on the exercises themselves.

Slowing down to read his exercises, is being a revelation for me. The brilliance of Neff's approach is found in the molecular approaches I am finding by analyzing what he's doing. Since few people know how to instruct another human how to play an instrument--and I've had saxophone teachers including a fabulously playing ex-professional--it is liberating to find someone like Steve Neff. I haven't gone through all his books yet, but am in the process of acquiring more of what he has written.

Another good thing: Neff is a teacher, but not a pedantic bore. He goes right to his point. Readers of this on line forum probably have heard Steve Neff play. He has reviewed and continues to do so, most of the saxophone mouthpieces out there. And yes, he's a fabulous player. He latest review is of a RPC inspired hard rubber from Asia, called the Marmaduke. You can hear it and a large array of most brands of not only tenor, but also alto and soprano pieces at his site.

No one's approach works for everyone. Neff's works for me. For people who want to play what's in their inner ear, Neff's books may be, as they are proving to be for me, the missing link.
 

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I agree 100%. Steve is a GREAT teacher. But, in my view, you can optimize your learning if you combine the books ( I have them all) with the audio and video lessons, which give you ways of exploring the books and also provide new exercises that are not originally in the books.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks JLima. I'll remember your comment. By the way, completely off topic, are you in São Miguel?
 

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totally agree with JLima about Steve's books.
His dominant bebop book is really good. I have lots of his lessons and he always comes up with some way of thinking about the topic from a different angle - in fact really cool ideas.
 

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I have the Bebop Dom book too. I love it. It is well written and it takes you beyond memorized licks. I plan on getting more of his books but I have a ways to go before I feel like I'm ready to move on from the Bebop Dom book. I use it for reading practice as well as learning the concept. When I first got it I would read through everything until I had the sound in my head. The last month I have been playing all the stuff out of the book from memory to try and really get it down. I have the first 15 links down from memory solid and add a new one every other day or so. I have been playing the material to the Aebersold Dom book.
 

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Thanks JLima. I'll remember your comment. By the way, completely off topic, are you in São Miguel?
Exactly! Do you know the island?
 

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"Everyone understands the "value" of writing out exercises an author provides in one key into all the keys. Steve Neff, thankfully, saves his readers from this labor in order that they concentrate on the exercises themselves."

I try to lean the licks in one key only - then transpose them round all the keys . This realy ingrains the patterns - especially with the approach note stuff .
Another way I practice them is to apply dfferent rhythmic ideas - displace the rhythms of the approach stuff - eally adds some colour
 

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Discussion Starter #8
totally agree with JLima about Steve's books.
His dominant bebop book is really good. I have lots of his lessons and he always comes up with some way of thinking about the topic from a different angle - in fact really cool ideas.
Thanks, I agree: his way of thinking from a different angle. Thanks too for your impression on the book.


I have the Bebop Dom book too. I love it. It is well written and it takes you beyond memorized licks. I plan on getting more of his books but I have a ways to go before I feel like I'm ready to move on from the Bebop Dom book. I use it for reading practice as well as learning the concept. When I first got it I would read through everything until I had the sound in my head. The last month I have been playing all the stuff out of the book from memory to try and really get it down. I have the first 15 links down from memory solid and add a new one every other day or so. I have been playing the material to the Aebersold Dom book.
You too! I've memorized from Neff's book too, but avoiding whole licks. I have been analyzing what he's doing in terms of scale degrees (which makes sense to me) and coming to make sense of why the passages sound the way they do. By taking what I refer to as molecular-sized phrases, I can pull them apart, push them around using them in reverse sometimes, like squeezing a balloon to make different shapes. I am beginning, it feels, to be pre-hearing, then playing these and variations of these molecules. Is that what you're doing too? It's fascinating the different ways people learn. You may be coming at it from a slightly different way: you said you read through everything until you had the sound in your head. I think that's great. Your mind takes it in like a hologram. Are you able to play out pieces as you wish? If so, that's fabulous.

The way humans learn fascinates me as much as the music. I am going to try what I understand is your approach: the whole thing like a hologram just to hear how and if that alters the speed I learn. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Jlima. I only know the island by Google Earth. Never been there but sounds like a fabulous place to concentrate on music. Do you have clubs or venues where you can hear/play music live? São Miguel, indeed, the Azores, seem alternately a great place to live and yet mysteriously poised tiny dots in the mid-Atlantic. What are the main industries there? Wish I had the resources to bring my tenor, come visit a few days and play.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I try to lean the licks in one key only - then transpose them round all the keys . This realy ingrains the patterns - especially with the approach note stuff .
Another way I practice them is to apply dfferent rhythmic ideas - displace the rhythms of the approach stuff - eally adds some colour
I hear you Dave. All the way from Perth, so you're really cutting through the atmospheric noise!! Good regimen too. Neff agrees with you.
 

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I've got to pick up some of these books!
Thadnoland....Steve Neff's web site is extensive. You'll be glad. Remember to slow down with Neff's stuff and either pull it apart in short phrases to study or try Stormott77's holographic approach, or both.
 

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Jlima. I only know the island by Google Earth. Never been there but sounds like a fabulous place to concentrate on music. Do you have clubs or venues where you can hear/play music live? São Miguel, indeed, the Azores, seem alternately a great place to live and yet mysteriously poised tiny dots in the mid-Atlantic. What are the main industries there? Wish I had the resources to bring my tenor, come visit a few days and play.
This is a beautiful place to live in, but musically speaking times have been better than they are right now, the few clubs that exist aren't hiring musicians because of the severe economic crisis. So now I mostly play and study at home and wait for things to get better. For people living a remote place like me, Steve's work and others' like him become even more important.
 

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Jlima, thanks for the Azores follow up. I understand. Yes Neff's work is nutritious. When I win the state lottery, I'll buy a yacht, fill it with musicians and set sail to your place to play for a few weeks.

Art Saves, Keep playing
-88-
 

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Jlima, thanks for the Azores follow up. I understand. Yes Neff's work is nutritious. When I win the state lottery, I'll buy a yacht, fill it with musicians and set sail to your place to play for a few weeks.

Art Saves, Keep playing
-88-
I'll be waiting for you guys :)
 

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Thanks, I agree: his way of thinking from a different angle. Thanks too for your impression on the book.




You too! I've memorized from Neff's book too, but avoiding whole licks. I have been analyzing what he's doing in terms of scale degrees (which makes sense to me) and coming to make sense of why the passages sound the way they do. By taking what I refer to as molecular-sized phrases, I can pull them apart, push them around using them in reverse sometimes, like squeezing a balloon to make different shapes. I am beginning, it feels, to be pre-hearing, then playing these and variations of these molecules. Is that what you're doing too? It's fascinating the different ways people learn. You may be coming at it from a slightly different way: you said you read through everything until you had the sound in your head. I think that's great. Your mind takes it in like a hologram. Are you able to play out pieces as you wish? If so, that's fabulous.

The way humans learn fascinates me as much as the music. I am going to try what I understand is your approach: the whole thing like a hologram just to hear how and if that alters the speed I learn. Thanks.
More and more the stuff is finding its way into my everyday playing. I memorize every lick note for note and play it a lot as written until I really feel like I have it. Then I naturally alter it with my own spice. That's just how I work best. I think no matter how elementary it may feel playing the stuff note for note is good for me as well as practicing just playing with the Bebop scale with out the links, turning on any note and starting on chord tones and non chord tones. It really adds to my accuracy and helps when I start to go off in my own direction and altering the links on the fly.
 

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How's it going for you guys? I hope your still doing well with the books. Thanks for all the compliments and feedback. Steve
It's going great. The better I get at the stuff I realize the longer I have to go still. My playing gets much better month to month, even week to week.
 

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Steve's material has really improved my playing tremendously. Unfortunately, it is SLOW work taking ii-V's through all keys. I actually cut off the first line of each pattern and create my own sheets with the pattern in ONLY one key. I then force myself without cheating to find the patterns. Then when I get to the 'tune' part of practice, I force myself to insert as many patterns major and minor into the changes. I can't say that it's original but after working with Steve's material, I actually sound like a Jazz saxophonists. I've also added some of the Brecker licks full range as part of my warm-up.
 

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I just found this thread. I had been considering trying out one of Steve's books; now I know that I need to stop thinking about it and go buy one (or maybe several).
 
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