Get More Out of Practicing, Much More!

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Have you ever asked the following questions about learning the saxophone?

  • Are there really tricks and secrets that will accelerate how quickly I can learn the saxophone?
  • Are there certain things that are hidden (only known by professionals) that I must know to be successful?

The answer is yes and no.

The Answer is “Yes”

There are approaches and methods that you must know to succeed on saxophone. In fact, if you know some of these, your chances of success greatly increase.

Here’s the problem: the answers are available to everyone, but you have to know where to find them. This can be difficult to find if you are completely new to music and you don’t have any connections yet.

You can learn these methods from any high quality teacher (you can learn how to identify a quality teacher here). If you find the right teacher you will have a mentor to direct you through all the things you need to know to succeed. There are good, okay, and bad teachers, so it’s important to find the right one.

The Answer is “No”

Using words such as “tips”, “tricks”, and “secrets”, in headlines really seems to grab the attention of readers (that’s why they’re used so often). However, I don’t necessarily believe there are “secrets” to playing the saxophone; you just have to apply the right methods. There’s no magic key, magic flute, or hidden secret that only the worthy and noble can discover. In fact, they’re not hidden at all.

These methods and approaches have been available through professional musicians for centuries. Find a professional musician, run them through the checklist mentioned above, and you’ll have all the tips and secrets you can handle. However, not all musicians are skilled when it comes to teaching (even if they’re really good at playing) so you may need to do a little searching.

1 Essential Key to Success

There are all sorts of things we can do to improve your saxophone playing, and I want to share one important item today: how to practice, or, how your session should be organized when you practice. This is necessary to know and understand in order to progress as quickly as you can.

Success is Common

When students begin lessons with me, they may or not practice on a daily basis. However, most do not have a clear idea how they can improve every time they sit down to practice (yes, this is possible). It’s almost like they’re in a pool treading water, waiting, rather than having fun swimming.

Today I’ll share with you how to move on from treading water, and get swimming! I guess we could call this approach “1 Secret for a Successful Practice Session”, or “A Practice Approach Used by Pros”.

The Process

In order to spend less time treading water, I’m going to lay out a common approach for a practice session that is used by professionals. This still takes work, but at least you’ll have confidence knowing that you’re progressing and no longer treading water. Here’s the practice session order:

  • Warm Up

    Use this time to get the inside of your mouth warmed up by playing long tones and other warm-ups.

  • Technique

    Use this time to practice your scales and other patterns that will help you become more efficient and capable with your technique (technique is a term for fingers).

  • Method Books

    Play out of a method book designed for your level of playing. They are created to help you through common issues.

  • Work on Music

    Choose an appropriate piece of music that you can spend time learning. You can focus on this music from a couple weeks to a few months. Choose something that you’re excited to play. Learn how to find free music here!

  • Use Your Ears

    Spend time learning music off the radio or from one of your own personal recordings. Don’t use sheet music though!

Multiple Uses

You can use this process to find the right teacher or to decide if you’re getting enough out of your current lessons. This method is not set in stone, and variations can be applied. If you don’t have a teacher, go ahead and follow this pattern and you’ll begin to notice a difference in your playing, soon.

Our Lessons

We use this pattern in all our lessons, so if you would like assistance, we can help. You can learn more about our lessons below. Just click on the button that best describes you.

Get More Out of Practicing, Much More!

All the information you need to succeed is available, you just need to know where to find it. We can be your resource to point you in the right direction so you can spend more time improving and less time on research.

If you need any assistance with the practice plan above, or are looking for assistance in other parts of your playing, feel free to ask in the comment section below.

If you found this post helpful, please feel free to share it using the social media button below. We appreciate your help getting the word out!

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Comments 2

  1. Hi Jeff

    Really enjoyed your post on scales. Just a few questions on practice method.

    1)Practice scales in isolation e.g. Major, melodic minor, harmonic minor etc


    Practice scales as modes

    2) Practice full range of instrument

    3) Practice with metronome

    4) Vary speed and if slow combine with long tones?

    1. Post

      Hi Martin,

      When you speak of modes are you speaking of the modes such as Dorian and Ionian? Either way, the pattern I teach is like this:

      1. Learn all major scales at quarter note equals 60 and play quarter notes (1 octave)
      2. Once they are all learned, then speed up to 80
      3. Then, learn range of horn (at 60 or 80)
      4. Once learned, then begin to work up the scales to a fast tempo (eventually quarter note equals 80 playing 16th notes)

      I usually don’t have my students spend too much time on other scales until they are quite capable on the majors,range of the horn. By the way, if you know your major scales then you know all your minor scales. I’ll be discussing this soon in a blog post.

      Hope this helps!

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