Beginner Chris' Beginners' Diary (Take II)

Chris98

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#1
Chris' Beginners Diary (Take II)

Hello,

I started this beginners' diary back on the old forum and it can still be found there with all the responses, advice and support I gratefully received from the other members. Beginners' Diary - Chris

Hopefully I will be able to recreate it here on this new forum and continue to add to it.

Thanks again to all who helped me out during those early days I'm sure I will be needing your help even more in the future.

All the best,

Chris
 
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Chris98

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#2
Wednesday 30th May 2007

Eleven thirty, and a delivery van pulled up, I could feel the excitement building and with it a creeping level of apprehension, this was soon replaced by worry as the guy pulled out a box with “Jupiter ‘world class quality’” splashed across it! But I wasn’t expecting a Jupiter! It must be just a box they used to pack the sax in. I signed for it and took it up stairs, on opening the box I was confronted with all those plastic ‘Wotsits’ I delved in and brought out an elegant black case, the wotsits spilled onto the floor and I knew I would be finding them whenever I hoover for the next few months.

Opening the case I was struck by the rich gold body of the alto sax against the black lining. The first issue was taking it out of the case, where is an okay place to hold and lift it out from? the bell? the body? The last thing I wanted to do was put undue pressure on the key work and bend something out of shape. I had visions of being so careful not to bend anything that it would slip out of my hands and land squarely on the floor. Anyway, gingerly I took it out of the case, I have always found the sax a wonderful looking instrument but it wasn’t until I had it in my lap and able to study the mechanics close up that I really appreciated the complexity and beauty of this instrument.

I was in that wonderful position of having a sax, for a long time it had just been this lovely dream, but now I actually had one and it looked lovely. Now this might sound a little odd but in my head it was going to be amazing, I was going to be amazing, but I wasn't quite ready to give it a go and destroy that illusion, I needed to build up my courage so I headed out to get some mouthpiece patches, that way I’d have everything I needed!

I got home, made dinner and then decided to put the sax together and have a go, I soaked my reed (Rico Royal 1.5) for four minutes and then massaged the vamp as per the instructions from ( http://www.superial.com/mainten_breakin.html ) then feeling rather cackhanded I set up the sax and tried to get a note. Nothing! I tried changing a few things, well actually gave it a stern look whilst trying to remember all the advice I had read, another go and still nothing. Great I thought, I'll be the one person who is incapable of playing the sax, I can't whistle, maybe if you can't whistle you can't play the sax!

I took the crook and mouthpiece off and played around with them until I got a rather out of tune but possibly slightly musical buzz, refining it a little I was able to be a little more consistent in getting the note, I'm sure if I were playing eastern music I was probably not far from one of their 1/4 tones. I think I was not putting enough pressure on the reed and mouthpiece. I re-assembled the sax and got my first note, very reminiscent of a fog horn but no squeak! That first note was like a bark because I was so surprised by the sound and the volume I jumped and stopped breathing, I wander if any one heard that?

It is a very strange sensation having the reed vibrate your lower lip and I noticed that the note was not well controlled, I hope this will come with practice once I have developed my embouchure and learnt to breath better. So I embarked on my first few notes, B, A & G, I noticed my embouchure tired really quickly and as a result, the notes fell apart, I also forgot to start and end by placing my tongue on the reed. I guess the thing is little and often until I build my stamina.

It's a bit of a palaver packing the sax away, you have to swab this, wipe that, strip apart that, but I really enjoyed it and I know I have a long road ahead of me but I relish the challenge.
 

Chris98

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#3
linky_lee

It's always best do 'lots of little' instead of 'very few of much' no matter how long you've been playing.

I generally practise for 2-3 hours, I break my practise into session with small breaks, ideal for drinking a glass of water or giving the sax a bit of a clean.

When you start, 15 minutes is a long long time, as you've predicted this increases the more you do it.

You sound highly enthusiastic which is great! it will drive you to practise and achieve!

Nice style of writing for the context too.

_________________
Started December 2005
Soprano: Borgani (1950's), Yam 4C, Rico Royal 3
Alto: Hanson SA-8/Martin Handcraft 1925, Link Tone Edge 6, RJS 2H
Tenor: Walstein Phosphor Bronze (prototype), Link STM 6*, ZZ 2.5
Officially an addict.

Posted on 03/06/07 11:13:45 PM
chris98

Hi Linky lee, your encouragement means a lot, thanks.​
 

Chris98

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#4
Friday 1st June

First squeaks today, I really feel like I’m getting somewhere now, after all every first time sax player squeaks at some point, maybe it’s a rights of passage thing. The first time took me a little by surprise. I discovered it is better to stop, remoisten the reed, as I think that was my problem, and then have another go, initially I tried to change my embouchure mid squeal to get it to stop and a note to sound, it didn’t work.

Building on the first three notes I learnt I did some long tones, it takes quite a bit of attention to keep them steady and not wander in pitch, not that I successfully achieved that. I also learnt notes C & D, D’s great because you feel like you are really doing something all six fingers and your thumb on the octave key. I was a little surprised, I had my thumb on the octave key yet the octave key pad on the crook didn’t move, I hadn’t realised there was a second octave key pad on the body as well, and that some notes use one and some the other.
 

Chris98

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#5
Posted on 03/06/07 11:41:12 PM​
jersey_mike

Chris,
Good luck with your new horn. Been at it a bit over 2 years now and still get the occasional squeek, squawk, and some other sounds that don't seem appropriate in front of the children.

I believe there are 2 octave key holes to try and keep the proper pitch throughout the horn in the higher octave. I've read that about 4 is optimal while 2 is a compromise of manufacturing. Please correct me if someone has greater knowledge of this.

Anyway, have fun!!

Posted on 03/06/07 11:45:39 PM​
peter_fitton

Chris,

Great stuff & very interesting. It brought back memories of not so long ago when I got my first sax - marvelling at the complexity and beauty of the instrument, being anxious about damaging it etc.

I remember it took me about 40 minutes to assemble it, even though the reed was already attached to the mouthpiece!

Like you I couldn't get a note out of it at first but, undeterred, I also took myself off to the local music shop - only I bought myself a better strap.

Got back home and tried again, this time having moistened the reed first, and managed to play low D, E and F without too much effort. Without wanting to sound like a saddo I can honestly say that hearing those first 3 notes ring out was one of the biggest thrills I've experienced, just amazing. Of course at this point I was convinced I was a "natural" and would master this instrument in no time. How wrong I was...

Anyway, I don't want to hi-jack your diary so I'll shut up now. Very much looking forward hearing how you get on.

Peter
 

Chris98

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#6
Saturday 2nd June

I guess today I became a little more aware of how the sax feels, still a little alien, but I started to experiment with the strap length, trying to find the most comfortable position, all this really confirmed was that I am tense when playing, stiff neck, shoulders and arms, not very comfortable and not very productive I would have thought. I had a quick look at my two beginners books and although the pictures showing the correct height for the saxophone were good, they were inevitably in profile, not great when looking in the mirror, also how come other people look cool when you see them playing the sax? that certainly was not the reflection I got back of myself!

Embouchure, I fear this may hold one of the keys to the saxophone, I fear because I seem to have a little difficulty in getting my sax to play in tune. Now I read on Stephen Howard’s excellent web-site that he recommends sax players to develop their ears and not to become dependant on an electronic tuner, which is exactly where I want to be, but as my ears are not yet well developed and I wanted to know whether I was playing in tune or not so out came the tuner. I played a B expecting, hoping for it to read D but it read about twenty to thirty cents flat! I went through all the notes I knew thus far, so that’s B, A, G and the two new ones, C and D. What was interesting was that some were spot on, certainly the D both with and without the octave key pressed were good. By this point my lip was failing and so I took a break. After the break I managed to play all the notes in tune give or take 5 cents which I managed to tweak in with my embouchure. Shortly after that it all fell apart again. I can’t say categorically that the mouthpiece is in exactly the right place but it’s about 3/4 on. I decided to have a go just playing the mouthpiece, which should I believe produce an A, well, I was all over the place, and I seemed to need quite a bit of pressure on the reed to pull it into tune and it was not easy to keep it there.

Knowing that I can’t yet walk I decided to have a go jogging! I put the tuner away figuring that embouchure development takes time and hopefully with that will come an ability to play my sax in tune. So I decided to have a go at the first few bars of ‘Oh When The Saints Go Marching In’ (the Pete Thomas version on his DVD). Interesting how when you try to put what you know, or rather think you know into practice the way it politely reminds you that you are perhaps getting a little ahead of yourself. Breathing went out the window, followed shortly by my lips, rhythm and timing if ever present sat in howls of laughter in the silence that ensued after a few squeaks, barks, a very wobbly long D note followed shortly by the sound of someone blowing down a metal tube!

I think I need to find a good teacher with patience and a sense of humour! I have read lots of posts on forums where people have said, ‘do you have a teacher? if not get one’, well I was thinking that I would have a go on my own, I have a DVD, and some books and the web! I’d get the basics down and then if I needed someone, I’d go and find them, I think I need a teacher sooner rather than later.
 

Chris98

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#7
Posted on 05/06/07 08:56:24 AM​
frankb

Hi Chris,

Just a quick note from another newbie to confirm that a good teacher really is worth finding. Mine has diagnosed several beginner's mistakes which would have driven me crackers on my own (play a B and then finger for a 2nd octave D without tonguing and the sax plays a 2nd octave A...?! Turns out I wasn't pressing all the keys at *exactly* the same time, which apparently makes a difference...! ).

It also helps to have a point of reference to what I should be sounding like (bottom notes like his butter rather than my sandpaper!), instant feedback on my (attempts at) playing and some structure to my progress (or lack thereof!).

Sounds like you're off to a cracking start anyway. More power to you!

All the best,

Frank

Posted on 05/06/07 09:40:21 AM​
rogerb

Hi Chris

Good Stuff!

I find that if I suddenly start to squeak, I often find my reed has slipped sideways slightly.
(I use a Rovner ligature which has quite a bit of 'give' in it).

Keep at it

_________________
Roger

Hanson SA-5
Jody Jazz DV #6

Posted on 07/06/07 10:05:36 PM​
chris98

Roger, Frank, Peter, Mike & Linky Lee, thanks for your comments, I really wasn’t sure anyone would be that interested in hearing about my endeavours. I have spent a little time reading posts on other sax forums and in comparison this is forum is so friendly and supportive, which is great and just what you need when you are starting out, thanks again.
 

Chris98

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#8
The week of 3rd June

I succumbed, I confess, I am a weak individual, I was in my local music store admiring a Jupiter tenor and a Trevor James Alto, when I noticed a Rover ligature sitting at the bottom of the display case, now when you consider my vast experience, after all, I had only had the sax less than a week at this point, you will probably appreciate how helpless I was in the events that followed. A kind sales person asked if he could help, I expressed my interest in the ligature, a curiosity soon appeased by looking and holding it, which lead so naturally to me buying it! It looks good on the mouthpiece but, I’ll be totally honest and say, I can’t tell the difference! I would have been much better off getting a more comfortable strap. Oh well we live and learn, well sometimes.

‘Oh When The Saints Go Marching In’ is coming on, sort of, I can play all the notes, not necessarily, always in the right order, and I can play, after a fashion all the different sections, playing them in a beautiful flowing musical manner is not quite how I would describe the aural spectacle that flows from the horn, but progress is been made. I need to remember to breathe, and I am noticing a little bit of finger flapping going on, I may need to purchase Mr Lucky’s Sax-o-glue.

Playing with a bit more determination seems to work a lot better, I think I was very conscious of making a noise and so unconsciously I was suppressing the sound, tensing up my body and my breathing so that the air wasn’t so free. This had the effect of making it all sound squeezed and uninspiring, when I let go and decided to go for it the sound was much stronger and actually sounded a bit like a sax!

I was really quite pleased, I worked my way down via, C, B, A, G, F, E, Eb & D to the low ‘C1’ and then realised that if I used the octave key it should sound the same as the ‘C2’, which it very nearly does, I think the pitch is pretty much there just the tone was ever so slightly different. Why I don’t know, but I was expecting it to sound different, I know there is no reason why it should, but I was surprised and pleased that it sounds so similar.

Out of shear curiosity I decided to see how deep I could go and got the ‘Ab’, which really sounded good and deep, well to my ears. Anyway I have spent the week playing around just getting used to my sax, going up and down the notes I know, throwing the octave key into the mix as well sometimes. This has been great for familiarisation, I don’t feel quite so unsure and hesitant and am more willing to have a go, but what I really need to do now is to start learning in a slightly more organised fashion otherwise there will be big holes in my knowledge, I also need to find a teacher.

I am really loving my sax.

All the best, Chris
 

Chris98

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#9
Posted on 08/06/07 07:41:33 AM​
nick_cook

Hey Chris, thanks for this - we ARE interested (well, I am!!!). It's great to get an in-depth view of how a fellow beginner's getting on.

Less than 3 weeks to my birthday now, so I'll soon have my sax. I booked my first lesson yesterday for 2nd July - can't wait!!!


_________________
Hanson SA-5.

Posted on 08/06/07 11:44:44 AM​
jersey_mike

Chris,
Let me be the 1st to start the chorus----FIND THAT TEACHER NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's far too easy to form bad habits on the sax that become hard to break after awhile. When I started my lessons last August it took several months to break some habits and this slowed progress in other areas because of the concentration it took to overcome them.

Posted on 08/06/07 3:27:22 PM​
pjonah

Great stuff Chris,

It reminded me when I got my first alto (Conn) and the excitement I felt and do you know, I recently took delivery of a new alto and I still get the same buzz 34 years later.

You can marvel at them for hours on end, saxophones really are works of art.

Like the narrative too, nice style.

Take the advice also get your self a good teacher, before going too far down the road.

Simon

_________________
The man's an absolute shower!

Posted on 08/06/07 3:48:50 PM​
frankb

Another shout for the teacher!

It was my third lesson yesterday and my teacher identified a couple more problems with my technique (such as it is!) that I can work on, introduced me to arpeggios, confirmed my practice routine and gave me some tips on how to practice subtoning. He also has a decent piano and so some of my playing is accompanied with that, some more with his tenor and some is just me - a useful mix!

I'm very interested in your diary. You may also find it useful to keep it going here as the tips you'll get from the more experienced members will be invaluable.

Keep blowing!

Frank
 

Chris98

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#10
Week of 11th June

The beginning of the week was spent looking for a suitable teacher, I was very apprehensive about it, probably down to a lack of confidence and fear. Fear that they may say ‘there is no hope, your just not musical, so don’t torture yourself’. Thing is I know a good teacher is going to make all the difference in the world and I know I am going to need someone to keep a bit of pressure on me and get me to learn the fundamentals, so I have found a teacher and have my first lesson to look forward to in a couple of weeks.

I have been experiencing a problem with playing g2, I was achieving a low oscillation, sounded kind of like ‘dadadada’, unfortunately not the desired tone at all. I’m sure I didn’t have this trouble the first couple of times I played this note! Could it be the saxophone? I hope not, but what else could it be, it sounds so unmusical how could it be anything other than a mechanical fault? I tried a new reed, same problem. It was at this point I realised how fragile my confidence in the saxophone and me playing it was, in the back of my mind were all the little doubts that had held me back from getting one in the first place. Not to be defeated I posted my problem and was quickly given advice that put me back on the right path. Apparently it is quite common for beginners to find G2 a little tricky because it will not tolerate poor air column support and/or embouchure. I had an added complication that Pete identified as being a possible culprit, my sax wasn’t in tune, it was flat. Anyway I am progressing with my troublesome G, chipping away at it slowly as I develop my embouchure and breathing.

Embouchure, somehow I never seem to be able to get away from it! Thus far I have been resting my lower lip on my lower teeth and using my jaw to apply the pressure to the reed, with my lip sandwiched between my teeth and reed I was beginning to dig in a little, but like a ray of light things have started to make sense.

Caution, please note:

The following is coming from someone who closes all the doors and windows, pulls the curtains and traps themselves in a self induced sauna to practice the sax during the summer! I am considering clearing out the wardrobe and moving in there as well!

I have read all the advice I could find on embouchure but it has only really just dawned on me what all the advice was saying. I thought carrying on as I was my embouchure muscles would develop but I now realise I haven’t even been using them! Playing around with just the mouthpiece, testing a few things out I realised that by using my cheek muscles to pull in like I was whistling meant my lower lip muscle contracted providing the support for the reed without using the pressure of my jaw and teeth, much more comfortable not having my teeth dig into my lip, but my lip muscle tires really quickly.

Pete’s embouchure exercise in his video now makes sense, although I would caution about doing it in public, whatever he might say, I demonstrated it to a friend whilst walking into town at lunch and he advised not to do it again!

I am learning the # & b's so that I can play the chromatic scale, I am looking at the stave in the hope that I will learn to associate the note on the page with the fingering and sound. I’ll be honest though, there are only so many things I can focus on at one point and I can get it all round my neck if my attention slips for even a second, and some days are definitely better than others.

All the best,

Chris
 

Chris98

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#11
Week of 18th June

When the music stops.

I have come to realise something that is potentially quite worrying and limiting, and I’m not sure how to tackle it, I can play a tune in my head, If I know a piece of music well I can listen to it in my head, hear all the parts and if I chose to I can focus on one instrument in particular. My problem is that as soon as I pick up and play the sax it’s like someone hits the mute button, the music stops.

The reason this came to the forefront of my mind was that I was reading that for saxophonists to hit the right note they hear the note in their heads and adjust their pitch accordingly, problem is if I can’t hear the note in my head I’m going to struggle to get my pitch right. I also presume that when improvising a player hears the notes in their head and their fingers move appropriately to find the notes.

Work has unfortunately taken it’s toll on me this week and although I have tried to pick up the sax each day I have not always succeeded. I am learning some scales and focusing on trying to get the smoothest, most open sound possible, I do however feel sorry for those around me, it really can’t be that much fun hearing someone go up and down scales all the time, particularly with the hiccups and pauses whilst I work out the next note or where I just went wrong.

I have my first lesson on Saturday which I am looking forward to, yet there is also a little bit of apprehension creeping in as well.

I am also using a new strap which has made a huge difference, it is much more comfortable, looks the part, stays where you want it to and small adjustments are really easy.

The biggest revelation this week came when I was reading a post on SOTW about hitting low notes where Hakukani advised blowing through the sax as if you were trying to mist up a window pane, blowing ‘warm air’ is how he describes it. Well I tried this and it really opened up my sound, I particularly noticed it on the transition from C to D which was much better, the D was more open. Another positive thing to come out of this was that my lips didn’t tire as quickly, nor did they feel as tense and I don’t seem to be forcing my lower teeth through my lip anymore, but this could be down to doing Pete’s smile and whistle exercises fifty times thrice daily (when I remember).

Here is the forum post if you are interested, I Hope Pete doesn't mind me sending you over to the competitors site.

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=57817

All the Best,

Chris
 

Chris98

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#12
Posted on 27/06/07 08:35:11 AM​
frankb

Hi Chris,

Pete is very active on the other forum so I'm pretty sure he won't mind.

I wouldn't get too psyched out about not hearing the note just yet. I think it's the sort of thing that comes probably over quite a long time with a lot of practice. After you've been playing a while your ear and brain will adjust to the sax's tone and you'll know what you expect to come out of it next. At the moment you're not yet in a position to do that (me too!).

As for the work thing, I'm finding the sax helps with that too.

I get in (last night being a case in point) and drag myself upstairs thinking, "I really haven't got the energy / motivation / patience for this right now!".

The long tones and scales settle me down and while I'm playing I haven't got time to think of anything other than the sax - my fingering, embouchure, air support, what note I'm supposed to be playing next, what's the tempo, is that a crotchet (no, dammit, there's a dot after the flippin' thing!), oh hell I'm in the wrong key...!

After a while and a few runs through the piece of the day starts to come together. I finish off with something easy played by ear and go back downstairs feeling hugely better.

I used to fret about the neighbours too, but the more I fretted the more tentatively I played and the worse I sounded. Now I just go for it (apparently there's a lot of forms to fill in before they can get me an ASBO, so I think I'm safe for a bit! ).

All the best and please do keep on with the diary - it's a right good read!

Frank

Posted on 27/06/07 08:41:33 AM​
Pete Thomas
Administrator

Chris98 wrote:
Here is the forum post if you are interested, I Hope Pete doesn't mind me sending you over to the competitors site.

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?t=57817
Not at all, I dodn't see SOTW as competioion, especially as I write articles for SOTW.

PS keep up the good work with the diary, much appreciated.
________________
Pete

Fundraising

Posted on 27/06/07 11:18:13 PM​
peter_fitton

FrankB wrote:

I used to fret about the neighbours too, but the more I fretted the more tentatively I played and the worse I sounded. Now I just go for it (apparently there's a lot of forms to fill in before they can get me an ASBO, so I think I'm safe for a bit! ).

I know the feeling, it used to make me feel very self-conscious knowing the neighbours could hear every botched tune and bum note. What was even worse was when I started getting mickey taking from a group of local kids who play in the street outside my house

In the end I just thought "Philistines, sod 'em" and carried on regardless. It helps you develop a thick skin this sax playing lark.
 

Chris98

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#13
Week of 25th June

Half way through the week I changed from a Rico Royal 1.5 to a 2, at first I couldn’t really tell the difference, but soon enough I realised I was using up my breath faster and I could feel the facial muscles tiring quicker. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for me to adapt to the new reed strength. I would like to say that I could instantly tell my tone had improved, but as my tone changes daily from poor to sort of sax like, I hesitate to make any sweeping statements about any improvements, lets just say I can tell I’m playing a harder reed.

I have good days and bad days, some days I feel like I am really getting somewhere and then the next day I will feel I have regressed back a week or more, it seems so many things can affect how I play, tiredness, concentration even mood.

Continuing with Pete’s whistle smile exercise, I have taken to doing it in the mirror, I had noticed I was becoming lazy and what started as a whistle, smile quickly turned into a whistle, grimace. I have also noticed I have a lopsided smile, and lines I didn’t know I had, please pass the hypo hydo aqua pro-bionc anti-aging, supper lifting cream.

My first lesson.

Being nervous I arrived ten minutes early and sat in the car trying to imagine what was about to unfold, this I have noted from previous experiences is a completely pointless exercise because what happens never has any relation to what I was worrying about. Half past arrived and thankfully it wasn’t pouring with rain, the only respite in days it seems.

My teacher was just finishing off with another student so I was left to set up my sax, well try to, I have been doing this for a month now, much less tentative than when I started, but for some reason I was all fingers and thumbs. My reed was the waviest I have ever known and my mouth dry! Fretting about my reed it eventually succumbed to what ever moisture was in my mouth and flattened out a little, but by then I seemed to have developed difficulty in lining it up properly on the mouthpiece. A good thing as it turned out because my teacher showed me that I had been putting the reed too far forward, not by much but I could tell the difference straight away when I played. My performance was not that much better when I demonstrated my ability to wrongly name all the notes whilst holding the various keys down! Again something I could do reasonably well when not having to demonstrate it to others.

It seems I have been making life a little difficult for myself as I have been putting too much mouthpiece into my mouth, this was quickly spotted and by taking in less mouthpiece I have much more control of the volume and tone, I can actually play quieter, I’m sure the neighbours will approve, and my embouchure doesn’t tire as quickly.

The lesson went by so quickly it’s all a bit of blur, but I already feel more confident, and looking forward to the next lesson, in the meantime I have homework! I have a book of tunes to go through which is great because it’s going to force me to read and hopefully associate the notes on the page with the notes on the sax.

All the best,
Chris.
 

Chris98

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#14
Posted on 01/07/07 4:40:09​
rogerb

This is an excellent diary, Chris....I'm enjoying it a lot

One of the first and most useful things my teacher said to me was "Don't get disheartened if you don't progress as fast as you think you should...it's a marathon, not a sprint" (or words to that effect).

Did your teacher talk to you about 'attitude', rather than 'playing', at all ?

_________________
Roger

Hanson SA-5
Jody Jazz DV #6

Posted on 01/07/07 11:02:35 PM​
chris98
Guest

FrankB wrote:

As for the work thing, I'm finding the sax helps with that too.

I get in (last night being a case in point) and drag myself upstairs thinking, "I really haven't got the energy / motivation / patience for this right now!".

The long tones and scales settle me down and while I'm playing I haven't got time to think of anything other than the sax - my fingering, embouchure, air support, what note I'm supposed to be playing next, what's the tempo, is that a crotchet (no, dammit, there's a dot after the flippin' thing!), oh hell I'm in the wrong key...!

After a while and a few runs through the piece of the day starts to come together. I finish off with something easy played by ear and go back downstairs feeling hugely better.
Hi Frank,

You are right about getting in from work and really not feeling in the mood but by the time I have played my first note I have forgotten my tiredness, the only thing then that becomes frustrating is when my lip gives out before I am ready to pack it in for the night.

I feel good if I can read the right note on the page and play the corresponding note on the sax, getting the tempo right is at the moment beyond me unless it’s a tune I can play from memory. The other thing that keeps catching me out is that all F’s are sharp if the tune is in the key is G, why can’t they put the # next to each F on the stave?

All the best,

Chris

Posted on 01/07/07 11:05:55 PM​
chris98

Hi Roger

I’m glad you are enjoying my diary, I am not sure how similar my experiences of learning are to yours and others, I guess we all travel our own journeys of discovery.

Good advice about the marathon, although I’m not disheartened, in fact I’m really enjoying learning, I don’t expect it to be easy, if it were, there would not be any sense of achievement and satisfaction.

My teacher didn’t talk to me about 'attitude', rather than 'playing', but to be fair she really didn’t know what she was getting until I played a little bit, so that may well come up in future lessons.

All the best,
Chris

Posted on 02/07/07 00:50:51 AM​
rogerb

Possibly because I had a brief and abortive attempt to start 20+yrs ago, I didn't have too many initial problems this time with embouchure and getting a sound...... it's been reading the dots and translating 'em into the correct finger positions which are my main difficulty!

That and being more disciplined with my practising

Are you working from a tuition book?
We have alternated between "A Tune a Day" by C Paul Herfurth(more 'basic', IMO) and "Learn as You Play Saxophone" by Peter Wastall.
_________________
Roger

Hanson SA-5
Jody Jazz DV #6

Posted on 02/07/07 10:05:58 PM​
chris98

Hi Roger,

Before my teacher, as a guide to get me started I was using:
A tuition DVD introduced by Jools Holland and presented by Pete Thomas! Two books: Absolute Beginners Alto Saxophone & John O'Neill's The Jazz Method for Saxophone (alto) Volume 1 and I recently got The art of Saxophone Playing by Larry Teal.

My teacher is, I think, ordering me a book, which presumably we will be working through, but thanks for the suggestion, I might get it as a holiday play in a day on top of whatever I’m doing with my teacher.

Yesterday I was learning to playing ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’, and today, 'My Heart Will Go On' you know the one, Celine Dion quavering over every note, the love theme from Titanic All sight read, well a bit of sight reading and a bit of memory but I guess what ever gets the fingers to the right notes!

All the best,
Chris
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
#15
Week of 2nd July

This week I have been working on a couple of tunes, ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’, 'My Heart Will Go On', and ‘The Flintstones’, not altogether successfully, I might add. I’m not sure I actually managed to get to the end of either ‘My Heart Will Go On', and ‘The Flintstones’ in one go. This week however I had my second lesson and was given two books that I think we will be working through, and they seem much more methodical.

It was suggested by my teacher last week that I might try a 2.5 reed which I duly did, to start with it was practically impossible to get a note out of it, and when I did it wasn’t long before my lower lip started to go into spasm. I had read that it’s a good idea to rotate through several reeds so that you don’t get used to just one and can get an idea when one is passed it’s best. So the next day I tried a second 2.5 reed and that was much easier than the first, wow I thought, my embouchure must surely be developing fast if in one evening of puffing on a 2.5 I can become acclimatised! The next evening I went back to the first 2.5 and it was just as hard as the first time I tied it. Well I just had to try another one otherwise I wouldn’t know whether I had one hard or one soft reed, as it turned out I have one erroneous hard reed.

Sight reading is at the moment a bit of a problem, given time I can recognise the notes on the stave, even a couple above and below, but I’m not fast by any stretch of the imagination. I am trying not to see ‘A’ for example and think, that’s A, so I press down these keys, I’m trying to associate the note on the stave with the keys I press down, which hopefully should save time. Also for a bit of practice I seek out little passages of music and write the notes down below the stave when it’s too late to be playing the sax.

Another problem associated with sight reading is that if I hit the wrong note I get all flustered and it all falls apart, it reminds me of when I was learning to drive, I would get one thing slightly wrong but because I got stressed about it I would then make another mistake and then another. I really want to be able to read music, and play from it because I think, hope, it will open lots of doors into my understanding of music and allow me to play lots of different things with different people without having to memorise everything. I’m just a little scared that I wont get there, still it’s early days to be worrying too much about that.

Carrying on with the learning to drive metaphor, I think playing along with your teacher or a CD whilst reading music, hitting the right notes and remembering to keep your embouchure and breathing right is a bit like learning to go round a roundabout, looking, turning the wheel, indicating and changing gear, all at the same time! I do it every day now but I can remember wondering how I was expected to do all those things at the same time.

It just goes to show the type of character I am, I was reading up about reed finishing, and I rather like the idea of personally tinkering with my reeds to get the best out of them, having said that it seems like a bit of a dark art and has the potential to wreck perfectly good reeds.

All the best,
Chris
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
#16
Posted on 08/07/07 10:34:59 PM​
rogerb

If you can't play 'em as they are, they aren't much good to you, so have a scrape at them, Chris !
I can't get anything out a 2.5, I'm still using RJS 2S!

I use a very sharp pocket knife and try to maintain the 'bullet' shape of the heart of the reed, scrape towards the tip but not too near the tip.... seems to work...sometimes!
_________________
Roger

Hanson SA-5
Jody Jazz DV #6

Posted on 08/07/07 11:16:41 PM​
frankb

Hi Chris,

I think (from my limited understanding) that tweaking a reed may be (borrowing your analogy) like tweaking the suspension on a racing car - for a pro driver it may make all the difference, but if you're still having problems with your gear changes...!

Easy to get it wrong too. You might get more consistency by trying a few different brands rather than DIY customisation.

I did a check around through a few brands and ended up with a filed Rico Jazz Select 2M. I tried a Rico Royal 3 a while back and it was like playing a floorboard, so I'm staying on 2M's for the foreseeable!

Don't get disheartened. It sounds like you're making great progress. Even should you stall out for a week or two I still wouldn't worry. It isn't a linear process - you'll have good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks. If all it took was throwing money at it there'd be a lot more demon sax players!

Keep on honking - you're on the right road making good speed and you *will* get there in the end!


Posted on 09/07/07 11:13:06 AM​
rogerb

All I'm saying is that if you've bought some reeds which just seem too hard, you may as well practice the 'dark art' on them as leave 'em in the drawer!
I am still using RJS 2Ss, but managed to make some 2Ms 'playable' by scraping 'em a bit, and I think that they will help me progress a bit towards 'unscraped' 2Ms, a few of which I can just about get along with.

I'm sticking with Jazz Selects for now, as I like 'em, and anyway think trying too many makes just adds too many 'variables'!
_________________
Roger

Hanson SA-5
Jody Jazz DV #6

Posted on 12/07/07 6:46:56 PM​
sharon

Frank - playing a floorboard is so accurate!

Hi Chris, I'm interested to see you say that you want to be able to sight read to play things rather than memorise things. For me it's the other way around. I've only been playing since February (god the time flies). My sight reading is really coming on. Thing is, I'm worried that I'll never be able to play anything unless I have the music

Great diary by the way.

Sharon

Posted on 12/07/07 10:34:35 PM​
chris98

Hi Roger,

I had to dig out my reed strength chart to see what the equivalent strength of the 2S is, I’m using a Yamaha 4c mouthpiece which has a much smaller tip opening to your Jody Jazz DV, so I guess that is why I can get a 2.5 to work for me. I’m sure I wouldn’t even be able to get a note out of your set-up. It will be interesting to know how you get on with your RPC when you get it.

All the best,

Chris

Posted on 12/07/07 10:41:53 PM​
chris98

Hi Frank,

I’m sure you are right about the difficulty and likely outcome of tweaking reeds, I was just thinking that it might be a bit of fun to try on the few reeds that don’t play so well, nothing to loose one way or another.

It’s interesting that both you and Roger play Jazz selects I have noticed that a lot of players really like them, and although I thought about trying different reeds I made a deal with myself early on in my sax education that I would adopt the following rules:

Thou shalt not blame thy tools for thy own lack of ability.
Thou shalt not go in search of the ultimate alto saxophone...
Thou shalt not go in search of a tenor saxophone (ultimate or not)...
Thou shalt not go in search of the ultimate mouthpiece(s)...
Thou shalt not try different reeds unless given convincing argument as to why thy should...

...until my playing and skill has progressed to the level where getting any or all of these would help my development. Yeah I know, a little optimistic, I give myself 3 months.

There are of course various get-out clauses and loopholes built in just in case, one being that if my teacher advises that I get something then I would just have to capitulate.

I have fallen into the trap of looking for the right gear as an answer to my problems before and, deep down I know that the only way I am going to become the great sax player I hope to become is by knuckling down and playing it rather than looking for the next toy.

All the best,

Chris

Posted on 12/07/07 10:49:32 PM​
chris98

Hi Sharon,

I am glad you like the diary.

I know what you mean about wanting to be able to play from memory, I want to be able to do both, I figure if I can read music, then the number of tunes open to me will be huge. My memory isn’t that good, well actually it’s really good at remembering the wrong notes but not so good at remembering the right ones.

I guess at the end of the day I want to be able to do it all, sight read, play from memory and improvise. The other reason for wanting to be able to sight read is that I want to understand music, how it works, I feel it’s a language I love to listen to but if only I could understand what was being said, it would be that much more beautiful, and I could join in.

I have played the guitar for a few years and I still can’t tell you what notes I’m playing, but all of what I play is from memory because I can’t read music. For guitarists you can get TAB which is convenient as you don’t have to read music but doesn’t really help your musical development. The number of tunes I can play is quite limited really because it is all from memory.

My teacher said to try and work out simple tunes by ear, Pete suggests a similar thing in his DVD. This is a skill that a lot of my guitarist friends have and they are really good at learning things quickly and memorising them because they hear the notes in their heads and their fingers naturally fall in the right places and so they don’t have to learn things note by note which I guess is less memory intensive.

I’m glad your sight reading is going well, I still feel a bit like a kid trying to spell three letter words. But then we were all there once and can read reasonably well so with time, patience and practice hopefully I will build up speed and accuracy with my sight reading.

All the best,

Chris.

Posted on 13/07/07 08:30:35 AM​
chris_jones

Hi Chris,

My Teacher who played as a session artist for 35 years, has over 30 Mouth piece, tried more reed styles, makes, models and on and on.....He now settles with RJS 2.5 reeds and Selmer C* on his Tenor.

P.S Keep up the Diary.

Posted on 13/07/07 1:45:45 PM​
sharon

Chris I know exactly what you mean. You start out wanting to do everything TODAY. It does take time and I think in some ways this is how it should be. When I look back to when I started which is only months ago I am amazed at how much I can do now. OK my ear/ memory playing isn't very good yet and I'm not even going to attempt any improvising but the old sight reading is good and getting better. I'm amazed as I'm someone who didn't even learn recorder at school. This sax is the first instrument I've ever had and I'm 42.

I initially thought that just learning the sax was going to be great which it is. But learning to read music has been equally as satisfying. Sometimes I find I can play bits of quite complicated (for me) stuff ( I'm currently working on "The Entertainer"). If you start off slowly you find that each time you go back to it you can play it a bit faster. Suddenly something happens and your fingers are anticipating the next notes - it's weird.

It's worth remembering that just because you're a beginner you can try to play anything. Don't just stick to "beginners" tunes. Even if you can only play a bit - I find if they're a bit harder they are more interesting to play.

Anyway off to play now as Friday is my tunes day and I don't do any of the hard work like scales, long notes and new notes

Sharon

Posted on 13/07/07 3:21:13 PM​
larn

Hi Chris I'm also having trouble sight reading mainly the notes above and below the stave and get flustered as you do if I miss one or two. I have found it easier if I take it slowly a couple of bars at a time and repeat it over and over again gradually speeding up then move onto the next two bars then when I have got those play the four together and so on it seems to work for me.

Regards Larn.
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
#17
Week of 9th July

I have been coming home from work each day feeling more and more tired this week, stepping through the door, the only thing I wanted to do was sit or lie down and do nothing. Thing was I had homework, three short pieces of music my teacher had set for me and to work as far as I could through another book. So I would get home, trudge upstairs, get the sax out of the case, put a reed in my mouth, line up the music, take a deep breath and blow my first note, usually a ‘g’, I don’t know why a ‘g’ but that’s where my fingers often fall. It’s amazing how quickly the fatigue lifted when I started playing, it’s great. I would carry on until my lip gave out by which time I was usually hungry. After a bite to eat and a little rest, I would then have a second usually shorter session.

Last week my teacher had said that she wanted me to start on chapter four of a book because she thought I was beyond the first few chapters. Well I attempted to start where she suggested, in went the accompanying CD I got the music out and bang, I was left for dead after the second note. So I thought I needed some practice at this and so I started on page one, I thought if this was too easy then it wouldn’t take too long to get up to speed and if it wasn’t easy then I would be at the right point. I think it was playing along to the backing track that was throwing me, dictating a tempo and having to listen to other instruments as well as my own. Anyway having started from the beginning I quickly sped through a fair bit of it, coming across a few problems here and there with the finger gymnastics but, in two evenings I was up to and a little beyond the place she had asked me to start at. I have to say I really like the CD backing tracks, it is much more enjoyable playing along with other musicians, you get a better feel for the music and play a tune rather than the notes.

When I made a mistake I would usually stop playing and start from the beginning again but it dawned on me that it would probably be better to try and pick it up again rather than stop. Well if I was playing in a band, and hit a bum note I couldn’t expect them to stop and start again. I figure the best thing to do is to hit the same bum note again and if any one says anything say it was jazz inspired

So, this morning I got up and tried to work out what would be best to do with the time before my lesson, I didn't want to play too much or I find that my lip gets tired but I needed to warm up the sax and my fingers so I decided on too very short sessions. First session I cracked two of the tunes she had asked me to practice and made two small mistakes in the third. During the second session I got all three pieces right note wise but was slightly off with the duration of some of the notes, I then had another go a got all three completely round my neck.

Off to my lesson and still a little nervous, we started off with the three pieces, two false starts and a less than dazzling performance of the first one, it wasn’t helped by the fact that I started to laugh towards the end, not a good move when trying to play. The second piece was a little better and the third was even better, although not perfect, the funny thing was that the first piece was the easiest. I think it is a good thing my teacher has a good sense of humour and bucket loads of patience. I knew I would need lessons not just because a teacher would keep me on the right track but because if left to me I would carry on working on those three pieces until I could play them perfectly, but she is keeping me moving along with new music to try. I went back to the ‘The Flintstones’ and although I can’t play it perfectly I can play it better now, even though I haven’t attempted it for a week, and I guess this is because I am more flexible now because I have played other music.

So this week’s homework is five more tunes, one is apparently quite difficult and may take me a couple of weeks, and for warm ups the F Major scale and arpeggio.

All the best,
Chris
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
#18
Posted on 15/07/07 10:00:43 PM​
justin_chune

Hi Chris. You can always refer to bum notes as "interpretation." That's what I do.

_________________
Rico Royal Forever.

Posted on 16/07/07 00:28:51 AM​
rogerb

My teacher says when you play in a band you just look disgustedly at the player next to you and keep blowin'

_________________
Roger

Hanson SA-5
Jody Jazz DV #6
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
#19
Week of 16th July

I have had my sax just short of two months now, it only seems like yesterday I gingerly opened the case for the first time, and that sense of wonder and appreciation of the beauty and complexity of it is still there.

I was wrong last week when I said I had five tunes to learn, it was actually seven, well actually I got that wrong as well, my teacher had set me five but I hadn’t realised she had decided to skip two in the book. Anyway the upshot was I was practising seven pieces, three in F Major and the others in C. When I say tunes, in reality they are short passages usually around 16 bars. After stumbling though them for the first time it seemed like quite a tall order. I worked on the tunes in F Major on the first day, getting familiar with them and then started with the others the next day. I worked on all of them over the following days in the hope that by the end of the week I wold be able to play them all. Within the seven there was the one my teacher had said may take a couple of weeks, well being me I wanted to be able to play it within the week as well as the others, so that was my week laid out.

Learning is a strange thing, I could feel my mind working overtime trying to fit all this new music into place so that my fingers would flow over the keys, problem is the communication between the notes on the page and my mind and then from my mind to my fingers seems a little scrambled at times. I’m sure my dyslexia is creeping into my music reading, I sometimes see a D and think G or an A and think C, then I get into second guessing myself and it quickly falls apart. It is when I relax with the music and my fingers follow the notes on the page without the translation stage that the music starts to flow and there seems to be a space between each note or phrase. Of course this could just be because I half remember how the tunes go and that’s why it seems easier, it would be interesting if I could approach a new piece of music without gearing up for it and see if I am any more fluent.

I was in a music shop this week, quite legitimately I might add, I needed some mouthpiece patches as I was going to try the thinner type, which I think I prefer. Well you know how it is, I remember the recommendation of the Jazz Selects, and thought, ‘well it can’t hurt, a little experimentation adds a little spice to life’, but they didn’t have jazz selects and so I came away with some Vandoren Traditional 2.5. They feel different to the Rico Royals I have been using, harder, with a fuller sound and some how they just seem smoother, both in feel and sound, anyway I am not in a position to talk about the relative merits of different reeds but at the moment, but I like them quite a bit.

As the week progressed I began to get apprehensive and thought that I might not be able to play any of these tunes by my next lesson, they just didn’t seem to be going in. One piece had a rhythm that I kept getting caught up in, sort of double time I guess, another one, a reasonably simple one, had a repeating phrase that my fingers got locked into but then went to a variation of the phrase and my fingers would trip over themselves to try and sort it out. Timings could also go out the window, a bit like an elastic band, harder bars would be slightly slower and easier bars slightly faster, particularly if it was ascending or descending a scale, where I could catch myself going too fast, put the brakes on and then be late with the next note.

On Friday, the day before my lesson all the tunes except the slightly harder one started to fall into place, not perfect but nearly all the right notes, mostly for the right duration and mostly at the right time. It was actually quite enjoyable putting the CD in and playing along to several tunes on the trot.

In preparation on the morning of my lesson, I ran though all the tunes a couple of times, a few mistakes here and there but I decided not to go over it too much as I might end up reinforcing the mistakes rather than learning to play the right notes correctly.

I still get a little nervous before each lesson, don’t ask why, I have no idea, but that doesn’t help when trying to play. The lesson went reasonably well, we went through the various tunes, a couple of false starts and a few mistakes, but not too horrendous, even the harder one. Then we had a go at a duet, that wasn’t totally successful as I loped along crashing from one duff note to the next before amusement and laughter took over, I regained my composure and joined in for the last note!

I really don’t know how I’m doing, my teacher says I’m doing fine for a beginner, the main thing is that I’m having far more fun with this that I thought I would, the lessons keep pushing me and when I look back at where I started this week, I can play more now than then so that has to be good. For this weeks homework six more tunes and I am moving on from F major to G major.

All the best,

Chris.
 

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
#20
Posted on 22/07/07 2:45:57 PM​
frankb

Hi Chris,

Sounds like you're doing well!

Bear in mind that you will progress at *your* pace. This will be quicker than some people and (inevitably) slower than others, but it is what *you* can manage. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Put in your practice hours and enjoy yourself - when the next lesson comes what's ready is ready and what isn't isn't.

Your teacher (if they're any cop!) will see how fast you're progressing and adjust their requirements to stretch you without being unreasonable.

Don't stress. Enjoying yourself is the main thing!

The pay off is in a little while when you look back at the pieces which are killing you softly(!) now and wonder what you thought was so difficult!

All the best,

Frank

Posted on 22/07/07 2:54:33 PM​
rogerb

What FrankB said...

I think you sound as if you are doing *very* well

_________________
Roger

Hanson SA-5
Jody Jazz DV #6

Posted on 22/07/07 11:07:07 PM​
linky_lee

Don't worry about the dyslexia too much.
I myself am pretty dyslexic (what prompted my mother to switch to special needs teaching) and have no problems notation.

Dyslexia doesn't really work in a way that affects music notation. What you're experiencing is like learning how to read.

You know what the letter A looks like, and you see it in a word, yet you still think it's an E for some reason.

The point is, it gets better the more you do it, and it gets to the point where you don't consciously think about it. Just like picking up an old book and having a read.

Sight reading is like a quick scan. You pick out the key bits and fit the rest in. You miss little bits but use logic and sense to fill them gaps and take educated guesses. Sight reading isn't supposed to be 100% accuracy.

Sounds like you're doing fantastic, I'd say it's probably because you're having great fun with it and have a positive attitude towards it. Keep it up! and keep us up to date!
_________________
Started December 2005
Soprano: Borgani (1950's), Yam 4C, Rico Royal 3
Alto: Hanson SA-8/Martin Handcraft 1925, Link Tone Edge 6, RJS 2H
Tenor: Walstein Phosphor Bronze (prototype), Link STM 6*, ZZ 2.5

Posted on 23/07/07 08:27:44 AM​
frankb

Couple of amendments to my previous post:

1) For note recognition training, you might find this handy - http://www.musictheory.net/trainers/html/id82_en.html (Also if you follow the "back to previous page" link there's a lot of other useful stuff on the site).
2) Roger and Lee are right - You're doing a damn sight better than "well"!

All the best,

Frank

Posted on 23/07/07 08:39:32 AM​
sharon

Chris you sound as if you're doing really well. I am rubbish at timing so consequently being rather lazy and self serving only ever play tunes I know. Terrible isn't it.

It sounds as if your teacher is really stretching you but that's why you're going isn't it. You know you're making progress.

That note thing I do as well so it's not dyslexia, it's just you have to become so familiar with the notes that you play them without thinking. My favourite is playing f# or c# instead of the ordinary note. I quite often stop dead on a note I've played a thousand times because my mind goes blank. Then it pops into my head and I carry on. I think it's just your brain learning.

It's always the same old thing - practice, you just can't get enough

Posted on 23/07/07 12:28:29 PM​
matth

Hi,

It sounds like its going real good.... My main problem seems to be finding the time..I've only had it a week.. but I'm lucky to get 2/3 nights to even play. Spent a hour with the Sax DVD yesterday.. and I'm finding exaclty the same problems, timing, reading the music (or actually playing by ear..) and fluffing completely when I get the notes wrong

All good fun though.. it sounds like you have progressed to some challenging tunes in a very short time.. I was working on "When the Saints"

Posted on 23/07/07 10:05:01 PM​
chris98

FrankB wrote:
Hi Chris,

Sounds like you're doing well!

Bear in mind that you will progress at *your* pace. This will be quicker than some people and (inevitably) slower than others, but it is what *you* can manage. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Put in your practice hours and enjoy yourself - when the next lesson comes what's ready is ready and what isn't isn't.

Your teacher (if they're any cop!) will see how fast you're progressing and adjust their requirements to stretch you without being unreasonable.

Don't stress. Enjoying yourself is the main thing!

The pay off is in a little while when you look back at the pieces which are killing you softly(!) now and wonder what you thought was so difficult!

All the best,

Frank
Hi Frank & Roger,

Thanks for the encouragement and that note recognition training is addictive, thanks for the link.

All the best,

Chris

Posted on 23/07/07 10:06:11 PM​
chris98

Linky_Lee wrote:
Don't worry about the dyslexia too much.
I myself am pretty dyslexic (what prompted my mother to switch to special needs teaching) and have no problems notation.

Dyslexia doesn't really work in a way that affects music notation. What you're experiencing is like learning how to read.

You know what the letter A looks like, and you see it in a word, yet you still think it's an E for some reason.

The point is, it gets better the more you do it, and it gets to the point where you don't consciously think about it. Just like picking up an old book and having a read.

Sight reading is like a quick scan. You pick out the key bits and fit the rest in. You miss little bits but use logic and sense to fill them gaps and take educated guesses. Sight reading isn't supposed to be 100% accuracy.

Sounds like you're doing fantastic, I'd say it's probably because you're having great fun with it and have a positive attitude towards it. Keep it up! and keep us up to date!
Hi Lee,

I’m not sure I’m doing fantastic, but thanks, it’s great fun as you say

Good to hear that my dyslexia shouldn’t present any problems with my playing and sight reading. Every now and then I find I am scanning the music and my fingers are reaching for the right notes, then I realise I’m not thinking about it and so I start thinking which then causes it to fall apart.

All the best,

Chris

Posted on 23/07/07 10:07:41 PM​
frankb

Chris98 wrote:
Thanks for the encouragement and that note recognition training is addictive, thanks for the link.
You're welcome, and try it to a metronome (keeping your score at 100% and upping the tempo)!

Posted on 23/07/07 10:10:08 PM​
chris98

sharon wrote:
Chris you sound as if you're doing really well. I am rubbish at timing so consequently being rather lazy and self serving only ever play tunes I know. Terrible isn't it.

It sounds as if your teacher is really stretching you but that's why you're going isn't it. You know you're making progress.

That note thing I do as well so it's not dyslexia, it's just you have to become so familiar with the notes that you play them without thinking. My favourite is playing f# or c# instead of the ordinary note. I quite often stop dead on a note I've played a thousand times because my mind goes blank. Then it pops into my head and I carry on. I think it's just your brain learning.

It's always the same old thing - practice, you just can't get enough
Hi Sharon,

I was the same, am the same with the guitar, I realised the other day that I haven’t learnt anything new on the guitar for a year now! I could come up with a load of excuses why, work being horrendous this year or whatever but in reality it was a lack of discipline and/or motivation on my part. It is so much easier to delve into my limited repertoire and play the same old things, but even I have grown bored of them now! The sax is different for me, I know it’s early days but I feel more at home with it, and it takes all my concentration to play it, it’s a whole body effort. With the guitar I can just noodle on something I know without having to really engage the brain. I’m sure if I didn’t have my teacher I would be the same with the sax.

You are right about my teacher, she is stretching me but not to the point where I can’t cope just enough that I don’t get too comfortable, which is great, it’s what I need.

All the best,

Chris
 
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