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Lesson 02/25/2004

Posted by barb on Feb 25, 2004 in Saxophone

Andrew and I have decided that I can get a new horn with my tax return, so when Fred bitched again about how out of tune my high A is, I told him that I can get a new sax. Since Rudy wasn’t coming in, we decided to try a couple of the horns the store had in stock.

Yamaha has two models between the student version and the professional line — sort of a step-up and step-up-step-up. After playing both, Fred didn’t really think that the step-up-step-up was actually worth $400 more than the step-up. On the other hand, he wasn’t quite happy with the step-up one, either. So, the store is going to order another step-up to see if it’s better (or at least different). The store is also going to try to order a Jupiter sax, though Jupiter went out of business a while ago, so we don’t know if they can get one.

The benefits of the step-up horns over the student versions is that they are usually made of higher quality brass, and some of the openings are adjustable.

 
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Lesson 02/11/04

Posted by barb on Feb 13, 2004 in Saxophone

The last couple months I’ve felt like I haven’t really made any progress. Last week after my lesson I decided that no matter what, I was going to come into this week’s lesson with a good attitude and be ready to play a duet or two. That’s exactly what I did. I actually felt fairly confident with both duets we played, even though I messed up in a couple spots (though in one case I recovered pretty quickly, and in the other case Fred compensated by dropping a note).

The bad news is that I’m starting to find that my old horn is getting in the way. We fixed some of the problems with the new mouthpiece, and I’ve been able to get some of the notes to play in tune just by the pressure on the reed. However, the upper register is just plain out of tune, and it’s making the duets sound kind of crappy. I’m going to look into getting a new sax with my tax return, even though it was all supposed to go into the wedding fund.

 
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Lesson 02/04/04

Posted by barb on Feb 4, 2004 in Saxophone

Once again, I feel like I’m just not making much progress despite practicing as much as I always have. I played a couple things for Fred, but am not moving on from any of the pieces I’ve been working on.

He did mention that I should think about joining a city band, perhaps after the wedding when things calm down a bit. I was shocked to hear this, considering the slump I’ve been in, but he said that I was good enough for it — I may not be able to play everything, but I would be able to play some of the pieces.

 
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Lesson 01/21/04 — Cancelled

Posted by barb on Jan 21, 2004 in Saxophone

I cancelled my lesson tonight because I just wasn’t feeling well. I hate being a girl sometimes.

 
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Lesson 01/14/04

Posted by barb on Jan 14, 2004 in Saxophone

Fred was still getting over whatever illness he had last week, so we didn’t play any of my duets.

Instead, I mentioned that I’d been having some trouble playing with the 2 1/2 reed this week. I put it on Monday and played fine for about 5 minutes, and then I couldn’t get anything out of the horn except air or a magnificent squeak. Tuesday I was able to play with 2 1/2 reed for about 20 minutes before the same thing happened. Fred’s not sure what’s going on, but I may just need to work more with the 2 1/2 — using my jaw to add more pressure. Plus, it’s not unusual for a player to have two strengths of reed that they play.

I had put my 2 1/2 reed on, optimistically, and played a few things with it tonight. The sound is pretty good, when I can get it out. And, of course, I didn’t have any of the problems I’d had with the reed at home. I’m going to continue working on three of the duets I’ve been practicing. I’m also going to continue working with A-major, trying to play a few pieces to better ingrain the scale in my head and fingers. Right now I still find it hard to play, especially fitting in G# — the side key is a bit awkward to get to in a hurry. Fred pointed out that I can just keep that key down for any of the lower notes (F, E, D), so as long as I know a G# is coming up, I can get the side key down anytime before hand. I’ll work on that with the pieces I’m playing. Eventually, I trust, G# will become second nature….I hope.

 
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Lesson 12/17/03

Posted by barb on Dec 18, 2003 in Saxophone

I’ve been finding that I’m just not making much progress right now in my playing. It’s frustrating, but not unexpected. I just need to remember that I’ll get over this plateau, and start making progress soon. I just need to practice my way through it.

Instead of playing anything out of my books today, Fred had me try playing a few tunes by ear. We started with “The First Noel” in C major. Then I tried “Jingle Bells” in D major and G major. Finally I tried “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in F major. It was actually quite fun, and though some notes took a bit of time to find, I was able to play all of them with some success.

 
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Lesson 12/10/03

Posted by barb on Dec 10, 2003 in Saxophone

Fred and I were working on a duet this evening that I wasn’t yet very comfortable with, and he suggested that it might be a good time to work on playing vibrato. Vibrato is where rather than playing a note smoothly, you hover around it in a controlled fashion. Sax players used to do this all the time to hide the imperfections in the tuning of their horns. Since I have an old horn, and there are a few notes that are just not in tune, it’s something I should know how to do. The trick is that vibrato is done with the jaw. Not the lips or the mouth, but the jaw.

I’m continuing on with duets, working on three (but I don’t have my book handy to see which ones they are).

I also picked up a book of Christmas music, but they are all fairly simple, so I’ll be just playing them for fun on my own.

 
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Lesson 12/03/03 — Cancelled

Posted by barb on Dec 3, 2003 in Saxophone

I had to fly off to Minnesota unexpectedly, so no lesson this week.

 
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Lesson 11/26/03

Posted by barb on Nov 26, 2003 in Saxophone

I was getting frustrated with that 18th century piece (#31 in the Voxman book) I’ve been working on. Every time I play it, I seem to sound worse than the last time I played. So, I decided over the week to move on to a different piece, and also to go back to my “regular” book and work on the A-major scale.

 
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Lesson 11/19/03 — Cancelled

Posted by barb on Nov 19, 2003 in Saxophone

Bad weather tonight. The store was still open, but I was tired from my commute home (second worst), and worried about Andrew getting home from work.

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