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Annual Appraisal - Honesty required please

MLoosemore

Deluded Senior Member...
Messages
759
Locality
Spalding Lincs
It is now 2014 and I have been practicing seriously for just over 12 months with the much appreciated assistance of the BOTM threads and all the other useful information gleaned from the many members of this fabulous Forum.

The recording posted below is the first truly 'honest' one I have posted. Yes I have added many contributions to BOTM and they have all to a greater or lesser extent been modified using Audacity usually to get my effort to fit the backing tracks or clean up nasty squeaks.

It is now time for me to lay my soul bare to the other members. Apart from one major squeak removed from the recording this one is submitted as recorded 'warts and all'. No reverb added, no tweaks or tightening of tempo.

I know there are serious breath control issues and some problems with tonguing but I would really appreciate any genuine criticisms of my efforts in the hope that by this time 2015 I will have been able to iron out a few more flaws.

So with 'Georgia on my mind' here it is...

http://bit.ly/1gEZDC4

Many thanks and I think you are, almost without exception, great musicians.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,745
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
I'm listening as I type. I think after a year I would expect you to be further along. You are improving but slowly to my mind. You seem to be still struggling to control the reed. There seems to be a very good tone trying to get out and your timing and pitching is improving. I don't know your musical background so it's hard to say how to increase the rate of improvement. Many players start as children with a recorder. If anybody asks me about learning the saxophone I always point them to the recorder as a universal trainer. It's the same, more or less, finger patterns and so easy to produce a pleasing sound you can work on developing your muscality and finger skills before taking on the reed. I still like to play mine. Perhaps that would help

More frequent practice and for longer to build your chops will help. Do you have access to a teacher? I'm assuming you don't or you wouldn't be asking here. If you can't find or afford a teacher then have a look for a local wind band or similar. It's hard to learn music in isolation. Local adult education run courses. We all have an inner musicality so some help there is needed to bring it out of you and to train your ear. Get to know the local live music scene and attend often as you can. Somewhere you can feel the band. Is your outlet for music limited to saxophone? Sing, dance, whistle, listen, study, practice and try to sound like the stuff you hear. It's coming. We all honk and squeak at first. Still do some days lol
 

MLoosemore

Deluded Senior Member...
Messages
759
Locality
Spalding Lincs
Thanks for that critique Colin. As you suspect I do not have access to a teacher and any progress is as a result of probably about an hour a day practising 5 days a week. Have looked into local adult education but there seems to be nothing suitable out here in the 'sticks' As far as musical background is concerned, some 50 plus years ago I played side drum in the school CCF and that's it. Not a great background for woodwind :(

I will take on board your ideas and will consider the recorder option. But this year practice time is going to have to be increased.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,745
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
An hour a day should be enough. I think without a teacher and no musical background you may not be optimising your practice time. Having some one with a good ear in the room and teaching experience can direct your attention to the areas that need it most. Perhaps it might be more productive to spend the extra time travelling. your practice will then have direction and focus. Less is more so to speak.
 

flukeyluke

Member
Messages
175
Locality
hampshire
link wont load up for me,could you load it to soundcloud at all? i have found quite a good beginners course online,i will find the link and post it :)

Luke

here it is,it seems pritty good,im going to follow some of it as well as teach myself from "the complete saxophone player" book,if you havnt got this book then check it out,its good :)

heres link to course,its free :)

http://danchristian.net/
 

flukeyluke

Member
Messages
175
Locality
hampshire
link still not opening for me,must be my linux or something

just checked and soundcloud is down for me,will listen to it when its working again :)
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Locality
Just north of Munich
Mark, really brave of you to ask for comment. I agree with most of what Colin said. But not with the amount of progress. Different people learn at different speeds.

What strikes me is that you're not hearing what you're playing when you play. I think you need to hear the tune as you're're playing and also have a clear mental picture of the tune, working on bringing out what's in your head with what you're actually playing. What I hear is you reading the dots, concentrating so hard on them that you play mechanically.

Maybe learn a short phrase. Then work on it without the sax, humming, singing it to yourself until you know how you want it to sound. Then grab the sax and play what's in your head without the dots.
 

Koen88

Sax Drinker / Beer player
Messages
426
Locality
Netherlands
you could try some skype lessons? their are several teachers who do that.. I havent done it myself so I couldnt say how effective it is. but it may be helpfull.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
27,128
Locality
Cheshire UK
I don't feel qualified to comment too much and still consider myself very much a novice, I agree with Kev though we all progress at different rates so please don't judge yourself based on how long you have played. What is more important is that you are enjoying your journey and are making progress which Colin acknowledges you are.

I know when I play and am concentrating everything tightens up so relax more if you can but that is easier said than done. :)

To develop tone you can't beat long notes and tonal exercises, what does your hour playing encompass?

And well done for using the forum to get valuable feedback, ideal if you don't have a tutor.

Jx
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,668
Locality
Rugby UK
I have to disagree with Colin, I met someone recently who has been playing for longer than you but is nowhere near your standard! I do, however, agree with the other comments, you've got to learn to relax when you play. I bet you were concentrating so hard on getting the recording right that other areas of your playing suffered. Don't worry, you're not on your own there, I still go to pot as soon as I press the record button! What Jeanette said is the crux of the matter "enjoying your journey" this is what we all strive for. Enjoyment and nothing more!
For a yearling, I think your doing great and as a certain TV host would say "Your still my favourite!"
 

Clivey

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,260
Locality
Edinburgh/Hot Rock off African Coast
I think if we are being honest that all / many Musicians at some time suffer "Existential Doubt" Many give up simply as a result of believing that they will always suck and never reach a standard they will be pleased with. The thing is that it is us that sets this level.
There will be players of varying degrees of ability all over the planet holding down places in Groups, Bands and Orchestras that will perhaps never be asked to or want to Solo or for that matter play whole songs in the lead role and many of them would Balk at the thought of doing a straight recording of a performance as you the one have provided Moose.
If I were in your shoes and still very much a novice as "I truthfully believe I will always be". I would probably be formulating a Goal, perhaps to Join a collective of some sorts, and my practice and playing would be simply a means to an end. I can honestly state that you could probably pass an audition to join a band or community group at the level you are at just now on the basis that you were part of a section or with the proviso that the other players or the band leader were prepared to help you along the way towards the ultimate goal of performance.

Many members of the forum do not of course wish to take this path and I have been told in the past on this site that it`s the Playing for playing sake that really matters. I`m really not sure . I do know one thing though. This Forum and SOTW are consistently joined by guys and lasses returning to music after long gaps away. Some stay, some give up and we never hear from them again. The players that stay and that have staying power do get better as the urge to play and create music helps them to overcome the technical challenges. In truth. It`s never been easier to get better. OK. The avenues we can take the instrument down in some ways can be seen to be shrinking. Less Gigs, Less real music,Less Great Role Models playing in the contemporary sphere blah blah blah. But on the other hand. The availibility of inexpensive instruments and of course the Internet can provide a player with almost limitless resources to help with improvement.
Ultimately there are only really two courses to take Moose. you either Give up or you Keep going. I sincerely hope that you keep going.The rest will take care of it`s self.
 
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flukeyluke

Member
Messages
175
Locality
hampshire
finally listened to it,im a noob too but i have to agree with taz,i could hear the potential of some very nice notes but it sounded like nerves hit you when you hit record,it does sound like you are tense,i bet you sound alot different when you are playing to yourself :)

i too get very nervous/tense when recording anything,i used to mc and have recorded hiphop with a few american hiphop artists and everytime i have recorded a track its come out no where near as good as when im relaxed.

its the pressure of trying to get it right,i hope to record myself on the sax at some point but you could call me a complete noob at the moment,ive played for 3 months and then had a break for a year (moved house to different area etc) and im waiting for my new jericho j6 to be delivered.

my advice as a complete noob is try to relax and enjoy it (although easier said than done lol ) and start playing long single tones and concintrait on getting them all sounding great,i didnt think it was that bad though :) and keep it up
 

trimmy

One day i will...
Messages
10,304
Locality
Liverpool ( Pool of Life )
Well done on your bravery Mark, 3 yrs on and i still haven't uploaded to the cafe.
I don't feel i'm at the standard i should be at but we all have family & work commitments which get in the way.
I'll be honest and say that your clip sounds nothing like your BoTM clips, are you tampering with audacity too much which in turn is giving a false impression ? I don't know because i can't use audacity (thicko)
Maybe it would be an idea to give a rundown of what your hourly routine consists of, the more experienced out there maybe able to offer some advice on improving your practice regime.
Is there anyone you can hook up with ? even if it's only once a month.
Last but not least continue playing (as I'm sure you will) look forward to next years clip.
 

jafo50

Member
Messages
72
Locality
New York
Not having an teacher who can provide honest feedback on your progress will definitely hurt your progress in the long run. Someone mentioned Skype lessons which is an excellent suggestion. I've never taken a Skype lesson myself but have read that those that have usually have a positive experience.

You can also try Smart Music. It's a self paced and relatively inexpensive interactive study guide that provides instant feedback on your playing.

I've listened to your sound clip and although you are playing the notes it doesn't sound "musical" for lack of a better word. It lacks a certain flow and expression from one measure to the next. This takes time to develop and that's were a teacher will be most helpful.

Good luck and don't give up.

www.smartmusic.com in case your interested.
 

MLoosemore

Deluded Senior Member...
Messages
759
Locality
Spalding Lincs
...What strikes me is that you're not hearing what you're playing when you play. I think you need to hear the tune as you're're playing and also have a clear mental picture of the tune, working on bringing out what's in your head with what you're actually playing. What I hear is you reading the dots, concentrating so hard on them that you play mechanically....

Thanks Kev,

Supplementary question... A lot of times when I have posted on BOTM the comments I have received have said that I am not in time with the music. Either too fast, too slow or a combination of both.

Can you or anybody clarify how I rationalise playing the dots as written which should result in being in time with the music and satisfying this criticism or playing emotionally and feeling the melody which will by it's very nature stray away from the dots. I am more than happy to try and get my playing to flow more freely but how does that square with being in time?
 

fibracell

Senior Member
Messages
616
I think you are doing very well indeed for such a short time!!:clapping:
It is very difficult to get to play and concentrate on everything - tuning, time, inflection etc. The fact that you are recording is a monumental step forward into improving. You get to hear everything very exposed.

The basics are all there - just needs to be developed and patience is the key. Practice those long tones (with a tuner or drone), overtones (very difficult at first), and mouthpiece only exercises (drive the wife and dog crazy!). :eek:

And most importantly be very patient and give it time. The years will pass and you'll be amazed at your development if keep at the basics, and really try to discipline the practice.

You could travel for a couple of lessons, just to check over a few things.

Keep at it and try to enjoy it when something good comes out - be proud of those things!! Think 'I couldn't do that a few months ago' !!:happydance:
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Locality
Just north of Munich
Thanks Kev,

Supplementary question... A lot of times when I have posted on BOTM the comments I have received have said that I am not in time with the music. Either too fast, too slow or a combination of both.

Can you or anybody clarify how I rationalise playing the dots as written which should result in being in time with the music and satisfying this criticism or playing emotionally and feeling the melody which will by it's very nature stray away from the dots. I am more than happy to try and get my playing to flow more freely but how does that square with being in time?

I struggle with this.
My wife tells me to feel the rhythm. So I started listening to the backing tracks, just counting the beat until I could arrive at the end of the backing track on the correct bar and time. Just doing this is a big step forward.
Make sure you can count swung as well. This is a lot harder than it seems.
Play around with dotted notes, different note lengths. The counting clapping exercises here help a lot.
Then read the dots with the backing track and get them in line. Helps if it's a tune you know. With BOTM you can do this easily cos there are good versions posted usingt he same dots BTs. Counting needs to become automatic, in the background.
When you're getting there, listen for people pushing by playing just ahead of the beat - or dragging, just behind it. Some players do this as part of their style, others to set the tempo.
And.... Play with others but make sure they don't follow your timing, but keep strictly in time so you can hear when you're ahead/slow. A metronome is a good starter here, but don't become a slave to it - rather use it as a reference, then try the same thing without it. Hearing the beat in the BTs helps a lot. If you ask Chris nicely, he may do a special BT for you with a more prominent beat. This helps a lot.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,745
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
Thanks Kev,

Supplementary question... A lot of times when I have posted on BOTM the comments I have received have said that I am not in time with the music. Either too fast, too slow or a combination of both.

Can you or anybody clarify how I rationalise playing the dots as written which should result in being in time with the music and satisfying this criticism or playing emotionally and feeling the melody which will by it's very nature stray away from the dots. I am more than happy to try and get my playing to flow more freely but how does that square with being in time?

I like to keep time by moving my body. Straying away from what's written but with reference to the tempo and beat.

There's not much point trying to pull a piece about till you can play it straight. This might mean playing it anywhere from 20 to 100 times. ( Lucky neighbours )

If it's a song it can help to sing the lyrics to help your phrasing. Even speaking them along to the backing track will help. Singers like Sinatra and Billie Holiday play with the phrasing and can give some insight. The main thing is to know it on your instrument backwards, side ways and upside down. Musical theory helps when you can't hear it. This is all way down the road and will come in time with practice.

A teacher will see your strengths and weaknesses and develop a strategy of exercises and fun pieces to bring you along and get you where you want to be. I think of myself as self taught but when I think about it there have been recorder group and choirs at school. A few piano lessons as a teenager, a music foundation course as a young adult, and a one week jazz course in the 80's. It's tough and slow going to learn in isolation. Being around musicians helps you see what is possible and the process of getting there.

Listening to lots of music is also key. What was the last band you saw live?
 

MLoosemore

Deluded Senior Member...
Messages
759
Locality
Spalding Lincs
Listening to lots of music is also key. What was the last band you saw live?

If we ignore Diana Vickers and Scouting for Girls who probably don't qualify it would have to be Barb Jungr and her backing group at Pizza in the Park.
 

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