Turning Down

Two days in a row of 8 hours of sleep. Felt great this morning.


The short version:


30 Minutes flute

30 Minutes melodic minor

1 hour “Just Friends”


Between early classes, I got in 30 minutes of flute. I played scale patterns in all the keys, paying more attention to finger technique compared to tone. I also took a lick (5-b5-4-6-3-2 in scale degrees) and played it in all keys.


Before my sax lesson, I got in 30 minutes of melodic minor exercises. No long tones today because I have another 8 hour gig tomorrow. I went through diatonic triads today starting at 65 BPM in triplets.


I could do it, but I was struggling. So I turned it down to 60BPM. My focus was partly on notes, which is still a cognitive challenge, but also on maintaining consistent tone and my best technique.


During my lesson, we spent some time on flute. Mostly he emphasized the need for better posture. I started holding the flute slightly differently and my posture suffered as a result. Also he taught me a couple new fingerings and encouraged me to extend scale fragments into full scales. We spent a couple minutes on intonation exercises as well, but overall my progress has been good.


On the sax, he taught me a new tone/tuning exercises. Basically taking the first few notes of a Bach cello suite and making it into an exercise. In scale degrees, it’s 1-5-10(3)-8(1). Play it, you’ll recognize it. Then move everything up diatonically. The large intervals are a different sort of workout than my current long tones, which move only by half-step.


Then we moved on to tunes. We ran through Green Dolphin St and he showed me different rhythmic exercises. Repeating a rhythm throughout the whole tune, which is great for voice-leading, phrasing, and getting different sorts of passages in my fingers/ear/brain. Sticking with one rhythm forces the brain/ear/fingers to make a lot of predictions and choices, to understand things more deeply.


After taking several choruses like that (he was pleased with my playing), we traded two-measure phrases. He plays things, my job is to imitate rather closely with small room for putting my own spin on it. For instance, he might start on an off-beat and play some neighbor figures around chord tones. Or he might play something like 1-2-3-5-6-3 and sequence it. Usually it’s a little harder and a lot more awesome, so it’s very educational for me to absorb his ideas and it’s a great ear workout. Often his ideas emphasize rhythm.


After the lesson, I spent some time applying certain exercises to “Just Friends”, a tune I’ll be playing on a gig tomorrow. This was my second day of playing the tune, and the changes were memorized after about half an hour. Even more than my chord tone exercise and chord tone/scalar exercise, I found that taking one rhythm and voice-leading it does the most for every aspect of my playing and really gives me a command of the harmony.


I left it at that, since I had a long and intense rehearsal immediately after practicing, and obviously a long gig tomorrow.


Happy practicing!

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