How to play saxophone-Practicing Saxophone Efficiently
So you have this new piece of music that you’re working on. You have been practicing and it’s going fairly well. But there are a couple of places where you keep making mistakes and mess up the music. Starting over and hoping that you’ll get it right this time is NOT the most effective way to deal with this. It can in fact be counterproductive; if you don’t get it right you are actually practicing your mistakes.
So how do you go about fixing these troublesome spots?
Let me give you some hints and tips.
First of all take a closer look at the line you’re having trouble with. Find out exactly what it is that makes it difficult for you to play it correctly.
Does the rhythm feel awkward? Are you unsure of when to start the line or when to come in with the next phrase? Do you suddenly have to deal with a lot of accidentals that weren’t there before? Is the fingering of getting from one note to the next a bit complicated? Are there big leaps where you need to adjust your air-stream or embouchure? Are you tonguing or slurring the notes as you are supposed to?
Knowing your enemy is half the battle.
Address the issues one at a time.
Let’s start with the rhythm. Make sure you can sing the rhythm correctly and use a metronome to check this. A steady stream of eight or quarter notes is rhythmically easy to do. Often it is the longer notes or rests that will trip you up. You can overcome this by subdividing these longer durations. For instance if you need to start at the second half of the third beat, you count one and two and three AND. Count the one and two and three softly and then accent the AND after the third beat by singing it loudly. This way you allow yourself to become familiar with that exact point in time.
Now play through the whole line very slowly. Don’t worry too much about the rhythm this time. One reason you keep making mistakes could well be that you never really heard all the intervals properly since you were messing it up all the time. Play it as slow as it takes for you to play all the right notes and listen to what intervals you’re playing.
Singing or whistling the line is a great method for memorizing the material.
Now play it with the proper rhythm but still as slow as you need to do it correctly. Are you reading the music from a sheet? Now would be a good time to stop doing that and learn the line by heart.
A good way of doing that is to start with the last 4 or 5 notes and then work your way back to the beginning. Be patient. Don’t speed it up before you are totally comfortable with the notes, articulations, accents etc.
You may need to cut the line into different parts and learn them separately.
Or zoom in on certain intervals or parts and repeat them lots of times.
If you go through this process with a line that seems hard to play at first you will eventually be able to play this same line with confidence and ease.
And since you have learned it by heart you will be able to remember and play it for a very long time.
Good Luck !
Practicing Saxophone Efficiently