Practice Log: 17–23 March (Sunday–Saturday)

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series 2024 Practice Log

This is my regularly updated practice log, mostly for accountability with my saxophone practice. Below you can see my practice for the week. If you’d like to check it out, here’s my goal list of tunes for the year. 

I’m still working on “Four” for this week, but I’ve selected my next tune for my study project: “Skylark.” The chords are challenging but overall playing over them isn’t so tough. I’m planning to do a harmonic analysis, though, just to see how it ticks. I’m surprised at how few versions I could turn up on Youtube. 

Below, you can see a log of my practice sessions for the week.

Preamble

I did my best this week, despite work still being ridiculously busy. (Less busy than the week before, with one class canceled, but still.)  


Sunday

I did just over an hour, all on soprano. 

Soprano Sax: 

  • Long Tones: Jumps and falls from middle G, progressing chromatically, p<f>p.     
  • Scales/Modes:  Major scales in 6ths, chromatic progression. 
  • Patterns: n/a 
  • Tunes:
    • “Four” (without leadsheet)
    • “In a Sentimental Mood” (without leadsheet)
    • “Skylark” (with leadsheet)
    • “Up Jumped Spring” (without leadsheet)
    • “Fly Me to the Moon” (without leadsheet)

Problem areas:

  • Highest Pitches Tuning. They’re a challenge. I can now get an altissimo G out about half the time on soprano, but the tuning from about D upward is shaky unless I’m very focused. The tuning throughout the rest of the horn is mostly not bad, though there’s some wonkiness with middle C#. (It seems to come out a little flat.)
  • Blat Below. There’s still some blat to the lower notes on the horn, though playing with a harder (i.e. unsanded) 2½ Geen Java reed helps with that, as it forces me to have more awareness of breath control. I still love the tone I’m getting on the Gaia mouthpiece.  

Monday

I did and hour and a half on tenor. I was exhausted, so it was just long tones and tunes. 

Tenor Sax: 

  • Long Tones: Jumps and falls from middle G, progressing chromatically, p<f>p.   
  • Tunes:
    • “Four” (no leadsheet)
    • “In a Sentimental Mood” (no leadsheet)
    • “Skylark” (no leadsheet)
    • “Up Jumped Spring” (no leadsheet)
    • “Fly Me to the Moon” (no leadsheet)
    • “Stella by Starlight” (just the head, with leadsheet and without, because it was stuck in my brain)

Notes:

  • The Wall. I’ve hit it. My tenor sax needs repairs, and I have a day off tomorrow, so I’m going for it. 

Tuesday

As I noted the other day, I took my tenor sax for repairs. The tech I go to in town is very nice, and did all the necessary work—recorking the neck, checking for leaks, adding some corks to silence mechanisms—for only W30,000 (less than $30.00) US. I picked up some 2½ Java Green tenor reeds and a neck swab while I was there, but because I’d only brought my tenor (and because I had a lot of work to do for school this week, as well as some proofreading to do) I dispensed with my daily trip to the practice room. 


Wednesday

Having gotten my tenor repaired, I did 100 minutes on tenor today. 

Tenor Sax: 

  • Long Tones: Jumps and falls from middle G, progressing chromatically, p<f>p. 
  • Scales/Modes: Major scales in 6ths, full range, round the circle of fifths. 
  • Patterns: Today’s pattern was simple: bars 2-3 of “Four” played in chromatically ascending lines and also around the circle of fifths. 
  • Tunes:
    • “Four” (with and without the leadsheet, a LONG workout.)
    • “Skylark” (with leadsheet)

Notes:

  • Four More. I thought I had a good handle on “Four” but it all fell apart today, and I had to go back to the leadsheet and work it over. I did a fair bit of “free” playing over the chords because honestly most of the play-alongs available online assume you can play the tune at much faster tempos than I’m ready for. 
  • Remaining Clacks. There are a couple of cork replacements that the tech missed on my tenor, which means it still clacks occasionally when I’m playing. I’m going to make a list of remaining issues and then go back to see him. At that point, it’ll just be my soprano that needs work. (But the soprano, having gotten bent slightly, probably needs more work than all my other horns did combined, and it might be more than he’s prepared to do.)

Thursday

I usually miss on Thursday this semester, and today was no exception. What can I say, it’s a very long workday and not just for me… 


Friday

I did two hours: an hour and a half on soprano, and half an hour on bari. 

Soprano Sax: 

  • Long Tones: Jumps and falls from middle G, progressing chromatically, p<f>p. 
  • Scales/Modes: Mixolydian mode, full range. 
  • Patterns: Bars 2-3 of “Four” played in chromatically ascending lines and also around the circle of fifths. 
  • Tunes:
    • “Up Jumped Spring”
    • “Four”
    • “Skylark”

Bari Sax:

  • Long Tones: Jumps and falls from middle G, progressing chromatically, p<f>p. 
  • Tunes:
    • “Skylark”
    • “Four”

Notes:

  • Bottom End. The bottom end on my soprano still is a little warbly and unstable, no matter how well I support the air column, so I suspect issues.  

 


Saturday

I did an hour and forty minutes on alto, and then a little playing on piano while waiting for my son to finish with his board game club/Lego build session. 

Alto Sax: 

  • Long Tones: Jumps and falls from low and middle G, progressing chromatically, p<f>p. 
  • Scales/Modes: Mixolydian mode, full range. 
  • Patterns: Bars 2-3 of “Four” played in chromatically ascending lines and also around the circle of fifths. 
  • Tunes:
    • “Up Jumped Spring”
    • “Four”
    • “Skylark”
    •  

Piano: 

  • “Skylark” (ran the chords, sight-transposing them from my Bb lead sheet). 

Notes:

  • Piece Problems? There are a few unstable notes on my alto, which I cannot explain. Low C/C#/D are weird. So is middle D, and middle G. The problem is more prominent on my Braone mouthpiece, and less noticeable on my Fire, so (weird as it sounds) I’m not sure if the mouthpiece is part of the issue or not. Fire’s a paint peeler, too… I cannot imagine it would end up being my primary mouthpiece, but it’s a decent stopgap till I can find one with a little more darkness to balance the brightness and power. 

Summary & Progress

Overall I’m happy with:

  • Tone. I like the tone I’m getting on all my horns now. It’s not perfect, it’s all all the way to the sound I want, but it’s on the right track. 

Things I’m struggling with and need to do/work on:

  • Time. This semester is curb-stomping my free time, and I think I might need to work on practice efficiency. In some ways, I’ve been experimenting with that, using scales as part of my long tone practice for example. 
  • Scales practice. It’s easy to default to what I know. I need to get back to 6ths and 7ths. 
  • Tunes. Things have slowed a little, in part because “Four” is quite challenging, and because I haven’t had a chance to sit down and do an analysis of the chord progression on “Skylark.” 
Series Navigation<< Practice Log: 3 March–9 March (Sunday–Saturday)

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