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      For the past 9 yrs i’ve always practiced playing songs from music sheets, playing alongside the sax player on the backing track as well as playing along with the backing track without the sax player.

      I’ve found most of the time playing various music sheets one after another gets sort of robotic, unless it’s a well known song that i’ve liked listening to in the past then i can relate to playing the sheet with more expression.

      But recently i decided to learn to play one tune from memory without looking at the music sheet. To start off with, i picked a well known tune, that most sax players would agree that it’s one of the easier tunes to start out learning to play from memory – that is, if you haven’t played from memory before.

      So i picked “Fly me to the Moon” using a music sheet that has the words of the song written on the sheet along with 2 backing tracks – both with and without the sax player.

      So to start of, i memorised the 1st four singing lines – the [A1] section of the song, and using my memory i played along with the backing track sax player loads of times until i was playing in time with the sax player, then i switched to playing along with the backing track without the sax player.

      What i did was for each of the 4 singing lines, i visualised in my mind all the sax key positions for each word sung on the music sheet. So without playing the sax, i played all the words sung in my head not looking at the music sheet while at the same time visualising the sax key positions in my head without moving my fingers.

      So i memorised singing the 1st 4 lines and their sax key positions in my head in relation to where the notes were on the sax sheet and some of the note lengths.
      When i could do that, then i picked up the sax and went through the same imaginary process over and over while playing the sax.

      After several weeks of having to refer back to the music sheet every now and then, it actually came to a place were i was spending less and less time having to look back at the music sheet if i went wrong.

      Then i found i could play the [A1] Section without thinking about it, the amazing thing after several hundred run throughs of [A1] i found when i was playing along to the backing track without the sax player, it was stress free, not worrying about making a mistake , even though if i made a mistake i was able to recover quite quickly. I found the sax tune sound was by far more better sounding tone and expression compared to just playing straight from the sheet.

      After one session, i found i could play quite a way through several well known Beatles’ tunes by ear. Compared to straight sheet playing, it felt far more rewarding and intense playing from memory. I haven’t completed the whole tune yet, two remaining sections are very similar to [A1], but the hardest part will be playing the Solo section. But i have to say i’ve had more fun trying to play from memory than playing a music sheet, and it’s less stressful than playing a music sheet when you can do it, less worrying about parts where you’ve made past repeated mistakes. Also, when you can do that, and you decide to just play the sheet instead, you find playing the sheet is dead easy.


        ya right on…you’re doing it right. I also discovered that a long time ago; when we play a tune from memory it sounds better than reading off the sheet. I would say, we don’t really know a tune until it’s memorized. I still need to read some while recording a video because I simply didn’t have enough time and need to get them out. But when playing from memory we are, like you said much more relaxed and we do feel less stress.

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