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My warm up routine has become a little dull, and I'm looking for suggestions.

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
I need to spice up my warm up routine and ‘technical’ workout, scales, arpeggios etc. I’ve realised I’m going through the motions instead of focusing in on the purpose of the exercises. I could just refocus myself but I know that’s only a short term solution, I need to spice it up or at least change what I do so that it’s different.

My current regime:

1. Long tones from middle A to low Bb holding each note for ten beats at 66bpm.
2. Then I work through my arpeggios at 112 bpm
3. Then a bit of work on the higher octave and similarly on the lower.
4. A warm up exercise James Galway developed for the flute that I’ve adopted for the sax and extended lower to incorporate to the low Bb.
5. Overtones exercise - Low C# to Low Bb.
6. Vibrato exercise.

Exercises 1, 2, 3, 5 & 6 taken from “Creative Saxophone Work Book”

7. Chromatic runs D-D and E-E - two octaves starting at 144bpm and edging up to 176bmp both tongued and untongued.
8. Major scales at 136bpm (umm should really be doing the minors as well but umm, well, umm…)

Depending on time I either do:

The major scales in diatonic thirds and diatonic thirds in inversion or Pete’s Ex 1-01. I then tend to go though the pieces I’m working on in my lessons, this will be broken up with an intonation exercise from David Beecroft’s book “Perfecting Intonation.” This really helps calm the mind after getting my fingers in a twist with any of the pieces because it’s about nothing other than focusing in on the intonation and tone.

There we have it, but I’m not getting the most out of it because I’ve been doing the same for a long time now and need to change or spice it up for get me focused again.

So, as I’m about to rework this over the next few days, I was wondering what you do to warm up and what exercises you find helpful or if there are any good books that you’d recommend.

I know there are glaring holes in my routine, no improvisation for example, a distinct lack of minor scales, blues scales, flexibility and speed developing exercises but it feels like there is too little time to fit it all in. Maybe rather than do the same thing day in day out I need to work out two, three or maybe more different routines and rotate through them.

Best wishes,

Chris
 

Nick Cook

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862
Location
Wokingham, Berks, UK
Blimey!!!! I do a few scales from the grade I'm practising, then straight into tunes (perhaps that's why i'm crap!!!)

I ought to borrow your routine and try to do something like that!

I wouldn't have time to do all that stuff in one go - perhaps you could do different exercises on different days, and spend a bit more time on your pieces.

(But I'm sure someone with more talent than me will come up with a better solution!)
 
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Chris98

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
Blimey!!!! I do a few scales from the grade I'm practising, then straight into tunes (perhaps that's why i'm crap!!!)
Umm, Nick, you know, passing your Grade 3 Jazz with merit would suggest you're anything but crap. I did one grade and I am still running away from the idea of doing another, you've done 3!

I ought to borrow your routine and try to do something like that!

I wouldn't have time to do all that stuff in one go - perhaps you could do different exercises on different days, and spend a bit more time on your pieces.

(But I'm sure someone with more talent than me will come up with a better solution!)
It sounds like a lot, but actually it probably only takes 10 mins out of my hour's practice, maybe more if I get sidetracked or am easily distracted that day. I seem to encounter communications black outs between my ears, eyes, brain and fingers (I've yet to work out where exactly the scrambling takes place) So I have to ensure I regularly do scales and exercises otherwise it shows, a bit like the minor scales, where'd they go?

It is tricky though, the temptation is to do a few half-hearted long tones and then crack on with the tunes but if I do that for a week other aspects of my playing begin to suffer. So for me at least some foundation building and shoring up of what's already precariously in place is needed regularly.

All the best,

Chris
 

Mamos

Member
Messages
691
Location
Falmouth Cornwall
I need to do something like this

As you say, you end up practising scales until you get to a difficult one then you either go back to some easier ones, playing a tune or just noodling away and not really achieving anything.

Good work though and as you are fed up with your routine I might steal it

mamos
 

JasonC

Member
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218
Location
Swadlincote, Derbyshire
I've only been attempting to play for about 4 months now so my practice routines haven't matured yet.

But what I do most days is practice all of the Major and minor scales that I know (currently 8 major and 5 minor), plus the arpeggios and practice them at different speeds with quavers and semi quavers, from the top downwards and the bottom upwards and pick ones at random so I'm not doing everything in the same order. I practice these for at least 30 - 40 mins.

Then I move onto long tones. By this time I have warmed up and can then concentrate on the tonal quality, if I do long tones first I find that they only start to sound better after 10-15 mins after warming up so I have wasted my time on the first few notes. I practice long tones for about 20-30 mins.

I then move onto sight reading. I pick songs at random out of the books I have and try my best to get through them, then once I start to get the hang of the song I move onto another which makes me think again. I try and push myself onto more difficult songs each week to make me improve.

I do all of the above and spend about 2 hours practising in total, after that I start to tire and sound terrible! not that I sounded great in the first place :)

If I'm not feeling in the mood for all the scales etc one day, I just get play along book out and have some fun recording. I normally pick songs which are pretty easy so I don't get frustrated when playing through and getting all the notes wrong! this also helps me put a bit more soul into the song as I'm not having to concentrate on the notes all the time.

The above may not help you much Chris as your regime sounds good anyway, but maybe you could pick something out of each persons routine and make a new one up for yourself. You sound great by the way from the clips I've heard of you so what ever you are doing you are doing it very well!

Jason
 

Clivey

Senior Member
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Edinburgh/Hot Rock off African Coast
LOL. that practice routine was me to a T about 29 years ago. You are right you WILL be tired after that lot..Thats where attending a full time college course would have came in handy. but 2 hours every evening + rehearsals and gigs after a hard 9 hour working day in the construction trade left me no where to go next

I got sick of my routine and used to just try and get it over with. You have to re-think where you want to go with your music. If that means performing then the more the better.It certainly beats practicing.
 

half diminished

Senior Member
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1,361
Location
Buckinghamshire
Wow Chris, that's pretty impressive. I'd say 80% of my practice is 'by ear' and increasingly these days is based upon the use of scales, modes, triads, 7th and 9th chords, chromatic embellishment, the use of three, four and five note cells - so mostly improvisation/ornamentation stuff.

Of course, I do some long tone exercises and practice a few tunes as well. Site reading has suffered a bit, not that it was that good anyway.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
696
Your practice routine sounds interesting, and it has given me one or two ideas.

My own daily practice usually lasts about three hours. I start with long tones for about 15 minutes, and then schromatic scale repeated several times across the entire range of the instrument.

Then I spend about an hour on the Baermann Foundation Studies (arr .David Hite). I do one major scale a day, plus its melodic and harmonic minors. Up to two sharps and flats I do intervals up to octaves. Above that I stop at fifths. For six and seven sharps and flats I only do the scales.

Next I do about one hour using the Melodious and Progressive Studies, also arr. D. Hite. Mainly I work on the Demnitz studies, but also Nocentini, Baermann and Gambaro.

The remainder of my time goes on things like Nilo Hovey’s Practical Pieces for Saxophone and things like Suburban Sunday.

I have now done this routine for over a year, and I am starting to make some changes. These are based mainly on Paul Deville’s Universal Method. None of this sounds very interesting, but I can’t think of a more efficient way to pick the required skills.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
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Skabertawe, South Wales
I can see why you feel like a change! A useful exercise I found was to spend some time improvising on one or two scales - perhaps with some accompaniment of some sort - I have a cheap Yamaha keyboard that has drum beats/different backing sounds where you set the tempo - so maybe a slow blues with a blues scale/pentatonic scale or some other beat to improvise over. Useful as you can accomplish quite a lot in a 5-10 minute improvisation and commit stuff to "muscle memory". My warm up sessions have got shorter and shorter and I focus more intently on stuff in hand - currently focusing on harmonic minor scales for trombone exams. Many seasoned professionals who write books seem to emphasise shorter practice times - often about 15 minutes tops.

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
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3,626
Location
Rugby UK
Wow, I wish I had your dedication and will power! My warm up consists of wetting my reed, followed by playing along to backing tracks for a couple of hours! (And I don't do it nearly often enough either!)
 
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Chris98

Chris98

Senior Member
Messages
1,076
I need to do something like this…
…Good work though and as you are fed up with your routine I might steal it
mamos
Hi Mamos, it’s all yours, enjoy!!


Then I move onto long tones. By this time I have warmed up and can then concentrate on the tonal quality, if I do long tones first I find that they only start to sound better after 10-15 mins after warming up so I have wasted my time on the first few notes. I practice long tones for about 20-30 mins.
Hi Jason, I know what you mean, the first few notes are always a bit iffy! The long tones I do at the beginning really just warm up the sax and I’m usually adjusting the strap height, embouchure and so on so it's far from perfect. But because I’m doing the David Beecroft improvisation exercises which are sort of longtone exercises I’m not too bothered if the first lot are a bit iffy.

I occasionally do an exercise suggested by Phil Barron over on SOTW:

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?53228-Tone-Production


LOL. that practice routine was me to a T about 29 years ago... I got sick of my routine and used to just try and get it over with. You have to re-think where you want to go with your music. If that means performing then the more the better.It certainly beats practicing.
Hi Clivey, the big question! Where to go… I’ve been avoiding questions like that for a long time!

Wow Chris, that's pretty impressive. I'd say 80% of my practice is 'by ear' and increasingly these days is based upon the use of scales, modes, triads, 7th and 9th chords, chromatic embellishment, the use of three, four and five note cells - so mostly improvisation/ornamentation stuff.
Hi Ian, I came to a realization yesterday after reading your post and seeing again the Kirk Whalum video posted by Flipp, I may have been doing my diatonic thirds but I was reading them off the page not internalizing them, I don't’t know them at all! So that’s going to be part of the new routine, to know and internalize some of these scale patterns.

Hi Beckmesser
, Thanks, you’ve given me a lot of material to look up, I’ve not heard of any of the study books you use and I’m intrigued and want to have a look at them. If you were to recommend just one, which would it be?

I can see why you feel like a change! A useful exercise I found was to spend some time improvising on one or two scales - perhaps with some accompaniment of some sort - I have a cheap Yamaha keyboard that has drum beats/different backing sounds where you set the tempo - so maybe a slow blues with a blues scale/pentatonic scale or some other beat to improvise over. Useful as you can accomplish quite a lot in a 5-10 minute improvisation and commit stuff to "muscle memory".
Hi Tom, I do need to bring some regular improvisation into my warm up and practice session, and what you suggest sounds good. I had an improvised solo to do in band practice on Tuesday evening, can’t remember a single note I played and I went over my allotted number of bars rather embarrassingly :blush:

Anyway, had I been doing some regular improvisation practice I might have avoided doing as good impression of a rabbit caught in the headlights
.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and comments,


Best wishes,


Chris
 

Pete C

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Location
Exeter
The more things you practise and the more you know the more impossible it becomes to have a regular fixed practise routine. I suggest you divide your practise into broad areas and do something from each every day or have a routine for cycling through them in the course of the week. Areas might be: sound & pitching, scales & arpeggios, licks & patterns, ear training & transcription, reading, improvising, learning repertoire. I always try to have something new I am trying to get perfect and up to speed which I will practise every day and then I practise stuff I know really well only occasionally. By learning repertoire, I mean memorising tunes and the chord sequence to the stage where you can play the head and improvise through the changes without any accompaniment. This is hard at first but if you perservere you will find that your musical memory really takes off. The great majority of my practise time which is 2-3 hours each day, is spent without looking at any music. Pete
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
696
Chris

Volume 1 of Melodious and Progressive Studies is worth looking at. It has 62 pages of studies, mainly by Demnitz, Nocentini and Baermann. The studies vary quite a bit in difficulty, and I think this book will keep me occupied for at least another year. By the way, I am only interested in classical music. The book cost US$13.50, plus postage from the US.
 
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Chris98

Chris98

Senior Member
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1,076
The more things you practise and the more you know the more impossible it becomes to have a regular fixed practise routine. I suggest you divide your practise into broad areas and do something from each every day or have a routine for cycling through them in the course of the week...
Hi Pete, I'd love to be able to do 2-3 hours practice a day, I might get close to that on some weekends but alas during the week an hour to an hour and a half is my usual limit. You're right about the impossible nature of fitting all that I feel I would like to and should do into a daily routine, I think it's best as you advise to split up the various elements though out the week.

I've done very little memorising of tunes which I'm beginning to realise is something I should put some real effort into.

Chris

Volume 1 of Melodious and Progressive Studies is worth looking at. It has 62 pages of studies, mainly by Demnitz, Nocentini and Baermann...
Thanks Beckmesser, I'll see if I can find a copy in the UK. Although most of my practice and music has been jazz, blues and pop orientated I think branching out into other genres is good for the soul, so I'm actually quite keen to have a go at some classical material.

Best wishes,

Chris
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
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manchester
Hi chris

A little word from the unwise perhaps...The most important part in doing anything is the bit between the ears, an athlete has a race won before he ever leaves the starting blocks because it's all about his or her (better not leave the ladies out)mental attitude.

I think you should always start by remembering why you do this and that must be to get enjoyment from it, and I think that basically we all want to play tunes well

Having a routine must be a good thing to a certain extent but I think it is more important to get enjoyment from every thing you do in that routine.
but when you start bashing out the same thing day in day out it can only become dull and in truth when that happens I honestly don't think you get a lot of benefit from it

I think if you start now trying to add to it to make it more interesting you are in fact compounding the problem you have just got a bigger duller routine.
If you decided to get yourself fit I doubt that any doctor or trainer would say get down that gym every night and hammer in to it,I think in fact he would say every other night or perhaps three times a week,let your body recover.

I believe the same thing applies, but on a mental level in music training ,and I have also heard that you can achieve more in the first 15 mins when your mind is fresh than all the rest of the time you spend practising

I see no reason why you shouldn't alternate daily playing, one day concentrating on learning pieces and another technical practice perhaps sometimes doing a little warm up and practising pieces to get you in the mood and then break into some practising and back to pieces

the most important thing to keep practised is the mind

Well that's my two penneth and I hope you get something out of it

enjoyment brings it's own reward perhaps...john
 

Nick Cook

Member
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862
Location
Wokingham, Berks, UK
Hear, Hear!!! :welldone

Hi chris

A little word from the unwise perhaps...The most important part in doing anything is the bit between the ears, an athlete has a race won before he ever leaves the starting blocks because it's all about his or her (better not leave the ladies out)mental attitude.

I think you should always start by remembering why you do this and that must be to get enjoyment from it, and I think that basically we all want to play tunes well

Having a routine must be a good thing to a certain extent but I think it is more important to get enjoyment from every thing you do in that routine.
but when you start bashing out the same thing day in day out it can only become dull and in truth when that happens I honestly don't think you get a lot of benefit from it

I think if you start now trying to add to it to make it more interesting you are in fact compounding the problem you have just got a bigger duller routine.
If you decided to get yourself fit I doubt that any doctor or trainer would say get down that gym every night and hammer in to it,I think in fact he would say every other night or perhaps three times a week,let your body recover.

I believe the same thing applies, but on a mental level in music training ,and I have also heard that you can achieve more in the first 15 mins when your mind is fresh than all the rest of the time you spend practising

I see no reason why you shouldn't alternate daily playing, one day concentrating on learning pieces and another technical practice perhaps sometimes doing a little warm up and practising pieces to get you in the mood and then break into some practising and back to pieces

the most important thing to keep practised is the mind

Well that's my two penneth and I hope you get something out of it

enjoyment brings it's own reward perhaps...john
 

kevgermany

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Maybe I need more structure. I play a couple of scales to check I'm getting the notes. Usually have a problem below F, so do a bit of work getting to the bottom of the range. Then when that's OK, I get on with the exercises I'm working on from the teacher. Once I feel I've made reasonable progress on these, I go on to whatever I fancy - other tunes. Keeps up the variety and stops me from getting bored. I also set myself challenges. At the moment it's new scales. And I need to get higher notes sorted - Once I get as high as the left palm keys, it gets shaky - need to strengthen these and get higher, so that's on the agenda now, cos there are pieces I want to play that need them. Also need to do proper long tones...

Usually I run out of time before I get bored. But I wrap up with going over the set exercises again.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
696
The comments on this thread have prompted me to make some changes to my practice routine. My break-up more or less still is first hour long tones, scales and intervals, second hour studies, third hour pieces (i.e. mainly studies I can play fluently). Itry to have a break after the second hour. The main change is that I have put aside the Foundation Studies for the time being, and I am spending much more time on Paul Deville's Universal Method. I don't expect any improvements out of the normal, but a change is as good as a holiday.
 

Linky Lee

Member
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182
Location
Salisbury, UK
I came up with a routine I intended to use for a while but I've found it hard to have the self discipline required to stick to it in a week that doesn't have much the same routine from one week to the next. This means if and when I manage to get a 'practise' session in they tend to be quite short (between 15 and 40 minutes) and sporadically placed throughout the week, often I'll manage only 1.

Because of that I can't really focus on too many different aspects and I think I work better this way. When I practise something, I will either not manage to engage myself and move on to something else or I will immerse myself in what I'm doing and be highly focussed.
To break that focus after 5 or 10 minutes and move on to something else seems silly.

My idea then is to pick an area to work on for each day in small sessions, say 30 mins on average. If you are disciplined enough to find more time to practise then by all means do another 30 minute session but have a break between them. It only needs to be 10 minutes or so. Have a cup of tea and reflect upon what you've just done.

The sessions could be for example:
Day 1: Tone & Articulation
Day 2: Scales and Arpeggios
Day 3: Sight reading & rhythmic work
Day 4: Improvisation
Day 5: Memorising tunes and their chord progressions

This could be on a rotation with a second session in each day being working on tunes you are learning for your lessons/studies etc.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
696
One thing all the guides to practicing stress is the need for a daily diet (ideally) of long tones. The rest I suppose is to some extent a matter of choice. I believe in doing scales and intervals every day. This to me these two are some kind of minimum. Several contributors have stressed that one has to like what one is doing. That is true enough, but at some stage one has to do the hard yards.

The only exception to this applies if your aim is to play the saxophone in a heavy metal group. The bass guitarists will make sure that no-one hears you, and you can therefore concentrate on how you look on stage.
 
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