OK..always the oddball may as well jump in and stir it up. I play the sopranino quite a lot...yea, yea, yea dog whistle jokes etc. However it's more like playing a brass instrument in that there is no way you can play in tune if you can't hear the pitch you're aiming for. You hear...you play. If you're a finger wiggler and can't hear the note you're about to play (people who are strictly readers?) then it's going to be tears trying to play a nino. How does this relate I hear you say? Well, it's also true for every other sax but to a lesser degree as you go to each lower pitch sax. Once you develop the "hear it play it" attitude you are always aware of where you pitch is and making adjustments to ensure you're in tune. Having your chops automatically adjust for each instrument that you're used to playing is where you want to be, but having that sopranino experience I think makes it all much easier as you never take for granted that blowing and hitting a specific key on a nino will = a specific pitch.
I've finally started playing with other musicians again and something has really stood out - my stamina is now much, much better than it's ever been! Playing R&B type stuff almost solidly for three hours at proper performance volume, after a practise session of an hour, left me still more than able to carry on. And the intonation was spot on, too. Anyone who's played rhythm & blues stuff will know how intensive the horn parts can be as they're usually all the way through the song.
There is one other thing I've changed over the last year - I no longer practise in the shed, which has also made a huge difference. The reason being, I don't have to deal with extreme temperatures anymore. I'm back to practising with a reasonably consistent room temperature and this has changed everything.
I've been able to go back to knowing where to put the 'piece on the neck without having to constantly refer to a tuner and concentrate on playing and micro intonation changes. It feels like the two years spent 'shedding' have been in many ways far more counter-productive than positive.
I have very little time to play/practice currently; almost none in fact. The three last times I pulled a horn out of its case, I have encountered some rather unpleasant surprises. (1) My Chinese bari just did not want to play. I really had issues with making the bell keys sound. The bell of...