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Home Alt Forums Problems With Your Sax? Timing issues

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      Still working through Rubanks Elementary Methods.

      i got used to playing in time for the various common combinations of 1/4, 1/8 and 1/16 notes working in C Major, G Major, D Major, F Major and Bb Major scales.

      Then i hit the music pages working in Eb Major, Ab Major, A Major, and E Major Scales – i couldn’t believe the timing problems related to reading music sheets in scales with more flats and sharps. Fumbling around playing lots of wrong notes.

      In terms of timing it’s like starting from scratch all over again, not impossible but an eye opener. Seems like you have to get used to playing in time for each Scale.


        I worked out what i need to do.

        the 1st 36 pages of Rubanks elementery methods concentrates mainly on timing from whole notes, half notes, 1/4 notes, 1/8 notes up to 1/16 notes, based around C Major, G Major, D Major, F Major and Bb Major scales.

        Pages 37 onwards assume you have done a lot of music sheet playing in A Major, E Major, Eb Major and Ab Major scales (which i haven’t) with the understanding that you are now familiar with all the various timings.

        So all i need to do is go through all the exercises in the 1st 36 pages but play it in a different Major scale ex where i see an exercise written in C Major i can pretend its written in Eb Major – that way i can build up the finger sheet reading technique in a scale that i haven’t had much practice in

        So by the time ive practice the 1st 36 pages in Eb Major rather than C Major, pages 37 onwards will be easier to play.


          that’s a great study, I had a couple of those books when I started playing the sax. it takes dedication. if we don ‘t use these methods we tend to only be comfortable in a few easier keys as well as the reading [art of it. good for you sx.


            Thanks John,

            It’s something i’ve only recently realised, all my Sax tutoring books just mainly focus on C Major, G Major and F Major when it comes to showing exercises for practicing in timing for various common combination of notes.

            Example, getting used to playing pairs of four 1/16th notes in time in C major, G Major and F major – doesn’t take long to get used to as most teaching books usually provide lots of exercises to get you up to speed with a metronome. However for someone like me, it didn’t occur to me that you need to repeat the same exercises in all the other Major scales to get the sight reading fingers trained, to make it easier to play in the rest of the Major scales.

            best wishes


              yes exactly. Many folks that communicate with me ask about which key a certain song is in (one that I transcribed for the site) and if it has anything more than one or two sharps or flats they will keep away from it, saying it’s just too hard to play.

              well, in the real world of playing with other people this would be crazy. Most bands I worked with (other than mine) were lead by guitar players who loved keys like E, A and B. When you transpose those keys for saxophone you end up in a land with many sharps or flats so you have no choice but to get good in those keys if you want to play along.

              As a great teacher of mine told me once; playing in C# or C is the same level of difficulty, physically speaking. So it’s all in our mind. If I ask you to play a C, then a C# you’ll see that one isn’t harder to play than the other.


                Thanks again John for taking time out to give feedback.

                I’ve now repeated the same 37 pages of timing exercises in C, G, D, A, F, Bb and Eb Major scales – this has made it easier to play music sheets in Eb and A Major in terms of timing.

                Now i’ve just got to repeat the same timing exercises in E an Ab Major scales and i can finish off the rubanks intermediate book, roughly equivalent to grade 4 abrsm, and start on the next rubanks book.

                Lack of sheet finger timing techniques in higher scales was making it longer to learn to play a music sheet in a higher scale. I now realise now that these piano players who spend hours practicing their sheet reading finger timing techniques in all various scales are such good music sheet players.

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