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Beginner transformation into Intermediate

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
Here's one that may potentially be a bit controversial and cause a few 'ouch' moments ........ and I've come across the need to question this in other learning curves outside of sax over time .......

At what point would it be considered that a Beginner crosses over into the Intermediate range?

I ask, in naivety, because I see so much information that says - for Intermediate and above, or unsuitable for Beginners and it can all be so ambiguous. In another recent skill acquirement I regarded myself as a beginner, and when I attended an open day event to ask some questions and my work looked at, I was regarded as highly advanced. It shows up when purchasing books to learn from mostly - as I'm tired of ordering books that show me what I already know instead of taking me on further without losing some steps in between, and the descriptions are vague about what is considered to be the learning level of the reader aimed for.

So, what skills sets would you guys consider a pre-requisite to make the transition from one to another? Just as an example, Pete's Taming the Saxophone is for Intermediate to Advanced (in fairness he does say committed Beginners will find it useful - so this is just a consideration for reference).

Have I opened up a can of worms by asking? Am I being terrifically naive? Does it mean I must still be a very much Beginner because I don't know the answer to this question?
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
My take on this is: there is no transtion. "Beginner", "intermediate", "virtuoso", whatever, are just arbitrary labels. I think it can be quite discouraging to be worrying about what level you're at instead of thinking about which area to improve next. The question of whether you're "ready" for a certain book or a certain band is quite a complex and personal one and can't be answered by simple numbers like "intermediate/advanced", "grade 3" or whatever.

I think it's good to err on the side of being ambitious, as long as you're not going to be too upset about stuffing up occasionally.

Publishers stick whichever label they think will sell most copies onto their books. They're a very rough guide at best and can be quite misleading without more information about what's actually in there.
 
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Chris

Well Known
Subscriber
Messages
3,821
It is more a question of adding new skills to ones you have already got in your fingers. It can have a negative impact trying to do to much to soon.

Chris...
 

Lelly

Scarily Tall!!!!
Messages
167
It is a good question. And is not one that is easy to answer. Technically I would be a beginner at sax as i have been playing for less than a year but in ability I am high end intermediate (coz I could draw on my previous clarinet experience).

A lot will depend on how confident you feel. If you feel that you could sit at 1st or 2nd slot in a band and sight read to a reasonable level then intermediate. if yr happier in 3rd desk orlower or no sight reading then maybe beginner is better.

Or maybe this is just me being self confident and arrogant. Hey, if the shoe fits!

Lx
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,096
Play, listen, enjoy.

Some stuff isn't in books. Some stuff you'll never be able to do.

I've been playing music for 50 years. 30 years off and on on the sax. Just when I think I'm getting good something reveals a gap in my knowledge and ability or I get distracted by other passions and I'm back to square one.

Some people are naturals with an unnerving ability from the get go. Others have to strive for the basics. Some struggle for years with no apparent ability and then the penny drops and they blossom with surprising insight and talent.

You also have to consider why you blow. It used to be just for fun for me. A fascination with how it all works. I used to have a need to play with others. These days it's an addiction and a therapy. I need to play , even when I don't want to. I play alone, mostly, looking to get out something that's inside me .


Any books I buy these days have to contain something specific that I need or feel I should have or explain something that mystifies me or I'm stuck with. I need to know the contents before investing. Once you've got the basics, it's a search for your style, sound, mojo, whatever you want to call it.

Keep the beginner books you have and go advanced. Refer back to the beginner stuff if there's something you missed or forgot or didn't quite get the first time round.

I find the best teacher is the music itself. Being around other good musicians is a good education for your ear. The way information is available these days, there's so much out there we'll never hear it all but listen to all you can.

Beginner , intermediate, advanced? I like my "L" plates.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
One is always a beginner, vide concerto players usually taking advice from mentors.

Anyway, does it really matter as if you are satisfied with your performance, it really is time to give up.

Pleased to announce the CaSLM sale of ready made hangman's slip knotted rope with free ceiling hooks.

EasyTilt chairs also available.
 

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
One is always a beginner, vide concerto players usually taking advice from mentors.

Anyway, does it really matter as if you are satisfied with your performance, it really is time to give up.
OUCH!!

I'm not looking to elevate any personal ranking on expertise! I have a few confidence issues and find it hard to assess my own progress, so find this stage of learning i.e. acquisition of appropriate materials to learn from, challenging.

I'm simply looking to spend my limited funds on appropriate materials to grow and enjoy instead of repeating what I've already got on hand in a different format. By the same token, I don't wish to spend said resources on stuff which is way over my head missing out vital lessons in between which would screw up my learning. I don't mind screwing up, so long as I can find what's needed to fill the gap and prevent repeating the same screw up until it becomes the norm.

Colin The Bear -
Keep the beginner books you have and go advanced. Refer back to the beginner stuff if there's something you missed or forgot or didn't quite get the first time round.


I always do this with anything I learn, that is keep the beginner books. Have found it useful for myself oh so many times, and it also helps if I come across someone else who wants to learn the same thing and I can help them out, which is a good thing for both of us, and strengthens my own basic learnings.

I feel comfortable with this advice Colin, thank you very much.

Lelly - A lot will depend on how confident you feel. If you feel that you could sit at 1st or 2nd slot in a band and sight read to a reasonable level then intermediate. if yr happier in 3rd desk orlower or no sight reading then maybe beginner is better.

Like you, I have some background music knowledge from elsewhere, though unlikely to be as advanced/comprehensive as yours. A bit rusty, though coming back rapidly after joining a Training Band in September and loving the experience. The sight reading is coming back swiftly and I can play the majority of pieces from first sight. My obstacle is knowing the fingering for this particular instrument on all notes - I don't know them all yet, and that just takes time and practice. I get to learn a few more notes specifically each week at band as new music is handed to me, and it sticks that way better than home practice learning because there's a specific purpose for it as a part of the whole.

Thanks for all the input guys. Think I'll change my book ordering ideas for the next payday and get myself something as a challenge.


 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
OUCH!!

I'm not looking to elevate any personal ranking on expertise! I have a few confidence issues and find it hard to assess my own progress, so find this stage of learning i.e. acquisition of appropriate materials to learn from, challenging.

I'm simply looking to spend my limited funds on appropriate materials to grow and enjoy instead of repeating what I've already got on hand in a different format. By the same token, I don't wish to spend said resources on stuff which is way over my head missing out vital lessons in between which would screw up my learning. I don't mind screwing up, so long as I can find what's needed to fill the gap and prevent repeating the same screw up until it becomes the norm.
MD,
Read on and you'll find that I was offering hangman nooses for the desperate. >:)

Most of the really talented amongst us are either there cannnot be anything better than me or incredibly doubtful about their ability types. As long as you know or feel that it could be better, you are on the right track. Most of us are our own most formidable critics (private joke:-Not in the case of Miss Whiplash ;}), others are usually less aware of mistakes than you are.

Now take a big breath, face the World and go out and blow the buggers away.
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Hi M. A question I asked myself many times and this is how I tackled my transitory traumas.

I will not go into my sax history as most of you know it however I sectioned it into what I can achieve and what is impossible to achieve.

I will never be an Art Pepper or Charlie Parker.

I will never be a professional musician in the true sense of the word.

Okay negativity out of the way.

I discounted all the tags and labels and categorized myself as somewhere between a total beginner and intermediary (Category re-assessment at end of thread.) This was a self confidence booster.

I then took a calculated risk and joined a beginners band, much to my surprise I found fellow musicians there who were quite content with being just that `beginners`having been in the band for several years, but their skills far surpassed mine. (Notice the transition I classed myself humbly as a musician.) ref your `All Notes` I noticed that all our arrangements very rarely went to bottom C and occasionally reached top E. But there was an extensive library. For the first two weeks I hid in the sax 2 section and mimed or busked as some call it. Cheekily after a month I asked the section leader (Alto) for copies of his sax 1 arrangements. There was more solo space in these, without being asked I moved myself into sax 1 section. And this is where I stand today. Second transitory migration achieved.

Next move get myself into a small group. Not that easy as you can not hide behind fellow players, however mission accomplished and now I play in a group made up of 7 players. We play a fair amount of latin (basic) and gospel which I am rapidly becoming an affectionado of. (Close encounter of a third transition.)

Fourth and final transition jam sessions which I have attended and played. (Jury still out on this one.)

Future. I have enrolled in a jazz workshop (January 2013) and put my name down for a big band being set up in March 2013.

Now this might appear to be rushing the issue however I am soon to be 76 and the reality is, time is not on my side, but the practicality is I have time to practice which I do religiously.

What do I class myself as: A beginner in a loop which is always beginning. And this is my final categorization. Best Regards 10 months in. N.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
I don't mind screwing up, so long as I can find what's needed to fill the gap and prevent repeating the same screw up until it becomes the norm.
The solution to that (as you probably already know) is slow practice, especially if you're talking about fingering issues. Use a metronome. Find a speed at which you can play the passage easily. Then gradually increase the speed, making sure you don't move on until it's easy (not just 50-50 possible) at the new speed. That way you practise getting it right instead of practising mistakes. And even if you never get to the marked speed (which I still haven't with some of the jazz etudes I've worked on) you've still improved your technique.
 

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
The solution to that (as you probably already know) is slow practice, especially if you're talking about fingering issues. Use a metronome. Find a speed at which you can play the passage easily. Then gradually increase the speed, making sure you don't move on until it's easy (not just 50-50 possible) at the new speed. That way you practise getting it right instead of practising mistakes. And even if you never get to the marked speed (which I still haven't with some of the jazz etudes I've worked on) you've still improved your technique.
This is good and sound advice and something that I already do ...... working with the metronome and slowing down before speeding up to tempo. I have played other instruments, and have also sung, so I have a fair time keeping ability, and can keep my place playing a part in the Training Band. I'm a great believer in 'chunking it down' before chunking it back up on many subjects.

Navarro - Now this might appear to be rushing the issue however I am soon to be 76 and the reality is, time is not on my side, but the practicality is I have time to practice which I do religiously.
Seriously? From your previous avatar, I thunked you to be a good 20 or so years less. Now I know you and your teasing, so I'm checking the validity of this statement
:)

Thank you for taking the time to put all that down for me. Gives me some peace of mind that I'm not doing too badly, and neither am I being too ambitious either. If I can graduate into playing in the Concert Band from the Training Band, I will be happy. They also have an Orchestra, though I have no ambitions to reach this.

If I can find a slot in a little local band playing the more popular music, even on a guest spot basis when their usual player is away, then I will have achieved what I hope to do so that I don't simply hide away in a room by myself to play.

Old Git -
Now take a big breath, face the World and go out and blow the buggers away.

Thank you OG! I was actually more concerned that you might get to thinking I'm some kind of over ambitious, arrogant, not-as-good-as-you-think-you-are twit. I tend to be the opposite.

Now, after my practice of long tones, scales et al ....... it's time to play some proper tunes

Thank you everyone. I've identified some areas that I want to fill in for gaps in knowledge, and I'm hoping to sort that out shortly ................... and the first one is how chords work in the saxophone world ......... ?

Thanks again everyone :thumb:


EDIT: I've now ordered Pete's Beginners Scales and Chords plus Taming The Saxophone 3 to accompany his DVD which I already have. Think this is all likely to keep me busy a while ........
 
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Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
5,946
As noted by someone else, to some extent the labels of 'beginner' 'intermediate' etc. are arbitrary, although indicative of a general improvement in competence. If you were to do say ABRSM or TG exams, grades 1 - 3 are 'beginner' 4 - 6 'intermediate and 7 - 8 are 'advanced'. However, if all you've ever played are your exam pieces, I'd still call you a beginner!

I didn't do any music after I left school until in my 30s when I started singing lessons. It took me a LONG time to have the courage to say to people 'I'm an amateur musician' or 'I'm a musician'. Yet, I have performed in many public concerts. I have performed with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic with major concerts in Chester cathedral, Bridgewater Hall (Manchester) and Royal Albert Hall (BBC Prom concert). Several performances I have been invovled with have been broadcast on TV and radio (I was part of the choir that was part of a series of modern short operas commissioned by BBC2). I have performed very difficult works such as Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony, Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, Mahler Symphony No.2, Britten's Spring Symphony, Bach B minor Mass and Christmas Oratorio, Arvo Paart Berliner Messe, Bernstein Chichester Psalms... I still feel guilty about calling myself a musician though... I lack the confidence to sing solo though. I did my first ever public solo singing performance (well technically a duet) last summer - it scared the wits out of me!

I am far more competent as a choral singer than I am as a viol, saxophone or cello player. I have a fair amount of music theory under my belt, and I can read and play from bass, alto, tenor, and treble clef.

My personal definition of the move from 'beginner' to 'intermediate' would be a basic ability to play across the standard range of the instrument and being able to sight-read simple straight forward music without too much pain.

The world of viols can be odd. You do tend to get categorised as 'beginner' 'lower intermediate' ' advanced/upper intermediate' 'advanced'. There is a tendency for people to not play with people from 'lower' ability groups. What I'd like to know is how is a less experienced player going to get experience? It's not like the world is awash with viol players (there are probably significantly fewer than 2000 in the UK).

The worlds of saxes and cellos are it has to be said more welcoming.
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
......If you were to do say ABRSM or TG exams, grades 1 - 3 are 'beginner' 4 - 6 'intermediate and 7 - 8 are 'advanced'. However, if all you've ever played are your exam pieces, I'd still call you a beginner!.........
Hi TV, Grades 4 and 5 are intermediate - level 2 (equiv to O'level) and Grades 6,7,8 are advanced - level 3 (equiv to A Level) :thumb:
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863


Seriously? From your previous avatar, I thunked you to be a good 20 or so years less.
[/QUOTE]

Thanks M But you should see me if I miss my monkey gland injection. Photos do tend to make one look younger. I passed my local Rabbi in the street last Sunday and He said `Oh my son you are still with us then. I replied Why are you looking for work? He did not smile but plunged his hand deeper into his Manhattan Bagel Bakery Bag (Seven Sisters Branch ) shrugged and said Oi.

To confirm my Gregorian Year date born 1936. Hebrew Year date 5697. Shalom, Chaverah. `Hava Nagila` N.

 

Corona4007

Member
Messages
69
Hi,

I started learning the tenor sax at the beginning of this year, having no previous formal music education and simply a passion for the sound of the saxophone and a love of rock, jazz and R&B's. 11 months on and I feel my progression has been good and my teacher and I have set a short term goal for me to playing in a modest jazz, blues band in two years time.
Each scale I learn and ultimately master I have done through slow repetitive practice and once confident feel it's like a quantum leap forward. But just when I thought it was safe to go back into the water and try and play like my teacher I am patently aware of my learning limitations and promptly pull my horns in.
So for me I would say to reach my short term goal would be a step to the intermediate level of some description but at the end of the day I don't really care as long as the sound coming out has a vague resemblance to harmony and I am enjoying it.
Guess it will always be a life long journey
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
As noted by someone else, to some extent the labels of 'beginner' 'intermediate' etc. are arbitrary, although indicative of a general improvement in competence. If you were to do say ABRSM or TG exams, grades 1 - 3 are 'beginner' 4 - 6 'intermediate and 7 - 8 are 'advanced'. However, if all you've ever played are your exam pieces, I'd still call you a beginner
There are also the London College of Music exams (inc. Jazz) which are validated by Thames Valley University, which also includes grades 1-8 in Popular Music Theory (if you don't want to learning Classical Music Theory). Having a look at some of the syllabuses to see what is involved.

The LCM jazz syllabus, which I am familiar with includes some of the following pieces at Grade 4:
Component 2 - Performance 60 marks

Performance of three pieces: one piece from List A, one piece from List B, one piece from either list.
At least one piece must be selected from Jazz Wind Handbook 1 (LL161).

LIST A

Heavy Funk OR Bluesy LCM Jazz Wind Handbook 1 (LCM Publications)
Playing Catch-up 20 Sensational Saxophone Studies (Madden) (Rothco Music)
Turn About 20 Modern Studies for Saxophone (Rae) (Universal Edition)
Study 17 OR 18 OR 23 60 Jazz Etudes (Winkler) (Tezak / MusT)
Ex.6 OR Ex.7 OR Ex.8 Basic Jazz Conception for Saxophone (Niehaus) (Try)
Bopping Along OR Blues for Caroline OR Cheekie Charlie Cool School (Gumbley) (Brass Wind)
Hillbilly OR Passion Fruit Samba Easy Jazzy ‘Tudes (Nightingale) (Warwick Music)
Ted’s Shuffle OR Road Hog OR One Way Ticket Easy Studies in Jazz and Rock (Rae) (Universal Edition)
Ginger Cat Blues (Lesson 17) OR Waltz for Sue (Lesson 25) Introducing the Saxophone (Rae) (Universal Edition)
No New Messages Jazz Scale Studies: Saxophone (Rae) (Universal Edition)
Dixieland Blues Learn as You Play Saxophone (Wastall) (Boosey & Hawkes)
Ex.83 OR Ex.84 OR Ex.85 OR Ex.86 [tongued or slurred, candidate’s choice] [may be written out, transposed to any key
which is comfortable] Patterns for Jazz (Alfred)
Study 14 OR 15 Progressive Jazz Studies (Rae) (Faber)
No.4 in A Minor Saxtudes (Wilson) (Camden Music)
Driving Sax OR Sax Relax Sixty for Sax (Bullard) (ABRSM)
Doin’ the Rounds OR Sax Un-Plugged OR Sunset Cruising Style Workout (Rae) (Universal Edition)
Ex.8 (Level 5) Teacher on Tap Book 1: Starting Out (Percival) (Teacher on Tap)

LIST B

Night Sky LCM Jazz Wind Handbook 1 (LCM Publications)
Remember When After Hours for Saxophone (Eb Alto) (Wedgwood) (Faber)
Mr Creek OR Vintage Blue Blue Saxophone (Rae) (Universal Edition)
New Rag OR It’s a Raggy Waltz Concert Repertoire for Alto Saxophone (Harris & Calland) (Faber)
Walking the Walrus Creature Comforts (Nightingale) (Warwick Music)
James Bond Theme Easy Popular Movie Instrumental Solos (Saxophone) (Alfred)
Desafinado First Repertoire for Alto Saxophone (Faber)
Five ‘O’ Clock Blues [head and one embellished chorus] OR The Roving Third [play through twice with fills /
embellishments in the 2nd chorus] How to Play Jazz and Improvise (Aebersold Vol.1) (Jazzwise)
Mean to Me OR Petit Fleur OR Satin Doll Jazz and Blues Greats for Saxophone (Wise / Music Sales)
Are They Ever? Jazz Routes (Miles) (Camden Music)
Sergeant Swing OR Chewing the Cud [with improv] Jazzworks (Hampton) (Faber)
Sometime Maybe OR Walk Tall Jazzin’ About (Wedgwood) (Faber)
Schoolhouse Blues Jazzy Saxophone 1 (Rae) (Universal Edition)
Satin Doll OR Summertime [head and one embellished chorus] Maiden Voyage (Aebersold Vol.54) (Wise / Music Sales)
This is My Day OR Por Favor Master Pop Swing: Saxophone (van Gorp) (De Haske)
Runway New Sax Solos Book 1 (Lyons) (Useful)
Singin’ in the Rain Take the Lead: Bumper Book (Saxophone) (Faber)
Everybody Needs Somebody to Love Take the Lead: The Blues Brothers (Saxophone) (Faber)
Kalimba Teacher on Tap Book 1: Starting Out (Percival) (Teacher on Tap)
Familiarity OR Summer Hummer OR Country Road The Jazz Method for Saxophone (O’Neill) (Schott)
Misty OR Chitlins Con Carne [head and one embellished chorus] The Real Book (European Edition) (Hal Leonard)
Killer Pete [head plus one chorus with some fills and elements of improvisation]
Time to Play Music: Jazz and Rock (Aebersold Vol.5) (Jazzwise)

Given that these are all available this should provide some idea of the standard expected of an Intermediate player.
Other exams (such as ABRSM Jazz Grades) include improvisations of various lengths - commonly around 20 bars or so, which I would not expect to be considered a skill of a beginner.
Other stuff is involved in grades so give a very good idea of when you might consider that you have reached "Intermediate" standard in a clear/unambiguous way.

Kind regards
Tom

I recommend the Creative Saxophone series - this is a Workbook specifically designed for "Intermediate" players, includes a CD and is very good indeed: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Creative-Sa...termediate/dp/0193223694/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_c
 
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ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
Don't make the mistake of thinking that a certain piece is a certain grade though, you might play a simplified version of something at Grade 1 with requirement of improvisation being very basic, and that same piece may well crop up in the Diploma lists, but you will be expected to perform the head and the solo at Diploma standard :thumb:
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
It is important to keep your wits about you at all times, and do read any small print!

When I was doing ABRSM jazz grades for trumpet "Work Song" by Nat Adderley featured at
Grade 3 with a 16 bar improvisation, in D minor at 126bpm and arranged by an examiner (total of 36 bars). At Grade 7 LCM jazz grade 7 it was with a 32 bar improvisation, in G minor (all notes higher) at approx 180bpm (total of 74 bars) and as the original, which I can play along with on the original CD.
 
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