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Beginner Scales - I'm going in.

Little My

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I know some of my scales very well, some quite well and many not at all (or in my head but not under my fingers and in my ears). I'm shaking up my practice routine (frequency and content) so that scales become something I do a bit of every day once again rather than irregular, doomed blitzes.

I'm working from Aebersold Vol 21 Gettin' It Together which at the moment has me moving chromatically though scales and scale patterns for the major scales, 4 bars for each scale. It has about 40 exercises to do for the first track, which will keep me going for some time. When I get to something I can't do, I slow down and keep working on it. I need to find my metronome too to work on tempo, my daughter's put it somewhere. I also have Vol 24 Major & Minor, but seem to be better with Vol 21 at the moment.

So I'm posting to make the commitment to doing this and will update here as I go along. Today's challenge has been playing in this pattern- 1 3 2 4 3 5 4 6 5 7 6 8 7 9 8. For some of the scales - C major and most of the sharp key signature ones, they fly off my fingers, over two octaves and up and down. For the flat key signatures it's much more of a struggle. So that's what I'll be working on tomorrow, starting with F major.
 
That is a great goal you've set. Every time I have done something like this I have discovered that it helped not just my fingers, but my ear as well.
I've noticed that, too (at a much lower level, I daresay). Another good resource for that sort of thing is Coker's "Patterns for Jazz". Put the metronome on 2 and 4 (these days I always use a software metronome I downloaded free from somewhere, as i can turn it up nice and loud) and it will help your sense of time, too.
 
For straight scale patterns I start with key of C then Db and jump right into B. I then do Eb, E F#, G and Ab. I find that keys of D and A and Bb generally are not needed after doing the harder keys. However, if the pattern includes any chromatic notes then I think you have to wade into all 12 keys.
I find chromatic patterns the hardest- for example take any 3 notes E,F G and play them chomatically E,F G and then F Gb Ab then F# G A etc. Also chromatic intervals of 2nds 3rds, 4th can be very difficult. There are just too many possibilities to practise.

Another good idea is pick a starting note say A and play one octave up and down, and then start again adding 1 sharp, then 2 sharps etc until you go through all 12 keys. It's more difficult than it sounds....

cheers - Rob
 
These are all great ideas, thank you all for the support and help. I actually have the Coker book and Aebersold Vol 21 lists which tracks can be used with which patterns, so that's a double win. I know that it will take months, if not years to cover everything that I'd like to, but everyone has to start somewhere, right?
 
yes, you are absolutely right. Start with scales and easier patterns, and work your way from there. Take your time, there is no hurry at all. Eventually some fragments of these patterns will become so engrained in your finger memory, and ear memory, that they will come out in your playing.

You can measure your progress by looking back to where you were a year or 2 years ago. That's how I measure my progress, when I feel like I'm not getting anywhere!

cheers = Rob
 
I'm doing ok with this :) It's much easier doing it with the mindset of playing some scales and patterns every day than that of trying to learn All The Scales, which unsurprisingly results in failure. I'm working with the Aebersold and also "Patterns for Jazz" and a metronome, as suggested by BigMartin upthread (thank you!) It's finally all starting to slot into place. I've been doing some blues scales work, and that's making sense too. I'm going to have a go at the Doxy IOTM, although learning how to record might be a whole 'nother challenge. I've ordered Pete's Tone without Tears book and look forward to playing every day now.
 
Still doing ok :) It is so satisfying being able to crank the metronome up a few clicks as I progress. I've added in some overtone work and long tones from Pete's Tone Taming book, it's great timing with a new mouthpiece to get my chops around. After a few goes at the long tones I took my sax to my local tech (Ray Colomb) as something wasn't feeling quite right on low D and below. I think he adjusted the height of a couple of keys, the low notes are so much better now.
 
I use the Foundation Studies after Baermann edited by David Hite for scale practice. This is not necessarily the most interesting book, but it serves the purpose. This morning, for example, I spent an hour or so on Ab major and F minor (melodic and harmonic), as well as chromatic. It is great to have thread that talks about the importance of mastering scales.
 
Thank you :) I shall look out for that book.

I am on a mission to improve, after spending far too long conforming to my school clarinet teacher's remark that some people will just never be brilliant. Perhaps not, but there's no reason why I can't be better.
 
Thank you :) I shall look out for that book.

I am on a mission to improve, after spending far too long conforming to my school clarinet teacher's remark that some people will just never be brilliant. Perhaps not, but there's no reason why I can't be better.
Don't you just hate it when teachers do that? They do it to mask their own feelings of inadequacy. The first time a teacher says something like that to a student, they should be suspended without pay for a week. If they do it again they should be sacked. How much more discouraging can you be? Ugh!

The point (as you've clearly seen already) is to do something a bit better every day. and see how far that takes you. For almost all of us (except the most confident/arrogant), it's a lot further than you think.
 
Absolutely, thank you. It was over 30 years ago, and I was promptly "adopted" by the peripatetic brass teacher, who asked me to play in the youth jazz orchestra he was setting up. I still remember the feeling of amazement/terror/excitement when I arrived at the first rehearsal and realising that I was the only clarinet player (and that the omnipresent grade 8 prodigy against whom all others were measured and found lacking hadn't been asked >:) ). Anyway, he was the making of me, as was his tenor-sax playing wife. Years on I switched to tenor sax, finally (and easily) got the dreaded grade 5 theory and a grade 6 practical just to get my practice habits back. Then my teacher said she couldn't teach me what I wanted to learn, so referred me on to something of a veteran gigging player, who was great. I've moved around a lot since then, had breaks in my playing, and lost some confidence but am determined not to drop the ball this time.

as you say, a little better every day will take me a long way.
 
Today's practice was brought to me by the note A. A major and minor over the whole range of the sax plus triads and 6s, Blues scale and whole tone scales on A. Followed by impro on A from Blues in All Keys and a pass through Autumn Leaves from Maiden Voyage (mainly in A minor). The more I do this the more I realise that concentrating on just one scale a day would not be under-ambitious. I'm starting to see definite improvements in both tone and technique.
 
Today's practice was brought to me by the note A. A major and minor over the whole range of the sax plus triads and 6s, Blues scale and whole tone scales on A. Followed by impro on A from Blues in All Keys and a pass through Autumn Leaves from Maiden Voyage (mainly in A minor). The more I do this the more I realise that concentrating on just one scale a day would not be under-ambitious. I'm starting to see definite improvements in both tone and technique.

Yes to this; one scale a day and one key a week. Scales, chords, and their inversions...
 
Still doing this :) It feels good to be conquering my scale fears. Today I broke out Aebersold Vol 24 and finally got the hang of using it. Scales, arpeggios, sixths, sevenths, up and down, down and up, impro with just the scale, related minors.... I've had a dabble at whole tone scales and love gtriever's suggestion above of a scale a day and a key a week. I'm not running out of air on the Aebersold vol 21 repeats any more, which is very welcome too.
 
I thought this thread could do with a bump as there are lots of good ideas here to share. Here's one I recommend.

Many advise taking a phrase or short melody and transposing it in your head and playing it in all keys. It is good for ear training and transposing skills, complimenting sight transposing.

A fun way to do this is to play a simple version of Bach Goes to Town, kicking off each repeat on the last note of the melody (which is a fifth below the first note) taking it up an octave when necessary. That way you go around the cycle of fourths. You may well find that the fingering of some of the 'easy' keys trip you up, and the fingering of some of the 'difficult' keys is easier.... which adds to the fun.

When you can go right round without missing a beat and sounding equally musical in each key, you could then establish a more sophisticated version of the melody, and do the same again.

A further idea is to improvise variations of the same length but still starting on tonic and ending on fourth.

It's a good way of brightening up your practice sessions. The more a thing is fun, the more quickly you learn...
 
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When all the necessary practice is done and there's nothing needs preparing, I like to chase Amazing Grace and When the Saints across the saxophone, moving up in whole tones till you get back to where you started. It never ceases to amaze me how much easier Db is than C#. Easier being a relative term lol
 

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