Peak

My physical/mental/emotional health have really been in peak shape for several days in a row and it feels amazing. Motivation comes easily, I’m able to focus hard for longer, and the progress is coming fast.

 

I started with long tones on just the head joint of flute. Using just the head join helps me play with tuning/volume/that little optimal spot much more easily than when the whole flute is assembled.

 

With that little optimal positionining in mind, I began playing from the middle B down to low C. As I mentioned yesterday, the length of time/ease with which I can hold a note are related to my sound, and I noticed again I could hold notes much longer. I also listened to Hubert Laws again (“Family”) to really get the sound of a good flutist in my mind.

 

When I reached the bottom of my range, I did overtones and by far it was my best day ever in this regard. I could always hit the second overtone, and even come all the way down in a single breath.

After that, I shifted to tone-building warmups on the sax, but the past couple day I’ve taken an interest in strengthening my altissimo register. Playing overtones on the sax from low Bb, low B, and low C use virtually the same muscles in the same way as is required to hit altissimo notes.

 

Before playing, I listened to Michael Brecker on “Skylark” to get a certain sound in my head, then played long tones from middle B down to low Bb. I tried my best to lock in the smallest of details in my breathing and embouchure.

 

When I reached the bottom, I did overtones for a few minutes. I tried to find the fastest way to move from one to the next, which is a great strategy for isolating exactly which muscles need to contract in which ways.

 

After a few minutes of over tones, I started playing a diatonic tertian series (for example, in D major, D-F#-A-C#-E-G#-B-D-F#-A), essentially diatonic thirds all the way into altissimo. I moved the root up a half-step, changed the scale to fit that root, and played the series going into altissimo in all keys.

 

Later, I did a lot of scale/fundamental work. I started playing my quintuplet pattern described yesterday on all major scales. My focus was on the rhythm, my tone, the technique in my hands, and my sense of time. I set the metronome at a slow 25BPM, playing 10 notes between clicks. Setting it really slowly means I need to be responsible for my time. Yesterday I noticed a lot of rushing; today was better.

Then I wanted to get in some fast-paced articulation practice, so I switched to relatively simple 16th notes on diminished scales. Still kept the metronome slow. I alternated between using breath accents and tongue accents in all 3 half-whole diminished scales.

 

When I felt really warmed up, I began triad pairing exercises. I paired a variety of major and minor triads, usually with roots a tritone apart (i.e. Eb minor and A major). I started triad pairing based on C half-whole diminished a couple weeks ago, and today I was able to progress to triads based on B and Bb diminished scales as well. I played sextuplets with the metronome at about 22BPM, playing 12 notes between clicks.

 

After a nice lunch break, I spent the last half hour focusing on Skylark. I learned the melody over a year ago and still remembered most of it, but I spent several minutes re-learning it by ear. Then I focused mainly on the changes; running certain small rhythmic and melodic patterns over the whole form.

 

Partly as a result of my mental energy and partly just the recent hard work, I was happy to notice I had the changes memorized in a few run-throughs. I made a point out of trying a lot of different rhythms, a lot of different melodic choices (pentantonic patterns, diminished patterns on dominiants, mixing triplets with 16ths, etc).

 

Overall, it was a great day. I felt a lot of improvement from yesterday, and made a lot more progress today.

 

Happy practicing!

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