Expanding exercises

Did my best today.


30 Minutes long tones

20 Minutes flute

20 Minutes scales

1 Hour tunes/improv


I started early in the morning with long tones on sax. Moving slowly in half steps, I focused on purely my sound descending to the bottom of my range. I used a trick I learned months ago, envisioning a tennis ball slowly expanding in my throat to get a more "open" sound. When I started to ascend to the top, I used a tuner and expanded my focus to include tuning. At times, I would intentionally lip up by about 10 cents to train my ear to notice small changes.


Next, I busted out the flute. Long tones as usual. I set my standards a bit higher than usual today. I really made sure to start with my absolute best sound. Sometimes I am forgiving as I get to the lower range, since it is harder, but I forced myself to maintain the quality of my tone as best as I could.


Previously, I was more concerned with whipping my muscles into shape on flute, but now I feel that I can really aim for sound now that I have a decent amount of control.


After that, I did some scale work on diminished scales. Instead of playing in thirds, I chose to play in diatonic 4ths, which at times are major thirds, and at times are perfect fourths. It's a fantastic exercise for several reasons. One, it increases my mental and physical understanding on the scales. Two, it has a very cool sound that could at times function as a lick. Three, it is a way to practice maintaining all elements of technique over larger intervals.


I used a metronome at about 40 BPM and played 8th notes. It's very slow, but it's what I needed to play with good time and technique for the first trial of this exercise. I played it ascending and descending across the full range of the horn.

After that, I improvised over some tunes. I used "Cheesecake" by Dexter Gordon and "Boplicity" by Gill Evans.


"Cheesecake" is in an easy key with relatively simple changes. Mostly ii-V's. It was perfect for experimenting with the simplified licks I've been writing. I tried to have a focus from chorus to chorus; for instance one time I played exclusively in 5. Another time I played exclusively chord tones.


Boplicity was a little more interesting, with some #11 chords and fewer ii-V's. But it was fun because it forced me to be more creative. I bounced back and forth between simple bebop-type ideas when applicable, and playing more "expressively" on stagnant changes. I experimented a lot rhythmically as well. Overall, I'm trying to find different ways to produce interesting ideas aside from simply pitches.


Was a solid workout overall, but not as long as I would have liked. Had some personal issues to resolve that ate up time. It's okay because it cleared up stress that would have bothered me the rest of the week.


Happy practicing!

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