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Beginner I was doing well until I had my first lesson

mizmar

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in what way @mizmar... Bit of a derogatory comment TBF...Kindly explain..
No it's not derogatory in any way.
You have defended writing the letters to play from and this teacher seems to agree. Simple fact. I thought you'd be interested and amused, apparently not.
 

eb424

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Think he sounds like he was more on chords tbf...sorry if taken out of context...it was the exclamation mark tbf
 

Colin the Bear

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@BigT
I once had a clarinet lesson. Nothing on saxophone and I occassionaly get paid for playing. :)
If you can read and play in tune you will be a valuable member of an ensemble.
Backing tracks are tricky at first. Hearing where you are is an acquired skill. It will come with practice.
Some books come with a CD with two tracks one with melody and one without. Play along with the melody track till you get it then switch to the other and fly solo.
Karaeoke tracks are good if you can play a tune by ear. Not so easy to read the dots and watch the bouncing ball.
Play your horn. Annoy the neighbours and ditch the teacher.
There are community bands that are always looking for players. You may learn more playing there than with a one to one teacher.
Please don't let this experience put you off.
 

eb424

Senior Member
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london
@eb424 lighten up. Just a joke. :rolleyes:
Realise that now...TBF wasn't sure thought a smiley face denoted a joke...Probably a sore point asnow trying to focus on playing from scores and struggling a bit TBF....
No it's not derogatory in any way.
You have defended writing the letters to play from and this teacher seems to agree. Simple fact. I thought you'd be interested and amused, apparently not.
only wasn't amused as I didn't know how to take it...again with apologies..
 

jbtsax

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I have had a hard time understanding the issues and the teacher's advice in this thread. What is clear is that the OP has some difficulty playing along with "backing tracks" and needs some help.

- If the difficulty is with playing the melody of a song with a backing track, then the difficulty might be with playing and listening at the same time which is common for those just becoming familiar with an instrument. If keeping up with a faster tempo is the issue, there are several ways to slow down the backing track keeping the pitch constant. Another "trick" I learned is to finger the notes and hear them in your mind as you listen to the accompaniment freeing your mind from playing and tonguing the notes on the instrument.

- If the problem is improvising along with a backing track then writing in the chord symbols in the melody lead sheet is part of the solution. The next step which takes more time and effort is to learn the "spelling" of each chord in the chord changes. These can also be written out at first while getting them committed to memory. Another useful "ear training" technique can be to play the changes as "arpeggios" along with the backing track.

- Having taught band students for over 30 years to play instruments and to read music, I am in the camp with those who disagree with writing in the alphabet names over the printed notes in the part. In my view it merely delays or prevents the learning the "universal language" of music notation which opens up countless opportunities to learn and perform music with others. The ability to play "by ear" is also extremely useful and important, but in many situations cannot be a substitute for "musical literacy" which I call the ability to read and understand musical notation which is one means of how music is shared with and passed on to others.
 

BigT

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England
It does sound like the teacher wasnt suited to your needs. What kind of backing tracks do you want to play...
I naturally trend towards ballads as my ageing finger joints can manage the slower pace. Tunes like Autumn Leaves, The Shadow of your smile, I’m in the mood for love. That type of tune. The issue when the track starts is I just get lost, can’t find the start or the rhythm. As I said earlier it must be the hours and hours of being in front of a bandmaster all those years ago, striking the beat and giving cue. I have tried the alternative of playing along with a track, not easy. Perhaps I am a natural soloist LOL.
 
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Pete Thomas

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- If the problem is improvising along with a backing track then writing in the chord symbols in the melody lead sheet is part of the solution.
Indeed and it wasa bit unobvious as the post first mentions reading music conventionally (ie reading notation) but then quotese xamples such as C7 which is obviously chord symbols.

Not that it is the entire issue, but @BigT I would heartily recommend breaking up your posts into paragraphs as it's so much easier to read and inwardly digest then. Otherwise I tend tind myself skipping past bits oif important text.
 

BigT

Member
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136
Locality
England
I have had a hard time understanding the issues and the teacher's advice in this thread. What is clear is that the OP has some difficulty playing along with "backing tracks" and needs some help.

- If the difficulty is with playing the melody of a song with a backing track, then the difficulty might be with playing and listening at the same time which is common for those just becoming familiar with an instrument. If keeping up with a faster tempo is the issue, there are several ways to slow down the backing track keeping the pitch constant. Another "trick" I learned is to finger the notes and hear them in your mind as you listen to the accompaniment freeing your mind from playing and tonguing the notes on the instrument.

- If the problem is improvising along with a backing track then writing in the chord symbols in the melody lead sheet is part of the solution. The next step which takes more time and effort is to learn the "spelling" of each chord in the chord changes. These can also be written out at first while getting them committed to memory. Another useful "ear training" technique can be to play the changes as "arpeggios" along with the backing track.

- Having taught band students for over 30 years to play instruments and to read music, I am in the camp with those who disagree with writing in the alphabet names over the printed notes in the part. In my view it merely delays or prevents the learning the "universal language" of music notation which opens up countless opportunities to learn and perform music with others. The ability to play "by ear" is also extremely useful and important, but in many situations cannot be a substitute for "musical literacy" which I call the ability to read and understand musical notation which is one means of how music is shared with and passed on to others.

Would the bands you refer to would be like High School Marching Bands?
 

eb424

Senior Member
Messages
1,554
Locality
london
I have had a hard time understanding the issues and the teacher's advice in this thread. What is clear is that the OP has some difficulty playing along with "backing tracks" and needs some help.

- If the difficulty is with playing the melody of a song with a backing track, then the difficulty might be with playing and listening at the same time which is common for those just becoming familiar with an instrument. If keeping up with a faster tempo is the issue, there are several ways to slow down the backing track keeping the pitch constant. Another "trick" I learned is to finger the notes and hear them in your mind as you listen to the accompaniment freeing your mind from playing and tonguing the notes on the instrument.

- If the problem is improvising along with a backing track then writing in the chord symbols in the melody lead sheet is part of the solution. The next step which takes more time and effort is to learn the "spelling" of each chord in the chord changes. These can also be written out at first while getting them committed to memory. Another useful "ear training" technique can be to play the changes as "arpeggios" along with the backing track.

- Having taught band students for over 30 years to play instruments and to read music, I am in the camp with those who disagree with writing in the alphabet names over the printed notes in the part. In my view it merely delays or prevents the learning the "universal language" of music notation which opens up countless opportunities to learn and perform music with others. The ability to play "by ear" is also extremely useful and important, but in many situations cannot be a substitute for "musical literacy" which I call the ability to read and understand musical notation which is one means of how music is shared with and passed on to others.
Hi @jbtsax....from my perspective it gave me as an older learner the oppurtunity to play the tunes i wanted. Kept me interested i use this method to play for fun, enhance my stamina ( copd,) finger speed and of course practice reading / transposing scores...There doesnt seem to be many groups around that play the whole melody, dont play classical or jazz..i am not disageeing that the correct path is right or wrong but the 2 can work together. Backing tracks and writting notes can enhance your playing ( as above) and technique, whilst learning to play from scores can run parrellel and hopefully the twain will meet.. the main issues for me and why i changed paths was that there is no method of grading or assessment and that all groups use the traditional method...its a shame really...
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I naturally trend towards ballads as my ageing finger joints can manage the slower pace. Tunes like Autumn Leaves, The Shadow of your smile, I’m in the mood for love. That type of tune. The issue when the track starts is I just get lost, can’t find the start or the rhythm. As I said earlier it must be the hours and hours of being in front of a bandmaster all those years ago, striking the beat and giving cue. I have tried the alternative of playing along with a track, not easy. Perhaps I am a natural soloist LOL.
You might try singing the melody while you finger silently that I call "sing and finger". Another suggestion might be to get some "Music Minus One" books and accompaniments. You can "play along" with a professional player playing the melody and then when you are ready, play with just the accompaniment itself.
 

jbtsax

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Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Would the bands you refer to would be like High School Marching Bands?
At the start of my career I taught at the high school level which included marching band, pep band, jazz ensemble, and concert band. When I came to my senses after 13 years and moved down to the middle school level (grades 6 and 7) where the focus is on "music education" rather than competing for trophies and awards I just taught concert band. ;)
 

eb424

Senior Member
Messages
1,554
Locality
london
I naturally trend towards ballads as my ageing finger joints can manage the slower pace. Tunes like Autumn Leaves, The Shadow of your smile, I’m in the mood for love. That type of tune. The issue when the track starts is I just get lost, can’t find the start or the rhythm. As I said earlier it must be the hours and hours of being in front of a bandmaster all those years ago, striking the beat and giving cue. I have tried the alternative of playing along with a track, not easy. Perhaps I am a natural soloist LOL.
I know its wrong but for me words are my friend..i find it really difficult to play along without words..i always start by playing along to the original...I buy the score ( music notes are good) and download the track..there are programmes ( legal) that enable you to extract the mp3 from you tube... at this point you should be able to play the score...on some tracks im not fast enough so i print lyrics and write notes only above them. On slow songs i play from the score..what exactly are you struggling with??? Are they classical songs with no words. Do you use head phones...
 

mizmar

Senior Member
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1,021
Locality
Trondheim, Norway
I naturally trend towards ballads as my ageing finger joints can manage the slower pace. Tunes like Autumn Leaves, The Shadow of your smile, I’m in the mood for love. That type of tune. The issue when the track starts is I just get lost, can’t find the start or the rhythm. As I said earlier it must be the hours and hours of being in front of a bandmaster all those years ago, striking the beat and giving cue. I have tried the alternative of playing along with a track, not easy. Perhaps I am a natural soloist LOL.
I've never been in a band (well, not since I played triangle, age 8) and am a late starter. But I have made progress with play alongs / backing. I got purpose made tutorials (and etudes) with dots, demo, backing, they have count-ins etc. I use a speed changer app with headphones (to balance the sax and input) in which I can also mark sections (important to make progress without always starting at the beginning). I learn with metronome (slow and getting up to speed) and memories as much as possible, then play with the demo for feel, attack, intonation etc. Then with the backing.
It's been a slog but has been great for my playing. Also good for the ears because one quickly notices being out of tune
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
@BigT And then there's always ballad of the month. BotM on here. Dots and backing track.

I got fed up with commercial backing tracks. Too fast, too slow wrong key, too few choruses, odd instrumentation etc

I make my own with BiaB. Band in a Box. You can arrange in your own cues. I've started doing an 8 bar intro with an added instrument on bar 8.
A few dozen times through and you begin to get it.
 

BigT

Member
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136
Locality
England
@BigT And then there's always ballad of the month. BotM on here. Dots and backing track.

I got fed up with commercial backing tracks. Too fast, too slow wrong key, too few choruses, odd instrumentation etc

I make my own with BiaB. Band in a Box. You can arrange in your own cues. I've started doing an 8 bar intro with an added instrument on bar 8.
A few dozen times through and you begin to get it.
Have you ever used Session Band?
 

greenstripe

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106
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UK
As many have said, find a different teacher. There are many different teaching styles and these suit different individuals. A good teacher will be sympathetic and encourage you, not make you feel bad.

I've been taking lessons since June after picking up sax in December and trying to get my confidence up to go to lessons. I did play also at school for a couple of years but that was 30 odd years ago. I've never had a great sense of timing. I can playing something by feel, but if it's something i don't know and playing from sheet music, I tend struggle.
My teacher had me bring along the stuff I'd been playing and waited about 3 lessons before coming up with a learning plan.

We're working through the book Abracadabra which he recommend I buy -we're about 2/3 of the way through now. I got the version with CDs as not seen audio available as online or as MP3 etc. The book really is excellent. Some of the pieces are duets which I play with my teacher and don't have backing tracks. Most of the pieces have at least 2 versions of each track -one with sax and one without (just backing), some have more as different speeds or swing time etc. It does have some basic improvisation stuff as well.
 

CliveMA

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Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Soon I was able to play loads of tunes probably not to well but household comments said I was improving rapidly, After 6 months I thought it would be a good idea to have a professional one to one lesson to check out my playing, the instrument and get some help with playing to backing tracks which I found really hard.
Congrats on still remembering how to sight read! Congrats on impressing your household!

Make sure having fun is always number 1!

I, too, find playing to backing tracks really hard. But that is not surprising when we have never done it before. Back in the day when we learnt to sight read there were no backing tracks so we have no practice at it.

It has taken me 18 months to be able to somewhat hear cues in backing tracks. I find experienced players greatly underestimate how hard it is for new players to use a backing track.

Patience! Keep trying to play with backing tracks. Eventually, repetition sinks in! Simplify by only listening to the melody plus metronome/rhythm track first.

As regards teachers, make sure your prospective teacher is accredited with a recognised national program. Your teacher sounds unqualified and is also failing to adapt to your needs. Ditch them.
 

Dave Dunn

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South Australia
It seems to me like the teacher was trying to take you back a step. Reading sheet music and writing it out as letters is a great way to improve music reading skills in beginners, or for scraping the rust off! The more you write the notes out as letters, the faster you become at reading music, but you don't need that, you can fluently read sheet music, so I don't see the point. It's probably more for him, that's how he teaches, so if you do that, he'll be able to progress you on to the next step in his teaching routine, basically, he'll know where he's up to in his plan.

As to the problem you have "jamming" and knowing where to come in, perhaps karaoke style backing tracks with a melody guide might be useful, quite a lot have the melody line played quietly on a synthesiser. That would let you know where you're up to in the song.
As for what to play, a simplified melody line is good, you'd easily follow that reading music. Otherwise, you can follow the chord progression, playing scales or the notes of the chords. Guitar sheet music will give you both the chord progression and the melody line, but of course you'll have to transpose either the sheet music or your playing if you're using backing tracks. I like a website called Karaoke Version, there are free backing tracks, or you can pay a couple of dollars for others. Once you pay for a track, you can customise and download it as many times as you like, supposedly "for life". It allows you to adjust the volume of each instrument on the track (the instruments used vary according to the song), to mute the instruments you don't want, and most importantly, adjust the key. So if it suits, every song can be in Bb or Eb to make life easier, or just drop the key so that when you play, the track matches the sheet music so that you don't need to transpose what you're reading. Some backing tracks will have saxophone in them, having that play at a low volume in the mix would give you something to follow and might provide ideas for your own improvisation, very rarely will it be the main melody line.

Hopefully, a visit to Karaoke Version .com will help you to have better tracks to play along with.
The single, most important thing to remember is that this is supposed to be fun, you can't really do it wrong. :)
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
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@BigT hello and good to hear you getting on with sax. Like you, I've been able to read bass/treble clef since I was about 11 or 12. I learnt a bit of cello at school and then didn't touch an instrument for nearly 40 years.

Others on here are far more qualified than me (e.g. @jbtsax and others). I read music fluently, so have zero problems with notation. At the moment I don't 'play by ear' and I don't do improv. I prefer to play in ensembles such as wind bands and the sax ensemble which is made up of some members here that live reasonably nearby.

As others have said, I don't think that teacher is one that suits you. You probably have two requirements: you want a teacher to check out that your core technique is on the right path, and someone to help with working on backing tracks - that might be two different people.... My view - for what it's worth - would be tackle the first, the second will probably follow
 

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