Saxophone Forum


by cjbass
(14 posts)
9 years ago

Working on Speed

I feel like I'm on a plateau right now with speed, this next semester I am playing Milhaud's Scaramouche and some Sonny Rollins solos, and I just cant seem to get any faster. I try to start the metronome slow and gradually speed up, I also subdivide, for example playing 8ths as wholes, then halfs, then quarters....etc. Just wondering if anyone else has any way they practice building up speed, new ideas can really get me out of a rut. Thanks

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  1. by saxs_make_it_happen
    (42 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: Working on Speed

    what sax are you using? I heard that you can really boogie on selmers, but if you're like me and dont have a selmer, try building your forearm muscles up because I notice after practicing fast songs my fingers turn to mush after a while lol.

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    1. by jillybean_altosax
      (10 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: Working on Speed

      I have also been working on speed, and trying to get faster, and more accurate. I find that playing it all slurred till I get the fingerings down, and then adding the tounging helps me. :) I personally play on a Jupiter Artist Series (love it) and it also helps to make sure it's tuned up. I took my alto in for a check up and there were some leaks, and now it responds a lot faster. Good luck and enjoy playing :) Oh, and one more thing. when tounging the notes, focus on tounging against the reed and switching fingerings at the same speed, that way you don't have any slip ups. :)

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      1. by cjbass
        (14 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: Working on Speed

        It is a matter of accuracy for me especially over skips and jumps, is what has been difficult for me. I play on a Yanagisawa A991 and a T901 so I'm not worried about sax quality, and I know speed problems are me and not the saxophone. Really I'm kind of looking for techniques everyone uses to work on speed. Later CJ

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        1. by Sax Mom
          (964 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Working on Speed

          I play at a speed (with a metronome) at which I have 100% accuracy at least 3 times, then adjust the metronome one setting faster, play three times, one setting faster, play three times, and keep going until I no longer have the accuracy, then back it off two speed settings, and try again. That's my practice drill for speed accuracy.

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        2. by cjbass
          (14 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Working on Speed

          Thank you, Sax Mom. I have also tried that method and is one of the three techniques that I like to use. I just like to gather Ideas, the more I have to chose from the better off I will be, sometimes your fingers and brain need a different way of doing things to help you get past those speed bumps (no pun intended) Thanks CJ

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      2. by straightj23
        (103 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: Working on Speed

        It takes time to increase your speed! It will not happen overnight. I learned that the hard way. lol. Anyway, do what you've been doing. Use a metronome and go as slow as you possibly can. Learn so that you know the notes in order by heart. Then work on increasing speed. You want to take the increases slowly. Subdividing never worked for me. Good luck.

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        1. by selmer 4evr
          (309 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Working on Speed

          speed is developed by studying tongueing techiques especially the independance of tongue vs fingerings these two do not work in synch for paced paced playing

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      3. by OberlinTony
        (2 posts)

        8 years ago

        Re: Working on Speed

        In college we used the technique of rhythms to increase speed and facility. For even sixteenth notes you play them as 1-e-and-a, 2-e-and-a, etc. Now to train your brain and fingers to play faster, you can either increase tempo, or cheat a little by keeping the tempo the same and bunching up the notes in each beat in a consistent rhythm. For example, instead of playing 1-e-and-a, play 1-tri-pl-et, where the triplet starts on the "and" of 1.. All you are doing in this example is stretching the duration of the downbeat. Next try to stretch the "e" and then the "and" and then the "a." After doing this for a while, you will have trained yourself to play the notes in faster succession without actually increasing the tempo. Once you do increase the tempo, you will find the original rhythms automatically much easier to play. This works well for etudes with all sixteenths or all triplets like in the Sellner etudes. You can also apply this to your repertoire in any fashion you see fit. I first used these techniques in the first and fifth movements of Paule Maurice's Tableaux de Province. Within a week or so, I could play these movements up to tempo, leaving the rest of my time for improving musicianship and interpretation. I learned these techniques from Paul Cohen, Saxophone professor at the Oberlin Conservatory and Manhattan School, who told me stories of his strict technical studies with Galen Kral (an oboe professor). Good luck. I know how frustrating those brick walls can be!

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