Category Archive: Uncategorized

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 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 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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May 03

Warm up, Part 1

I usually find myself addressing how students warm-up.  Most saxophone players typically don’t give warming-up much thought. But, without it we can develop bad habits and setup ineffective practice sessions. Generally, warm-ups start with no brainer type things and progress to more specific and demanding things. Warming-up is not practice.  It is not supposed to …

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Apr 03

The aesthetics of good health

In our ambition to achieve what we want we are willing to use much more effort than is needed. Unnecessary effort usually leads to ineffective performance and fatigue.  This can lead to discomfort, pain and even injury. When we hurt, we focus most of our attention on getting rid of the pain or injury, and …

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Sep 09

Music is a What and When Question

What do you play and when do you play it?  Without one there is not the other.  It is like catching a bus. You have to be at the bus stop when the bus stops.  Otherwise, there is no bus. Likewise, a note placed at the wrong moment creates an incomplete sound.  Literally, there is …

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