Gig Prep

With a rehearsal tonight and the gig I’ve been prepping for Friday morning, today was again all business (and no technique). But at least I had more time than yesterday.


The short version:


20 Minutes Long Tones

80 Minutes tunes

10 Minutes flute


Today I went to the upper range of my horn first for long tones. The main struggle higher up is tuning, whereas the main struggle lower is playing softly. I still make sure to practice both tuning and dynamics during long tones, but I emphasize tuning more in the upper register.


After long tones I spent about 5 minutes on the flute. First, I just played on the head join to practice making a sound. Then I put the rest of the flute together and tried to play some notes. I got a couple to come out, but going lower or higher usually made the sound disappear.


After my first class and rehearsal, I got in a quick 20 minutes of learning the rest of “The Peacocks” by ear using Transcribe. There are many chromatic passages, and the rhythm is so slow it can feel free at times, but I was happy to discover that it still wasn’t very difficult. I wouldn’t call my ear great but it has come a long way in the past several months.


After Peacocks, I took out my flute for just a few minutes to practice making sound.

Because holding and playing the flute works muscles (mouth/hands/arms) that aren’t in shape right now, I am making sure to eat some form of protein immediately after playing in order to build them up faster. Today that was mixed nuts (peanuts, almonds, pistachios).


After another class, I got in a solid hour on the sax learning the other tunes for Friday. “Big Bad Handsome Man” and “Your Heart is as Black as Night”. Both very simple vocal tunes that I will be playing sans vocalist.


For “Round Midnight” and “Body and Soul” and “The Peacocks”, the harmony is fairly esoteric, and at the slow tempos I am less concerned with playing every “Correct” note. My ear can easily adjust “wrong” notes. And I will also be playing with another saxophonist, my former teacher Eric Goluszka.

In essence, that means I devoted more time to the melody and less (but still a lot) to the harmony. However, these vocal tunes have very straightforward harmony. The kind that an audience of non-musicians can easily hear.


So first I learned the harmony (basically just i-V-i in one tune, and i-iv-V in the other). Then I learned the vocal melody. And finally I practiced improvising over the backing track. I also made sure to have a decent grasp of the lyrics to help me track the form in my head.


I also reviewed “Body and Soul” (which we are playing at a weirdly fast tempo) and “Round Midnight”. In my experience, going an entire day without going through them at least once is detrimental to my memory.


But that all went well, and I got it all done in an hour.


After that, I spent another few minutes on the flute. This time I could actually play 7 notes without losing sound. Immediately I noticed a difference in tone, air efficiency (could hold the sound longer), and of course my range expanded from about 1 to 7 notes. Also my hands felt more comfortable and it was not really painful at all to hold it properly.


Addendum: I thought I was done practicing, but I ended up waiting a long time for a train later. So I took out the flute and practiced more. I figured out how to make low notes speak better, and then I ended up learning a blues scale as well as Miles Davis’s solo beginning of “So What”.

Happy practicing!

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