Steve@steveduke.net

Author's details

Date registered: December 6, 2013

Latest posts

  1. Duke’s Guide For Practicing — March 3, 2015
  2. Free Your Breath — February 14, 2015
  3. Balancing Your Key Action — January 30, 2015
  4. The Problem of Correctness and Artistry — January 22, 2015
  5. How To Determine “Good” Technique — January 15, 2015

Most commented posts

  1. The Better You Sing It, The Better You Play It — 4 comments
  2. Balancing Your Key Action — 2 comments

Author's posts listings

Mar 03

Duke’s Guide For Practicing

“Reduce the effort whenever possible. The use of force is the opposite of awareness; learning does not take place when we are straining. The principle should not be no pain, no gain. Rather, it should be if strain, no gain. ” – From Norman Doidge’s “The Brain’s Way of Healing” on core principles of the …

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Feb 14

Free Your Breath

How you use your air is key to controlling the sound of a wind instrument. Yet, most players restrict their air without realizing it. Try this. Without the instrument, take a big breath and let it go. A lung-full of air takes less than a ½ second to exhale, without pushing. The connective tissue, know …

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Jan 30

Balancing Your Key Action

Adjusting the springs so that the tension is the same for all keys is a simple and easy way to improve you finger technique. Using your index finger, slowly and gently lower each key, including the side keys and spatula keys. Determine which key has the tension you like, then adjust the springs to the …

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Jan 22

The Problem of Correctness and Artistry

When we first learn music, we figure out how to hold the instrument, how to make a tone, etc. Then, we figure out things like correct notes and rhythms. As our playing develops we correct more specific things like intonation, articulation, vibrato, and harmony, which form basic skills and musicianship. But, at what point do …

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Jan 15

How To Determine “Good” Technique

Technique is a simple question. Do you do what you intend? Yes or no. But, given the number of styles, genres, schools, and models, how can you objectively evaluate your technique? Most sound has four elements – pitch, tone, volume, and duration. You can create technical exercises by changing one of the elements and notice …

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Jan 08

Use Your Imagination

Imagination is the most powerful tool you have to improve your playing. Before you play, imagine the sound you want – the attack, the release, the tone, rhythm, etc. Then simply play that sound. Without reacting or judging, decide what you would change in the sound. Imagine what you want and play again. Keep repeating …

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Jan 02

Realizing How To Play

Music performance is realized and not trained through mindless drilling.  We practice in order to have those “ah ha” moments. After that, things seem much clearer, although it comes and goes for a while. This is our learning process, which is rather complex and nonlinear.  What ever helps us realize what to understand is valid, …

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Mar 31

Shed Your Slow 5-2’s

Finger technique is important. We diligently practice eighth-note and sixteenth-note patterns over ii-V-I progressions, chromatic substitutions, and non-diatonic tonalities. It is not unusual to hear sixteenth-note lines at a quartet-note = 200, faster than Charlie Parker and John Coltrane played, faster than at any time in the history of the saxophone. But, great players also …

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Mar 17

The Better You Sing It, The Better You Play It

We practice many hours learning how to control our instrument. But, we may not accurately hear what we are doing. A good way to tell is to sing what you play. Our voice reveals what we hear and what we do not hear. You do not have to be a trained singer to sing in …

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Feb 25

Play it the way you say it

One of the main reasons we choose to play certain tunes is because we like the melody. Yet, we often overlook how to phrase the melody, and just “play the ink” or copy the phrasing of a recording by rote. But, how do you phrase a melody in a personal and meaningful way? The key …

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