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Beginner Musings of a wannabe sax player

Tasjii

Tasjii

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Dorchester, Dorset
My sax arrived a whole 3 weeks ago yesterday. I have had a whole hours lesson witb a tutor last week and have been practicing 30 to 45 minutes a day since getting my sax. Before I got my sax I was sure that by now I would have my timing down to a T and my fingers would be flying over those lovely brass and mother of pearl keys... and I would be starting to sound like Candy Dulfer. Of course things are never as easy as we imagine them to be. I have realised that playing the sax well is going to take time, thete are going to be ups and there are going to be downs. Before I went for my first lesson I was slurring every single note and I thought, wow this isn't too difficult. Then my teacher got me to tongue every note, and I feel that ever since things got unstuck. I am squeaking like a mouse, moving to the notes rather than hitting them straight off. So getting a bit frustrated, but sticking with it. I am hoping that as my embouchure improves the squeaks will go.

On a good note I am starting to get better at reading the music, from not being able to read music at all just 3 weeks ago to be able to look at written music and being able to play (well squeak and splutter) my way through the exercises is encouraging.

The important thing though is that I am enjoying myself. I am sure my dogs or hubby aren't that impressed but they haven't complained and neither have the neighbours. I guess that is a plus too :)
 
Jeanette

Jeanette

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That about sums up how it is for most. Two steps forward three steps back, just when you've got the hang of something there is something new to learn.

Just relax and enjoy the journey, sometimes I don't get to my sax for a few days but when I don't makes me smile.....

Jx
 
Tasjii

Tasjii

Member
Messages
99
Locality
Dorchester, Dorset
That about sums up how it is for most. Two steps forward three steps back, just when you've got the hang of something there is something new to learn.

Just relax and enjoy the journey, sometimes I don't get to my sax for a few days but when I don't makes me smile.....

Jx

Thanks, it is frustrating at times. Hoping that practice in the end will pay off.... it does get better right?

I am enjoying this new challenge I am determined to stick with it and master this Saxophone playing malarkey
 
nigeld

nigeld

Too many mouthpieces
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Among the few things that everybody seems to agree on in the musical world is that practice pays off. But don't expect the improvement to be linear - sometimes it goes fast, sometimes it goes slow, and sometimes it goes backwards. Learning to play an instrument is a joyful and frustrating experience.
 
richardr

richardr

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1,739
Practice is the way forward, but it doesn't necessarily produce the results one wants, at least not straightaway. Many times I've practised something over and over again and not got it, then found I'd learned to do something else that I couldn't do before. And whatever it was that I was practising would come good unexpectedly at a later stage.
 
Targa

Targa

Among the pigeons
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My sax arrived a whole 3 weeks ago yesterday. I have had a whole hours lesson witb a tutor last week and have been practicing 30 to 45 minutes a day since getting my sax. Before I got my sax I was sure that by now I would have my timing down to a T and my fingers would be flying over those lovely brass and mother of pearl keys... and I would be starting to sound like Candy Dulfer.

Thanks, it is frustrating at times. Hoping that practice in the end will pay off.... it does get better right?
I'm hoping it will, although after eight years I've still got more chance of looking like Miss Duffer than sounding like her.
 
Jazzaferri

Jazzaferri

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Welcome...keep in mind that practicing really slowly so one feels relaxed and the fingers seem to know where to go is in fact the fastest way to progress.
 
Tasjii

Tasjii

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99
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Dorchester, Dorset
Welcome...keep in mind that practicing really slowly so one feels relaxed and the fingers seem to know where to go is in fact the fastest way to progress.

Thanks, I will have to bear that in mind. I am trying to go slow and steady but I am not holding on to my long notes long enough and my short notes are too long, as I try to remember where my fingers are supposed to go next. Some of the key changes I am finding diffucult, while others seem to flow more. Guess this is all part and parcel of the learning process.

I'm hoping it will, although after eight years I've still got more chance of looking like Miss Duffer than sounding like her.

Better start growing my hair again then. At least I already have one thing in common with Miss Dulfer... I too was born in the Netherlands

Practice is the way forward, but it doesn't necessarily produce the results one wants, at least not straightaway. Many times I've practised something over and over again and not got it, then found I'd learned to do something else that I couldn't do before. And whatever it was that I was practising would come good unexpectedly at a later stage.

As long as I continue to enjoy learning to play this instrument and get better over a period of time then it will be worth the time and effort.

I keep having to remind myself not to try and run before I can crawl. At the moment I am doing the equivalent of bottom shuffling, so running is way out of my league at the moment.

Among the few things that everybody seems to agree on in the musical world is that practice pays off. But don't expect the improvement to be linear - sometimes it goes fast, sometimes it goes slow, and sometimes it goes backwards. Learning to play an instrument is a joyful and frustrating experience.

Similar to learning to ride a horse then, when learning I seem to remember falling off too many times to recall. The only way to learn was to get right back on and try again. In the end I got better and better, then as my confidence grew in leaps and bounds that darned horse would throw me again as I was getting to full of my abilities....
 
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garrobito

garrobito

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131
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Alameda, CA, USA
I'm on the same boat my friend.. 2 teacher classes, roughly 15 hs of practice..
1) I broke my first reed few days ago
2} yes, I know a couple fingering scales.. the sound is something totally different.. sometimes the high notes are spectacular, sometimes the low ones are perfect, mostly time I squawk and intonation is absolutely horrendous
3) I move from reed 2 to 2.5.. I got more control over my tonguing now and notes are clearly more clean.
4) Ta ta ta ta... da da da da... and long notes.. for hours..
5) Every time I saw a video from Chris Porter, I want to hang myself..
6) I suspect it's time to get a mouthpiece big slightly more open (Vandoren V16 V7) because.. man! I blow so much air!!
Anyway, nobody told me it's gonna be easy... Relax and enjoy the road..
A warming handshake from a beginner to another...
 
Tasjii

Tasjii

Member
Messages
99
Locality
Dorchester, Dorset
I'm on the same boat my friend.. 2 teacher classes, roughly 15 hs of practice..
1) I broke my first reed few days ago
2} yes, I know a couple fingering scales.. the sound is something totally different.. sometimes the high notes are spectacular, sometimes the low ones are perfect, mostly time I squawk and intonation is absolutely horrendous
3) I move from reed 2 to 2.5.. I got more control over my tonguing now and notes are clearly more clean.
4) Ta ta ta ta... da da da da... and long notes.. for hours..
5) Every time I saw a video from Chris Porter, I want to hang myself..
6) I suspect it's time to get a mouthpiece big slightly more open (Vandoren V16 V7) because.. man! I blow so much air!!
Anyway, nobody told me it's gonna be easy... Relax and enjoy the road..
A warming handshake from a beginner to another...

Hi there Garrobitto,

So pleased to hear that there are other wannabe sax players out there, going through the same issues as I am. Makes me feel a little less useless when I just can't get something.

I wonder if i am moving through my lessons too quickly. My teacher didn't set me any specific homework. He just told me to work through my book and we would see how far I got through it in two weeks. Like I said I have been practicing and in the last week I have gone through from lesson 3 (where we finished our lesson) to lesson 9 in the book. Tomorrow I am planning on going back a few lessons to work through them again as I think I might have missed something.

I too chipped a reed, somehow and then wondered whether I soaked it for too long was the cause. Ended up posting a picture of it and it turned out it was chipped.

Reed wise i started on a 1.5 and have now moved on to a 2. Wonder whether i should try a 2.5 or 3 strength reed. My teacher wants me to go to a stronger reed sooner rather than later. I might just pop into my local music shop and pick up some 2.5s if they have any in stock. Maybe then I will stop sounding like I strangled the cat and the mouse.
I am finding tonguing the reed very challenging, stopping the note is the easy part, starting the note strong straight off without having to move to it is somewhat beyond me at times. I am sure I will get there, although the way it is going now that might take another decade or so

Yep, I am practicing those long notes and I am trying to make sure I tongue every note, unless the lesson I am following tells me to slur... at least those parts sounds vaguely like they are supposed to.

Can you lend me some of your air? I dont think I have enough going through my mouthpiece. I am doing the breathing exercises everyday though so hopefully that will improve too.
 
garrobito

garrobito

Member
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131
Locality
Alameda, CA, USA
Hi there Garrobitto,

So pleased to hear that there are other wannabe sax players out there, going through the same issues as I am. Makes me feel a little less useless when I just can't get something.

I wonder if i am moving through my lessons too quickly. My teacher didn't set me any specific homework. He just told me to work through my book and we would see how far I got through it in two weeks. Like I said I have been practicing and in the last week I have gone through from lesson 3 (where we finished our lesson) to lesson 9 in the book. Tomorrow I am planning on going back a few lessons to work through them again as I think I might have missed something.

I too chipped a reed, somehow and then wondered whether I soaked it for too long was the cause. Ended up posting a picture of it and it turned out it was chipped.

Reed wise i started on a 1.5 and have now moved on to a 2. Wonder whether i should try a 2.5 or 3 strength reed. My teacher wants me to go to a stronger reed sooner rather than later. I might just pop into my local music shop and pick up some 2.5s if they have any in stock. Maybe then I will stop sounding like I strangled the cat and the mouse.
I am finding tonguing the reed very challenging, stopping the note is the easy part, starting the note strong straight off without having to move to it is somewhat beyond me at times. I am sure I will get there, although the way it is going now that might take another decade or so

Yep, I am practicing those long notes and I am trying to make sure I tongue every note, unless the lesson I am following tells me to slur... at least those parts sounds vaguely like they are supposed to.

Can you lend me some of your air? I dont think I have enough going through my mouthpiece. I am doing the breathing exercises everyday though so hopefully that will improve too.

I move from reed 2 to 2.5... I tried 3 (Vandoren ZZ jazz)... 2.5 give me more control over the notes, definitely a 3 is very hard for me.
Well.. my teacher is the same square than you.. we went through few lesson and show me something new and let me run alone... so now I'm on lesson 4 and a couple songs from "A new tune a day for tenor sax". Good book, it's nice play with a band.
I have 4 mouthpiece but mostly use a Vandoren Optimum 6. Thinking jump to Vandoren V16 7 or Meyer M5 because have a slightly bigger tip and baffle in order to control a little more my air.
I used to play a bari 30 years ago.. maybe for that I remember the respiration. As soon as you can, start exercise on circular breathing, you're gonna need it.
Yes, good to know we're not the only one with same problems... Keep in touch!
 
Alice

Alice

Psychedelic
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I move from reed 2 to 2.5... I tried 3 (Vandoren ZZ jazz)... 2.5 give me more control over the notes, definitely a 3 is very hard for me.
Well.. my teacher is the same square than you.. we went through few lesson and show me something new and let me run alone... so now I'm on lesson 4 and a couple songs from "A new tune a day for tenor sax". Good book, it's nice play with a band.
I have 4 mouthpiece but mostly use a Vandoren Optimum 6. Thinking jump to Vandoren V16 7 or Meyer M5 because have a slightly bigger tip and baffle in order to control a little more my air.
I used to play a bari 30 years ago.. maybe for that I remember the respiration. As soon as you can, start exercise on circular breathing, you're gonna need it.

Yes, good to know we're not the only one with same problems... Keep in touch!
Sorry.... but I think you're giving out quite a bit of misinformation here... no offence... but that isn't necessarily true at all about circular breathing.
There's a lot of information and discussion on here about breathing as well as reed strengths, makes and mouthpieces, so do have a search, you'll learn a lot, I know I am!
:) :sax:
 
Tasjii

Tasjii

Member
Messages
99
Locality
Dorchester, Dorset
Well.. my teacher is the same square than you.. we went through few lesson and show me something new and let me run alone... so now I'm on lesson 4 and a couple songs from "A new tune a day for tenor sax". Good book, it's nice play with a band.

I have the same book but for the Alto sax, I wish I could play the cd that comes with it, unfortunately it is completely knackered, scratched to bits. I got my book second hand but didn't check the state of the cd before buying it. Just assumed it would be in an ok condition. Guess I learned my lesson!

Yes, good to know we're not the only one with same problems... Keep in touch!

Will do, I am getting such wonderful and friendly feedback and encouragement from this site, it is keeping me motivated!
 
Tasjii

Tasjii

Member
Messages
99
Locality
Dorchester, Dorset
Sorry.... but I think you're giving out quite a bit of misinformation here... no offence... but that isn't necessarily true at all about circular breathing.
There's a lot of information and discussion on here about breathing as well as reed strengths, makes and mouthpieces, so do have a search, you'll learn a lot, I know I am!
:) :sax:

I am fully intending to do lots of research and will have a look at circular breathing as I have not really heard the term before.
 
Alice

Alice

Psychedelic
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Kent
I am fully intending to do lots of research and will have a look at circular breathing as I have not really heard the term before.
I don't think there's any need to... Kenny G is a circular breather. I was quoting Garrobito....which was my point.. I read his post and thought :eek:
 
Tasjii

Tasjii

Member
Messages
99
Locality
Dorchester, Dorset
I don't think there's any need to... Kenny G is a circular breather. I was quoting Garrobito....which was my point.. I read his post and thought :eek:

It got me curious about what circular breathing is... had a read about it on taming the saxophone. Sounds beyond what I need at the moment, though I had fun trying to do the water jet whilst breathing in through my nose in the shower before

And i am not about to start experimenting with mouthpieces just yet. I know i need to improve my technique before starting to play around with my set up.
 
garrobito

garrobito

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131
Locality
Alameda, CA, USA
Circular breathing is another technique. You can choose learning or not. Kenny G and a lot of saxophonist used it. I used on the past, coming from my kundalini yoga practice.
Suggest go online and check it. At least for me, I think it's a very useful technique and very easy to learn.
 
Alice

Alice

Psychedelic
Messages
5,585
Locality
Kent
Circular breathing is another technique. You can choose learning or not. Kenny G and a lot of saxophonist used it. I used on the past, coming from my kundalini yoga practice.
Suggest go online and check it. At least for me, I think it's a very useful technique and very easy to learn.
You said "as soon as you can, start exercising on circular breathing, you're gonna need it"
I just disagree with you on those points, that's all and my opinion is based on the evidence I've read and heard from experienced and professional people on this site. There's no need to rush into that, at all at this stage. A teacher would not think so :)
 
spike

spike

Old Indian
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Half way up a hill
“No piece of musical equipment (or Kenny G's circular breathing technique) will ever improve my playing as much as an hour of practice.”
Concentrate on yer scale and chord exercises. Learn to transcend your instrument. Long tones yes but not one tone for twenty minutes.
Kenny G and a lot of saxophonists used it.
And a lot more never did and didn't ever need to.
However if that's your recipe for success then go for it. ;)
 

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