Just Friends

The short version:

30 Minutes flute

30 Minutes melodic minor scales

45 Minutes Just Friends


I felt a greater pull towards flute today. After spending several days playing scale patterns and licks in multiple keys, my command of the instrument is growing rapidly. This morning, I carved out a full 30 minutes and began with long tones.


I spent the first couple minutes playing just the head joint until I got a really efficient sound going. By “efficient”, I mean how long I can hold the pitch and how my tone sounds.


Then I put the whole flute together and did long tones from middle B down to low C. I returned to middle B and played long tones going up to G. While playing I focused very hard on my tone/efficiency of air, and on the way I pushed the keys down and held the flute. On flute, a gentler and smoother touch is better for pushing the keys than the sax.


I moved on to scale patterns. Mostly 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 patterns in every key. This is great for making my fingers acquainted with the slightly different flute fingers and maintaining tone/intonation across a wide range. I was using a book I borrowed, and that also helped me begin reading music on the flute. Some of the patterns were lochrian-based (i.e. scale degrees 7-1-2-3-4-3-2-1-7) which again was a great exercise for reading.


Later, I ramped up the intensity for scales on the sax. I played melodic minor scales in thirds using the Jim Gailloreto method, in 8th notes at 185 BPM. For articulation, I spent about half a scale using a breath accent, half a scale using tongue accents, and then some time combining them, rotating between those accents the whole time.


I played through the twelve keys down the circle of fifths paying special attention to the technique in my hands. There is a certain “C” shaped-curve they should have that maximizes the speed and strength of my fingers which I am trying to make a natural part of my playing. Using a mirror was helpful. The difference is definitely noticeable and I’ve made decent progress the past week or so in this area.


After a break, I started learning “Just Friends” for a gig this Friday. Following Dr. Choi’s advice, I made sure I really understood the piece before playing it. I listened to several vocal versions online (because vocalists sing it more straight than instrumentalists play it). I also analyzed the harmony in Roman Numerals. After about 20 minutes I began to really play.


I started by playing through the changes in only chord tones at first, then added scalar connections. Most of the time I used a play-along track to enhance my ability to hear the chords and keep the tempo, but I occasionally slowed things down to experiment with certain scalar passages/licks.


The last 10-15 minutes I spent improvising over the tune and playing the melody.


Happy practicing!

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