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So I am just starting out on the saxophone again after almost 20 years. I learned absolutely nothing from my band "teacher" when I was 8 or 9, I am fairly certain I didn't even know which direction the reed was supposed to face back then. Now days I can play a few scales and get consistent sound from my horn, so I think it's time i move to a method book to help me along.

I've picked up a copy of the Rubank Elementary method (waiting on delivery) and I would like to ask a few questions about this book in particular and about learning from a method book in general. Keep in mind I am also just starting to learn to read music and my reading level is very low right now.

First off, has anyone used the Rubank books? If so what were your thoughts on it? What were your likes and dislikes about it? How does it work? Does it introduce a few notes at a time and starts to mix new ones in as you go along? Does it offer fingering explanations or do you looks else where for that?

Secondly, when using a method book how does one get the most out of the material provided? Like how many times will you play a passage, how long til you move on to a new lesson, how do you draw the line to say "I've learned this let's move onward."? Any other tips and tricks for book learning?

I wish I wasn't in the boondocks so I could have a Face to face teacher and distance learning I just don't think will work for me. So bare in mind that more than likely I'll be learning on my own with the aid of books, YouTube and folks here, not with the aid of a teacher.

Regards
 

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I found an online version of the intermediate book, I had a look at it, some of the tunes to practice I'd never heard of.
It must be quite an old book by now?
I'd not heard of these method books before, do they come recommended?
 

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From where you are right now, I would recommend getting the Standard of Excellence "Enhanced" books 1 and 2 for your saxophone. Each book comes with 2 accompaniment CD's that provide interesting and musical accompaniments that help students to play in time like playing with a metronome and to listen and play in tune. Another strong recommendation is to get a student subscription to Smart Music. There are too many features and benefits to even begin to mention. The cost of $40 per year is well worth it. You can progress at your own rate, maybe even doing a page a day at first. Going through these 2 band methods will give you the knowledge of notes and fingerings and music reading skills that will prepare you for the Rubank Method series.

Another very useful resource is Eugene Rousseau's Steps to Excellence in which he clearly explains and demonstrates the basic fundamentals of playing the saxophone.
 

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The Rubank method books are very good learning tools, though rather old-fashioned in tone and content. Don't expect to be playing modern pop tunes. They are also more oriented toward classical pedagogy. If you are interested in jazz, you probably will want a supplemental book or two to focus on different rhythmic patterns, studies in harmony, and beginning techniques for improvisation.

The Rubank books contain a nice mix of scales and arpeggios, technical exercises, melodic etudes, and pieces for solo interpretation. Most of this material is organized by key. The object is balance. You won't get a ton of any one kind of piece, so if you're a scales fanatic who wants hundreds of pages of the things, again you might want to get a supplemental book.

I wouldn't say that the Rubank beginner books adopt a "sink or swim" attitude, but they don't baby students either. Each book includes a comprehensive fingering chart (no altissimo though). You're expected to memorize the fingerings from the get-go. I remember having a Hal Leonard beginning band method book that printed the fingering for each note right below it on the staff, in all the exercises for many pages. Not with Rubank. The Rubank Intermediate book is probably about as tough as the advanced books from some less demanding publishers.

You can sum up the Rubank approach this way: At the start of each book is an introduction, with tips for the student. One of these is about practice time. The advice given is not to think merely in terms of how many minutes are put in. The Rubank credo is (I'm paraphrasing), "The student should say to himself, 'I will master the assigned material whether it takes one-half hour or two hours!'"

Finally, the Rubank books are pretty cheap. You could purchase an entire series of four books (Elementary, Intermediate, Advanced Vol. I, Advanced Vol. II), brand-new, for just a little over $30. That much music would keep you busy for years.

I still frequently play from my Rubank books. My battered copy of Advanced Method for Clarinet contains a lot of great classical pieces that I play on sax as well as clarinet. Same with the articulation exercises. My old Intermediate Method for Saxophone has some particularly good exercises that I play during almost every practice session to limber up. I never had the Advanced sax book while in school, so a few years I ago I bought that one and worked through the whole thing. The sax-specific tricky fingering exercises are very useful for mastering awkward movements.
 

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The Rubank method books are very good learning tools, though rather old-fashioned in tone and content. Don't expect to be playing modern pop tunes. They are also more oriented toward classical pedagogy. If you are interested in jazz, you probably will want a supplemental book or two to focus on different rhythmic patterns, studies in harmony, and beginning techniques for improvisation.

The Rubank books contain a nice mix of scales and arpeggios, technical exercises, melodic etudes, and pieces for solo interpretation. Most of this material is organized by key. The object is balance. You won't get a ton of any one kind of piece, so if you're a scales fanatic who wants hundreds of pages of the things, again you might want to get a supplemental book.

I wouldn't say that the Rubank beginner books adopt a "sink or swim" attitude, but they don't baby students either. Each book includes a comprehensive fingering chart (no altissimo though). You're expected to memorize the fingerings from the get-go. I remember having a Hal Leonard beginning band method book that printed the fingering for each note right below it on the staff, in all the exercises for many pages. Not with Rubank. The Rubank Intermediate book is probably about as tough as the advanced books from some less demanding publishers.

You can sum up the Rubank approach this way: At the start of each book is an introduction, with tips for the student. One of these is about practice time. The advice given is not to think merely in terms of how many minutes are put in. The Rubank credo is (I'm paraphrasing), "The student should say to himself, 'I will master the assigned material whether it takes one-half hour or two hours!'"

Finally, the Rubank books are pretty cheap. You could be purchase an entire series of four books (Elementary, Intermediate, Advanced Vol. I, Advanced Vol. II), brand-new, for just a little over $30. That much music would keep you busy for years.
Well put, I "like" that (We don't have a like button :))
 

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I agree with everything LostConn writes about the Rubank Series. I used these in my private teaching for many years supplemented with solo materials. However, that was in a private lesson setting where the teacher can "fill in the gaps". For someone just learning to play and to read music, a beginning band method is more suitable in that situation. After all they are written for a room full of young people with those same qualifications. Plus the introductory material before the musical exercises covers the basics very well. This is one thing I especially liked about Bruce Pearson's methods---the fact that he covered everything a beginning student would need to know, and may or may not get from a teacher.
 

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It's very important to learn fundamentals correctly, so choose material you find easy to understand and remember. Developing good fundamentals is very important so you don't have to unlearn bad habits later. The Rubank Book teaches good fundamental material as do other books. Having a good teacher or player present at a time of learning is a good way to go when possible.
 

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When I picked up the sax, I started with Essential Elements, which is developed for the very starters. It introduces one note at a time, and teaches you to read music. Problem with EE is that it is designed for band, so most the more complex music in it (relatively speaking) is the sax part of an ensemble arrangement.....which means you get very little harmony.....the harmony is in the trumpet and clarinet books....after buzzing through the first two EE books, I picked up Rubank Elementary Method and am happy I did.

It doesn’t come with instructions, but if you generally pace yourself through the book, you will learn a lot.

Suggestions: It identifies things you should do for Daily Study. Beware, if you do all of them every day, you will be playing for a few hours each day. For most of us, that would snuff out the enjoyment of the hobby. I do find that the daily practice of long-tones in the book, with a tuner, is very helpful with developing my embouchure. I also do scales every day. I think those are in the back of the book.

Rubank Elementary book is definitely classical and not jazz literature....but it is all stuff you have to learn.

When you start to take an interest in Altissimo, I don’t think the Rubank Method does a great job. Regarding quality tone production, I think it is best to have someone listen to you and comment periodically. It is hard to figure that out with a book.

I could master the Elementary Method myself....but when I got to the Intermediate Method, I found that I had to supplement with other technique books if I didn’t want to get stuck. (Exercises in the Teal Book helped me master the Rubank Book much faster).

In short, just like any book, it isn’t perfect....but it is a good place to start.
 

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When you start to take an interest in Altissimo, I don’t think the Rubank Method does a great job.
I don't believe altissimo is covered at all. (This is one way in which the books are old-fashioned, as noted.) It's certainly not addressed through Advanced Vol. I, and I don't see why it would be covered in Advanced Vol. II, since Vol. II is supposed to be just the remaining keys not included in Vol. I, rather than a move to brand-new technical topics. Even the Rubank Advanced fingering chart is standard-range only.
 

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I don't believe altissimo is covered at all. (This is one way in which the books are old-fashioned, as noted.) It's certainly not addressed through Advanced Vol. I, and I don't see why it would be covered in Advanced Vol. II, since Vol. II is supposed to be just the remaining keys not included in Vol. I, rather than a move to brand-new technical topics. Even the Rubank Advanced fingering chart is standard-range only.
.....agreed. I was being nice to Rubank.
 

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Altissimo is an advanced topic. The OP expressed that he was a beginner, introduced to the sax in elementary school 20 years ago with no further progress, so learning altissimo is way too early in the game.

I still have my Rubank Advanced Method Saxophone Volume II and their Selected Duets from 40 years ago. Overall, I think they are still good tools to learn with, covers different keys with scales, fingering charts and tips, and have easy to play as well as difficult pieces to practice.

Best would be to receive private instruction. The instructor will have his own favorite books for instruction. Following his guidance and purchasing these for instruction will go a long way in becoming a satisfied player, IMO. The instructor can also give useful feedback on books that he feels will help the student to advance.
 

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Putting in my support for the Rubank books as well. They're full of great information! But they're much better with a teacher or someone who can make that information a bit more enjoyable to parse through. Also they are full of duets, and those are pretty hard to do alone.
 

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The Rubank books are excellent. I worked with them for years. I think you'll find that they're very well-organized and systematic in a way that is very useful for beginners. IIRC the first book starts with simple exercises in C, learning whole, half, quarters, triplets, then moves on 'easier' keys like G and F, and gradually gets more challenging.

The best way to work through those beginning books, IMO, is to get yourself a metronome and have at it. Start out by playing each exercise slowly enough that you can play it exactly as written. Focus on good tone, air support, relaxed arms, hands, and embouchure. When you can play it three times in a row without a mistake, increase the tempo a little. Practice until you can play it at that tempo three times in a row without a mistake, then raise the tempo again, and keep doing that until you can play it at the tempo indicated (ie, moderato or whatever). When you can do that, move on the next one. You can pretty much work through the whole book that way, and then move on to volume 2. It's good way to warm up to occasionally go back and review exercises you've previously mastered. It's also good to have a tuner on hand: maybe check your intonation on a few key notes (beginning, ending, highest note, held notes).

It goes without saying that you also need to work on long tones, that you'll be better off if you can get in person lessons, etc. But you can learn a lot just by working with Rubank, a metronome, and a tuner.
 

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I learned out of the Rubank books and still teach out of them. With a competent teacher, they are great! Without one, not so good in my humble opinion. Excellent exercises and scales, but very little written explanation.
 

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When starting to learn an instrument, a teacher will shave years off of your progress. Try an on-line teacher. I am sure there are people here who can recommend some sites.

I assume you are in your late 20's early 30's so if cost is an issue. Take a lesson bi-weekly or monthly. Having someone look over your progress will help in the long run.

When I started picking up the sax again when I was 50 (8 years ago) I bought the Rubank books. Work on them slowly and do not move on until you are completely comfortable with the material presented on each page. Also, buy a metronome and use it. It really helped me. After a while near the end of the beginner book, I bought the real book (sixth edition) and played the melodies as best I could.

Since I started the intermediate book I realized that I really need to go through it with a teacher to get the most out of it. Hope that helps...
 

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Adding my vote that that Rubank books are great, _if_ you have a teacher. Because there's no reference recording (that I know of), and if you're gonna teach yourself, you _gotta_ know what "correct" sounds like. And ideally, there would also be tips for the sections that a clearly designed to teach something specific. For example, the chromatic exercise in Lesson 41 of the beginner book doesn't tell you to use chromatic fingerings, but that's of course the point of the exercise.

Etc.
 
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