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Beginner First few breaths

Halfers

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I'm painfully aware that over the course of my first 2 or 3 hours of practice this weekend, I have made the biggest leap in relative progress I will ever make on this instrument! From 0 to the very first tiny step on an infinitely high ladder of improvement. Everything else will be subject to the law of diminishing returns requiring greater periods of time and effort to detect slow improvements (or perhaps regressions) in technique, tone, musicality etc..

But what great fun those first few hours have been. Leaving all technical deficiencies and impending bad habits aside until I start lessons, making this beautiful piece of equipment produce a noise feels great. Any idiot can immediately make a sound on a Piano or a Guitar - and discovering that this idiot can also make a (sort of reasonably decent, if erratic) sound from a Tenor Saxophone, after a few initial minutes of wheezing, is encouraging, to say the least.

I've never been one for getting much enjoyment from practicing scales, but this feels so different to banging out scales on a keyboard or a fretboard. I can feel a connection to music (in it's loosest form) that I've only ever felt while singing, which makes sense as isn't the Sax just a mechanical vocoder of sorts!

I'll have to sit down at some point and spend some time working out how all the various buttons and leavers and stoppers work. It's so complicated and impressive to look at! However, in some ways, the complexity of the structure and layout of the instrument belies the user friendliness of fingering basic notes. I've spent 20 odd Years failing to understand a guitar fretboard. The Saxophone seems to make more sense to me already!

Anyway, I'm gushing because I'm quite excited. I'm sure I don't need to explain why :) I guess it's all up (and down) hill from here!
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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Well done, as the saying (sort of ) goes, the longest journey doesn't start until you've taken the first step...
 

Targa

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"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".
Quotation from Chapter 64 of the Tao Te Ching ascribed to Laozi.
 

jbtsax

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And practicing thousands of hours leads to "Giant Steps". :)
 

Halfers

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And practicing thousands of hours leads to "Giant Steps". :)

I can only hope! :)

'Giant Steps' was pretty much the first Jazz Album I bought. Coltrane died at 40. I'm 43!! I guess looking on the bright side, give it 25 Years (with good health and a fair bit of luck) and I'll have more Years experience on the Tenor than Trane had....;)
 

Dibbs

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I can only hope! :)

'Giant Steps' was pretty much the first Jazz Album I bought. Coltrane died at 40. I'm 43!! I guess looking on the bright side, give it 25 Years (with good health and a fair bit of luck) and I'll have more Years experience on the Tenor than Trane had....;)

More years but fewer hours in all probability.
 

Halfers

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After the disappointment of a cancelled lesson last week, I've just returned from my first Sax lesson. Some changes to my embouchure have had an immediate effect on volume. Most importantly, I've discovered the thing can be played at a volume lower than 'window shattering'! My wife and kids are going to be very pleased and happily it leads to a much more pleasant and engaging sound

The emphasis of the lesson was very much on 'tone'. My Teacher was impressed I was tonguing, but I was being too harsh and as a result the sound was coming out too brash (a polite description). Some 'soft' tonguing made a huge difference.

So I've discovered I don't have to blow the Bl**dy bell off the thing and my lower lip is feeling the benefit of a change in mouth position. I've been set a few tasks, including working on my long tones - I held a note for 26 seconds in the lesson and I'm aiming for 35 by next week. At home, Using my new embouchure I've managed a 40 second hold this afternoon, so I think I can aim for perhaps a bit longer without my peripheral vision fading out ;)

Lots of good things taken on board. most importantly, I've had an early change of perspective on the learning process. As my Teacher commented 'Who Cares if you can play 'Fly Me To The Moon' Badly. Learn the basics first and develop that tone..and whatever you play will start to sound good..
 

nigeld

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Sounds good. Tone is what you need a teacher for.

Using my new embouchure I've managed a 40 second hold this afternoon, so I think I can aim for perhaps a bit longer without my peripheral vision fading out ;)

Be a little bit careful - it is possible to fall over after doing very deep breathing.
 

Halfers

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I've spent about 5 Hours over the past few days solely on the first two pages of my Sax book. I've tried to set aside all ego about 'getting ahead' and improving through cramming in as much as I can and set myself the task of concentrating on the three notes (G,A,B - OK I admit it, I've thrown in a C too..) dealt with in the first dozen or so simple 4 and 8 bar exercises in section 1 of the book.

I'm starting to see an improvement in starting phrases. I've a tendency to barrel in with a sharp, loud note, before settling into a mellower tone, but with time, I am beginning to enter a phrase with a 'softer' note. I am finding, though, that having now discovered a quieter way of playing, I tend to get periods of 'spitty' sound from the mouthpiece.

On the advice of my teacher, I have got some Mouthpiece Patches. I'm not so sure about them at the moment. They are quite thick. I have to admit I didn't realise they came in different thickness. These are quite spongy. I might get hold of some thinner ones to experiment how they feel. I quite like the feel of my teeth on the bare mouthpiece, so might look for some thin ones, if only to save marking up the Mouthpiece.
 

Halfers

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I decided that my mouthpiece patches were just ridiculously thick. I was finding it difficult to make an embouchure and on prolonged notes it felt like my teeth were sliding down the mouthpiece, even though they weren't. So I made a trip down to the local music shop to pick up some new patches. I ended up with some 0.8mm thick BG patches. I reckon these are about half the thickness of my Amazon bought patches! Makes a huge difference, though at this stage of my development, any small changes feel like big ones, and after swapping over the patches it took me 20 minutes or so to get used to the feel of the thinner patches. Feels much better in the mouth though.

I also picked up a mechanical metronome. I really should have had a look at the price as I could have saved a few quid getting one off amazon. However, supporting a local shop etc! I held back on getting a stand as the metronome was more expensive than I expected!
 

Halfers

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Having spent quite a lot of time practicing my exercises prior to my second lesson today, I felt quite confident, however, while my Teacher praised my Tenuto playing! (a phrase new to me) it seems I need to take a step back and learn to play 'normal' length notes, rather than stringing them all together. My attempts to slightly shorten the note length were erratic, which set me back a bit. My tonguing went all to pot and I suddenly developed the habit of breathing in between notes!! After a bit of brain freeze, I started to get the hang of it, but I kept slipping back into 'Tenuto' during an exercise. My tone, which has improved greatly over the past week, also went out the window as I concentrated on getting each note right..

So it's back to the drawing board with note lengths and tonguing for me this week.
 

Jeanette

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There's a lot to think about when you first start playing and usually something will go off when you concerntrate on something new. Tone will come back :)

Jx
 

saxyjt

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There's a lot to think about when you first start playing and usually something will go off when you concerntrate on something new. Tone will come back :)

It's just like trying to play golf. There's always something wrong! But with a saxophone, you won't loose your reeds a hundred yards away. If you do. Humm, well, euh, perhaps you should consider another instrument... :confused:
 

Halfers

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It's just like trying to play golf. There's always something wrong! But with a saxophone, you won't loose your reeds a hundred yards away. If you do. Humm, well, euh, perhaps you should consider another instrument... :confused:

I hope not! Reeds are even more expensive than golf balls!!
 

Halfers

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My practice cycle seems to be settling into a familiar regime. I get set some exercises at a lesson. I go home and practice hard, get pleased with myself thinking I'm gaining a couple of steps. Then I go to the next lesson and discover I've been practising things not quite correctly and have actually gone back a step!! I have to fight my natural urge in these instances, which is to dismiss anything my Teacher says as being a bit too "bl**dy picky" and accept he knows more than I do!!

Having progressed a little on my tonguing and note length, I got pulled up for being 'less than musical' in my playing! A bit harshly in my mind, I'm only on my third lesson! It's not as if I've got enough on my plate remembering fingerings, embouchure, tongue position, breathing, reading the flippin' notes etc etc, but to expect me to be 'musical'!! He played a section of music from a piece of software called Sibelius and noted it was probably more musical sounding than me! I tried to explain that my brain is like scrambled egg and concentrating on everything at once is a big challenge, but my brain was so scrambled, I couldn't quite communicate this!!
 

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