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Practice Makes Permanent


Practice Makes Permanent

by Elise

Practicing is a big part of being a human. We must complete repetitive tasks to strengthen our skills and become more efficient and precise.  This is true for any occupation, sport, or hobby.  A quarterback practices passing, moving in the pocket, calling audibles, recognizing defensive positioning, and a number of other things. Today I will go over some practice techniques that will help you grow as a musician.

First off, a good practice routine is to have an established schedule and to practice no longer than you can focus. Taking breaks will help you to retain your focus and to re-energize. A good practicing schedule may consist of scales, long tones, then etudes, and finally your repertoire. It is good to always practice slower than you think you need and work your way up incrementally with a metronome. I always begin with establishing my sound and embouchure before I move on.  I like doing a mouthpiece warm up for saxophone in which I blow into just the mouthpiece.  A concert “A” comes out (use your tuner) and then I work my way up and down a C major scale chromatically on just the mouthpiece. You can do this by manipulating your throat and embouchure. After I put my sax together, I play my overtones. An overtone for sax is when you get a higher note to come out by only manipulating your throat. Try playing a “G” and jump up an octave without using your octave key. Overtones take a great deal of practice and patience.

Once all those basics are covered, I do my scales at 60 bpm for the full range of the instrument up and down.  I suggest that beginners start with just one octave and expanding as you grow more comfortable with the instrument. After scales, I play thirds. You can do several different variations on this. You can do arpeggios, up three scale notes and then down one, or even skip notes (1,3,2,4…) until you reach the octave and begin your decent back down. These exercises should all be done with a metronome keeping time. A metronome not only keeps you in time but also keeps you honest. Your internal clock is not good enough if you have neglected practicing with a metronome. Just remember that practice makes permanent. This goes for both good and bad habits.

Now it’s time for an etude. There are hundreds of etudes that you can add to your routine. Etudes help you strengthen your reading and playing to become a well-rounded musician. Again, use your metronome while playing. It’s important to work only as long as you can focus. I’ll finish my practice routine with my repertoire for classical saxophone.

Come down to your local Music & Arts Center and browse through our large selection of books, accessories, and any other supplies. Lessons are a great way to be guided through practicing techniques, learning new things, and participating in performances. What’s the point of practicing if you can’t showcase your talents! I hope you found this helpful on your pursuit to becoming the best musician possible.  Best of luck!