Posts Tagged ‘Boulder Saxophone Lessons’

How will YOU speak through music?

March 12, 2016

By Eric Siegel

Practice, for some, can be harder than playing the instrument itself. Practice is easy when we start simple. Just about everything in music can be broken down into fundamental but little bits that need to be committed to memory. When you confidently know the note names, note values, each fingering, etc., you find that you won’t just be playing the music – you’ll be reading it, too! When you can read music, your vocabulary and ability will increase to intermediate concepts like phrasing, dynamics, and tempo/rhythm change. With enough retention, you might even forget that you’re reading the music at that point. You’ll be back to playing it, but with emotion and a more mature sound. Music really becomes a language.

Is it how much you practice that will make you better? No!!! Practice isn’t always how long you play your instrument. Practice is taking what is learned in lessons and applying that knowledge to your time playing your instrument before meeting again. In a world attached to busy and ever-changing schedules and so many people and things to take responsibility of, take 15-30 minutes of your day to get better at even just one aspect of your playing. Then, commit that to memory. Another day, another dollar.

Air is free, so breathe it all in – and lots of it! Flute, clarinet and saxophone aren’t woodwind instruments for no reason. Woodwind instruments are inoperable without a pair of lungs and lots of air, after all. They possess the clearest sound and tone with air backed up with abdominal (tummy) strength and control. Without an instrument in hand, try putting both your hands on your lower back and take a deep stomach-breath. That’s both of your lungs expanding. We need to use – one more time! – LOTS of air because the air has a bit of a ways to travel!

Have you ever blown air across an empty glass bottle and you’d hear it make a tone? The direction and speed of the air you’re blowing causes the bottle to vibrate fast enough to create a sound. The same principle stands with playing the flute, but optimal sound comes from knowing where to “point” the direction of the airstream, as well as air speed. Unlike the clarinet and saxophone, creating a flute sound doesn’t come from blowing into the instrument with a wooden reed. The speed of the air is what causes the flute to vibrate and, thus, sound. This makes flute tone all the more unique from clarinet and saxophone!

A clarinetist could hold the prestigious role of concertmaster for a world-renowned wind ensemble, but have just as much fun improvising with a big band if he or she wanted to! The clarinet has a recognizable sound that is versatile and uniquely colorful. Part of that is due to its dark wooden body, unlike the brass-bodied flute & saxophone. Whether an instrument is conical or cylindrical also affects what it will sound like; in this case, clarinet and flute possess cylindrical bodies.

Saxophone is arguably the instrument closest-sounding to the human voice. It has the ability to string out the emotions, energy and other characteristics of any genre. It can sound as beautiful to you as it sounds harsh to me, or vice versa! Just as every human being has a voice, every saxophonist has a sound.

How will YOU speak through music?

A Little Encouragement Goes A Long Way!

May 16, 2012

By Greg Warren, Saxophone, Flute, and Clarinet Instructor at The Lesson Studio

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As we all know, it takes a lot of consistent effort to get to where playing an instrument is stress free. For beginners especially, they realize that music is challenging and takes practice. One of the ways I engage my students is by giving them a choice—or a guided choice—of a song they might want to play, regardless of the instrument. For example, I have Flute players performing Katy Perry and Lady Gaga and Saxophone players performing The Tokens “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Let’s face it—every musician deep down wants to be a Rockstar! The reason these songs are successful for beginners is because they already know them, and have a connection to them through some avenue of pop culture.

This does not mean that the rudiments are not important. They are the basis for a solid foundation and success. The pop style music is just a great way to get young musicians to play their instruments. It is amazing how much more a young musician will practice a song if they have a connection. With any luck, in the future, they will gain respect for the rudiments and an understanding of why they are important.

On another note, summer is upon us, and young musicians are being asked if they are going to continue playing in Middle School. Many of them will say yes, and many will drop out. There is one thing I’ve learned—if parents encourage young musicians to play over the summer, they will be more prepared for the rigors of a new musical ensemble. A little bit of encouragement goes a long way!