"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy



Saturday, February 26, 2011

Small Muscle Athletes

Whenever I'm looking for some intensive training on the soprano, I often practice classical etudes. In the past, my two favorite books were "Marcel Mule 48 Etudes d'apr├Ęs Ferling" and "158 Saxophone Exercises" by Sigurd M. Rascher.

However, more recently I've been working out of flute books. Flute etudes tend to have a lot of exercises that are left-hand oriented, not to mention the extended range, which is often in the saxophone's altissimo register.

The big advantage of practicing classical etudes is that you spend longer concentrated periods of time with the horn in your mouth, with little time to breath. So if you practiced a 5 minute etude, six times, after a 30 minutes or so, you've really felt like you've pushed your chops, which is a great way to build up endurance. This is particularly important to me because I often perform solo concerts, which can last anywhere from 30 - 60 minutes.

When practicing these types of etudes, it's good to have two or three that you're working on at a time, since each one will present it's own unique set of technical hurdles. It's like weight training. You don't want a workout where you only work on your biceps. You have to also work your abs, triceps, chest, legs, back, and any place where there are muscles.

And like lifting weights, you also have to let the muscles rest. And once they do, tear them down again. That's the name of the game. As they say, musicians are small muscle athletes

Anyway, give it a try, and let me know how it turns out.

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