Home Alt Forums Daily Practice Routine #1 improving Intonation?

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    Warning – idiot on line – take with a pinch of salt – could be spouting a whole load if tosh!

    Ok – so you’ve checked the reed is positioned correctly? you’ve checked the ligature is positioned correctly? you’ve got the tuner out or the keyboard out and checked the mouthpiece is postioned correctly on the neck correctly? you’ve done JF’s tuning tips & you sound in tune?

    So you should be playing in tune now? wrong!!!

    Ok – everyone knows their own sax’s quirks? which notes may need a bit more/less embouchure?

    Fine then – but there is something else that needs exercising! Watch JF’s daily practice routine.

    Pay close attention to when he plays notes only on the mouthpiece.
    He doesn’t hit each note perfectly in pitch straight away, if you listen carefully he brings each note into focus.
    His mind knows what the note should sound like and when he blows his mind quickly adjusts his embouchure to correct the pitch. After a few minutes warmup i bet he can hit the pitch correctly everytime.

    Theres 4 different aural exercises you can do – which doesn’t involve playing an instrument. The best one is called echoing – simply put, you listen to a pitch (Doh as in doh ray me don’t use c, d e) and imagine the pitch first. Keep doing that until you can imagine it and recall it, then sing or hum the pitch and compare it to the keyboard pitch. Do this until your singing/huming sounds like the keyboard pitch.

    So play a note and echo it back by singing/humming. What you are doing there is training/resetting your mind/inner ear to play back what a pitch sounds like. You can then advance this to echoing different keyboard phrases!

    They say Jimmy Hendrix (who was pitch perfect) when he started out, didn’t have a tuner, so he used to go to his local music store, listen to the pitch, remember it and then went home & tuned up his guitar from memory (dont know if thats true or not) – similar to echoing?

    In my case i have bad pitch recall, so every day only for the 1st 5 mins, i just use the mouthpiece & a keyboard (ipad keyboards will do) i play a Doh sound (C), listen to it, imagine it, play it on the mouthpiece to what i imagine it to sound like, bring it into focus, then i play the keyboard Doh, and echo it straight away with the mouthpiece, if both pitchs sound close – i’m in a win win situation!

    I then repeat it for the whole scale (doh to upper octave doh)! What that does for me is train/reset my inner ear everyday to the correct pitch/frequency – may sound OTT, but after a few weeks, you start to notice when you play a backing track some of the notes you play on the sax sound slightly off! This is a good thing – your pitch recall is improving!

    If anyone else has methods for good intonation – please share, i have an open (i like to think i do) and i’m always open to improve ment!


    Very interesting. Will have to try it out. After playing for nearly going on 3 years intonation is one of those annoying things. Like u said I warm up, get instrument in tune with a tuner, make sure mouthpiece is correct, even use the YouTube a440 tuner Johnny has video of and when I play find out it is still off.
    The sax is def different than that of pianos and guitars. Just because it’s in tune doesn’t mean we will play in tune because of the other variables.
    Thanks for this info. Doesn’t hurt to have more exercises in the arsenal.


    The reason i say imagine/use Do, Re, Me, fa ,so, la, ti, do
    instead of c,d,e,f,g,a,b,c is because you can practice it on any major scale
    and start with Doh (you don’t wan’t to be starting on different letters – too confusing).

    i then play simple songs like happy birthday & think in terms of ‘doh doh rey doh fah soh’
    ‘doh doh rey doh soh fah’ etc..

    in relation to doh i then imagine:
    the rey (asin happy birthday),
    the mee (as in oh when the saints)
    the fa (as in here comes the bride)
    the so (as in twinkle twinkle little star)
    the la (my bonny lies over the ocean)
    you get the picture, that way i can imagine what each pitch is like
    without having to refer to a keyboard/tuner if i forget.
    All good inner ear pitch training.

    if you can’t imagine a note in its correct pitch, i can’t see how you
    honestly tell if you are playing it correctly pitch wise. Aural exercises
    are a bit under-rated but they do help.

    There are other aural exercises – which are useful – one of them is you listen
    to a song, and try and remember where? the volume changes in the song and was it slowly or fast?,
    where any change of playing occured? was it smooth or staccato? etc…

    For me the hardest aural exercise is clapping in time to a song (loudly on the 1st beats in a bar),
    which is great for focusing on rhythmn, and then saying what time it is in.

    Like i say, if anyone else has any good ideas for learning the mind/inner ear to be in good
    pitch – i would be interested to hear what works for them.

    Piano players are lucky (assuming the piano has been tuned)
    guitar players are less lucky, they still have to tune each string & when they
    play a note on the fret, they can bend the note by pressing harder on the string,
    so they can go out of tune as well, but not as bad as playing the sax (BEAST)


    should have said ‘doh doh rey doh fah me’

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