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Relearning the Basics


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I started playing saxophone in middle school, about 3 years ago. I am at the top of my class, and can play comparatively well. But as my hearing has gotten better, I realized that my tone, intonation, etc. sure could use a LOT of improvement. I am dedicating my summer to saxophone practice, for I am very passionate about saxophone and want to sound good, but also because I want to make the top band as a sophomore. I have begun practicing a lot of mouthpiece exercises, overtones, etc. and have started including Sigurd Rascher's book, "Top Tones" in my practices. My question is, how should I structure my practice routine? I do not want to spend 3 months practicing the wrong way. What are some exercises, books, or recordings which you would suggest? Thanks!
Hi and welcome. Set yourself goals. Structure the practice around that, as you achieve something restructure to maintain what you've achieved and aim for something new. Tone/sound can be a never ending quest. Above all, don't lose the music in your goal for technical excellence.
So pick a challenging piece of music and work on improving tone and intonation around it? I absolutely love Tableaux de Provence by Paul Maurice and Fantasia by Claude T. Smith. Would those be good choices?

Thanks for the quick reply!
Yes that is great literature, but if you are focusing on tone quality choosing pieces that are more lyrical and less technically demanding may be more beneficial. One of the best things that you can do at this stage is to listen to great classical players you admire to get a "concept" of how you want to sound. A recording that I would recommend is Eugene Rousseau Meditation from Thais.
two things I will add.

Spend 30 minutes a day on long tones/overtones

practice scales and patterns really slowly , so that you consciously feel each finger moving into position and there is no garbage between the notes. While this may seem frustratingly slow at first, it greatly assists in developing clean speed through correct myelation of the sequence of motions associated with the sound. My biggest challenge for many years, was due to not knowing about really slow practice.

Every once in a while just let go and play whatever you are working on crazy fast once , not worrying about mistakes, just to get the feel of speed. Then back to slow. The
Absolutely agree with this. If you can't play it correctly slow, you will never play it correctly fast!! As an experienced trombonist, who has just started playing sax (2 months ago), I feel like I will never be able to get up to speed with fast sax fingerings, and I am concentrating on going slowly, and keeping the fingers just off the keys when I pick them up. Frustrating and slow, but in the long run (no pun intended) it is the only way to get it done.
Hi Razzmatazz and welcome to the cafe,

I agree with all the tips already given. Here are three useful books you also might want to check out. They've all been recommended by other members here over the last 9 months. All three books cover 'the basics' (and more) in detail and they include exercises that you can include in your practice routine, depending what you want to focus on. If nothing else, they provide good checklists for ticking off the things you're already happy with and focusing on the things you want to develop.

1. A Complete Approach to Sound for the Modern Saxophonist (Ben Britton)
2. Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound by David Liebman.
3. Playing the saxophone by Rob Buckland (buy download version at astute-music)

Hope this helps,

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