There are so many aspects that go into being a good musician on any instrument, it becomes easy for many musicians to get overwhelmed along the way and simply not know what or how to practice. I know, I’ve been there!! In order to know what to practice, we have to think about why we practice in the first place and what we wish to achieve. When asked this question the obvious answer is, we practice to SOUND good:) Well…let’s start there, as how we SOUND is a VITAL aspect to our musicianship.
SOUND, to me, is the most important and fundamental aspect of being a musician. You can play all the right things, but if you sound bad doing it know one will want to listen. So what is SOUND and how do you practice getting YOUR SOUND?
Most people consider SOUND equivalent to tone, and while this has some truth, it is not the whole truth. SOUND is the unique aspect that makes you identifiable as a player. It is your musical fingerprint, and just like a fingerprint, it contains information about your playing. Phrasing, Rhythm, Time, Dynamics, Articulation, Tone, Intonation, and Technique all go into making you SOUND like you!
Practicing to achieve a great SOUND is vital and should make up a large chunk of any saxophone players practice routine. While all the things that go into making your SOUND are important, there are four foundational aspects that I believe should be practiced daily to master your instrument and start the road towards achieving your personal SOUND.
The four foundational aspects of SOUND are tone, intonation, articulation, and technique. You should include exercises that fit into each of these categories in your daily practice routine to ensure you are creating a strong foundation to your saxophone playing.
Practicing these foundational types of exercises will, over time, allow you to gain complete control and manipulation of your SOUND. Achieving this will allow you to focus on the extended aspects of SOUND (phrasing, time, rhythm etc..) and repertoire with much more proficiency and comprehension.
I have included a 2 page PDF that breaks these categories down for you. Print it up and write in the exercises that apply to each category. This gives you something to look at when you practice. It will also serve to remind you of everything we as saxophone players need to work on to be a solid player. Notice the 2nd page has space for the music you are working on as well as rhythm, miscellaneous and notes.
I know…some of you are probably saying, “I don’t know exercises for all of these categories, or how to go about figuring them out”. Well, don’t worry…one of my major goals for this Blog is to put up multiple exercises in each of these categories for you to utilize. So keep checking in to add to your Practice Proficiency Outline:)