Practice Log: 31 March–13 April (Two weeks, Sunday–Saturday)

This entry is part 9 of 10 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” but I’m pretty much happy with my progress on “Skylark.” I’ll be choosing another tune this week. (The second week covered in this post, for reasons covered below.)

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

Preamble

The week of 31 March to 6 April, I didn’t get to the practice room. This was the result of a few things: exhaustion was a big one—I caught up on my sleep—and having to go to several doctors on the same day filled up even my prep day (my day off teaching) with tasks, but in addition some side project work came up and I had to hustle—and use most of my scarce spare time—to get it finished on time. The positive news is the side gig should earn me enough to get an educator licensed copy of Ableton Live Suite, and some other small pieces of gear I’ve been needing, like some reedguards.   

I did practice from 8 April onward, and that’s what is covered below. 


Monday

I did one hour and twenty minutes, all on soprano sax

  • Long Tones: Jumps and falls from middle G, progressing chromatically, p<f>p.     
  • Scales/Modes:  Locrian mode in 7ths, round the circle of fifths. 
  • Patterns: n/a
  • Tunes:
    • “Skylark” (with leadsheet)
    • “Four” (without leadsheet)
    • “Up Jumped Spring” (without leadsheet)

Notes:

  • Embouchure Bomb. After just a week away, my embouchure was definitely feeling it, but I powered through.  
  • Scales in 7ths. The funny thing is that once you’ve learned one set of scales in sevenths, learning the others isn’t as hard. You’re really just playing combinations of patterns from other scales or modes, so it’s a smaller adjustment. This really surprised me. 
  • Tunes Update.  It took longer than usual for me to get into the groove with this stuff. 

Tuesday

I did a hundred minutes, all on tenor sax

  • Long Tones: Jumps and falls from middle G, progressing chromatically, p<f>p.     
  • Scales/Modes:  Locrian mode in 7ths, round the circle of fifths. 
  • Patterns: n/a
  • Tunes:
    • “Doxy” (no leadsheet)
    • “Skylark” (with leadsheet)
    • “Four” (without leadsheet)
    • “Up Jumped Spring” (without leadsheet)

Notes:

  • Flow. It’s still taking me longer than I’d like to reach a flow state, through Melissa Aldana’s trick—”play very few notes, and quietly”—helps me get there faster.  

Wednesday

I did a hundred minutes, all on alto sax

  • Long Tones: Jumps and falls from middle G, progressing chromatically, p<f>p.     
  • Scales/Modes:  Locrian mode in 2nds, round the circle of fifths. 
  • Patterns: n/a
  • Tunes:
    • “Skylark” (without leadsheet)
    • “Four” (with/without leadsheet)
    • “Up Jumped Spring” (without leadsheet)

Notes:

  • Embouchure Bomb. Still hurtin’, but I’m often like that with alto anyway. 
  • Take More Mouthpiece. It’s tried and true advice but it is actually good. With alto, I’m working on my embouchure and taking a little more mouthpiece, as well as moving away from the French embouchure, is helping me get the tone I want on alto. The horn demands more breath support than tenor, which seems to always take me a little by surprise, but I am happy with my progress in terms of getting the tone I want. (That said, I still suspect a Theo Wanne Gaia or Durga would get me closer to what I want.)

Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Thursdays are an off day: no time to get to the practice room. Friday and Saturday, I was loaded with work and had to miss too.


Summary & Progress

Overall I’m happy with: 

  • Not much. I missed more days than I’d like, but I knew it was coming, because we’re coming up on midterm exams and life gets busy. 
  • Tunes: I am happy with “Four” and “Skylark”; I think Skylark’s ready to call “learned” but with “Four” I still want to get more comfortable with playing it uptempo. I also need to choose a new tune.  

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

  • Well… everything? I was really feeling the time I took off, even though I had no choice about it. The embouchure’s the first thing to start going. 
Series Navigation<< Practice Log: 17–23 March (Sunday–Saturday)

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