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Tone Dynamite tone, quicker than you think!!!


Vientiane, Laos
A note of encouragement to all beginner and intermediate players who think their tone is way off. After a long period of disatisfaction with my tone, I have really tried to work on the exercises that can improve It. Long Tones and Harmonics (incl. mouthpiece only). Wow! Since I have tried to do it really properly as described by Pete here Exercises for Saxophone Tone & Sound
and Kelly Bucheger here
Kelly Buchegers Saxophone Pages: The Daily Grind
the rate of progress is amazing. Kelly's check-list was very useful and the key items for me for rich, smooth and punctual low notes were *open throat and *strong diaphragm support.

Along with this I am next doing overtones off Bb.
After these two exercises are complete it seems so effortless to run up and down scales with a smooth, rich and consistent tone. This fades away through my practice, especially when getting to some difficult exercises, where the natural propensity is just to get through the fingering.

I just want to reinforce what everyone says about Long Tones and Harmonics. They really really do improve your tone very quickly. The trick is to carry everything you learnt in the first 10-15 minutes of practice through to all your practice and playing, that is what I am working on now. I believe even the best players do this very often. I guess its like 100m sprinters. If they become the champion, they don't stop training their muscles and doing exercises if they want to continue being a fast runner.

Rest assured this kind of practice will bear fruit very quickly. From a very happy, forward moving sax beginner.
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Long tones

Hi Alan

Further to your article on long tones and reading Kelly's article about keeping the note even, I use Audacity to confirm that the notes are not attacked to hard and that they keep their shape. It shows exactly how you are playing each tone, because what you hear as a player is different to what the audience hears.

I also use a sound reflector that an engineer friend (and player)that I designed and he built for me. It allows me to hear what I actually sound like and not a variation after it eventually rebounded off of a wall 8 feet away.

I find this better than playing into the wall as it means I dont have to stand with my foot against the door or risk losing my teeth (all the other corners are occupied with furniture) and I can use it on all of my playing because it attaches to my music stand. I use it on dance band rehearsals and I can hear every note even in a 22 piece band.

It also is a great help with articulation and smooth fingerings as they get lost in the rebounded sound.

Have you tried also to make it more interesting by making a backing track from Band in a box. Playing at 30bpm over 2 bars per note gives you a fair amount of time per note, but the possibilities are endless.

The last gadget I use is a decibel meter (£18 form Maplins) so that I can move the dynamics consistently whilst using a tuner. This shows if I am using the diaphragm properly rather than trying to get louder by squeezing from the top half of my chest.

Sorry for the length of the waffle but I agree that long tones are good value for time.

Ps Pete, I like the new colour scheme.



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