All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
SYOS

Tone all for speed, tone and tongueing?!?!?!?!?!

Nashonthesax

New Member
Messages
5
Hi there,
I have three basic questions. From my "welcome post" i have played an alto for 6-7 months now and have had 5 months private lessons. my questions are broad so any help would be appreciated!

How can i help my tone? i know long tines, but they get boring. i am not expecting anything instant, i know i will have to work but i want something i can mix around so each time i can have some fun.

How can i change fingering really fast? like sixteenths( i know it seems an odd question ;}) my fingers just mess up doing G,A Bb! in sixteenths!!!!!!! My private teacher said to keep your fingers to the key so when it comes back up to its regular position your fingers are on it. sort of like your fingers are glued to the keys!

Also about sixteenths, my tongueing always messes up too! i can never tongue sixteenths! i just tongue at the wrong times lol! this is my main priority!


i am sorry if these are really dumb easy questions.


thx,
Nash

P.S i wasn't sure if i should put it in beginner questions?
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
In extreme cases practice tends to help a great deal. You don't have to start with pieces written in sixteenths. It is quite alright to take other pieces and gradually play them faster. It is just like anything else you learn: slow at the start and gradually building up speed. Frankly, there are no shortcuts to getting a good tone and playing at the indicated speed.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Good advice from Beckmesser.

You can also take the piece written in 16ths, play it slowly concentrating on getting the timing/rhythm right, then gradually speed up. A metronome helps, and going faster in small increments works for me. Try starting at 60bpm, or even slower, and go up in 2 or 4 bpm increments.
 

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
I think only practice will achieve that. I'm about the same, roughly half a year in, but I'm still having difficulty playing fast 8th notes! Long tones aren't boring, I find them a really good time to figure out how to make the horn resonate (damn you, middle D! *shakes virtual fist*). It's good fun, but I bet my neighbours don't like it :D

Also: I recently have actually taken to slowing down my BPM on my metronome during practice. For one thing, it makes my scale practice longer, and this actually requires improved breath support. This came about when I was with my teacher, and he got me to sight play a slow piece 60bpm, thereabouts. Had difficulty maintaining proper support over longish bars with no breath breaks.

Finally, I now practice with the backing CD in my book (Jazz Method for Saxophone) - I can definitely see much faster improvement

hths, but I'm only a beginner so... take some spoonfuls of salt :)

Alvin
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,916
As regards tone, I think the main thing is to really listen to yourself. Think of everything you play as a tone exercise, not just long tones. You need to notice when you sound is getting closer to how would like it so you get into the habit of blowing that way, without even necessarily knowing how you're doing it. If you don't know what tone you're looking for, listen to some famous players and see who you you want to sound like. There's nothing wrong with copying at first, you'll find your own way in the long term.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
All good advice so far - +1 for metronome! Really handy.

As for tone - long notes too. They do get a bit tedious, but like Gallen says, they're all about experimenting.
I don't use a 'classical' (clarinetty) style embouchure, I'm much more open to try to get a fuller (roaring!?) tone, rather than a pure sweet one.
Try moving your lower jaw down and away! My teacher has likened the embouchure to sucking your thumb, that might help you get the position right, and imagine yawning for the throat cavity.

Finally, whatever you do, try the 'five minute practice method'.
Practice means 'attempting something you can't do' - and you have to discipline yourself to keep trying for five minutes. Not six. Not four. Five. Time it! Hopefully by the end of five minutes of long notes or five minutes of tonguing practice your sound will be a bit larger, or your metronome speed will have increased.

Good Luck!

Nick
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Certainly having various things to concentrate whilst practising long notes is quite important.

1. Playing as quietly as possible - from a gentle breathing onwards.
2. Playing as consistently/sustained as possible helps.
3. Playing loud at a sustained pitch is helpful.
4. Changing from one long note to another can be helpful (adjoining or otherwise).
5. Tongueing during a long note can be helpful.
6. Practice playing the nicest sounding long note that you can.
7. Practice playing scales of long notes (4 beats and up) so that you make smooth changes between notes.

You are primarily focussing on tone so that you sound the best you can when you play pieces of music, not just playing the right notes in the right order, irrespective of how good it sounds.

Good luck
Tom
 

Randy Hunter

Member
Messages
34
There are already some great suggestions here in reply to your questions regarding long-tones, practice, and the use of a metronome. One I might add is to keep the hands relaxed. The hands move more freely and better in time if they are relaxed.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
There are already some great suggestions here in reply to your questions regarding long-tones, practice, and the use of a metronome. One I might add is to keep the hands relaxed. The hands move more freely and better in time if they are relaxed.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm

Just thinking about this....

How hard do you have to press on the keys to get them to seal? I noticed a huge improvement in playability when I repadded my tenor, got the pads right and no longer needed to force the keys shut.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
1. Playing as quietly as possible - from a gentle breathing onwards.
2. Playing as consistently/sustained as possible helps.
3. Playing loud at a sustained pitch is helpful.
4. Changing from one long note to another can be helpful (adjoining or otherwise).
5. Tongueing during a long note can be helpful.
6. Practice playing the nicest sounding long note that you can.
7. Practice playing scales of long notes (4 beats and up) so that you make smooth changes between notes.

...can I suggest an eighth? Playing your long note evenly while getting quieter and louder again (ideally FF > PP < FF), without varying the pitch.

Cheers!

Nick
 

Gallen

Senior Member
Messages
397
Just wanted to add something about "tone" and long tones. During today's practice session, I observed that when I'm playing the passages from my study book, it's about ~50mins in to my practice session and my embouchure is getting tired. Today, I noticed how poor my "tonal" qualities are when tired.

Once I noticed it, I could actively concentrate on proper breath support/embouchure to bring the tone back to when I was doing long tones i.e. 5-10 minutes into the practice session, when I'm still fresh. I start with 5 mins of mouth piece exercises btw.

Just to share :)

Alvin
 

Randy Hunter

Member
Messages
34
Just thinking about this....

How hard do you have to press on the keys to get them to seal? I noticed a huge improvement in playability when I repadded my tenor, got the pads right and no longer needed to force the keys shut.

You should be able to press the keys relatively lightly to get a good seal, if your horn is in proper adjustment.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,916
Once I noticed it,

Aha!

I could actively concentrate on proper breath support/embouchure to bring the tone back to when I was doing long tones i.e. 5-10 minutes into the practice session, when I'm still fresh. I start with 5 mins of mouth piece exercises btw.

Just to share :)

Alvin
Sounds like real progress, well done!
 

baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
My tuppence worth:

Long tones - They're not that boring, but I'll admit that there are better fun things to practise. I often do my long note practice whilst watching TV with the sound off and the subtitles on. Secondly, as an alternative to straight long note practice, play lots of slow ballads instead - a bit more entertaining. Then play them again up / down an octave as appropriate / possible.

A really, really good thing to do to improve and mature tone - and I wish I'd known about this when I started playing - is to practise overtones. Finger low Bb throughout the exercise, then bring out the overtone series using your larynx (rather than embouchure) and you will find that with a little patience you can play all kinds of bugle calls without moving your fingers. I'm sure you can find some proper write-ups of this technique either elsewhere on this forum or on SOTW. You should change the fundamental note (to B, C, C# etc) and play the overtones on those too. I found that it paid dividends very quickly for me, although I learned of this after only 20 years of having played the sax. This will also help a very great deal with playing altissimo - once you get around to that.

Tongueing - As the others have said, practise with a metronome. Start slowly, then build up speed. I would only add that doing this is so much more fun when you're playing interesting music. When I started playing back in '82 my teacher lost no great time in recommending JS Bach's "Partita in A minor" for solo flute as a great piece to practise co-ordination. It's all semiquavers so it looks intimidating - but really semiquavers are only as fast as you play them - but rhythmically it's a doddle, at least! It falls nicely under the fingers for a saxophone and only one or two notes go above the normal range of the sax - and you'll nail those two notes in time. Might be worth the £7.50 that musicroom.com are asking for it, and it's rather beautiful too.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Moz

Senior Member
Messages
859
Jokes aside, I find getting a decent tone on alto a lot harder than on tenor.

It is very true. I have been playing tenor sax for five years and have a good tone but started on alto six years ago and the reason for the change was that I sounded awful, like a demented donkey. Now I have bought an alto again (in addition to not instead of!) and I am much better tone-wise but there is still an element of that donkey lurking in the background. I use it only to add fillers on music tracks; can't imagine it would ever be my main instrument again.

Ditto the soprano, on that infernal device I sound like a tortured cat and so do a lot of other people!! On the other hand, a well-played soprano is another world and a delightful sound. Still can't say the same for the alto though, seemingly in almost anyone's hands. Sorry, perhaps it's my hearing.

Martin
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
So that's why players MOVE ON from Alto to Tenor..........Tenor IS easier to play. So players start on Alto, fail miserably, start playing Tenor, make a slightly better sound, and are able to overcome the trauma of their initial Alto failure......aw, diddums:crying:

So, it is not a macho thing after all.....:shocked::w00t:;}
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,890
Wow am I good at losing the thread. Posted it wrong and its vanished. So here goes again. I have been pondering the tone of the alto for a few days now. You always have to find the note in the upper reaches and it just doesnt sound as saxy (heh heh!) as the lower octave. I will buy a new sax this year and I am beginning to lean towards a tenor. But back to the jist, a tip I picked up here which I should have known anyway is to practice standing up. Some things I still work on seated, just for ease, but if I want to blow long or high or get something off nicely, standing up is easier both for the positioning of the sax and for breathing. Its by far the best way.
Mike
 
Top Bottom