Last week we discussed some benefits of warming up, and we provided a brief overview of exercises you could use to drastically improve your playing. Then, we promised a warm-up outline you could use in every practice session. Let’s begin by providing the outline:
- Longtones (2 Minutes)
- Timing Exercises (2 Minutes)
- Scales (5 Minutes)
- Arpeggios (2 Minutes)
- Chromatic scale (2 Minutes)
- Articulation (2 Minutes)
The minutes suggestion in the parenthesis are recommended for a 30 minutes practice session (for a beginner). When your practice sessions become longer, you can increase the time on various exercises.
This is an exercise that great saxophone players (like John Coltrane) would always use. Not only will your tone improve, after time, but all notes on the saxophone will become easier to play. Here are the steps to a longtone:
Choose the lowest note you can play comfortably on the saxophone.
Take a deep breath and play the note as long as you can. Also, play as loud as you can with a good tone.
Either play the same note, repeating 2-3 more times, or start on the next note down. Only start on the next note down if it begins to speak for you.
What to Expect
Over a few days you’ll notice that the tone improves and you are able to play lower notes with greater ease. The reason is this: we are training your tongue to move to the proper place in your mouth, to obtain the best sound. You don’t need to think about your tongue at this stage, but it’s good to know why (and how) longtones work. It’s all in training the tongue!
When playing a note, and then you switch to another note, it can present issues with timing. Changing from a B to an A is simple because we are adding one finger.
However, moving from a C to a D is adding 5 fingers/keys, which requires exact timing with each finger. If they don’t move simultaneously, then you’ll get little blips of other notes right before the D is played. Here’s an exercise to fix this.
Set the metronome to ♩=60
Play C on the first click, and play D on the second click.
Continue to change between C and D on every click.
As you play, focus on every finger coming down (or lifting up) at the same time. We won’t speed the metronome up because we’re working on timing.
What to Expect
You’ll begin to sound better than you thought possible, just by adding this one exercise. Continue to add other combinations to your warm-ups. Others may include, C# to D, B to G, A to E.
This is a topic I have covered before. Instead of writing on this again, here’s a post where you can get the necessary information. Definitely worth the time!
This exercise follows the same pattern as the scales above. In addition, it’s a great way for find further combinations for your Timing Exercises. When you find timing issues, it’s smart to add it to your warm-up.
Since this falls under scales, we will follow the scale and arpeggio pattern listed in the link above. Soon, your fingers will be flying faster than you thought possible. That even happened to me. It’s pretty exciting.
We’ve written on this topic previously, so we’ve provided a link here. Remember, your tongue is a muscle, and when it is strengthened, it becomes stronger, faster, and gains greater endurance.
Your Practice Session
If these exercises are followed every day, you’ll improve faster than you thought possible. I know I say that a lot, but it’s true. However, the key to success is consistency. Stay consistent and the results will come faster.
As you see these results happen, let us know by posting in the comment section below. Additionally, if there are any questions about the warm-up patterns please feel free to ask for clarification. We love questions!
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