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I've been playing bari for the past couple of years in high school band, so I put more of my time into practicing things like altissimo, note bending, and tone rather than playing 32nd note runs. I originally planned to play bari exclusively in college as well, but the college I ended up going to doesn't march bari, so now I have to play tenor in marching band.

I'm a bit worried because I'm expecting the music to be much harder than what I'm used to, since I rarely saw 16th notes in high school. I've been trying to practice playing faster notes for about a month, but it feels like my fingers tie themselves into knots after anything longer than just a couple of beats, and I haven't noticed much improvement. I know it's going to take time and lots of practice, but I only have one more month until band camp, and I was hoping to hear more improvement by now. Anybody have any tips that would be more effective than just trying to play runs repeatedly?
 

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speed up each individual finger doing trills first then do shorter patterns say c, d, e, just three notes. Then run 4 note patterns. Also start slower than you normally start and increase in small doses. You
ll be surprised K
 

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Discussion Starter #3
speed up each individual finger doing trills first then do shorter patterns say c, d, e, just three notes. Then run 4 note patterns. Also start slower than you normally start and increase in small doses. You
ll be surprised K
I hadn't thought of that. I'll try and see how it goes. Thanks
 

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Tips on playing fast notes???

Play them slow (with a metronome set to the subdivision), correctly, and often (consistently). Be sure to work on proper technique while you are going slow, therefore, it’s second nature to you as you begin to speed up. Be sure to keep your hand/finger position on or close to the keys.

No secret. Just hard work like anything else. Just gotta work smart.
 

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Tips on playing fast notes???

Play them slow (with a metronome set to the subdivision), correctly, and often (consistently). Be sure to work on proper technique while you are going slow, therefore, it’s second nature to you as you begin to speed up. Be sure to keep your hand/finger position on or close to the keys.

No secret. Just hard work like anything else. Just gotta work smart.
^ This.

Playing fast relies upon muscle memory, so you have to think like a drummer. Play your scales, patterns, tunes, and runs precisely. Do this at about 20 beats per minute. Don't move on from that until you lock them in correctly. You can move them up incrementally from there, but if you lock them in at such a low speed, you'll be able to play them at any speed.
 

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speed up each individual finger doing trills first then do shorter patterns say c, d, e, just three notes. Then run 4 note patterns. Also start slower than you normally start and increase in small doses. You
ll be surprised K
I would add that whatever you practice always end on the anchor of the downbeat. What I mean is that if you practice a small 4 note segment say CDEF as 16th notes, you are not anchoring the line to the next downbeat. I would practice CDEFG with the goal of the C and the G being exactly perfectly on those downbeats. If you added another 4 notes to the line you could go CDEFGFDD#E. You would anchor the C, G and last E to the downbeats. The more securely these are anchored and the more even your 16th notes the more exact your time and lines will be.........
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Play them slow (with a metronome set to the subdivision), correctly, and often (consistently). Be sure to work on proper technique while you are going slow, therefore, it’s second nature to you as you begin to speed up. Be sure to keep your hand/finger position on or close to the keys.
I'll try that

"Don't practice until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong."

What was said above ^ ^ ^ ^ is all you need to hear- play correctly, slowly, and consistently. No secret to it!
That's good advice. I'll have to remember that

Playing fast relies upon muscle memory, so you have to think like a drummer. Play your scales, patterns, tunes, and runs precisely. Do this at about 20 beats per minute. Don't move on from that until you lock them in correctly. You can move them up incrementally from there, but if you lock them in at such a low speed, you'll be able to play them at any speed.
I'll do that. My band director from highschool always told us to start as fast as we could play it, so that might be one reason I'm having trouble

I would add that whatever you practice always end on the anchor of the downbeat. What I mean is that if you practice a small 4 note segment say CDEF as 16th notes, you are not anchoring the line to the next downbeat. I would practice CDEFG with the goal of the C and the G being exactly perfectly on those downbeats. If you added another 4 notes to the line you could go CDEFGFDD#E. You would anchor the C, G and last E to the downbeats. The more securely these are anchored and the more even your 16th notes the more exact your time and lines will be.........
I'll try that. Thanks for the help
 

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Here's a quote (I'm paraphrasing); don't know exactly where it came from, but it's relevant here:

"In order to play fast, you have to practice playing slow."

Also, I like what Steve said about 'anchoring' the phrase to help stay with the meter. It will also give your phrases a feeling of completion or resolution.
 

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If the difficult fast notes are in a small section of the music (2-16 measures) practice it 'backwards'.
That is play the last 4 notes mistake free at speed. Back up 4 notes and play them mistake free at speed. Play those 8 notes mistake free at speed.
Keep backing up and connecting until you can play the entire section mistake free at speed.
This method works for kids with far less experience so it SHOULD work for you as well.
 

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This works for me for anything with difficult fingerings and especially difficult fingerings and fast.

1) Practice it as fast as I can without making mistakes for 2 minutes. Without making mistakes is the most important rule.

2) Put the sax down and do something entirely different for 2 minutes

3) Pick up the sax again and practice as fast as I can without making mistakes for 2 minutes

4) Put the sax down and do something different for 2 minutes

Repeat as necessary.

I find I get up to speed much, much faster this way. I have heard that the two minute break allows your nervous system to make the necessary changes but that could be an 'urban legend' type explanation. I do know that it works for me.

But there is more than one right way to do this. I don't know if it will work for everybody.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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I'll do that. My band director from highschool always told us to start as fast as we could play it, so that might be one reason I'm having trouble
That's a common line of thought, and I believed it for a long time. More recently, I came across a video on YouTube that insisted that one can learn a difficult passage more quickly by playing the part extremely slow. The reasoning is that you're better able to get the timing down at this speed, and avoid making mistakes. Fast passages are played via muscle memory, so you have to iron out your technique slowly. If you start fast, you'll likely have mistakes in your technique that will have to be ironed out later, thusly taking it longer to learn the passage of music. I thought that it was an interesting train of thought, so I tried it on a few middle school students. Sure enough, they were learning passages faster than I was. So, I adopted the same technique builder for my practice routine, and have been using it ever since.
 

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What has helped me (and I think this repeats what Nefertiti was saying) is to hear and understand the pulse of the scale, line, lick, etc and identify which notes should fall on the accented beats. That way you have targeted notes within the piece that you can make sure are in the right place. Like Steve said, if you can anchor those strong beats it helps keep the rest of the notes in time.

Divide and conquer!
 

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Uh....like what type of marching band are you in? I think that long runs of 32nd or 16th notes for a MARCHING band would be a bit unusual......I’m not a college marcher, but I suspect that most of your quick stuff would be syncopation with a dotted eight note followed by a single sixteenth note. How could a large band ever stay in sync if you have 16th or 32nd note runs all over the place? Not that it is bad to work on 16th notes, but I would call the band director and ask for a preview of some of the music before you get too worked up about not being fast enough.

With the tenor, you will be mostly in sync with the low brass - trombones, mellowphones. You will get the entirety of the bassoon part. Once in a while you will match the altos or take part in a soli - a couple of measures.

Concert band would be a different story regarding speed.

.......again, just my thoughts. I am not a band director.
 

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Here's another option. For those who can keep time "Patting the foot". When patting the foot we can speed up or slow down the tempo without having to stop and reset the speed of a external device. The muscle memory locks in with the foot. That way we are not chasing a tempo, we are creating a tempo. Creating a tempo based on how fast we are able to play can be increased internally thus allowing a comfortable increase of speed. This way you can internalize the material by playing it slower while patting the foot and then immediately play it a few times faster while patting the foot. Eventually increasing the speed internally and not chasing an external tempo breaks the tension that can tense up the muscles. Occasionally a tempo device set at target speeds can be used to check the playing to make sure playing with others will be accurate.
 

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Just keep plugging away. It all comes with time and practice. By the time you are ready to graduate, you'll see how far you've come along. I'm now 64, and I'm doing stuff that I only dreamed of when I was a member of the 264th Army Band at Fort Shafter in Honolulu, Hawaii back in the early 70's. Like good wine playing improves over time.
 

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Karou, I think it's great that you've devoted the time to tone production. I feel like more young players are able to wag their fingers fast than make a beautiful sound on their instrument. I think it's important to mix up our practice, because there are so many things to work on: technique, tone, ear training, general feel and musicality. Others have given good advice here, mine would be to practice slowly and deliberately with a metronome. That develops the precision that makes speed easier. Everyone's different, but rather than working from the page, I play scales, arpeggios, and my own personal patterns, always forcing myself to work repetitively on any patterns where my fingers don't move well. It's like "Oh, I'm particularly spastic making that move!" So, I'll work that until my fingers start to free up and my mind gets programmed.
 

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Each saxophone key is a lever. Your fingers apply pressure to the lever. Optimize the action by placing your fingers on the furthest point from the lever's fulcrum. Consider what's most comfortable for you, everyone's hands are a little different.

Don't let your fingers fly all over the place. If a key is not depressed, your finger should remain in the optimal position to depress the lever, resting on the key. Press the key, release the key, but don't remove your finger from the key.

Practice technique using tried-and-true materials. Marcel Mule Cinquante y Trois Etudes is a classic. Look into Joe Viola technique books, Patterns for Jazz by Jerry Coker et. al., many more. Practice these with a metronome, beginning slowly. Once you have it flowing nicely at one tempo, bump it up a couple of clicks and do it again. Be mindful of your hand and finger positions. Muscle memory will kick in.
 
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