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Beginner Practice in a small room

Corona4007

Member
Messages
69
I practice in a small room with the door closed to reduce the impact on my partner and hopefully the neighbours and any passing hounds. However I find the sound is quite different to playing in a wider space and hope this is not going to be a problem in the years to come?

I have opened the door to throw the sound down the hallway and it is much better. I have to weigh this up with the things that occasionally get thrown back at me.

:)

David
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,937
I practice in a small room with the door closed to reduce the impact on my partner and hopefully the neighbours and any passing hounds. However I find the sound is quite different to playing in a wider space and hope this is not going to be a problem in the years to come?

I have opened the door to throw the sound down the hallway and it is much better. I have to weigh this up with the things that occasionally get thrown back at me.

:)

David

Think of your ears as well. I get about 115dB when I'm pushing it....
 

jeremyjuicewah

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,890
Particularly interested in this one. Used to live in the middle of nowhere, could practice at midnight when the wife was away. Now in a flat and my playing has deteriorated very noticeably. Small room, door shut. Got a bag for the alto but dont really like alto anymore. The bag works, but its awkward and doesnt get over the problem that playing with restraint is not a good thing. The tenor I play very softly. On the occasions when the works factory is empty I take the sax and blow and blow and I know that my home practice has made me short of breath and less able to play well. This thread has woken me up a bit, dont know the answer, unless it is indeed one of those Cyberman case things. I have to do something and I think you will have to also. I know the neighbours a bit better now so perhaps I should just go for it. I only practice now between 7 and 8 in the evening, maybe a half hour at 3 pm. Its not enough. My advice is pretty empty, just that you must think of something cos the situation you are in is harmful.
Best wishes
Mike
 

Corona4007

Member
Messages
69
hola Mike, Appreciate your reply and fully understand. My current theory is to open up and let it all go but at a time that should be ok for all, like when neighbors are mowing the lawns, kids are running up and down etc etc. At the end of the day I hope to woo them all with some melodic renditions that they actually enjoy?
We shall see.....>:)
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,566
At the end of the day.....

I wouldn't recommend the end of the day.... >:)

I am lucky enough to live in a detached house and can play whenever; but I would have thought that, provided your neighbours don't have new-born babies, or younger children with very early bedtimes, then anytime between 9am and 9pm is not unreasonable. Our quartet rehearsal go on to about 9.30pm on alternate Friday evenings, so far the neighbours haven't commented, let alone complained!
Obviously, if you have some young / ill neighbours, then maybe you'll need to talk with them to work out when is a good mutual time.

But you may need to make it clear that saxophone practice is a daily /twice daily event. It's not an ad hoc event.
Also, if you are an absolute beginner, you may be in a catch 22 situation, where you need to practice more to improve and sound tuneful, but what you are currently practicing just might grate on the neighbours a bit. :shocked:

I hope you can sort something out.
 

What

Member
Messages
314
My situation is similar to yours where my time and practice space is very limited. What I have done is found local parks for practice, usually if you can go during a weekday towards the middle of the day, missing the before and after work dog walkers, there will be less people there so you can practice in relative peace. Other then that its really up to knowing you neighbors and what they might tolerate for a practice time to avoid a battle where your sax might have to be used as a blunt instrument.
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,055
In the summer edition of the CASS magazine, John Playfair came up with a novel way of muting a clarinet that should work for saxophone too. It requires a separate mouthpiece with a hole drilled in the side. His best results were obtained with a hole 0.5mm in diameter, 3.15 cm down from the tip and about 3.5mm above the top of the ligature, depending exactly where this is placed.

With this arrangement, playing as if a normal mezzo forte gives a solid pianissimo. The secret seems to be not to try and play softly.

Experiment anyone?

Jim.
 

Mack

Senior Member
Messages
527
Do you have to play loud to play well? I note what people say about breath control being improved by playing forcefully, but doesn't it depend on what kind of music you want to play? I guess the sound I am moving towards is that Lee Konitz kind - quite breathy, smooth but grainy - if that makes sense! I have found deliberately trying to play as quietly as possible leads to a more subtone filled sound which I really like. Of course I open up sometimes but it is not my usual way of playing. Dynamics are important. And yes I am a small room player.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,561
Easy solution. Go busking. Simples
 

jrintaha

Senior Member
Messages
283
I bought the Vibes Sax Partner VTS-II for Tenor. With the shipping and taxes it was almost 400 euros, but worth every penny. It's at least quadrupled the time I can practice. I think the VTS-II must silence the sound more effectively than the E-Sax, because unlike some reviews I've read, I have no reserves about playing at night - it really silences the instrument to the level of a regular conversation. No way the neighbors could hear it - and they haven't. It's not without its problems, as the low Bb is simply not possible to sound, and the low B and C are shaky, and everything overblows very easily. Can hit several altissimo notes I cannot hit without the mute case though.

We have two small children (aged 1 and 2½), so I hardly have any time to do anything during the day. When I do have time during the day, it's because the 1-year-old is having a nap, thus negating the chance to play. I used to go outside to practice, entertain the joggers in the woods for a bit, but it's getting too cold and rainy for that.

I play without the mute every now and then, and at least the family upstairs said it's audible, but not loud enough to be bothersome, but I'm very self-conscious about making noise, and feel like I don't want to try their patience, even if they say it's OK. (The man used to play the trumpet, so I guess there's a bit of noise karma stacked up against him! :))

This is what I've done.

If you're interested, I can try recording some audio clips with the mute.
 

flukeyluke

Member
Messages
175
I bought a le bale sax mute that works pritty well but HATE using it as it changes the tone alot,i just play during the day for no longer than 3hrs between 11am and 5pm without the mute.
 

jrintaha

Senior Member
Messages
283
I bought a le bale sax mute that works pritty well but HATE using it as it changes the tone alot,i just play during the day for no longer than 3hrs between 11am and 5pm without the mute.

I've also got a Magilanck Sax Mute, and it looks exactly like the Lebayle mute. I haven't used it ever since I got the Sax Partner, because the Magilanck, simply put, makes the sax play and sound bad, and it doesn't come even close to the Sax Partner in its silencing capabilities. It also makes for difficult low notes on the tenor, although not to the same degree as the Sax Partner. I think the worst thing about the Magilanck is that the foam that goes into the mouthpiece gathers a lot of moisture almost immediately, and makes a loud, wet hiss all the time. Still, it was better than not playing at all.
 

Corona4007

Member
Messages
69
Cheers. I have adopted a play at the reasonable times approach and so far no problems. my current theory is that as I get better my neighbors may want to hear it???here's hoping. :w00t:
 

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
My local council say that during normal working hours of the day, so long as you do not exceed 120dcbs, then you are at liberty to make your noise
 

RMorgan

Member
Messages
110
Just adding a very curious fact here.

The Bossa Nova very soft singing and playing style is a consequence of playing in a restricted space and trying to be friendly with the neighbors.

João Gilberto and his friends used to play and compose at night, in his apartment. They couldn´t make much noise, so they had to adapt, talking, playing and singing very softly.

This is how the Bossa Nova was born. :)

If they were practicing in a remote place like a farm, where they could make as much noise as they wanted, the Bossa Nova would be a completely different thing.

Raf.
 
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tengu01

Member
Messages
725
Do you have to play loud to play well? I note what people say about breath control being improved by playing forcefully, but doesn't it depend on what kind of music you want to play? I guess the sound I am moving towards is that Lee Konitz kind - quite breathy, smooth but grainy - if that makes sense! I have found deliberately trying to play as quietly as possible leads to a more subtone filled sound which I really like. Of course I open up sometimes but it is not my usual way of playing. Dynamics are important. And yes I am a small room player.

Hi all,

It seems as if many people have got the practical solutions to a small room covered, but this particular entry, I wanted to respond to because it touches on something I have experienced. When I started playing the sax, I used to play at a respectable volume in my bedroom, not troubling the neighbours and definitely not trying to blow out the windows. I used to think that my sound was good enough.

Then I started playing in a band where the rhythm section would all race to see who could be first to hit 11 on the volume scale. In order to keep up, I had to start playing really loudly. I found my embouchure would tire really, really quickly, but it eventually got stronger and better able to keep up.

When I took up the tenor, at first, there was more bedroom playing, but I didn't have to try so hard to keep up with the band. I left that band and went back to being a bedroom player for a while. Then at a particular point, I started busking. And there is quite a difference in how it sounds with your bedroom wall to reflect your sound back to you than when you have an open space to fill with good sound.

The point of both these stories is the curious side-effect of having to play loud. I found that my control of notes was dramatically improved, as was the quality of my tone, perhaps through having to use more air, develop a stronger embouchure, project the sound further and trying to persuade the audience to part with their cash in exchange for my musical offerings.

I don't believe you need to play loud to play well, but practicing with a variety of dynamics (including sustained and LOUD) is really good for your sound.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Subscriber
Messages
6,046
Won't work for all....

Some churches, church and village halls have rooms which you can use and you might be able to come to an arrangement with them. The chamber orchestra I go to on a Friday night uses the small room in the village hall (about 20 x 30 ft) for free and also a parish hall room which is smaller about 15 x 20. It's down to local contacts and people wanting their facilities to be used. Free is lucky...
 
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