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What is a wast of time?

  • Scales

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· Distinguished SOTW Member/Saxophonist Extraordinai
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I recently got back into really practicing my scales. Not necessarily running them up and down but breaking them up into different intervals, adding 1/2 steps before each note of the scale, playing scales and scale patterns into the altissimo register. I remember talking to a wonderful older saxophonist (Ron Washington) when I lived in Colorado about what he practiced and he say "I still practice my scales everyday." I wish that would have sunk in all those years ago...smile.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2011-
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Not at all! Start with the blues. The slower and more concentrated you go, the better the effect of finding the notes that you're hearing. And you'll have the time to hear how the notes relate to the chords. Once you can comfortably navigate what you're hearing on a blues in all twelve keys the process onward will be that much easier. But you have to really go slow. That may seem at odds with the idea of how much time it will take to achieve your goals but trust me, the slower you go the faster you'll progress. The things that I practice currently (having been playing now for over 40 years) are the very same basic things that beginners do. Thing is, over time you begin to see the universe in a twelve bar blues. :)

Speaking of goals, the goal is not to be an encyclopedia of tunes in all keys. The goal (for me) is to transpose on the horn as easily as when singing. That's a long term process, for sure. But don't let that intimidate you. The progress along the way is more than stimulating enough to keep things going!

Additional thought...just in case it's not clear…the reason this goal is important to me is not necessarily to be good at transposing (although that's an important skill)…but because I find that when improvising I can more easily play what I hear at any given time, thereby opening up the channels to freer expression. No matter what kind of music…
- IMHO this is exactly it - this is great advice and a clear explanation.
 

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Re: What do you consider to be a wast of time ?

I have to respectfully disagree. Sure, playing Body and Soul in E may never show up in real life, but there is a lot to be gained from being able to play it in E - namely the effect it would have on your ear training.
This reminds me of my first trip to NYC as a youngster. I went to the Sunday afternoon jam session at the Village Gate and was ready to throw down. Christopher Holliday had just walked in acting like he owned the place, so I was prepared myself to tear him a new one. When it was my turn to get up on the stand and they put me with a singer who called Body and Soul, oh yes she did....in E. Needless to say I chunked it pretty badly. What a lesson that was.
 

· Out of Office
Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
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Once, in the early 90's, sitting in w Jay Collins, he called Scrapple ... he counted it off, "one, two, IN E!, one, two, three, four....."
I just stood there embarrased while he played the head and soloed great on it - I could bearly solo on it at all...
That's just plain rude.
 

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it depends on where are u at the moment. To a pro, learning to transpose maybe less important than long tones (Joshua Redman said in this interview he practices long tones everyday nowadays).
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian
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Learning stuff in 10 keys is ear training. Learning stuff in 7# or 7b is eye training.

What I think is a waste of time: dumb practicing. Just having to bang on something without any insights into the process.

A dumb attitude to practice is often tacitly encouraged in the old tradition. In the venerable Baermann clarinet method, every trill and key transition comes with one instruction: "Play 20 times." Never you mind why, how, or any of that! Zwanzig mal spielen and shut your cakehole about it.

It becomes an issue when teachers teach what to practice but don't get involved with how to practice. We're all different, but not sharing insights or experiences sets the learner up to waste time.
 

· Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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That's just plain rude.
I think it's more a practical joke. Possibly a bit cruel, depending on the exact situation.

The cool response to that would be to blow a 4 choruses a semi tone out as if oblivious and then shout over the rhythm section: "Oh, sorry, I thought you said F!" Or play the whole solo in semibreves. In fact, I think I heard of some well-known player who got caught in that kind of situation (could have been a jam with Elvin Jones, possibly, where there was some crazy tempo on a tune he didn't know, can't remember the details???) and did something like that.

BTW, I'm absolutely certain I wouldn't myself react at all like that, I'd probably just cry for a bit.
 

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I consider learning tunes in all 12 keys a waste of time. If you have decent relative pitch and you know your scales (finger technicality involved here) practicing them in all 12 keys is just unnecessary. Maybe 3-4 keys at most.
 

· Non Resident SOTW Eccentric & 2012 Forum Contribut
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Finally someone who appears to think the same as me. It's not about learning songs in different keys, it's about knowing songs in different keys.
For me I know that I truly know a song and my instrument if I can play the head on call and solo in a key that I havent practiced in.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian
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Rude...true - but Jay is a great cat - just had that old school cutting spirit...
In the old school there is no such thing as "rude" or "abusive" or "negative." Those who have proven themselves are entitled to act any old way they please to those who haven't.

Music used to be ruled by that spirit, and you were to accept it as part of art and excellence or get the f#¢!! out. Things are changing.
 

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In the old school there is no such thing as "rude" or "abusive" or "negative." Those who have proven themselves are entitled to act any old way they please to those who haven't.

Music used to be ruled by that spirit, and you were to accept it as part of art and excellence or get the f#¢!! out. Things are changing.
Is this change for the better or worse?

I know I wouldn't last long in a world of cutting, or proving your musical worth by demonstrating superior speed, dexterity, harmonic theory etc.
 

· Distinguished SOTW member
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Discussion Starter · #60 ·
IMHO, the whole "cutting contest" mentality is one of the reasons Jazz has such a small audience, non-musicians aren't interested in that kind of thing.

There is some value to it when players push each other into new directions, but when one calls a tune in an awkward key just so that the other guy messes up, it's anti-musical. It's closer to athletics than it is to art.

That being said, I have started learning some tunes in 12 keys, it's not as hard as I thought and like EE NYC and Matt Otto have said, it does give you a better understanding of the tune.
 
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