saxophone basics
saxophone warmup
saxophone tone
saxophone articulation
saxophone vibrato
saxophone technique
saxophone tuning
saxophone education
saxophone teaching
saxophone lesson/masterclass
beginner saxophone
counting, sightreading
saxophone performing
Joe Murphy, saxophone
saxophone techniques
saxophone altissimo
circular breathing
saxophone multiphonics
saxophone quartertones
saxophone slap tongue
improvising, transposing
saxophone resources
saxophone research
saxophone repair/reeds
saxophone literature, recording
jazz saxophone
saxophone history
saxophone humor
 

Saxophone Warmup

  

Isolate to train the muscles (breath, fingers, tongue, embouchure), the ear, and the brain daily.  Balance routine (perfection) with variety (progress).  Be so prepared as to create a ¡°runner¡¯s high¡± for the muscles & brain.

  

Breathing

Singing (tuning the ear)

Tone

Technique (fingers)

Tuning

Practice plan


Warm-up (Daily) Breathing

 

Every object in the world has a spirit and that spirit can be released by setting it into vibration.

 

Fast, controlled, flexible air allows more control in tone, tuning, articulation, extreme ranges and other aspects similar to bow control on string instruments.

  

There are many breathing exercises from many sources (singers, instrumentalists, athletes, and self-awareness activities).  Explore them all, use what helps you now, keep a notebook, evolve.

 

Aspects that I like include:

-          stretch inhale & exhale to the max (2 segments in with no exhale between; 3 exhaustive exhales with no inhale between)

-          awareness of ribcage expansion, posture (shoulders, spine, head, feet, knees)

 


Warm-up (Daily) breathing + Singing

 

If you sing in tune you play in tune, if you sing right notes you play right notes, play fast to the ear not to the fingers.  Singing is an indication of what the brain (ear) is hearing.

  

After breathing exercises use the same good air flow to sing tuning exercises.   I prefer to:

-          sing 4ths and 5ths over a sounding tuner

-          see the notes in your head as you sing

-          each day vary the starting note and possibly the sequence of starting notes (m2, M2, m3, P4)

-          try to sing the first note before turning on the tuner

-          eventually vary the 4th/5th exercise to other intervals/patterns

-          tongue/slur, fast/slow 

 


Warm-up (Daily) breathing + ear  + Tone, saxophone
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Operate on the principle that inside every not-so-beautiful note there¡¯s a beautiful note trying to get out.  I want to figure out a way to get it out. Free that note!

 

Things that take the longest, start the soonest.  Tone is a lifetime of work. Tone has a living soul without form.

 

 

Like brass players buzzing, or string players beginning on open strings, or flutes beginning on head-joint begin saxophone tone on the neck alone.

 

Embouchure

-          Whistle position, note corners in, chin flat & down (allowing the reed to vibrate freely), tongue forward (keeping the back of the tongue down, allowing air to flow freely)

-          Anchor top teeth

-          Not too much bottom lip rolled in (as if biting fleshy part of lower lip without mouthpiece)

Release of tone

-          keep consistent breath support through sound & silence

-          Londeix diagrams as and calls it a vowel attack

-          Fast, focused air as if blowing through a straw

-          In classical articulation only the tongue moves, not jaw, throat or embouchure

 

Dynamics

Articulation

Vibrato

Changing notes


Warm-up (Daily) breathing + ear  + Tone + dynamics (on neck)

  

Crescendo/decrescendo on the neck listening for consistent tone quality.

-          don¡¯t let tone get ¡°buzzy¡± on crescendo, or flat, or ¡°spread¡±

-          go to ¡°nothing¡± on decrescendo, expand your control and variety of dynamics from just a few increments to many dynamic increments

-          do 2 segments in one breath, the second attack (release) is crucial to gain control over air/reed

-          PLAY THE FOLLOWING ON THE NECK, SOUNDS F ON ALTO

 

 

 

-          be aware of the dichotomy during the decrescendo (keep air speed, focus further forward) decrescendo is a smaller aperture, not slower air.

-          Balance the energy in and energy out. ¡°Sound¡­moves against the air current as well as with it.  When tone is produced, the vibrations are active behind the reed as well as in front¡­ The oral cavity¡­ supplies the reed with the necessary pressure to make it vibrate and furnish a very important resonance chamber.¡±  Tim Mc Allister            ¡°The sound of a ¡®wind¡¯ instrument is not so much air flow as it is wave circulation¡± Ernest Feron


Warm-up (Daily) breathing + ear  + Tone + dynamics + articulation (on neck), saxophone
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Still on the neck, as in previous (dynamics)

 

 

  follow this link for more saxophone articulation 

 

further examples of Londeix¡¯s diagrams include:


 



Warm-up (Daily) breathing + ear  + Tone + dynamics + vibrato (still on neck), saxophone
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-          the vibrato should affect pitch minimally

-          think about vibrating longitudinally along the reed

-          decrescendo to nothing is very difficult with vibrato & good tone


Warm-up (Daily) breathing + Tone + articulation + vibrato + changing tones

Tone is a solid substance which you modulate, divide, raise, and lower.


-          begin with side key F (sounds saxophone Eb) because it is an extension of the neck air column

-          after the ¡°simple¡± air stream of extended neck work with more complex air columns, start next with relating simple airstream notes with the long fingering of the same pitch (see below).

 

Warm-up (Daily) Tone + Technique, saxophone
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By concentrating on precision, one arrives at technique; but by concentrating on technique one does not arrive at precision.

 

Hand position

Speed

Patterns

 

As the warmup becomes more routine and seemingly less necessary, for variety try putting technique (or tuning, or singing at the end of a practice session)

 

Warm-up (Daily) Tone + technique, Hand position

 

 

-          keep fingers curved, close to the keys and relaxed

-          some people even try double-stick tape on keys/fingers

-          working with a mirror is valuable

-          think of moving only the joint closest to the fingertip

-          do silent exercises, or even away from the saxophone (sometimes movement, sometimes isometric)

-          think of squeezing the keys, or think of tapping the keys

-          be aware of vibrations in fingertips, lower back, heels of feet.

-          Mazzeo says woodwind players play more accurately when playing with down-moving fingers. When moving up from F to G there¡¯s an (inefficient) involuntary downward movement of the LH fingers.

 

Warm-up (Daily) Tone + technique, Speed

 

Like any professional needing to have a huge body of knowledge to diagnose even simple problems, we need to have the ability to play anything.

 

 

Beyond the physical attributes of hand position, mental attributes of grouping, anticipating (sound), and thorough practicing are key. For an example from a piece see Practice techniques: troubleshoot

 

-          hear (anticipate) landmarks within the scale (hear rising scale in thirds; hear/see each fifth note in scales)

-          sing (and see in your head) the scales

-          always do patterns forward & backward, and begin on the backward or mid-pattern

-          practice even the smallest segments (trills, 3-note patterns)

-          keep a notebook, track beginning notes, sequence of scales (circle of 5ths, chromatic, whole tone, grab bag)

-          sometimes with metronome, sometimes with tuner, sometimes with articulations.

-          sometimes troubleshoot toughest (extreme ranges, difficult key/pattern), sometimes allow yourself only one time.

-          Sometimes silently finger the scale before playing it.

 

 

Warm-up (Daily) Tone + technique, Patterns

 

 

Without technique there is no art. Yet technique is part of the service economy. It does not manufacture goods but facilitates their production

 

 

Major, minor scales (full range), broken diatonic thirds, fourths, etc.
Chromatic, whole tone; broken chromatic intervals (CEb,C#E,DF,D#F#,EG¡­)
Arpeggios to 7th, 9th or more; major, dominant; minor & diminished in different forms
Pentatonic, blues
Any of the above in stepwise 3rds or 4ths (1234,2345,3456,4567)
Any of the above into altissimo (I begin with major/minor arpeggios for tuning)
Taffenel & Gaubert (flute), particularly #1
Finger exercises as opposed to tonal exercises (see below)
Patterns from current pieces
With articulations (see masterclass, articulations)

 Finger exercises based on finger patterns, not tonality

and reverse

and reverse

 

Warm-up (Daily) Tone + Tuning, saxophone
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-          daily play 4ths/5ths over a sounding tuner (like singing warmup)

-          wait until after instrument is warm to tune

-          alter pitches with fingerings below, over months our ears will make adjustments and will eventually not need the corrective fingerings


Warm-up (Daily), Practice plan

 

The spontaneity of an artist doesn¡¯t flow from unrehearsed consciousness.  It flows because they thought about things so hard and honestly that they were attuned to the puzzles and contradictions which demand a leap of faith, or play.

 

 

To recap the essential daily warmup, always work on

Breathing, singing

Tone

Technique

Tuning

Plan for the day:

-          long term factors (reeds, altissimo, circular breathing, doubletongue, articulations, sightreading, slap, multiphonics), see these topics in masterclass topics.

-          new piece and/or working on old piece

 

 

The most important decision in a practice session is to plan the next practice session because:

-          Your practice ideas deserve the superior attention of the beginning of a practice session, not in the stream of consciousness

-          Practice is more efficient when a pre-determined task is completed and another is identified.   When finished with the plan of the day, STOP.

    

saxophone basics
saxophone warmup
saxophone tone
saxophone articulation
saxophone vibrato
saxophone technique
saxophone tuning
saxophone education
saxophone teaching
saxophone lesson/masterclass
beginner saxophone
counting, sightreading
saxophone performing
Joe Murphy, saxophone
saxophone techniques
saxophone altissimo
circular breathing
saxophone multiphonics
saxophone quartertones
saxophone slap tongue
improvising, transposing
saxophone resources
saxophone research
saxophone repair/reeds
saxophone literature
jazz saxophone
saxophone history
saxophone humor