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  #26  
Old 10-07-2012, 01:10 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

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Originally Posted by chunksmediocrites View Post
Now that you mention it, there wasn't a lot of real good saxophone-specific advice in there. Good catch!
Isn't there some old saying "No advice is good advice"? Unless you actually know something about the topic.
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  #27  
Old 10-07-2012, 03:50 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

Cep, I actually do play the sax. Not so much these days, but I still own a tenor and at various times across my vast life span I have played it quite a bit. My rules for learning the sax:

Rule 1. Practice every day.

Rule 2. Find someone fairly soon to take some basic lessons with. Contrary to much of what others have said here, there really is only one way to hold a saxophone, so unlike the piano or guitar, it is unlikely you will pick up a load of "bad habits" difficult to undo later. However, not a bad idea to sit down with someone that can give you some basic introductory info, and get into your hands some practical advice & practice books and scales. Find someone you are comfortable with too; don't waste your time taking lessons with an arrogant asshole.

Rule 3. Practice every day.

Rule 4. Learn how to read music, if you do not know how to do so already. Even if your eventual goal is improvisation, being able to read melody lines and scales is an important skill that you can't do if you can't read music. Learning how to read music also requires you to learn how to count the beat, another crucial ability whether you want to jam or sight-read.

Rule 5. Practice every day.

Rule 6. There is no Rule 6.

Rule 7. Once you get the basics down on your horn (which if you practice every day should be in just a few months, maybe even sooner if you discover you have some natural ability at it), find a bunch of local musicians that are forming an orchestra or marching band and start playing with them. Other musicians are great source of knowledge and playing with other people is essential; unless you only plan to be a subway/street-corner hand-pandler guy, you need to learn how to play with other people. Even just getting started; the third alto sax part for a John Phillip Souza march or even Bach is not usually all that complex, and eventually you'll be able jam with Wynton Kelly, the Quintessence Saxophone Quintet or David Bowie.




Rule 8. Practice every day.
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  #28  
Old 10-09-2012, 02:15 AM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

I played all through high school. I learned in elementary school, played through high school. Band and Jazz band.

I like some of David Sanborn's stuff. I have something around here he did with Al Jarreau. He plays alto like I do. The sheet music is scary to look at, so I learned it mostly by ear.

The key starting out is not to get to stiff of a reed. 1, 1-1/2, 2, etc.

The higher the number the better the sound, but the harder to play. Soak them in a glass of water before you start and you'll pay better sooner.

I had to buy a new mouthpiece because I wore the top with my teeth. I didn't like rolling my upper lip over my upper teeth.

If you pads wear out it will take a lot more air and/or too much finger pressure; which will leave you winded and/or slow down your ability to get the fingers flying. So check for leaks and torn pads.

ETA:


This was the album I have Bob James & David Sanborn - Double Vision
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Last edited by ImGod; 10-09-2012 at 02:33 AM.
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  #29  
Old 10-09-2012, 04:57 AM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

Sheet music is only scary till you learn how to read it. I played Coronet (Trumpet) in HS and college and a little after, there is only one line of notes to read just like the sax part, not really a big deal. Try looking at a piano score, multiple notes for 2 hands, a score for sax or coronet is nothing by comparison. Learn to read music, and you can still play by ear, if you want to.

I especially agree with Kyuss Apollo's rules, especially 1, 3, 5, and 8. But mostly have fun, and play what you like.
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  #30  
Old 10-09-2012, 05:20 AM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

Something of a cautionary tale for you, find a teacher who will teach you the genre of music you like to play, plus introduce you to others occasionally. When I took piano lessons I took an interest in classical piano music, but my piano teacher said I wasn't ready and did not emphasize the exersizes I needed to play this kind of music. As a result I am now lacking in the basic fundamentals that would allow me to be more fluent with this kind of music. Find a teacher who will allow you to advance at your pace, not their's.

When I was taking lessons my father said he didn't want to hear anything that sounded like someone practicing their scales. Perhaps this was why my teacher didn't emphasize this in my instruction, but it was exactly what I needed to play the kind of music I liked.
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  #31  
Old 10-09-2012, 07:12 AM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

Remember to always call it a "saxomaphone."

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  #32  
Old 10-09-2012, 01:55 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

Sheet music is important. Practice more so. I'm not as visual when it comes to music and sometimes get stuck on sheet music until I hear it once. Then it clicks.

Try Karaoke sheet music if you get stuck. I wish I had this as a kid. I found a book of music I have in the closet but this is better. They play it a little slow and it's a relatively easy song to pick up.


Find what you like and practice the crap out of it. Scales I hated, but practice the crap out of them too. Because once you get to the improvisation stage you'll need a good understanding.

I had band one hour a day, jazz band 2 hours/week, and another 2-3 hours of practice/week, plus any performances. That was about all I could squeeze in at the time.
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  #33  
Old 10-09-2012, 02:26 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

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Originally Posted by ImGod View Post
Try Karaoke sheet music if you get stuck. I wish I had this as a kid.
That is awesome! I wish I'd had it, too. I can read music but I am terrible at sight reading. I absolutely cannot play something if I don't know how it sounds. If I had to learn a new song, I would buy the CD and play along with it. That doesn't mean I could play by ear either, though. I needed the sheet music to know which notes to play, and I had to hear it to get the timing. Haha, yeah, I wasn't very good. :giggles:

Also everything he said about scales and stuff is good advice. :unnod:
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  #34  
Old 10-09-2012, 07:20 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

I can read music already - from playing keyboards and the accordion. Like Ensign Steve I'm not very good at sight reading, though right now I can do it much better on the keyboard than the sax. I've played the pieces I don't already know from my sax tutor books on the keyboard so I know roughly what the melodies and rhythms sound like before I attempt them on the sax. :giggle:

I've been doing about an hour's practice every day. I find my lips get tired after about 30 minutes, so I break up the hour now with some sessions of just pressing the keys to learn the fingering, but without blowing.

I've used three 1.5 reeds in rotation. They all still look fine. I'm looking forward to the day when I'm consistent enough at blowing the thing to recognise that something is wrong with the reed, rather than something wrong with my chops. :)
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  #35  
Old 10-11-2012, 02:00 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

So when's the first youtube concert? :shakesax:
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  #36  
Old 10-11-2012, 06:22 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

Oh. This thread.

This thread is why I've had the song Deacon Blues stuck in my head for days.

:shakecep:
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  #37  
Old 10-12-2012, 07:17 PM
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reed soup.

soak your reed in a cereal bowl for 15 - 20 minutes before you practice.

if you think something is wrong with your reed you are probably right.
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  #38  
Old 10-25-2012, 02:13 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

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  #39  
Old 11-14-2012, 07:43 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

I'm still practising every day (except when I was in Ireland last week). I bought a better mouthpiece which arrived today. Ridiculously overpriced but it does seem to produce fewer whistles and squawks than the original plastic mouthpiece does.
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  #40  
Old 11-14-2012, 10:02 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

Have you learned to play Careless Whisper yet?
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  #41  
Old 11-14-2012, 10:19 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

:unnope: I've not tried that one yet, but this Aussie guy claims it's not so hard to learn... Maybe in another month or two. :chin:

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Old 11-20-2012, 01:05 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

I was worrying about breath control playing my little alto, but now I've watched this guy playing a bass sax I'm not going to worry anymore. He shows that it's possible to keep playing for minutes at a time without ever stopping to take a breath - and that huge sax needs a lot more air then any puny alto!

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  #43  
Old 11-20-2012, 02:15 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

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Originally Posted by ceptimus View Post
I was worrying about breath control playing my little alto, but now I've watched this guy playing a bass sax I'm not going to worry anymore. He shows that it's possible to keep playing for minutes at a time without ever stopping to take a breath - and that huge sax needs a lot more air then any puny alto!

Colin Stetson performs "Judges" on Q - YouTube
FYI, I did not see the explination of what he was doing but it appeared that he was "Cycle Breathing" while playing. That is he fills his cheeks (when they are puffed out) and closes the back of his mouth with his tongue and takes a breath, and plays with the air in his mouth and cheeks. then plays normally till the next time he needs to take a breath. It takes a lot of practice to do it smoothly, but if you watch the video you will see his cheeks puff out and then go back to normal. These are the times he is taking a breath.
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  #44  
Old 07-29-2013, 12:08 AM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

I've bought a second hand tenor now off eBay; when it arrives it will be company for the alto. I know all the warnings about buying musical instruments without trying them out but this one is a Yamaha - a brand that's well respected and, AFAIK, has never sold a badly designed musical instrument. I could see from the photos that it's in p. great condition. Even if it does turn out to need a bit of work by a musical instrument tech, it will still be something of a bargain.

I'm still practising the alto nearly every day, and now I've been playing it about nine months I'm doing okay. Still struggling with the very highest notes - maybe the tenor will be easier.
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  #45  
Old 07-29-2013, 06:50 AM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

I hear New York's alright if you like saxophones.

Fear - New York's Alright If You Like Saxaphones - YouTube

You should learn this one next, right after Careless Whisper. For the irony.
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  #46  
Old 07-30-2013, 02:51 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

The tenor has arrived. I've just been out to buy some reeds for it as it only came with one beaten up unplayable reed, and the alto reeds I already have are too small.

The supplied Yamaha 4C mouthpiece has a groove cut in the top from the previous player's teeth. I've filled the groove with epoxy glue and once it's cured I'll file it back to shape; I use some little stick on 'bite guard' patches on the alto, so I'll put one of those over the repaired area - then it won't be too obvious and I won't be sucking on epoxy glue. I found some special two-part acrylic black glue for sale that would be ideal for a near-invisible repair, but the smallest pack of glue you can buy (I would only be using a tiny part of that) costs over half as much as a brand new mouthpiece of the same type. Once I get used to the thing I may be buying a better mouthpiece anyway.

The cork on the neck where the mouthpiece fits is also worn out - so the mouthpiece is a loose fit, but I can seal that up with plumber's tape for now and I've ordered some cork sheet so I can make it back like new.

Besides that and needing a good clean, it looks great for its age. I've not tried playing it yet though: I have to wait for the epoxy glue to cure as I bunged that on the worn mouthpiece before going out to buy reeds.
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  #47  
Old 07-30-2013, 03:13 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

Second hand wind instruments.... :bleh:

I hope the sax plays good though, ceptimus!
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  #48  
Old 07-30-2013, 03:51 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

I did give the mouthpiece a thorough cleaning and disinfecting - even before starting to repair it!
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  #49  
Old 07-30-2013, 04:50 PM
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Default Re: Saxophone hints and tips

Lisa Simspson plays tenor, FYI.
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  #50  
Old 07-30-2013, 08:49 PM
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:nuhuh: Lisa plays a baritone. Matt Groening chose the bari as he found the idea of an eight year old playing one amusing - he says the animators don't really know how to draw it so it changes shape and color from episode to episode. I think it does always look more like a bari where the neck goes up from the mouthpiece in a loop, than a tenor where the neck is more-or-less horizontal with just a slight S-curve.



She's holding it wrong in that pic - unless it's a rare left-handed sax, or perhaps she's just showing off? Every sax I've ever seen you have your left hand higher than your right. It's a job for the mirror tag:

http://www.jazzeddie.f2s.com/images/Simpsons/lisabeatnikkid.gif (mirrored)

The mouthpiece repair came out great. I wish I'd taken a 'before' photo now so I could post before and after photos and brag about my great instrument repair skills. :D

I've played it a bit now - the table keys for bottom Bb, B and the C# key weren't working. :( But I investigated and found the arm to the C# key was slightly bent and one of the springs was not engaged correctly - I gently bent the arm back and hooked the spring back on and now all the notes play. :)

I still need to tweak the stops a little to level up the table keys the way I like them, but it's almost there. Tomorrow I'm going to give it a proper clean and apply some tiny drops of oil to the pivots.
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