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Just realized the sax "actor" looks like the short guy from Hall & Oates!
I think one of the most hair lifting and memorable sax solos is Clarence in Bruce Springsteens. Born to run. Just something about that solo that makes it legendary!
Ya no kidding, good one. One of the hi-lites of his shows when CC was still around.
Well – when I was at school (some time ago!) all my friends were into electric guitars which I never really got on with – however the two tracks that really made me sit up and think "wow – what a cool sound" and were instrumental (pardon the pun) in me taking up the saxophone were the sax solo in Pink Floyd's "money" – it just sounds fantastic to me and a sax solo in Roxy Musics original album called "Remake, remodel" I think. I didn't really know originally what the instrument was that made that sound – but with a bit of research I found out it was a saxophone. I couldn't afford one at the time (or rather my parents would not commit to buying one at the tender age of 12 or so) but what I could get was a cornet for (then) around £25 – which I played up until I was around 16. You have to understand that it wasn't cool to play brass instruments at that age so bowing to peer pressure I sold my cornet and didn't pick up another instrument for 20+ years – by which time kids and schools and music were getting my attention again. I did buy a second hand Boosey&Hawkes Tenor – joined a local swing band and switched to baritone. However up until now – I've never thought of trying to find "those" sax solos again! Thanks for the reminder!
Yes, Money was one of the ones that turned my head around to the sax sound too!
There’s another one on that record I like to play sometimes…”Us & Them”
Sounds like Dick Perry to me…
My all time favorite is Harlem Nocturne, the Viscounts version.
http://youtu.be/qfWbRWTfKFg the long version
God I wish I could play this. I haven't been able to find sheet music for it.
Ya, I have a cd that has about 20 tracks, all different versions of Harlem Nocturn!
I may have the music for that.
Hi there,,here is a transcribed version of Harlem Nocturne, the Viscounts version. I don`t write music notation so my version is like a tab,,sorta,,I hope this is a start,as I worked it out myself,,
G F# E, C~C# E~~~
E F# A B A D~~~~~~~~A B C
A E D~~A B C
D E A D ~ G C F Bb ~ Eb G# C# F# ~B~ E D `B C# E G# B
A~~E A G “EE D C#~ A E A G “EE D C#~ A
E G ~~ G F# E C~C# E
E F# A B A D~~~~~~~~A B C
A E D~~A B C
D E A D ~ G C F Bb ~ Eb G# C# F# ~B E – A D – G F#~~~~
F# `C# F# G#~~~~ A~~~F~~~~~~~~
F# C# A F#~~ G#~A C# B~
B F# B C#~~~~ D~~~Bb~~~~~~~~~~
B A F# D C#~~ G# G F#
sorry missed a part,, here`s the whole thing didn`t cut and paste it right ,,har har
F# `C# F# G#~~~~ A~~~F~~~~~~~~
F# C# A F#~~ G#~A C# B~
B F# B C#~~~~ D~~~Bb~~~~~~~~~~
B A F# D C#~~ G# G F#
F# C#~ C~ B~ Bb A~~~E F# G~~
B Bb~A,, E F# G~~
B Bb~A,, E F# G~~
G F# E, C~C# E
E F# A B A D~~~~~~~~A B C
A E D~~A B C
D E A D ~ G C F Bb ~ Eb G# C# F# ~B~ E D `B C# E G# B
A~~E A G “EE D C#~ A E A G “EE D C#~ A
E G ~~ G F# E C~C# E
E F# A B A D~~~~~~~~A B C
A E D~~A B C
D E A D ~ G C F Bb ~ Eb G# C# F# ~B E – A D – G F#~~~~
F# `C# F# G#~~~~ A~~~F~~~~~~~~
F# C# A F#~~ G#~A C# B~
B F# B C#~~~~ D~~~Bb~~~~~~~~~~
B A F# D C#~~ G# G F#
As far as more Contemporary songs featuring Sax Players, Forget Me Nots by Patrice Rushen features Gerald Albright on Sax (solo starts at 3:00 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2XhhuM9GZo). Another favorite is Candy by Cameo featuring Michael Brecker on Sax (Michael is not in the video, but you can definitely recognize it's his Sax work). I didn't know these two Saxophone Greats were the soloists on these R&B Hits until much later on in life, but I quickly recognized the versatility both Players have in various styles.
That said, one of my first Mainstream Jazz Saxophone solos comes from Stanley Turrentine. His tune called Pieces of Dreams hit my ears back in about 5th grade. My good Friend from up the street also played Sax and his Dad had the album and Pieces of Dreams is the title cut. My Friend's Dad had a new stereo and we wore that song out (and the stereo too!)
Turrentine combine strings with the Sax (not common practice) and I just stopped in my tracks when I heard that song! As a 10 year old hyper-energenic kid back then, that would have taken a lot to do!
Thanks for the walk down musical memory lane Johnny!
Here's the song Pieces of Dreams:
Ya, big fan of Turrentine as well. Played one of his tunes in college “Sugar” very cool tune. Piece’s of Dreams is nice with the strings…
He did a lot of stuff with organist Jimmy Smith as well… I think his wife also played hammond and they cut a record too. sax and hammond organ, that’s a good combo!
I think I was first attracted to the sax as a kid listening to Fats Domino, 'I'm in love again', 'Let the four winds blow' etc. Now I love all those greats like Dexter Gordon, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Turrentine, Stan Getz.
I took up blues Harp when I was fifty and after playing with musician pals in pubs thought Sax would be a breeze! I re-learned to read music and can follow a melody ok, but improvising I can't get my head around. Your intro into improvising has re-ignited me Johnny, explained the simple beginnings and a light switched on in my head. So thanks, the horn is coming out of the cupboard.
I read that Clarence Clemmons wasn't that brilliant at impro, Springsteen and he used to work out his solos and he stuck to that on the live shows. I want to be able to play along to 'Badlands', among others. Cheers, Billy.
Going back to the 70's, I was really taken by David Sanborn's work on David Bowie's Young American's. I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) David Bowie was somewhat of a sax player himself and he definitely put together a winner here for me.
Ya he does play a little sax. I think a couple of his early tracks are him but you can sure hear when it’s the unmistakable Sanborn alto!
I guess I'm showing my age here, but my all-time sax favourite is "Yakkety Sax"…..also love "Us and Them" by Pink Floyd……and "Rebel Rouser", which was originally a guitar solo by Duane Eddy, then became a sax favourite by many Rock 'n' roll bands in the day….
We’ve had several votes for this so here’s a great live version. This is Boots at his finest, tempo is faster than he originally recorded it and he also adds a few new parts in the middle…very nice:
And if I can add some others……"Harden My Heart"……"Maneater"….."It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"…and lastly, "Waiting on A Friend"….by Bobby Keys of the Stones…also a good one is "Brown Sugar", a good, dirty rock 'n' roll tune……
Enough, Johnny???? :>))
Good stuff. I was going to include Waiting on a Friend as well because they brought in one of the masters Sonny Rollins in for that one! Check out his tone, truly amazing…
Let’s not forget about Bobby Keys who played with the Stones for many years. What is he doing these days?
Yes! Well, he’s the same age as Keith Richards so just about 70 now. His band still does gigs, they’re called The Suffering Bastards and he’s still playing with the Stones…they did a few shows last month in New Jersey and Bobby was there..
Interesting, I 've never heard that about CC. The great Lee Allen would have played on much of that Fat's stuff, he also was the main tenor guy with little Richard.
One of the things I liked best about Rindy Ross's solos in Quarterflash were the ones where the sax lead was doubled/harmonized with the electric guitar (like at the end of Find Another Fool). I just think that a cool blend of sounds.
im really interested in the 80’s solos like the sax solo in Neighbours by the Rolling Stones.
That is also Sonny Rollins one of the all-time master jazz saxophonists, which definately brought a unique sound and approach to the Stones already unique sound. It was a real treat when that album came out in the very early 80’s.
If you have this in tenor, don't worry, I will transpose to alto, is a Latin Jazz genre…
Thank you and have nice thanks giving.
My all time favorite is Junior Walker's "What Does It Take (to Win Your Love). If I could sound like anyone, it would be Junior Walker.
I'd like to add one for my dad who has passed on.
Illinois Jacquet with Flying Home
My favourite story is how my dad skipped school to go see him play in Detroit. A most worthy sacrafice.
Always loved Stones Sweet Virgina. Love the Jump,Jive, Wail solo too. I can play it but can't hit altissimo. (Any tips on grow? Can't comprehend how to get enough air through the sax while 'garrgling'.
Do you mean growling? I don’t think you want to gargle while playing sax!
If you’re having trouble getting enough air it might be because you are letting too much growl voice come through in relationship to sax tone – try less growl and more sax tone.
i will like to hear an have the scores (If is possible) of "You decorated my life" by Kenny Rogers
I'm planning to play it for my mom's birthday!!
That’s a great idea, unfortunately I can’t take individual requests like that but you might do some searches online and eventually find the music.
The solo that inspired me to take up the sax was on Hazel O'Connor's track 'Will You'. It blew me away!! The others were 'Baker Street' Gerry Rafferty and 'Urgent' Foreigner.
Just checked out Will You, had never heard it before but the alto player sounds like it could be the same guy as on Baker Street.
Hi, just listened to Edgar Winter's Easystreet, never heard it before, what a brill live performance – well reccomended. Give me a couple more months practice I might sound that good. Also love the sax solo from Pink Floyds Money, am trying to nail it but with not much sucess! By the way – love a lot of the cheesy 80's stuff.
Ya, check back, I might do a lesson for the Money solo.
What a great initiative. Some great suggestions above. It might sound a bit cheesy, but what about the signature lines from Abba's "I do x5"? There were some pretty decent sax riffs in some of their other songs as well – might be worth a look.
yakkety Sax is there written music for it, I cannot find it here, has somebody got it , love a copy.
By the way I am Marqueritte Clasquin from the Netherlands I have been followint this site for quite a while and love it and learned alot from it.
When I played guitar there was a site like this and once a week he would send us a new riff is that an idea as with riffs we can do quite a bit.
See ya all
I may have it but not up on the website yet. Might be one for future lesson I suppose!
My all time favorite is "Harden My Heart" by Quarterflash. Just bought an alto sax yesterday…it was one of the things on my bucketlist…to learn the sax
There’s been a few people who also chose that song… Good luck with the alto!
Ok, theres one other song….I love "Europa" by Santana, and Greg Vail plays it beautiful on YouTube. Wonder how many years it will take me to play like that?
Ya that’s beautiful song Tina. That guy on youtube nails it right as well! Keep blowin your horn everyday if you can and you’ll get that tone. For me, I remember it being around 2 years of not sounding like a honking duck anymore!
I practice two to four hours a day and your lessons are the best on the internet!
Wow, way to go. When can we hear something?!
Hey I bought the E- Book for the first time in my life sstrange buying something and it is on a site at Amazone not even on my own site or computer maybe I am getting old. Anyway I love it , love it , love it, have I told you yet that I love it, no well I love it’s exactly what I was looking for. Thanks a million looking foward to your next E- Book.
Regards and keep on saxing.
'The Netherlands – it Heidenskip
Hey Marguerite you’re awesome! I just released it and you are the very first one who bought it! I have sold many CD’s but this is my first book and I’m so glad and proud about your compliments. Thank you for being a valued member here and for supporting what I am doing!
And please remember to post any questions regarding the lessons in the forum, in the section “Sax lessons and books” so everyone can get the relevant information.
May I take your “love it” comments and use them on my eBook promotions page?
After reading a bit from your book, Johnny, I googled a few of the great sax players you quoted, and then watched a couple of YouTube vids. Sam Taylor playing "Summertime" was great, although not really rock ' n' roll. But Big Jay McNeely playing "Deacon's Hop" (again, more bluesy than rock) was out-of-this-world. The range of sounds, and the differences of tones are remarkable!! Seems like he could play each of those seven notes thirty different ways!!!
Sam Taylor, like many of the players who got hired for rock and pop sessions were also jazz musicians that had a good feel for rock music… this may sound obvious but many jazz players didn’t, and don’t.
Don't get me wrong! I love Jazz and rocknroll, my favorites are Michael Brecker, Jan Garbareck, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman, etc, etc…
Speaking of classical music (first lines on this thread) Amy Dickson's soprano performance on this link is breathtaking (wonder where she gets so much air!)
Ya, beautiful soprano sound she’s got. Circular breathing a must on music like that, transcribing violin music I think she said…very nice.
as of November 14th, login on your web site doesn’t work.
Ya, been a big headache but I have some techies on the case and all will be smoothed out very soon I hope!
anything by ‘Johnny and the Hurricanes’ especially ‘Rocking Goose’ is it a sax solo or is he dueling with the guitarist?
no not ‘Rocking Goose’ the dueling is on ‘You are my Sunshine’ or is it on most of their tracks
Yes, on Rockin Goose the guitar and sax are trading off licks in the middle solo section.
On You Are My Sunshine There is no solo sax at all but it’s joined by trumpet and trombone who play only background lines.
Been a member since Feb 2012 and have enjoyed all the great stuff you have shared.
Right on Paul, thanks!
I downloaded the E-Book,”How to Play The Saxophone , but I’ve yet to see any of the videoes. My computer is working fine but none of the videoes play. The screen is there but it’s blank.
Weird…try going to this link right now and let me know what happens:
Ther ehave been many downloads and this is the first time anyone has had this problem so I’m assuming it’s something on your end, regardless we’ll figure a way around it.
I have ordered your book: Killer Blues and Rockin’ Sax Solos but have not received it yet. How long does it take to be mailed Out???
It’s an instant download so you either missed the page or it didn’t show up for you for some reason.
I’ll email you with instructions.
I’ve started working with the index left on the two keys, but the question is, is there any rule of thumb for using the other fingerings other than the standard left B and right F keys?
No. That’s why I showed you all the possibilities. We will each have a favorite way to play the Bb and sometimes your normal way isn’t possible. For example, trilling a B with a Bb.
I have your E book it is great but i am not as good as good as i thought,but with your help i see better things to come thanks for your help redtail
Glad to hear it! Post any problems you might run into on our forum here.
Never thought I would say this but I have just about given up golf for my just purchased tenor SAX.Wow am I hooked.
hi johnny. never heard such a great sax sound like yours. what kind of mouthpiece do you use? your site is very helpful to improve my sax knowledge. many thanks & best regards Klaus from Austria
Nice to hear from you Klaus.
I’ve stayed with Guardala mouthpieces. The 2 I have were hand made by Dave himself who is no longer making them but they are being made by a company and you can get them. The 2 I have are Michael Brecker , and King Curtis models.
I wrote a bit about them here:
Just downloaded the ‘Killer blues’ lesson. It’s really great and easy to handle. Thanks a lot..
*update – in the Killer Blues online page that has all the backing tracks, I have made them downloadable so you can now put them on your computer.
I’m a new member and very grateful that I found your site. You are very good at what you do and generous for sharing that with us as a mentor and teacher. I look forward to spending time learning from you. Thanks
Thanks a lot Randy! Glad you made it and hope you get a lot out of the resources here.
I’m looking for notes of the Sax solo of Foreigner’s ‘urgent’.
Does anyone have it or any idea where I can find it ?
Just seen your comment at the end of the list today and yes a truly great solo.
Not sure if you have found it yet but it is here:
Johnny: Your site is outstanding. There are many out there, but not as complete and informative. I just found out that my ligature is not so good. A new one is on the way. I’ll let you know. Your lessons are fun. The best way to learn. Tim
Right on Tim…which lig did you end up choosing?
Hi Johnny Yes, it helps a lot to download the backing track for the basic blues scale exercise. But miss the download for Pentatonic, lessons 2 and 3 ? Would be helpfull to have it on my phone or i-pod for exercising….
Anyway, I enjoy your lessons.. Best regards Klaus
Any suggestions for a 1947 Conn 10m which I’ve just got hold of but it came without a mouthpiece ? I’m totally baffled by science and the more I research online the worse it gets !
Ya I hear you! That’s why I went to Wayne and asked him to share a little about a few of his more recent purchases since my last mp purchase was over 20 years ago!
If you live in a large city area you’ll have access to several mp’s from a sax shop or large music store and you’re able to go in and try out whatever they have. Whatever feels best for you is what’s best for you, simple as that.
The basic things to consider is the amount of opening (space between reed and mp tip. If very too closed no good for producing a big tone, if too opened for your experience level gonna be very difficult to blow through. Play with something in the middle.
I got a Selmer Jazz Metal Mouthpiece “F” with a 3 reed on my 10m and it sounds deadly. Really made a difference for me. I found a Perfectone to work nicely too. It seems that different mouthpieces compliment different saxophones so it’s really all trial and error…
Oh you got that right!
Whats a Perfectone and are you sticking to one particular reed brand?
Thanks for sharing this. What would be interesting for me – as a beginner – is the relationship between the strength of the reed and the opening of the mouthpiece. I currently use a Yamaha 4c with Vandoren 2 1/2 on a Tenor-Sax and the tone is ok, but with a 3 I can’t get a tone out. The stronger the reed the better the tone someone told me, is this right? I want to play Jazz and pop, do I need a metal mouthpiece?
And what I have seen in the video is that the wood is going over the end of the mouthpiece, but in other videos you show that there should be a small gap between the reed and the end of the mouthpiece?
Nobody “needs” a metal mouthpiece…and I say that as someone who will only use one. There are many who get a great jazz, pop or rock sound without a metal mp.
Your current set-up sounds about right – not too open mp with a thinner reed. To develop your sound you could move up to a slightly more open mp – 5, 6, 7… but nobody can tell you which one, you need to try them and decide. The 7 may be too much of a jump for some, not others etc.
The theory behind the stronger the reed the better the tone is not accurate because there are way too many pro players with an awesome sound using a 2 1/2 to 3 reed! The difference here though is their mp. You shouldn’t change both on the same day or else how will you know you’ve made the right move. If you are curious to see what a stronger reed is going to do for you, get some 3’s and play em on your current mp. If your tone improves a bit great. If it simply made the whole process of blowing just a little more difficult then look at a wider mp but try it with the 2 1/2 still and if you like the wider mp you can then try the 3 reed and see if that helps further.
When it comes to this personal mp/reed set-up, it’s just that…totally a personal thing.
As for your last comment, no, the reed isn’t going over the mp tip, although it may appear like that in the video. The lesson I have on it as you say, i put it even with the tip and then slide it down a slight hair line if anything. This is done by pressing it right to the tip with your thumb so when you release it it may look like it’s not even.
Very awesome video Johnny! I have been amazed at how a MP can effect the sound of the horn. This is a timely subject for me as I have been trying several different styles including HR and metal. It seems to me that it is the design of the MP more than the material that will make a profound difference. I heard a dramatic difference in this video when you changed to the Link from the other two. Anyway I have determined to buy a new Dukoff D8*, from all the research and investigating I have done this seems to be the one that might finally help me to produce the sound I desire. With its high baffle and small chamber I look forward to that edgy rock sound from my Tenor. Have you had any experience with the Dukoff MP, specifically the D chamber, I would would very much like to hear your opinion on them.
Thanks, and keep up the fantastic work!
Hey Big John! Thanks, ya, I played a Dukoff when I first started my metal mouthpiece trek a long time ago, that’s one of the older more well known names. I had either an 8 or 9 but can’t remember anything more except coming from the hard rubber ones I loved it for a year or two.
I think Clarence Clemmons used one. You may love it for what you’re going after, and you’re right, it’s the mp that will give you the best chance at changing your all-around sound.
Johnny: Great sound on all! I play Mayer 5 with 2 to 3 Fibracells and Legeres. The problem is that you can’t find a store that has many MP’S to try. The back and forth deal is a pain. Oh, how about music for (THERE OFF AND RUNNING?) LOL I do want a more open MP, but don’t know what would be the one to start on? Thanks. Tim
Not familiar with that tune! The Meyers are great especially for alto. The one I have is a 6, try yours with a Vandoreen ZZ reed, they’re good to go right out of the box. Personally I just prefer them to the synthetics.
The range of mp’s out there is too big! I would suggest just getting another meyer that’s a number or 2 higher, not an exiting answer I know but a sensible and easy one!
Johnny: I got the lig like yours. saxxas from Germany. Have not received it yet. I found it off the advice from my post on the forum. Tim
Hi Johnny. Loved the sound of both of those mouthpieces. I have a no-name mouthpiece on my used Yamaha YTS23 at present. As a beginner, I’ve been following the threads on your site here about the importance of a good mouthpiece and ligature. I went to Sakshama’s website. Prices are reasonable. I’m assuming his Florida Link is the Ottolink copy. Is his Florida G the Guarada copy? Thanks to you and Wayne. Jim (Telecaster)
Ya that’s right Jim. He calls it G MB and MB11 and he’s got the King Curtis one too, all the ones Dave Guardala had. So he’s just copying them but he’s doing a very good job. 400 bucks still isn’t cheap and still too much for some people but a comparable would be Theo Wanne and his are in the 600 range. These are the 2 I’d like to A B for my next mp purchase.
OOPPPSS!! Parade to the post you played on you first demo here? I got my lig at sax-ccesories.com It is an internet business. Has lost of stuff and is the American dealer for the saxxas lig. Check them out. The owner calls the buyers with info for their purchase questions. Tim
One of my all time favorite sax solo’s is by Micheal Brecker on ‘Still crazy after all these years’. His first note just does it for me!
Yes, forgot about that one…real nice.
Hey good find on that transcription… hope you got your altissimo ready!
Happy easter to everbody !!
Hi Johnny,,on your first basic blues exercise video,,which C and Bb fingering do you use or recommend when playing that part?? It`s hard to see which fingering you use,,your too smooth!! just starting out ,,i know,,,a rookie question,,THANKS any fingering help would be great.
Not really sure of which video or lick you’re referring to but I will guess I’m using the bis key fingering as I use that one the most.
Of the 4 fingering pointed out here I will most always use the A with the side key sometimes, and mostly use the bis key fingering. For most situations I find it the easiest because it’s using only one finger so is the quickest.
My wife got me an Alto Sax for our 16 year anniversary-she will be the first to tell you that I have been wanting to learn to play the Sax since we were dating. So I jumped right on learning how to play it and so glad to have found your site 🙂 Everything you teach here has cut the learning curve in half for me! It would have taken me way longer to learn the fundamentals of the Sax without it. Keep all the awesome info coming, the more the better!
Hey, glad to hear that Michael! Good luck with it and ask any questions you might have in our forum.
[…] Learn how to play this classic song Ain’t No Sunshine with the downloadable audio saxophone backing tracks. For saxophone like this and other songs visit https://howtoplaysaxophone.org/saxophone-music […]
Tenor Sax Growly Funk
Submitted by Alex from Italy
Jhonny!…i used a tenor Amati super classic made in 1980…and i found inda web an original metal mouthpiece…very rare…is similiar at the well-know dukoff muothpiece…aperture 8 and i used reed rico royale 2.5 for training and rico plasticover nr. 3 when i play live…in my video i create a base track for my self and, after a well traspositions, i improvvise under whit a (tone in C) combined major and minor pentatonic scale, i recorded in to my own smaller closet self builded by a condensator pre-amplified microphone so i add a riverbero’s effect and in this way the sound is more clean….
i study a improvvisation about 1 years but i detached from a classical jazz improvvisation and i start to try to immprovvise on a funky beat….its more funny! now i like to composer a self base track in different tone and improvvise under during my live into local jazz pubs….in finally, i dont like play a cover…i like to play and i like to show how my music starting from my heart to my mouth…this is art…and this is the all musician’s gol…i think….
Reminded me of a little bit of Gato Barbieri who always played with at least some growl to his tone. You got it happening Alex, way to go..many people have a hard time getting the growl, it’s a good accomplishment.
One thing I noticed was your intonation goes a little off the more you growl. This is natural because we are making big adjustments to our breathing and embouchure when doing that.
As you increase the growl it’s necessary to adjust the tuning. In your case I believe it goes a little sharp so try less tightening up with the embouchure… remember, to play sharper we tighten up, to play flatter we loosen up… keep workin’ it!
Alex, The results you got with your recording- clarity, reverb, etc. I thought were very good. I also liked the backing track- catchy bass line!
Your tone at the start was very pure, smooth and well in tune. Though the intent of your video was to showcase the “growl”, I found myself rewinding to the start of the video to hear your sound before you added it.
Sure would like to hear you play a “Smooth Jazz” piece…
Hi Alex, great sound , I love that growl sound… Ciao, Klaus
Thanks Jhonny for The compare to gato Barbieri…. He is my favorite sax player…and i keep working to high note intonation!!!….thanks 4 your technical Sentence!
Thanks guys 4 u opinion!!…i’m uploading a new video..Also 4 your enjoy kevin!!…
Submitted by Kevin from Michigan
This was my first attempt to record my sax, make a .wmv, upload to internet, etc.
I’m disappointed with these newbie results, but hey got my feet wet, and have a reference from which to improve.
The recorded sound of my sax was also a let down. The sound I hear near the instrument was beginning to sound “OK” to my ears, but this recording gives me a whole different perspective about my “tone”, and I have more instrument, mouthpiece, reed trials ahead of me to get that desired sound…
I’m 55, l wanted to learn the sax, so bought my YAS-52 march 2012 and began my learning process.
I just bought a Jody Jazz HR 7m mouthpiece that I’m playing in the video, and use a Forestone 2-1/2 synthetic reed.
I haven’t yet even tried to play a tenor sax, but am thinking the “sound” I ultimately want to achieve will likely require a tenor…
hi kevin,4 my opinion you must to improve yuor breathing tecniqnues and u need to keep your focus on high note’s intonation… but yuor articolations is not bad!…
Kevin, you didn’t say if you’re reading from a chart or have it memorized but whatever, you play it with very good rythme and feel..timing is excellent, which is good because feel is a hard thing to teach.
As for future experiments with equipment I would be interested to hear the difference you get with a good cane reed. Maybe try one of the popular brands like Vandoren or Rico. Sometimes we have to blow thru half a box to get a good one but then it’s good, and I’ve never tried a synthetic that can beat out a cane for good tone.
When you practice, play twice as loud as you’re playing now. Some notes have a waver which tend to go a bit flat…this is your sax telling you “give me more air”
That extra air has got to come from the diaphragm. Once you get this going be more dominating with how you handle your notes, specifically how you end them. Don’t let them disappear or fade out on their own, make sure to stop them when YOU want with the tip of your tongue. It’s these little things that can make a big difference in how you’re coming across as an instrumentalist… keep good air going right until you end it with your tongue.
Johnny, thanks for the critic. Upon hearing my recording before submitting it, I was telling myself- start and end the notes with more “something”… so your comments were good to hear and give me things to practice!
The backing track is a Sam Levine karaoke track that I purchased and downloaded from Itunes. I also purchased the track with him playing it, and transcribed it note for note using “MuseScore” software. So that exercise of writing the notes in their played rhythm helped with the feel, and since Sam recorded it with some improvisational riffs it helps me learn something towards that as well…
Plugging in a synthetic reed and having that be consistent from practice to practice was something that to me seemed helpful during my learning struggles. With all the maintenance, sorting and short life of cane reeds, I’m reluctant to try that again, but I will take your advice since I’m now perhaps up to a level where I want and need the tone to improve…
I am new to playing, but not new at listening. Not bad at all. Sounds pretty good to me.
People like you are the reason I don’t put a recording up on here. ha ha ha
Seriously, sounds good to me.
That comment was for Kevin, and I will take to heart Johnny’s positive criticism.
Submitted by Joseph
I’m 70 years old, after finally giving up on years of trying to play guitar.
I should have tried the sax sooner; I’d be much farther along.
I bought a new Yamaha tenor 62-2 sax about six months ago. I’m using the Yamaha mouthpiece and ligature, and in the video I’m using a Fibracell 2 1/2 reed.
Those first two videos posted are pretty good.
The audio level is low but if you crank it up you can hear an awesome natural reverb in the room, I know engineers that would kill for this!
Anyway Joseph, nice horn indeed and I can hear a beautiful full tenor sound trying to get out. Which Yamaha mouthpiece is it? I’d start there, and like I always say, see what a real cane reed can do as well. Have you tried them and prefer the synthetic or what?
I think the reed is giving you problems, every time you hit your low E it breaks. Seems to be a little too stiff. That melody should be lightly tongued which may be tough to do with your current setup.
Joseph, I agree with Johnny that you have purchased a good instrument and have a good tenor “tone” going. I know I had more “squeeks/squaaks” sneaking out on the low notes when I was at the 6 month juncture…
Keep up the momentum. I would like to hear you play a piece with a backing track!
Hi Joseph ! Sound great to me. I really like this tune ‘Fever’. Would it be possible to transmitte the Notes to me ? my email firstname.lastname@example.org
We might could share some notes out of my archiv.. Kind regards, Klaus from Austria
Johnny and Kevin, thanks for the comments.
I’m using the Yamaha 4C mouthpiece that came with the sax. I’ve used cane reeds as well, 1 1/2, 2 and 2 1/2.
I’ve been using the Fibracell more often because I seem to be playing “too wet” lately with the canes. A couple of times, the left hand keys even got wet. Maybe my embouchure was getting too loose?
I played this in my home theater, about 22′ x 20′, which is the reason for the dark background — brown side walls and a black wall behind the screen, with wall to wall carpet.
I thought it gave me a much better sound than my usual practice area, my office/computer room with hardwood floors.
I may practice more downstairs, and use the white screen as the background for any future videos.
Thanks for adding this feature to the site Johnny, SO COOL to actually SEE members playing 🙂
Summertime on alto:
Wade in the water on tenor:
here is my first attempt recording me playing my horns.
Summertime is played on my H. Couf Royalist alto sax which has been build in the 70s. The neck is a selmer USA, mp is an otto link STM 5* with a queen 3 1/2 reed.
Wade in he water is played on my Hammerschmidt Klingsor tenor which has been build in the late 70s. MP is an otto link STM 6* with a vandoren java #3.
The recordings are from a practice session at home without any backings.
To my person: I am 46 years old and started playing sax about 2 1/2 years ago. I stared with alto and extended to tenor in march this year.
When i was 14 i played the trumpet in a church brass band for one year and now 30 years later i am with the sax.
Comments helping me becoming better are welcome.
Hi Dirk, nice going. The first thing I noticed is your embouchure… looks like you would do better by putting a bit more of the mouthpiece in your mouth. Try biting up a little further, just a little at a time.
The other thing that’s very obvious is your vibrato. Vibrato is a good thing to use but there are different ways to do it and different ways to practice etc. While I can’t say everything about such a big subject, I would try to not do it at the same intensity all the time. Take some time to focus on it and try to make the waves go in different degrees – very wide, and then very narrow. Hope you understand…it’s a big topic for here and that’s about all I can really say in this comment.
thanks for the comment. My teeth are about 1cm away from the tip of the mp. I will try to get it a bit more in my mouth.
The vibrato is quiet anoying because as i atarted i wasn’t able to produce any vibrato at all and now i cant’t get rid of it. May be playing long tones for a while could help.
Aint’t No Sunshine
Submitted by Klaus from Austria
Here is a tune ‘Aint t no sunshine’ just downloaded and teached by Johnny. Clear, there is some room for improvement, but anyway, great fun !!
It’s coming along Klaus, some good stuff there. I like that you are blowing good and loud, this is important to develop a good tone.
Couple of thoughts…
You rythme is jerky at spots so playing with the backing track (or metronome) can help you with this. I would memorize the main melody only and play along with the music until it feels natural. After you can add the next parts and so on.
I think there’s a better way to trill that F# note as it’s a little rough – hold it down while fingering the A.
I started to learn to play the Saxophone 2 and half months ago–I looked around locally at the Music Shops, and even at a local school that teaches Music. Virtually no one here teaches how to play the Saxophone. I found Johnny’s site online and things started happening from there. I’ve been working with a metronome and little by little it’s helping a lot, as well as all of the fundamental exercises we find on the home page. I’m getting there and in about 3 months or so I’ll do another video, helps to monitor my progress 🙂 Peace to everyone!
I do know that I made a couple of mistakes while playing this-and admittingly I was tired from studying today–8 months to go before I finish my degree as an RN!–but I’m a beginner and it’s not realistic to think that anything I play right now is gonna be perfect, going through the learning process and above all just wanna have fun with it.
Michael, this is great after only 2 months! Good for you for showing us and for attempting a “real” song.
When we read a piece of music, we must always check the “time signature” which is at the very beginning. In this case you will see a B flat, therefore every time you encounter a B you must play a B flat. In your performance you are playing a B natural and so it’s the wrong note… the good news is you’re getting all your notes out and so keep going you’re doing great!
Thanks for your comments, Johnny.
Indeed I need to work on the rythme..
Thanks Johnny, your website as really helped me. I thought that I did hit a Bb; I know I was supposed to. I’ll check it out. I will say that my Saxophone does need servicing; taking it this week. The Octave key has been getting stuck and it’s been driving me a little crazy as you can imagine. Pads need to be replaced too; but that’s all getting done this week; It was a used Student Sax. I was playing with the new mouthpiece; Yamaha 4C and the Rovner Ligature and the difference is like night and day from what this student Sax came with. I’ll be playing it shortly with the backtrack music, one step at a time.
Your sax could be very out of tune, that is possible.
What fingering were you using for your Bb?
I COMPOSED THIS SONG FOR MY WIFE…THE NAME IS NATASHA…, SHE IS SO SWEET BUT SOMETIMES SHE BECAME IN A ANGRY DEVIL!!!..ABOUT THE PIECE:
i wrote this by only 5 notes: D E Gb G A…I USED A CLASSICAL JAZZ STRUCTURE QUESTION – ASWER…ABOUT THE BASE TRACK:
I FOUD THIS BASE ON A YOUTUBE..I TRANSPOSED IN A GOOD TONE FOR TENOR SAX.. (I THINK)..AND THIS IS A RESULTS….I HOPE IS GREAT 4 U EARS!::
ya, cool melody and groove Alex.
Your wife must have liked it!
Your sax is out of tune with the track…maybe sharp I think.
The problem sometimes with getting a backing track and then transposing etc is anything can happen. Maybe your sax is in tune with itself but this track is not in perfect A 440 pitch so you either have to adjust the track, if you have the software or you must adjust the sax.
In this case, it’s not a lot, so a slight mouthpiece adjustment might do it. Sometimes the track is so off that it’s too hard to make the sax get in tune with it.
ya Jhonny thanks…i havent a software but 4 the future i’ll do much attention during a base tracks choice..but what you think about my interpretation & about my timbre??
Besides the tuning, your actual sax tone is quite smooth and full. Very nice to listen too. Are you always using a 2 1/2 reed? I would be interested to see you experiment with different mp’s and maybe a #3 reed???
Nice piece Alex! Great 4 the ears!
My only hopefully constructive comment is that the simplicity of the 5 note composition for me feels like your not giving us as much as we want to hear. Need to showcase some of those “mad” skills, give the dynamics a wider range from soft to loud.
That would in my opinion make for a more “inspiring” result.
Great job though!
Ok kevin!….i’ll try 4 the next pieces…However i thiks when u used a simple structure u Are able to do
A mad thiks whit more semplicity….
Jhonny!…i’ll try whit another setup….thaks Jhonny!
Bye guys. Alex
Hey Johnny, we actually just got back from taking my Sax to the Music repair shop and they said that it’s out of tune; which is to be expected with a used alto Sax but said that it’s in awesome condition; nothing that servicing can’t solve and said I will be good to go for quite some time on this Sax. I was playing a few small tunes for them to show them where I’ve noticed it needs attention and when I told them that I have been playing for a little over 2 months, the repair man told me outright he thought I was lying. I played-they asked me to- the falling in love song by Elvis and Killing me softly for them and they told me that it takes most player months to be able to hold nice, long, clean notes that I played. I don’t know about that, I’m just happy to be learning how to play the Sax after 17 years of waiting to get my hands on one. When he told me that, I just smiled and said to him that I’m only going to continue to get better 🙂 I’m on page 54, taking my time to learn it all right and avoid developing bad habits. I bought your killer blues ebook just to have it for when I’m ready and my wife checked it out. She tells me that by the time I learn everything in that book…………..I’ll be a Sax player 🙂
I almost forgot to mention: I did tell them that I’ve been learning from this site-mentioned your name 🙂
Also, I was going to ask if you would think about doing the song by Elvis “Rip it Up” and make it available for purchase, MAN OH MAN would the Saxophone sound awesome on that song! I think that song is right up your alley.
Michael, if I can do it you can do it too. You get out what you put in and you’re well on your way now…keep rockin!
Hi Johnny if the guy who made the song for his wife is only playing 2 months I’m going to take a hammer to my saxophones plz tell me I mis read it Lou
Yes, you mis read it lou!
It’s Michael that has only been playing a couple months not Alex.
Your sax is still safe!
LOU!! HAHAHA…I STARTED PLAYING / STUDYING IN 2010 ISN’T MUCH TIME….BUT IS NOT THE SAME LIKE 2 MONTHS!!..HAHA..AFTER MY SECOND MONTH I LEARNED ONLY 10 OR 12 NOTE IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY!!!!
Johnny B Goode
Submitted by Leny
the tutones@the fine grind ( chuck berry) this is where my video it…thanks leny
Go Leny Go!
Hey that’s a pretty cool trio you got there. Shouldn’t it be called the thretones? Very entertaining and you sound really good Leny.
Thanks Johnny….the violin player is not in the tutones..he just plays with who ever is performing at the fine grind,,,thanks again for your kind words…Leny
Ain’t No Sunshine
Submitted by Kevin
“Midnight Sax”. Don’t know who does the sax melody, but I was inspired by the swing feel and improvisation. So I notated it to try to learn it. It was played on a tenor in the original, so there were some low notes I had to change in my version played.
This was recorded using a Zoom 8-track digital recorder($110 on ebay), using a Beringer condensor mic($60 on ebay), and using one of the mic effects in the Zoom recorder.
There was no backing track for this, so I put the volume of my Alto loud enough to be heard above the original recording.
Since recording my sax last week for my 1st video upload, taking your advice, listening closely to the tone, and fiddling with mic/effects I feel like I made some noticeable improvements. Perhaps the biggest being my embouchure position(not being position to sound so bright).
Should’ve fixed the bad note a 2:05ish, but got to learn how to do that first on my recorder (without having to record the whole thing again!)
Perhaps it’s hopeful thinking on my part…but I think this is a step or two in the improvement direction…
Kevin, yes, I agree, there is a definite improvement in your sound, comes across as fuller and maybe more in tune but it’s too hard to tell because you did a very difficult thing… and that is to play along side another recording with lead sax in it!!
This is an almost impossible thing to do. Good practice mind you, but not recommended for such a recording.
Anyway, keep it up cause otherwise sounding very nice.
Hi Alex, Natascha sounds great !! Really well done ! Molto bene !! Ciao , Klaus
Nice sax playing there, Leny.
with regards to alex use of five notes kevin its the level of skill rather than the use of notes that can achieve the dynamics you refer to even less notes would suffice alex is is on the right track kind regards paddy
In retrospect I would withdraw that part of my comment, and agree with both of you. Please disregard those words, but I would emphasize the last part of my statement- “Great Job”…
Johnny, this is great. The chance to make a video and have you help us novice sax players with your professional comments,corrections and tips. Warm regards from sunny Los Angeles California.
For sure, for sure Marc Justiniano! I was really happy too that Johnny added this aspect of us beginner players of being able to upload videos for Johnny to check out, it really helps to know what you’re doing right and wrong. By the way, if you haven’t gotten Johnny’s ebook “How to play the Saxophone”; do yourself a favor and buy it. Everything that he teaches in his book is worth WAY MORE than the price he sells it for. He could have easily of offered to sell it for way more than he does. AND BY THE WAY JOHNNY: I got my student Alto back from servicing and one of the valves wasn’t closing/opening as it should, made my Bb sound just like a B–ironic because I started learning yesterday the Bb major scale in your ebook and learned that there is more than 1 way to hit a Bb; I didn’t know that when I uploaded Killing Me Softly here 🙂
Ya, I figured something was up with your sax cause it didn’t sound like a Bb.
After you feel comfortable with the fingering for Bb learn at least 3 of them (there are 4) There is a complete video lesson for this.
I’ve been taking my time and learning everything the right way, I’m not in a race; and that includes all the videos. For me, I had to take my time in the “Gs’ in 3s”; in the beginning it’s not quite as easy as it looks:) It’s mind-boggling to see pros play like they do–hitting 8th and 16th notes so quickly and so good. I’ll do another upload in a couple of months, help to monitor my progress. And I do plan on booking a private lesson with you Johnny, right now the ebook answers just about every question that I have, really cool!
Haven’t seen any new video’s added lately. My intention was to perhaps go a month for my next future video, so my improvement would be more noticeable. But since the Blog is a bit slow, thought I would post another to hopefully stimulate some comments.
I’ll not name this piece to see if anyone recognizes it and can name it. It was originally played/recorded on a soprano sax. Perhaps my tone favors that somewhat maybe because subconsciously I’m trying to sound like the original recording. Hope I can subconsciously get the sound of a tenor sax out of this alto in the future LOL…
So I’ve been working on Long tones and Octaves along with a tuner, and I ‘ve been experimenting with mic, eq, and effects. This time the effect was a “real plate” added to my instrument track at mixdown. Hopefully my intonation is improving…
Anyway hope this helps get some Blog activity. Please critique it guys. My last post didn’t get any comments (accept Johnny’s), so it must not have went over so well…
Hopefully this one will appeal to someone out there???
Hey Kevin, you are making huge strides my friend, time to be proud! When I jumped up to your first video you are sounding like a different player. I hope others see what practicing long tones and octaves can do. You went an extra step to the good and used a tuner as well…the difference is big. Also, you are taking better command of your notes, like starting and ending them, this is important to making anyone sound more polished and professional (intonation too)
I noticed quite a bit of embellishments which for the most part came across nicely. As you work on thos also consider doing big long glissandos perhaps. I did a lesson video on those which you might want to check out. New mouthpiece for you here?
Sorry but I didn’t recognize the tune, but regardless it was a pleasure to listen to you play it.
I recognize that tune!! We sing it at my church – All to Jesus I surrender.
Your tone is sounding great Kevin.
When I have time, I will make a video of me playing.
Hi Kevin–I saw your first video, Sara smile and as I’m new to playing the Saxophone I’ve been more in a position to watch and learn from other players here on the blog; rather than provide any constructive criticism. But I will say I can definitely see a major difference in your tone between Sara Smile and this video!!! There’ a nice, smooth, even flow in the way you’re playing here. I also think like Johnny mentioned a glissando definitely has a place here in this song. This is certainly an encouragement to me as a beginner, it shows that you get out of what you put into your practice time. I uploaded a video “Killing me Softly” and did it without backtrack Music simply because I’m a beginner and just getting into the swing of it. I will be uploading another one in about a month and wanted to do it with backtrack music but as of yet haven’t found any suitable back track music for the song I wanted to upload. Great job Kevin!
Johnny, thank’s for the encouraging words! All the practice hours I have done up to the time of uploading these recordings, (though beneficial to muscle memory, and learning the instrument) were in hindsight not focused on key basic fundamentals. Hearing that first recording (Sara Smile) of my playing was truly an “ear” opener. Now I record something nearly every practice session to reinforce hearing back what I’m striving to learn and for tone development.
I’ve been working on a glissando, but it is not yet fast enough to put to use, especially if it has to cross-over the octave key. That is proving a challenge to me…
This was a different mouthpiece(but still the Forestone reed). I actually intended to put the Jody Jazz HR back on, but forgot. This is a metal mouthpiece that I machined my own facing for-(I am an engineer, and have a CNC mill) When I initially tried it upon receiving it, it was not anywhere close to being a playable MP for my liking. So I read all I could find about MP facings and measured ones with precision calipers that were working for me, and machined the facing on this with what I have learned to date and the results are favorable. I thought it was a brighter tone than the Jody Jazz HR, but upon hearing it’s recorded sound I’m thinking this one is better.
Still haven’t found a cane reed to suit me. Found one that had better tone in mid-to-low range but can’t get an E or above out of it at the high end.
Also thanks to Lucy, Michael and Sandie for comments. They are appreciated!
Michael I’ve done a bit of searching for backing tracks(and karaoke tracks), and have purchased about 20 to date to practice with (some from Johnny’s choices), so I may be able to help find your particular song you are looking for…
Thank’s again to Johnny for putting who knows how many hours into developing and maintaining this website!
Hi Kevin, sounds great. Specially the ‘higher’ notes are very clear. Nice song..
In your ebook, I started working on the Bb major scale a few days ago with the metronome and just learned today in the book that there is more than 1 way to play a Bb –I didn’t even know that when I uploaded “Killing Me Softly” to the blog; great practice nonetheless and these other ways of playing a Bb will definitely help me along the way; thanks 🙂
Ya, mentioned that to you in another post I think. While yo will not always use all those 4 fingerings all the time 2 or 3 are a must and as you develop your technique you will see which ones work better for certain scenarios.
I can’t comment on technique as I have only been learning since February, but I think it is sounding good and I noticed an improvement between your videos. Sorry, I didn’t recognise the piece of music. Maybe one day I will record myself, when I figure out how to do it
Kevin makes another key point – to record yourself while practicing. So much can be learned from this simple act!
Johnny, you really hit the center of the bulls eye when you set up this part of your sax site….
I don’t see how on-line instruction could be much better than this especially when combined with all of your other material….
From a student’s perspective, the value here in watching others play and having you and others critique the video is priceless and tremendously inspiring to serious students.
You are the best…..Thanks for all you do.
Thanks John, I did see the potential benefit, just didn’t know if people were going to want to record themselves and then upload. Hey all this requires extra effort but here it is. Good for everybody that’s doing it.
You are so right John, Johnny is the best 🙂 He’s 100%, the real deal–it’s awesome to see how he so willing to help the rest of us. I, too, was really happy to see him add this facet on the site; we can actually see each other play, Johnny sees us play-provides awesome insight, so that were not just reading about what were all doing. At the same time, let’s not all forget about the Forum too and the benefit we also derive from it.
I have been playing for around 10 months now and recently changed over to the tenor past month now. I have been following this forum and I think it is great. Thanks for all that you are doing!
Hey Jake, thanks for submitting, way to go.
You obviously have a good sense of rythme and musicianship. Those qualities are harder to teach than the other points I will give you.
The first thing I noticed (besides the color of your sax) is it needs much more air from you. You said you just switched to tenor so I’m assuming you were playing an alto…
Bigger horn so more air. You aren’t getting your air supply from down deep in your diaphragm…when you do everything will change – the broken notes, the flat intonation etc. This is a major key: air supply from your diaphragm. Blow that horn loud when you’re practicing if you can, that will help get more air out. What’s your mp & reed setup?
Yea, started with the alto. When I play with my alto sax I am surprised at how easy it blows in comparison to the tenor. You are right, it takes a ton more air and I find myself getting winded more easily on the tenor. I have a metal mouthpiece, I believe it is a china made, no name on it, #5 opening with a 2.5 java red vandoren reed. I haven’t found a setup yet and am experimenting with different reeds/mp. I have an older Vito tenor that I think has some leaks because certain notes would squeak rather loudly. I found this red tenor online, the brand name is a Hawk (prob China made). It was actually cheaper than having my old tenor repaired. I had read a ton of mixed reviews on the Hawk, so I decided to give it a try. I felt I could get good practice in on it before I moved into a more professional sax, which is my eventual plan. Thanks for the feedback, I haven’t had as much time to practice as I would like, but hopefully that’s a bout to change!!
Good song choice. And might I say the tenor just “looks” like it suits you! Your stage presence and “groovin” to the music with that big tenor sax just seems to come natural. Look forward to hearing more from the “red” sax…
Submitted by Marc
Have been playing the sax off and on during the past years (more off than on). Recently I have picked it up again and have been enjoying,relaxing, and just having fun playing. I plan to keep on practicing to improve and most of all, the saxophone is really a part of me now, as it should have been in my earlier years. My Tenor is a Chateau 97F made in Vietnam I think thats the same factory that is making the P Mauriats, at least thats what I was told.. Using a vintage Berg Larsen 110 mouthpiece, Vandoren java 2 1/2 reed. the song is a song pace song, but its easy to play. Thanks Johnny for the upload info…Take care.
Hi Marc, this sounds great, very ‘jazzy’.
Very cool Marc. Reminds me of one of my favorite players Ben Webster-rea kinda tone. A little thin and wavery at the top end which you might work on taking in just a little bit more mouthpiece into your mouth. This is a big change in embouchure but I think with some time your tone will improve if you are able to do it.
A technical thing for your recording – place your microphone a little further away because you were getting some clipping there which happens when the signal is too hot.
Johnny..here’s my web site..lenymusic.com..go to the tutone page,,look for demo,,thanks Leny
Hey Leny, do you take requests?
Your sax sounds great (flute as well), but we only get to hear short improvs. Your chops and technical skills sound well advanced, so getting to hear you do a full instrumental would be great!
So my request is- I would like to hear you play “Pick up the Pieces” along with Johnny’s backing track (found in the Saxphone Music section of this Website).
Or any other upbeat full instrumental piece of your choice!
Want to hear more of that Tenor sax!!
Nice sounds Leny. I have been working on the Wanderer solo myself. I like the sounds and progression of it. When I play mine, it tends to sound flat. How do you get that gritty classic sax sound? It it your setup or more of your technique??
Leny, Your growl while playing really sounds cool. Also enjoyed the classic oldies from the 60’s and 70’s. As Kevin mentioned, you playing is well advanced and your flute playing was well played. All of us as sax players have the ability to play other instruments like the Flute, Clarinet due to similar fingering. I have a flute but the hard part is learning to blow into it…I just get winded trying to blow into it. lol. You appear to be very talented in playing and the ability to sing. Enjoyable video !
Hi Klaus, thanks for you nice comment on my playing. Your playing was also very nice. My comment with the song you are playing would be, to slur more of the notes and not tongue every note. We sax players tend to somethings hit the reed too hard when playing. Specially on tenor sax which requires more air than the alto sax. So, try slurring some of the notes while easing off on tonguing the notes too hard. I think that would smooth out the song while you play. Your tone sounds strong. Great sound! and enjoyable to see you play…Hope to see more of your playing from downunder as we Americans say.
Love this video on mouthpieces 🙂 Is a wider Mouthpiece more difficult to play? Say, for example, going from a Yamaha 4C to a 5C or 6C? Would it mean also having to get a thicker reed? I use a Yamaha 4C with a 2.5 reed. I’ve been using Rico reeds and have recently used Juno Cane reeds too and I love them both. I know there are reeds made out of synthetic materials these days, but I don’t think you can beat the sound a cane reeds produces. My fear is buying a 5C or 6C mp; only to realize that it’s not for me. I don’t want to make the mistake of developing a good tone in my playing using a 4C and start experimenting with different mp and my tone suffers because of it; that old adage of thinking I can make something better by changing it is what I want to avoid.
A wider, more open mp will be harder to play at first or depending on your experience. Beginners should play a more closed mp at first or else the whole process will be more difficult than it should be. No need to fear moving up one notch, with some time and persistance you will get used to the slightly more open one sooner or later. Eventually moving up to a more open mp will help your sound to get bigger and fuller too so at some point this should be done.
Hi Marc, thanks for your comment. Yes, you are right, I hit the reed too hard (that’s also what my wife says and she is always right 🙂 . More stuff is coming up soon..
Hello Johnny, here is some more stuff. This time with backing tracks. It’s a piece out of Fred Lipsius Etudes for Tenor Sax. Thanks for posting it !
Best regards, Klaus from Austria
Way to go Klaus. You’re groovin on this one (good rythme). Your next thing to focus on should be intonation. You are often out, especially on the higher notes. Focus on octaves and long tones and even playing to a tuner as Kevin took the time to do and showed quite a bit of improvement which was immediatley noticeable…these things will help you too!
Here is another tune, also from Fred Lipsius Etudes for Tenor Sax.
Klaus, definite improvement since first video, on the rhythm for sure. Thanks for posting these last 2. I for one haven’t come across the Fred Lipsius practice Etudes(with backing tracks) yet. They sounded both challenging and fun!
Hi Johnny, thank you for your comment. I will try moving up on the mouthpiece as you suggested. I am having a hard time reaching the higher notes (E,F) while playing from mid range and then suddenly having to jump up to E or F. Tenor is easier with these notes but much harder with Alto. My recording is done thru my computer webcam which most likely has not the best mic. Once again thank you for the tips. Ur the best ! Klaus, your playing sounds really much smoother. Great impovement my friend ! Keep it up.
It’s been just over a month since my 1st Sara Smile video. So I recorded that song again for a comparison. I’m curious as to your comments on the alto sax tone this time.(Since I’m a newbie and still shaping my opinion of what I would like to sound like). Also I would like your comment(s) on the aspects of the recording.
Still playing my synthetic reed. I had a box of Rico- 2-1/2’s that had 6 reeds left in it (bought 1 year ago), and I couldn’t get any of those to play to my liking. Either I couldn’t from low Bb to the high F#, or when I did find one that could just about play those, I couldn’t control the intonation as easily as my synthetic. So I’ll be purchasing a new box here shortly- perhaps Vandoran Java #2’s this trial…
This synthetic reed has gone through approx. 8 months of 60-90min/day practicing, and I am noticing it chocking down when I try to push it on the higher notes.
I do plan to opt for a private lesson with you soon, but I do have to get a wifi extender to reach to where I do my practicing(my shop). Look forward to meeting you on Skype!!!
(Sorry for the glaring shop light in the video…)
I was hesitant to bore you all with the same song again, this will be Sara’s last “smile”…
A month is not a long time in the world of saxophone playing unless of course someone actually gets a bit serious and puts in valuable practice time as you have been doing Kevin, good work! Playing for an hour a day is not the same as practicing certain things for an hour a day and the most obvious thing between then and now is your intonation. This is huge and goes a long way to starting to produce a better tone, obviously we have to play in tune to sound good. Because of this improvement you confindence level has gone up and I can hear it in each and every note. Not once did you break a note whereas before you did etc. As for the setup, I’m a cane guy so I will always believe someone can get better results from the right cane reed. While it’s obvious your reed is still working for you it’s still my belief you’ll do better with a good cane reed. It can get a bit involved, getting the right brand and size. I use Vandoren java with my mouthpiece but I never liked them on anything else. When I was recording on alto recently I used Vandoren ZZ which come ready to play right out of the box so if you can try those. Let them all sit in a glass of water for 10 minutes then try them one by one. Do this on whatever reeds you by. Remember, there’s only a few good ones in a box so trying 2 or 3 and then deciding just doesn’t make sense because those may be the crappiest ones in the whole box!
what a big improvement! I think you are more than a beginner. I like the tone. Is it a Jody HR? I also liked the metal one you changed by yourselve, because i pay on metal ones also.
In my opinion you should pay pn the hard rubber. It sounds so warm and full a it should ( maybe not for rock but…).
I hope i can improve myselve like you did.
Cheers and keep going.
Hi Kevin, I totally agree with Johnny. You should try a cane reed. You may find that the sound is much richer than a fiber reed. Nice to hear you play. keep it up Kevin !
Hi Kevin, I’m eager to see your new video just as soon as the cpu of mine is repaired; of all things the sound is not working–go figure. I saw your first video and your second video and I could definitely see a major improvement in your tone!!! It was awesome; great job there for sure. I was about to upload here to the blog my 2nd video this weekend; and this time playing with no sheet music and along with the back track 🙂 I’m a beginner but being able to play the song without looking at the sheet music and along with the back track was something I’m happy about; a sign of progress. I think the back tracks really help to know whether or not you’re playing everything correctly; we can look at the sheet music and get a feel for it but then when you play along with back tracks that’s when you know whether or not your playing the song correctly-provided tone and everything else is right. Above all, it’s just plain fun; makes you feel like you’re part of a band.
Hi Kevin, I got to the public library where I have a membership and got to see your new video upload–the bad news is that my cpu. is being shipped off to HP for them to repair, so it’s going to be a few weeks before I can upload my second song here to the blog. By the time I get my cpu back, I may be ready to have my 3rd song ready to upload here to the blog, we’ll see. You’re definitely improving by leaps and bounds! Great job buddy. I, too, can here your confidence when you play; lots of people just play notes on a page. Question: Have you ever tried a Cane Reed before?
Michael, (Dirk and Marc)(and Johnny of course)
Thanks for the positive feedback. That is certainly the fuel that powers our resolve to strive to improve our skills on this instrument…
I ordered the Vandoren ZZ reeds and should have them next week when I return from travelling. Michael I have tried cane reeds- Rico Royals 2-1/2. I did not have a good experience at the onset with these. One reed out of a box of 10 was all that stood out as a good player, and it lasted maybe 6 weeks, then split on me. I continued trying to sort, sand, and get another “good” one out of the remaining 9 reeds, but it ended in frustration. During that era (about 6 months from first beginning to play) I ordered a synthetic reed and when first putting it in I was able to play from low Bb to high F# (haven’t learned any altissimo yet, though I have produced a few of them experimenting), and every time I practice I could instantly begin playing, and as I mentioned in last comment- I have been playing on this reed for 8 months. So in that respect the synthetic reed provided a reliable solution to practicing.
I hope to find a good cane reed in the near future that proves to have that richer tone, and hopefully prove that my first box of 10 reeds was a bad experience that is the exception and not the “rule”.
Still got a lot to learn…
Anxious to hear some new videos from you guys-
and from Alessandro, Jake, Klaus, Leny, Lucy, & Sandie
(and those of you that have yet to post a video or comment)
Hey Kevin, if you’re looking for a great quality cane reed, I would highly recommend that you give Juno cane reeds a try–I was having the exact same problem with Rico reeds. With the Rico reeds you maybe get 1-2 good reeds out of a pack of 10, just as you mentioned. The Juno cane reeds cost a few $ more but have been well worth it. Not once have the Juno cane Reeds split on me and they are packaged individually when you buy a set. Every single one of them have been of very high quality v.s. only finding 1-2 out of 10 that are good. To give you an idea of how good they are; I bought a pack of 10 Juno Cane Reeds in late June–I practice 6 times a week for about 2 hours a day, on some days even longer. I have not had to get rid of one single reed, meaning I have 2 that I opened out of the pack and use/alternate=I still have 8 extra reeds unopened. Coupled with taking care of/treating my reeds the way Johnny teaches here by letting the soak in a cup of water every week. Check em out when you get a chance and I’ll post another video as soon as my cpu comes back–this time not looking at sheet music and playing along with back track; it’s progress and fun!
I know its hard to make a “simple” song sound interesting, so I choose this one.
I recorded maybe 20 versions, and this one is the most interesting.
I’m still not satisfied….. Do you have any tips for me?
Dion, you’re on the right track and have included some nice things in your recording.
We are only limited by our imagination and these simple songs require some for sure. The most obvious thing I noticed that you did not do was volume… it was the same level all the way through. So for example play the 1st verse very softly in the low octave then the 2nd verse play slightly louder in the 2nd octave, this creates more excitement while still only playing the same part twice. When you get to the chorus play louder to add even more excitement…these are the things I always do.
I liked the various effects in that piece to liven it up. Your tone is smooth and even throughout. I have only been playing for about a year and find myself with occasional squeaks, probably due to my embrochure and lack of air supply. When I play various songs I do as Johnny stated, I find myself changing octaves. This helps mix it up even tho the notes are the same. It gives it a different type of a sound, and I tend to like the higher octave sounds. How long have you been playing?
Nice job! I particularly like how you did the “Fall-offs”. Your intonation sounded good in the lower octave, but it sounded on the sharp side of the pitch to me in the upper octave, perhaps due to the difficulty of adding the growl effect to the tone. Hat’s off to you for attempting all the difficult “tricks” to make the song more interesting!
What model tenor are you playing? MouthPiece? Reeds?
Enjoyed hearing this piece!
Thanx Johnny, I keep that in mind!
Thank you all for the critical response. I bought my first tenor sax when I was 18 years old. So about 38 years now, but I was very lazy ….. And practiced not really effective. But I enjoy my hobby playing in a Big Band. I play on a Martin Committee II Lion and crown from 1938. Mouthpiece is a Otto Link NY 8, and the ligature is FL. The Reed I use is legere studio cut 2.5
Just wanted to say that this is a great site. Johnny is a true master of the saxophone. Enclosed is a Youtube of a old YTS21 That I sold , I used a fibracell reed, sorry for the poor sound on the recording. I used a cheap digital camera. I also did a cover of Johnny’s rendition of Samba pa ti, but it needs a do over. Once again Great Site Mike from Mass
I just got me a Vandoren T6 MP. After trying it with different reeds I was not satisfied and changed it to a Otto Link 6 (metal). This is much better now but it’s still not the sound what I’m looking for…
The otto link is good for what it is. When I first moved “up” to one I loved it, for a while until I tried something better. They are in the $200 range. The Sacshama we talk about in the video are $400-$750 and even the Guardala copies are a few hundred. Same with the other more popular metal mouthpieces like jody jazz and theo wanne (very good) are $600-$700. These modern day mp’s are made better than otto links but you’ll have to pay for them!
Played on my Vito tenor. Think it’s from the 70’s
This is my new Hawk (china made) sax. I wanted to compare the two. Used same mp and Reeds for both. Just getting back into playing steadily. Took couple months off due to business. Noticed some squeaks but really think its due to my em brochure. I really notice them when I change octaves, especially going from high to the low register. I need to rewatch Johnny’s. video lessons and practice the low to high octave exercises. I’m still looking for that gritty sound that will hopefully come with time. So I guess the point of these videos are does it matter what one I practice and play on? I think the Vito sounds a little better but the hawk feels better while playing? Any thoughts. Thanks
In case anyone didn’t know, this is the solo from Dions’ “The Wanderer”.
Hey Jake, thanks for posting your video here on the blog. I remember all too well this song, “the Wanderer” as I grew up with my Dad in his garage; he restored Muscle cars for a living and was very, very good at it. My personal favorite he restored was for himself; a 1962 SS Impala with the 409; I smile everytime I think about being in that car with him and my older brother! I can still remember the radio announcer playing this song by request, it was in high demand from his listeners for sure—I would recommend that you practice Johnny’s video lesson on growling, not only to get that gritty sound you’re looking for, but also because that’s what they did on the original solo for this song. A common problem with squeaks is not just the embouchure but also make sure you’re getting enough air for your diaphragm, as the Tenor is a larger horn than the Alto and seems to be something lots of Tenor Sax players are being told to focus on. For sure practice those low-to-high octave exercises just because it’s such a great practice exercise and the gains to be made are huge. I smiled when I saw this solo you played because I have some really fun memories with it saying to myself, “I remember this song!” Makes me smile to think about it, thanks!
I don’t think there’s a big enough difference in the 2 horns, I think your reed is too hard.
I’ll offer my learning perspectives, that may at least apply in some respect to your comment(s)-
The 2 magic pills to my recent playing/learning experience were practicing Long Tones (and octaves with a tuner), and listening to a recording of my practicing.
Practicing long tones is instilling the muscle memory to control a pitch and not hear a note that is “wavering” or weak. It also is giving me the feel of the shape of the oral cavity that is resulting in a fuller, bigger tone, and because you have to fill your lungs to prepare for that long tone it is training those muscles (and diaphragm) to deliver a fuller flow of air to the horn. So starting practice with this exercise makes me strive to deliver the air to the horn, and hold my mouth and embrochure to produce bigger fuller tones.
In hindsight it is evident to me that I was being lazy and using a small oral cavity to provide the air to the horn and/or I was changing that cavity to make it easier to produce some of the notes which gave a weak “honky” tone that also resulted in more reed squeeks and unwanted overtones. I think I was also playing at lower volume so that my practicing would not be heard, but this is the worst thing I could be doing as a student of this instrument.
So now that I’m hearing and feeling at least some of the notes I play have a fuller tone, I have the beginnings of the muscle memory to use and apply to the other notes that I’m striving to sound full. For me the easiest notes are ones that have more than 2 fingers down, so the B, C, and C# (in the lower octave) are my struggle, they sound weak. And when I provide a large oral cavity with a full air delivery on those particular notes they are flat in pitch. Still struggling to work that out…
Hearing the recording is the next reinforcing feedback. When I playback a song, there are those notes that don’t sound as full as they should, so I can work on those, re-record and determine what I did that was wrong. For me it is usually getting lax in the air delivery or in keeping an “open” oral cavity.
Still gotta long way to go, but these 2 things have instilled some confidence that I can “get there”…
Kevin , you are an excellent student. You are going after things in the exact way to do them. I always say to record yourself, that’s why I have a section in the forum devoted to this…(not much action there though), the recording doesn’t lie and so it’s the best way to know where you’re at.
The other very important thing that I have stressed many times to students and on the forum etc is practice as loud as you can… you can’t develop your tone by playing softly…won’t happen.
Everyone one reading this read Kevin’s post again, it’s got some very good points, and if you haven’;t done it yet, listen to his 1st song video upload at the beginning of this blog page and then scroll down to his 2nd recorded sometime later after he put those things into practice…the proof is in the pudding as they say!
Thanks for your contribution Kevin.
Michael, thanks for your comments. Its amazing how when you hear some music the various memories and thoughts that are envoked in regards to it. Yea, I’m trying to work on the growl, it is a skill I would like to master!
Kevin, thanks for your comments. I will definitely start adding the long tones and tuner to my practice sessions. I often find myself with a lot of practice material and don’t have a good organized practice. I find myself roaming from different songs and scales and it seems like a free for all more than a planned practice. You have definitely should improvement and act as an inspiration for us learning. You show that it can be done! Thank you for that!
A couple of weeks ago, I watched Kevin’s first video and then scrolled down to his second recording and the difference between the 2 was pretty amazing. You can check out the comments I left about it, way to go Kevin!!! I really appreciate Kevin’s tips/insights too because it helps me out a lot. BY THE WAY KEVIN: I sent you a personal message regarding sheet music/back track for the Song you played, Sara Smile. I looked online and couldn’t find sheet music for that song. Where can I get it? Is the backtrack on Karoke? HELP ME OUT–your awesome Kevin! Talking about Kevin’s 2nd recording, in 1-2 weeks I will be uploading here my 2nd recording here to the blog-just waiting for my cpu to come back from HP, they shipped it out today and is scheduled to be here on Friday, so about a week or so afterwards I will upload as time permits with my school schedule. I finish my degree in the Spring–trying not to think about it. Just remember that this will be my first time EVER to play with no sheet music and with backtrack too. I think my first video was in July? So this is a sign of progress for me……with the help of Johnny’s ebook and insights too that is. And like Kevin said so well, it makes you say to yourself that yes, I CAN do this. 🙂
Michael, I looked in my Inbox in the Forum and didn’t see anything there in my InBox. Let me know how you sent the message so I can determine how to find it…
JOHNNY: Where in the forum is the section about recording yourself? That’s definately going to happen for me. I eventually plan on setting up a modest, home-recording studio and definately will need help/guidance for that–I will be pulling my hair out without and pro direction in this regard for sure.
Never mind Johnny, I found it on the Forum. Will still need help/guidance in setting up a home recording studio when that time comes. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it as they say.
Hey I received my Vandoren ZZ #2 reeds earlier this week, and I am pleased with the purchase! Each reed comes in a sealed plastic pack, so I conservatively opened just 3 of the 10 hoping for the best and not wanting to compromise the sealed packing on the remainder. And I must say all 3 reeds played very well. One stood out slightly above the others. So I prepped those and played on each of the 3 a little for the past 3 days, and I am now a believer in Johnny’s conviction about cane reeds.
This video is my first recorded video using a cane reed.
I did find that my .083″ tip opening(on the JodyJazz HR MP) is still a bit to open for these #2 ZZ reeds, so I had a .060″ Meyer HR MP that I had received with the original purchase of my sax. It was never a preferred MP for me but was “OK”. When I tried it with the ZZ reeds, it played pretty good but was lacking that bigger sound the larger tip openings give, so I did a re-face on the Meyer MP (in my CNC mill) giving it a .073″ tip opening. That did make the sound bigger and still playable for me with the #2 ZZ reeds (at least for my current embrochure strength).
So curious to hear what others hear from this recording…
There’s a warmness and sweetness you have now that is not there with the synthetic reed. Don’t worry about opening the packaged ZZ’s, that closed packet doesn’t do anything, just put em back in the plastic casing. I’ll put them all in a glass half full of water and play em all for a minute and label them 1’s 2’s and 3’s. The 3’s go straight into the trash (although these can be worked on if you have the patience) and practice with the 2’s in hopes they’ll eventually become a 1. The 1’s are put on for a real gig or session or whatever. You’ll discover that there will be a few excellent ones, a few ok ones and a few dogs. Reed packages come like this because the manufacturers know what they’re doing, they know if a reed is a 1 or a 3.
i am impressed! Johnny is right, it sounds much warmer and darker now. I think most of it comes from the MP because i tried a JodyJazz Metal on my Alto and this one is totally different to the O’Link i play normally. The Jody has a loud and edgy sound, it is designed for that.
I also tried a lot of different cane reeds. On my alto the differences are not so big but on the tenor they are huge.
I like your “new” sound! Keep going.
I hope i will be able to show up a new recording soon.
Dirk, wanted to extend thanks for the comment.
Anxious to here more from that H. Couf Royalist alto! You played with a consistent tone throughout. The Summertime melody is a Classic, and enjoyed hearing it.
If I may comment with something that is on my “must improve list”- on your next video try playing with a level of assertiveness that perhaps feels like your “overblowing”. On my last video I had that impression as I was making the recording, yet when I played it back before submitting it, it sounded like I could have still taken it up a notch or 2. So my volume/expression dial is out of calibration! Perhaps your playing could also benefit from Scotty’s reply to Captain Kirk(startrek memoribalia)- “I’m givin’ Her all She’s Got Captain”…
Haven’t heard Johnny comment yet to any of the videos- Hey your over blowing it…
Kevin: Each and every time I hear you play, you’re getting better and better and better; and there’s no question that the Cane reed is the answer here. From your reading your comments about them, it seems like you can see the difference yourself too; something you can be really happy about for sure. It’s great to hear that each of your Vandoren reeds were individually sealed and packed-that in itself tells me that they’re a high quality Cane reed. That’s the same thing I was saying about the Juno reeds I’m using now and the it’s been a real $ saver in the long run. I’ve seen a video Johnny made here on the site about letting your reeds soak in a 1/2 of water. Don’t know what happened about the message not getting to you–when you can, send me a message about Sara Smile; that would be really cool of you; as if you weren’t cool already? 🙂 Great job Kevin.
Michael, In the Forum in “Directory”, I am listed as- sinclairdesigns
Kevin: Very nice playing! Your sound has improved quite a bit! Interesting, all the reed discussion here. I have been playing Fibracell and Legeres for 3 years. The cane, when I started drove me nuts! Squeaks at all times. So, my teacher suggested synthetics. Have worked well since then. I’m 70 and started 4 years ago. Unfortunately I have had many long breaks form practice. In the last 8 months I have practiced, maybe 40 days. Not good for sure. I have taken 3 lessons from Johnny. If you guys have not done this, you are, 1. Missing knowing a great guy, not to mention a fantastic musician! I have not recorded yet because I don’t have the stuff. Kevin, what do you use? I have a long time pro friend who has a recording studio in Hollywood. We just keep missing. He is busy all the time. You all have heard him. He was Ray Charles lead guitar player from 1964 to 73. Much more. Anyway, I ‘ll get it done one way or the other. Stay tuned. Tim
Tim, thanks for the comment, and regarding what I use to record-
An I-phone for the video content
A Zoom 8-track Digital Recorder (Ebay purchase used- $110)
A Beringer Large Diaphragm Condenser Mic (Ebay purchase used- $60)
I just got these items for my first recordings here, and am still learning how to use them. So I’m not that good at it yet, and still likely need some additional items to improve the quality.
I download the backing track to my I-phone. Then using a cord to the earphone jack, I plug into Track1 of the Zoom to record the backing track. The Sax is recorded using the Beringer mic in any remaining tracks.
I like to at least be able to add a little reverb, so I got the items above. The Zoom had a number of built in effects to utilize, is portable, and can be battery operated(4hrs). For now it is an OK choice, and fairly easy to learn and use.
Kevin. Thanks for the info. I’ll make a list and get to it. Johnny said I sounded pretty good at my lesson. Even though I used a Fibracell. I have some ZZ reeds that I have been using some. They do sound good. Do you have a Tenor? Tim
Tim, I don’t have a Tenor, and actually have never held one yet. I do plan to try one out my next visit to a sax dealer sometime this fall. (may have to bring one home, though don’t know how long I can hide it from the wife…)
For my own sake, I’m glad that your keyboard player friend did kick you in the butt to get this site going–I’ll have to thank him for that should I ever meet him.
Johnny been playing only a few months but at least I’m starting to be able to pick up things by ear now. Now to get in some more practice! Need to work on tone, quicker confident fingering so I can stay on the beat etc… Thanks for helping getting me started man – yours is the best out there IMHO
Here’s another one…Lots to work on but it’s soooo much fun now that I know I’ll stick with it for the rest of my life…
Sounds like your getting off on the right start. I can hear your growl starting to develop. Very nice, kinda hard to get that while trying to stay in tune and on track, I’ve been working on that too. As Johnny told me, AIR, AIR, AIR. I have the same squeaks at the upper levels I heard in your video clips. While you practice, blow hard! I have taken this task on as well as the long tones as Johnny and Kevin had stated in comments regarding my videos. It is amazing at how quickly I am winded, especially on a tenor! Keep up the good work man!
Thanks Jake…Yeah I haven’t figured out the squeals and squeaks altogether yet but I’m working on it! Keep up the good work on your end as well. I bought a new mouthpiece and was amazed at how different sounding it is compared to the original one I was using. Definitely makes a huge difference in your overall playing…I think the squeals are a result of a combination of things in my case. Primarily I think it’s not adjusting my embouchure correctly i.e. keeping the same embouchure needed for a lower note as I try the octave…need to experiment…The growl for me is thinking of a slightly different sounding note and sort of voicing that as I play – ya know experimenting to see what it sounds like. Anyway keep going and look forward to us all progressing on here and sharing notes…
Kevin: My wife really wanted me to do this. She got me a music book and reeds 4 years ago for Christmas! So, here I am. Because of family stuff and travel my practice has been limited for the last 9 months. Get a good horn. Makes a world of difference. I got a Yamaha 62-2. A pro horn and it’s great! I also bought a Selmer Mk-6. I got a good deal an an amazing horn. It’s a late 1956 and it is so good. If you can,look for one. There out there, but have gone up in price, big time. As you know, Johnny plays one and has nothing but the best to say about them. Yes, he’s a pro, but getting a horn that gives you problems will only slow you down. The Yamaha line is outstanding. Here I go traveling again. No practice for 7 days! Arrgggh!!! Tim
Tim: You’re in your “Golden Years” where you should be slowing down, having those extra hours throughout the day to devote to practicing those sax’s! 2 great horn’s! You’ll be the envy of the Blog…
My YAS-52 is an older model “intermediate” instrument, but is serving me well thus far. Had it adjusted recently so it’s just needing a good musician to show what it’s capable of LOL.
During those first few months of squaks, and weak lower lip symptoms, I had almost decided perhaps the sax wasn’t for me, but stuck it out and look forward to the practice time every day(almost), and now got this site that for a monthly “Gig” to practice for and upload a video, so hey “Life’s Good”!!!
Kevin: hmmm? Golden years? Lets see, Titanium hip 2 yeas ago? However, no restrictions, still surfing and snowboarding! Memorizing is a problem for me. I have scales and music with me to study. I hope to record when I get back from this trip/ Tim
Johnny, This blog is getting a bit long to have to scroll down through! Is there a way to archive this one and keep this topic going?
I know, I thought about that a while back when it was taking too long to load…
Dan, Your playing and riffs you’re showcasing are upbeat and inclusive of embellishments that are engaging and entertaining! You didn’t share with us where you hail from? and you “got’ to tell us about your sax and setup… looks like a beautiful instrument!
Kevin thanks for the kind words…I live in Lafayette Colorado (10 miles east of Boulder) and the sax is a brand new Cannonball Raven. I just picked up a new mouthpiece as well which is an RPC 110B made by Ron Coehlo. I’ve played harmonica for the past 20 years and am very excited to enter into the world of sax! Love discovering great artists and love that Louis Jordan swing Blues jump vibe…Looking forward to growing on here.
Well, let me be one of the first to upload my latest video. Here comes a tune ‘Same old thing’. Unfortunatly not the best quality, recorded olny with the mobile phone.
Klaus, quality is fine. Good attempt on your part too! My concern is your positioning… you have the sax over to the right side of your face, this effects your embouchure and is compromising your tone quality. Try to put your music stand directly in front of you so you’re looking straight ahead and your sax is directly in front of your face and not to the side…this will help.
Klaus, Great playing. I think all of us getting to hear your video’s would agree that since your first recording, your improvement is very significant. What stands out to me for me to learn from is how well you are doing delivering air to the horn, holding out and ending the notes, with hardly any notes sounding “short of breath”. The pieces you are choosing to play are not easy, and you’re staying with the backing track well, so I applaud your performance!!
Kevin y don’t u put up a video clip of the long tone method your are using to help beginners great playing
Lou, I am as of 9/16 away on vacation, but upon returning I’ll try to accommodate your request… I’ll still be checking in on the Blog when Internet connected, so hope to hear some new video’s!!
Thanks, Johnny, would also be easier to read the notes and have the full volume on breath. Thanks for your comment !
Great job Klaus–I also like the way you are delivering air into the horn, as it seems like that’s one of the biggest things our awesome instructor, Johnny 🙂 Has been saying a lot to players who either play the Tenor or made the switch from Alto to Tenor. So you deserve a lot of props there for sure. What kind of MP/reed do you use?
Kevin, Michael, thanks for your comments, your words really encourage me to keep going on..
Michael, in this tune I use a Yamaha 4 MP with Vandoren Jazz #2 reed. I’m not satisfied with the sound, so I’ve got me an Otto Link 6 MP (Metal) . Still trying to find a good, warm but nasty sound….
when you are looking for a “nasty” sound, the link won’t do the job for you. There is no larger baffle or anything like a “bulletshot” chamber or an edge in it. I also have a Link for my Alto which plays fine there but for my tenor a bought a Lebayle Jazz which sounds that bit edgy i wanted.
I think you should try some if you can.
Your playing is getting much better! Keep going!
Hey Johnny,Great site I’m learning the scales. If I want to play blues do I need the major scales too or just the blues scales?
Learning the major scales should be your first project. Everything else relates to them, whether blues, minor etc you will be clearly ahead and ready to absorb everything better once you know and understand the regular major scales.
That’s the awesome thing about Johnny adding this facet to the site, we can all watch and encourage each other. Johnny speaks very highly of Otto Link MPs, but I think I read it’s the Dave Guardala MPs he’s using. I found a link here on the site where there was a list of different MPs. I think you access all of them under the link “articles” you can find that link when you scroll down on the home page. When you click on each one of the MPs mentioned it takes you right away to amazon where they sell all of the MPs Johnny mentions. SPEAKING ABOUT NEEDING ENCOURAGEMENT, my cpu is back and everything I used it for it uploaded to it, so I will be uploading here to the blog on Fri-Sat, maybe sooner if time permits. It will be my first time ever to play with backtrack and no sheet music. I’ve made it a point to break away from sheet music and play by memory; one of the many benefits of Johnny’s ebook–learning the major scales. Thanks so much Johnny! 😉
Dirk, thanks for info about the MP. I’m already working on the next upload, but first I would like to improve the sound a bit.
Hi johnny just bought mack the knife can u explain on the end of sheet music 1&2 what the music is all about plz
what the music is all about?
I don’t understand the question.
Of the many sax solos I love, the one that really inspired me to pick up the sax was the solo from Urgent. I have been dying to play that solo. Finally getting the high F to start flowing after a year. After reading your e-book and looking at scales, it is amazing how many solos are derived from these various scales we are learning. Can’t wait until it starts coming together and flows easier. Thanks
Johnny: Outstanding tunes to use! Do you have printed music for these? I don’t have your E book, but now I will get it. Tim
Hey Tim, Brown Sugar is in the eBook and has several video’s on it to dissect the solo so you can see just how it relates to that particular scale. The rest of these songs were just picked at random so no, I don’t have any notes for them.
Hi Johnny love the site I no u are a busy man & I have bought most of your songs & sheet music u put up love the Blue but I find it frustrating when u go up to the higher octave to p,ay the tunes & it’s off putting trying to mimic you when you do this,I would love u to do a few lessons on the Ornaments & embellishments u talk about & do in sons like Fly Me To The Moon,wonderful world & mack the knife,night train & Ain’t no Sunshine I’m sure I would have no problem paying u for that lesson or vid u would put up, I asked this of u b4 but u said u were to busy,I can c that the site is getting bigger especially the new part were guys & girls are putting up there own vids,the songs I mentioned above are very well known sing & if u put it out there I think us beginners would pay for your time,just if u could slow down things in a video as how to do the little things that matter.i need to ask u a ? About mack the knife I bought last night from ur site as I said I contribute to u as I love what u do.will get the sheet music & ask the ?s if u don’t mind please respond to my ? Thanks Lou
ya Lou I hear you. Let me know exactly what you mean about the Mack the Knife music, I’m not sure I understand your question regarding that.
As for your other comments, regarding the higher register, it takes time to get strong up there so keep working on supplying lots of air into your horn, that with a strong embouchure and they will come eventually.
The embellishments are a subjective thing… we all have different tastes and so will use them differently and there are quite a few as I mention in my post above. Start with a simple trill on a couple notes here and there and then maybe work on a scoop.
Hi Johnny I submitted a comment & it had disappeared
When a comment is submitted it sits in a waiting list for approval. This is done so we don’t get spammers.
Just post your comment, click the submit button and forget about it for a while…next time you come back it’ll probably be there.
Okay, it’s been 4 and 1/2 months of learning to play the Saxophone, so here’s my 2nd video upload to the blog. I’ve been able to get away from relying on sheet music and instead are now able to play by Memory once I have learned it (we obviously have to look at the sheet music to learn a song first) This is also my very first time ever to play a song along with a backtrack. Learning the Major Scales in Johnny’s ebook, along with practicing those scales with a built-in Metronome that my wife has on her electric organ in different ways-slurring, staccato, Tenuto, fast, slow, up the scale, down the scale, etc.. has really helped in this regard. Towards the end of this song, that my wife really loves, I accidentally loosened up on my embouchure and there is a slight squeak; I normally don’t do that and it just happened to be caught on Camera–at least you all know that it’s unedited 🙂 FOR THOSE OF YOU OUT THERE WHO ARE EXPERIENCED SAX PLAYERS: There’s are so many places in this song where you can really let loose, and lots of places for Glissandos, both up and down the scales. I don’t have the playing skills to do Glissandos……….yet 😉 But I really look forward to the day I can play all of those awesome songs that Johnny has made available here on his site. Even 50 years from now, those songs will still hit home–so glad Johnny has made them available to learn!
Michael, there is a problem… your backing track does not match your music chart!
Your backing track is in C# and your chart is in F.
You need to get another chart transposed a major 3rd lower for it to match the track.
I know you are just beginning this and so may not understand but just tell the person who gave or sold you this stuff and they will know what you need.
Actually, why were you given a chart in a wrong key anyway?
Just doesn’t make any sense to me.
Anyway, that aside, you are playing the right notes and they are holding uop well, even though it’s very hard to listen to because of the wrong keys going on. I suggest you get the right music and try again!
Leave it to Johnny for preserving those awesome songs that we all love so much. HEY EVERYBODY: You should head over to Johnny’s site on johnnyferreira.com and check out the new song that he did “Sax Twist” He did all of the backtrack music on his MAC cpu and I tell you, it sounds so good, you would think he was up on stage playing and someone recorded his performance. And his Sax playing on that song?!? Man oh man. Go check it out!
Hey Johnny, I actually started going through what you have to teach on the improvisation link, just checking it out. I will get heavily into learning it though once I finish your ebook How to play Saxophone. I’ve learned half of the major scales-I do mean really learning them, up the scale, down the scale, staccato, slurring, tenuto, etc.. Thanks Johnny!
Oh man…….I didn’t even realize what I had done, but I know what happened. We’ll fix it, thanks.
I removed the video from youtube that I just did for this song, When a Man loves a Woman. What had happened was I used the sheet music from the original version and used a Modern Backtrack of that song, without paying attention to the fact that the backtrack was C#. That was my mistake. However, it getting ready right now “What a Wonderful World”–will post it later.
Right on Michael, looking forward to that.
Hey Johnny, the sheet music I have for that song doesn’t even show what key it is in, it has just the title and the notes on the scale and that’s all. It was given to me by a local band director to where our kids go to school and he probably just assumed that I would know what key it is in, I’ll ask him about it on Monday. I can either have it transposed in C# or have my wife get the original back track for it by Percy Owens, it’s pretty widely available. My wife had this backtrack for this song already, Michael Bolton’s version of that song, and being a beginner I just assumed that, it being When a Man loves a Woman too, it would be the same (you would think so anyway). At the very least, I’m playing from Memory & not glued to sheet music once I learned it.
It should have a Bb in the key signature because it’s in F.
You have 2 choices, transpose the backing track or the chart.
This is why I always include both Eb and Bb for the songs I do music and backing tracks for, otherwise it gets too complicated and people just want to play it without these transposition hassles!
Tell your band teacher you need it transposed to Bb for your alto to match that backing track which is in Db.
Right now your chart is in F so it would be a perfect 4th higher after transposed to Bb. You have to consider this because if it’s in a really good range for you in F, going up a 4th might make it too high, in which case you’d be better off transposing the backing track, enabling you to keep the F chart.
Thanks much Johnny–just an example of growing pains and I’m sure there will be many more of them to come. I saw first hand why it can get too complicated for sure. Do you have a degree in Musical Theory? That’s really advanced to be able to transpose music in both Eb and Bb. I’ll ask the band director if he can go ahead and transpose it in Bb flat for me on Monday. He had it all hand written out but told me it was Percy Owen’s version of that song. I was thinking of posting a video here to the blog before year’s end taylored around the exercises (from your home page and ebook) and the scales that I’ve been working on. One thing is for sure: If anyone thinks that learning to play the Saxophone is “easy”…they couldn’t be more wrong. At the very least, I hope you can see I’ve progressed.
Well, people might say that to learn the fingering is easy, and it is when compared to some other instruments I suppose, but we all know that there is more to it than just learning how to finger the notes now don’t we?!
Anyway, yes you are coming along nicely and you should be proud because you’re making it happen day by day.
Many will give up because after a month of playing they don’t sound like the sax player who turned them on.
Having a community like this is helpful, so is having your videos or recordings to listen to so in a few months you can actually hear your improvements.
Learning to play the Sax, just from what I’ve seen in your ebook, goes way, way, way beyond just learning the fingering. I have wanted to learn to play the Sax for well over 17 years and to say that your site is helping me would be a gross, gross understatement. I’m by no means the only one here that would say the same thing. I was actually just watching your video of “What a wonderfull World” making sure that my articulation, intonation, etc, is correct. At least I don’t have to worry about having the wrong sheet music here on this site. From my own personal experience of learning, I can’t see being really proficient at the Sax in less than 2 years; let alone a month. I’ve only been playing for almost 5 months. My wife says that most beginner players wouldn’t even think of attempting to that type of song. I see your songs here and I tell my wife that sometimes it hurts because you realize how far you have to go, but I have to remind myself to look at how far I’ve come instead. No, learning to play the Sax is not easy.
Hi Johnny love the site I no u are a busy man & I have bought most of your songs & sheet music u put up love the Blue but I find it frustrating when u go up to the higher octave to p,ay the tunes & it’s off putting trying to mimic you when you do this,I would love u to do a few lessons on the Ornaments & embellishments u talk about & do in sons like Fly Me To The Moon,wonderful world & mack the knife,night train & Ain’t no Sunshine I’m sure I would have no problem paying u for that lesson or vid u would put up, I asked this of u b4 but u said u were to busy,I can c that the site is getting bigger especially the new part were guys & girls are putting up there own vids,the songs I mentioned above are very well known sing & if u put it out there I think us beginners would pay for your time,just if u could slow down things in a video as how to do the little things that matter.i need to ask u a ? About mack the knife I bought last night from ur site as I said I contribute to u as I love what u do.will get the sheet music & ask the ?s if u don’t mind please respond to my ? Thanks Lou
September 20, 2013Reply
Hey Johnny, i’m from the Netherlands and i would like to buy youre ebook but i don’t want to use paypal because of the privacy, i have heard too many stories of acounts that were lost and other shit stuf about paypal. Is there another way like I-deal to pay the amount and have me sent the book ? You’re doing great, love everything !! X Lida
Hi Lida, I’m pretty sure when you click the Paypal button you will still have the option to use your credit card so it doesn’t actually goi through Paypal. The other way is to buy it at Amazon.
I thought I would go ahead and do this song, “What a Wonderful World” after forgetting to match the key from the Sheet music “When a Man loves a woman” to the backtrack that my wife had for Michael Bolton’s version of that song. The good news is that I can get it transposed, no big deal and the I’ll post it here on the blog–should make a really beautiful song on the Saxophone for sure! For those of you out there who are beginners like I am: ALWAYS check to make sure you know what key your sheet music is in. I didn’t even bother to ask; but great learning experience. As for this song, I got ahold of a NO.5 Otto Link metal MP and have been experimenting with it–you will notice 1 small squeak as metal MPs are new to me. I had no problems playing a No.5 and I’m thinking a 6 or 7 may be up my alley. In terms of this Otto Link, it seems like it’s a great MP for smooth jazz style of Music, but it doesn’t seem to be an MP I would recommend for real edgy saxophone music. The theme song to the Peter Gunn, Honky Tonk, Pick up the Pieces, Samba Pa Ti, all of those awesome songs that Johnny has done here; would be better with a Dave Guardala MP ( I suspect suspect so anyway as I’m learning; but I could be wrong) Thanks Johnny and I’ll get that sheet music transposed–we sent you a message/question about it; still taking it to the band director; but my wife has a background in Musical theory and wanted to try and transpose it-good test for her to see if she gets it right. She did start teaching me the keyboard 🙂
You have shown much improvement. I have a No. 6 metal mouthpiece that I have for my alto sax. I often find it too loud and bright as compared to my Yamaha 4c HR while playing songs such as the one you just played. I believe that if you used your HR mouthpiece you could get a softer mellower tone from that sax. I can hear the brightness from the metal mouthpiece in that video. Keep up the good work. Its nice to see the improvement.
Michael, Very Nice Job for first recorded, memorized song! I particularly noticed the effort you were putting into “expressing” the song using changes in volume and emphasizing certain notes. As your music skills develop to me this element will be what sets apart a song that is “performed” from one that is “played”.
This I’m sure for you will be a major step as it was for me to hear those first recording(s) and now begin to zero in on the tone, and minimizing the things you don’t like, and maximizing the things you do like. Keep practicing, look forward to hearing more!
Lida: I have been using paypal for years in the states. I have not heard of the problems you take of? So, I would give it a try. I have done many tunes on Johnny’s site and have had no problems. Good luck. Tim
Hi Lida, I too have bought almost all of Johnny’s sheet music/backtrack bundles and have never had any issues when paying with paypal. Same goes with his ebooks.
Yes good work Michael. I wouldn’t recommend a metal mp in these first few months of playing. Guardala is only made for the tenor but I would stay with some well-known regular hard rubber mp’s as I recommend in the book such as Yamaha, Selmer and Meyer. On the rare occasion I have an alto here I use a Meyer 6 on it and it gives a really nice tone.
Thanks Johnny–I got a hold of an Otto Link and wanted to give it a try; wouldn’t know unless I experimented with it. I knew that the Dave Guardala MP is for Tenors only, and the day will come when it’s that time for me (me saying that kind of sounded like Dave Guardala MP for Alto; oops!) I, too, heard brightness in it but it sounds different to you when you’re playing it v.s taking a step back and getting to watch it here on video; a real plus of the blog. Thank you Jake; with the Yamaha 4C-I have one too-I was having a hard time getting those high notes and when I used the Otto link MP I hit it almost instantly; which is why I wanted to try it with this song. It’s a work in progress, I’m getting there. At least being able to play without staying glued to sheet music/by memory once I’ve learned it IS a sign of progress.
Yes, good points Michael. What reeds are you using?
And for not hearing as you’re playing, this is soo true and is why I recommend everyone record themselves, a video like these is great but even an audio for personal listening at the very least will still be helpful for your own ears.
After reading a post on the recording forum, I saw a link for the Audacity program. I decided to play around with it a little bit. The previous file is only a mp3 file of my song, not a video. I pulled out my Conn 21m alto because I needed a break from my tenor (still working on the air supply!). I used a Yamaha 4c hard rubber mp with a rico #3 reed. I know Michael just posted this song but I downloaded it a while ago and decided to give it a whirl. After all the practice on my tenor, the alto seems so much better at receiving my air!
Oh yea, about the program. I found it a little complicated. I’m not much into doing the mixing and the technical side of things. The only modification I made to the song was adding some reverb to the sax portion of the song. I recorded Jonny’s backing track and then added the alto portion of the song.
Good on you for doing this recording. If you have the interest (and patience) on getting it to sound better, go back and take some reverb off the sax – you want just enough that it wets it up a little but not so much that it sounds like you’re in a gym or church.
The backing track should be up a lot more in the mic…almost as loud as the sax, right now you can barely hear it.
Son there you go, just a couple little teaks and you’ll have a much better overall recording.
Good goin Jake. Yes, the mp is working well for you I think. It’s good you have both alto and tenor so you can experience the difference…still, blow even louder on the alto as some notes are a little wavery.
thanks for the feedback. I redid the song and it sounds much better with the increase in background music and less reverb. thanks again.
When trying to check out Jakes recent URL link(with alto sax), I get the error message- 404 Not Found
Would like to hear it but having trouble. Perhaps others are also having issue?
it was here before…not sure what happened!
Sorry guys. When I converted the file to a mp3 format I didn’t realize it was on a temporary site therefore was deleted. I redid it and placed in on youtube for you to hear. I decreased the reverb and increased the backing track. Its not perfect, I noticed a squeak here and there and felt as though the music was rushed at times. It is definitely a work in progress. Thanks for all the comments.
Hey Johnny, I’m using a No.2 Juno Cane reed–I just don’t think cane reeds can be beat. When I started to learn I was using the Rico reeds but would only find 1, maybe 2 good reeds in an entire pack. With the Juno cane reeds, they’re individually sealed and protected. I have a pack of 10 and bought them in July. They’ve been awesome, have only opened 3 of them, alternate between practices, let the soak as you teach, etc.. They don’t even show the slightest amount of wear at all! Really good reeds. I entertained the idea of the next time I buy reeds to buy a pack of 2.5 and see, you never know till you try. That’s why I wanted to try the Otto link. I put it away and practiced a while ago-learning the E Major Scale today-and practiced with the Yamaha MP, it’s seems to sound better than the Otto link, a much more warmer-sweeter sound. For starters to record myself, I’m using the video until I get to the point where I can set up a home recording studio-I subscribed to your home recording website a few weeks back.
AND BY THE WAY: Thanks for answering my wife’s questions about composition Johnny! Great thing is I talked to Mr. Baker just a few hours ago and he said the exact same thing you said to her 🙂 I told him what happened and was like, “Oh my.” He will transpose it and my wife wants to transpose it, good “test” for her to see if she gets it right. ON A VERY POSITIVE NOTE: Mr. Baker is going to teach me once a week Musical Theory! He told me it’s what separate great Sax players from others–without it he said you’ll get to a point in your playing where you stop improving and you won’t know why and that when you look at all of the great players in the past and today; you better believe they knew musical theory–and the great players can take one look at someone who even “professes” to be a “pro” and they instantly know who is the real deal and who isn’t. He reiterated that’s what Musical theory will do for me. He also said he had some other “goodies” for me but wouldn’t tell me what it is, I’ll find out next Monday when we meet. Thanks guys!
Very nice, Michael! I’m going to check out those Juno Cane reeds.
Jake’s recording was here, I heard it–by the way; great job Jake; never got around to telling you that (shame on me) Thank you Kevin, the only thing I didn’t realize is how “bright” the Otto Link would make the song sound-as that brightness doesn’t go well with this song at all, the Yamaha MP actually sounds better. We live and learn–which is why I’m really happy that Johnny added this facet to the site; big advantage of actually being able to “see” what it sounds like; as it sounds so different when you play it yourself. To record myself for starters, I’m using the camrecorder as I’m no where near the point of having a home recording studio; not yet anyway. In terms of being able to play by Memory, that’s where learning the Major Scales in Johnny’s ebook-and playing them in different styles on the Metronome has become evident. Now it’s your turn Kevin to do another song–I always look forward to your recordings!
Johnny, (and all) This is one of my favorite practice pieces with backing track that I wanted to learn. Actually playing the Bass part to this piece would be a blast…
I experimented in the recording by adding a 2nd sax on a few of the Chorus phrases. Though seeming to improve with time, my “thinnest” sounding notes are the B, C in the lower octave just before the octave key. This song has a number of these notes, and I am open to anyone’s suggestions on how to make these sound more full. No matter what I do with air delivery and oral cavity this is seemingly the best I can get on those notes. Perhaps I’m getting what a Yamaha instrument is characteristic of. I’ve read a number of references where Jazz players don’t select Yamaha alto’s because they are a small bore instrument and don’t produce that “gutzy” full sound that is desired for the Jazz genre.
I would like to know what Alto Sax you play Johnny?
This was played with my Meyer HR MouthPiece, and #2 Vandoran ZZ reed.
Regarding the recording, I’m seeing a pattern of losing quality when I convert a .wmv file(which is initially 300Mb) into a .mp4 file(66Mb). The smaller file is the most sensible to upload, and for viewers to be able to buffer and view, but there is noticably more “buzz” to the reed sound of the .mp4 file versus the .wmv. I would like comments on what others are doing to minimize file size without losing quality…
Beautiful Kevin. Doubling the lead is hard with just one sax and works better with 2 (3 total) but the harmonies came out great.
The thing about those notes sounding a little thinner could very well be a horn characteristic as you say. As much as I love the way Yamaha’s feel, their tone still doesn’t compare to a Selmer.
I know of pros that have been endorsed by Yamaha and take photos with their saxes but for when it counts they will pull out the Selmer.
I don’t own an alto but do borrown one from time to time and the one you may have seen me playing on a video is the Trevor James. Very good quality made in England. My friend is the Canadian distributor so I can try them out as I please. The one I used on the recording was a student model, still good but the mid one and the pro are really nice playing horns and if you Have one near you to try I would definately recomemend.
Johnny I figured out how to keep the audio quality. I deleted the previously video link and reposted this one.
Sorry for the hassle…
Just as a note for those learning recording- The original recorded file is a .wav file(44Mb) imported into Windows Live Movie Maker. The video file(113Mb) from I-phone is imported. The 2 files are synced, then I used a custom setting with video content settings minimized, and audio settings at their max. This is saved as a .wmv file(58Mb this time). Then with no other conversion on my part, this was uploaded to YouTube.
Kevin, this sounds great! The tone is very good and also your feeling for the rythm. I know problems with some notes too. On my alto the middle C# sound a bit squeeky and on my tenor the middle D is a bit thin. On the tenor i can correct this by choosing another reed on the alto i have no idea what to do.
Kevin, what ist the name of the song you played? It sounds very nice and it could be cool to have a tenor part in it.
Hey Johnny: I’m really looking forward to playing solos like this! Is that what “How to Play Killer Blues” will teach me how to do? Is the “Improvisation” lessons kind of like what I will be learning in How to Play Killer Blues revolves around? I haven’t looked at the Killer Blues ebook yet, as I didn’t want to try to get ahead of myself and start learning things that I wasn’t ready for. But I’m definitely progressing towards that point. It’s only a matter of time!
Yes exactly, that is my point. All these solos are comprised of the simple 5 and 6 note scales I teach in Killer Blues.
The Brown Sugar solo is the one we dissect and study really closely but all these fall into the same category…that was the point of this post.
Michael, you can have a look at the scaes in Killer Blues. Now that you know the regular major scales, see how they relate and then learn the blues and pentatonic scales in the book to start getting a feel for them.
Hey Johnny: I already started looking through it this morning- I couldn’t help myself; what can I say? 🙂 I was looking through the improvisation lesson here on the home page and have had a tune beaming in my head using the scale for Eb sax that you teach there/using the backtrack that you have that goes along with that lesson. That scale is easy–I actually started to take the major scales I’ve learned in the ebook this week and play them like a Pentatonic Scale, 1,2,3,5, and 6, just to experiment–a light bulb went off in my head, not only why you teach the major scales first, but also the things I could do with all of this! What I’m going to go ahead and do is go through the improvisation lesson-all of it-on the home page, break down the lesson so that I really learn it, write down on sheet music this tune beaming in my head using the scale for Eb sax and put something on the blog with the backtrack that you have along with that lesson. Learning notes on a page/playing those songs is great fun for sure, but this would be great to show everyone what even beginners, like myself, can do with these simple scales. This will also be a great intro to get my feet wet for your next book too.
Love your videos Kevin! How long have you been playing? I’ve heard so many good things about Selmer saxophones in general. Our local music repair shop told me that you will never go wrong with a Selmer, both Alto and Tenor; saying that you will get the best for your $. I haven’t heard this song in years–I can definitely hear the difference in our tone with your Cane reeds. Have you thought about trying to play something with the “Improvisation” lesson that Johnny teaches on the home page? There’s a nice back track to use there from Johnny’s band and Johnny put down the proper scale for Eb Sax.
Kevin, you are doing very well with your sax and videos! I never post but was compelled to this time, have seen all of your posting, such improvement. I need to practice more so I can post one myself, I will be looking to see what ya’ll think of my sound from my 70’s Buescher Aristocrate alto.
Ridge, thanks… You will be the first posting recorded with a Buescher sax. Look forward to hearing it!
I actually tried a vintage Buescher Alto when I was shopping for a sax to buy. The tone did appeal to me, but I was too much a newbie to judge, and I selected the YAS-52 because it ergonomically felt like a good fit and it’s shiny brass appealed cosmetically. Wish I could play it again now to compare…
Let’s take a moment here…
those who have been reading some of my posts and lessons etc may have heard me talk about how when starting out the saxophone itself isn’t a big deal, how most of your sound will be produced by you, your mouthpiece and reeds.
Kevin is no longer a beginner. He has been working very hard, and very intelligently. Now he’s finding little things which he didn’t notice before. Is it time for a better horn? Maybe. But he has been playing for a year or two and putting in more time than most people do so he may be ready for a better sax now… anyone just starting to play, don’t worry too much about having to have an expensive horn for the first couple years of your playing… just don’t get a cheap $200 one made in China…that’s all I will say!
You won’t notice 1 or 2 thinner notes as Kevin is noticing for a while. Some people will quit after the first year anyway…
Having said all this, if money isn’t a big problem for you and you are serious about learning to play saxophone, then by all means yes, but a Selmer that will cost you a few thousand bucks… you’ll never have to worry about upgrading again! But most people can get a good quality sax in the $500-$1000 range (used of course).
Thanks for the positive feedback guys… Dirk- the name of this piece is- Just My Imagination, the Temptations I think are the most well known for making it a classic.
You make any interesting observation- perhaps 2 students using the same backing track can combine their tracks into a Duet performance posting. Pretty sure I could figure out how to do it with my digital multi-track!
Michael- I have recently started incorporating the Blues and Pentatonic Scales in my practice, so hope to progress with improvisation in the coming months…
Very nice playing Kevin. It is hard to believe the improvement since your first post!! The harmonies with the 2 saxes in the songs sounded amazing together and blended well!!
Thank you for the info and advice on your recording video. Will be helpful. I love how these videos of us playing inspire me to do more. I practiced for a couple hours today and yet after seeing these, want to go get my sax back out and play more!! Too bad I gotta work. HaHa.
Hi Kevin some improvement rem the last post I sent u when u were on holidays? In beginners terms what r u recording on & how do I set it all up don’t know much about sound nice sound Thanks Lou
Lou, my process of recording something to upload to YouTube is likely not the simplest method to accomplish this task. But having the portable digital recorder has proven to be an indispensable tool for my Sax practice sessions, and is very easy to learn and have on hand to do a quick recording of anything I am practicing. I even like to practice with the headphones on and can hear through the mic and effects what the recorded sound would be like.
I use the following devices-
My I-phone for video recording and Backing Track(explained more below)
Behringer large diaphragm condenser mic ($60 used on Ebay)
Zoom MRS-8 track Digital recorder ($110 used on Ebay)
My Laptop which has 2 programs I use-
– LP recorder(free)
– Windows Live Video Recorder(free)
Misc cables- $20?
(The video link above talks through this)
1) I choose a Backing Track that I purchase and download to my I-Phone. When purchasing from Johnny’s site you may have a computer to phone copy procedure to do.
2) Using a 1/8″ to 1/4″ Cable, (1/8″ Plug to I-phone, 1/4″ to Input on Digital recorder), I record the Backing track to Track 1 in a newly created Project.
3) Next with the Behringer Mic plugged into the Digital recorder input and directed to Track 2, (with Headphones on to listen to Track 1) I will be able to record the Sax as I play listening to the Backing Track previously recorded.
4) Place my I-phone in position and using the video record feature of the Camera, I start the video recording and the Digital recording and then begin playing my Sax. Save the recording, play back and adjust levels, effects, etc..
5) Using my Laptop now, and a USB to RCA interface cable, I record the final Mix from the Digital recorder to my laptop. This is saved as a .wav file by the LP Recorder software.
6) Next download the video recording from the I-phone to the Laptop.
7) Using Laptop program- Windows Live Video Recorder, I open a new project and open the video file from the I-phone first. Then you have the option of adding an audio file- So I choose that and add the .wav file brought in from the Digital recorder.
8) Next step is to do any editing to the video file. I usually trim some off the start and finish to start and end with the audio track, then sync the audio to the video file and save the project.
Note- because these type files can be large in size, I recently learned to make a custom export save setting that minimizes the video settings and maximizes the audio settings. This results in a manageable file(less than 60Mb) size with good audio clarity.
9) Lastly upload the final work to YouTube. This involves opening a YouTube account(free), I select “unlisted” so it’s only viewable by those with the URL link.
Copy the URL link and place it in the comments dialogue box on Johnny’s blog site, and
Now back to practicing for your next gig or video!
I know this write up and video is perhaps brief. It certainly depends on your savvy with electronic devices, a computer and software programs. Since your viewing and blogging on Johnny’s site you will likely have the computer know-how to accomplish steps 7 thru 9, so there is my input.
Perhaps someone can offer input. I am still a newbie at recording and the solutions and equipment I chose could very well be “ill-conceived”. As stated above the recorder plays a key part in my rehearsing but may not be the best choice for my recording goals down the road…
Great job on that tune, Kevin. I. too, have been listening to your videos. I’m still in the beginner stage by the way and find your posts to be very motivating. Thanks for posting.
Here comes another quick upload. This time with some improvisation.
Nice sound and groovin!! Keep the air flowing to that sax! I just love the sounds of the tenor. After playing both alto and tenor, I prefer the deep raspy sound of the tenor!! I liked your improvising in the song. It seemed to flow well with the beat. I myself have been working on that as of late! Keep up the good work!!
Klaus, I liked the way you started the notes on this piece. That burst of air and tongue release made that raspy reed tone we all like to hear. Great piece to choose and play. I did notice you do something you don’t usually do- you sounded short of breath on a few notes. Must of played after eating a few too many Bratwursts? LOL
Just kidding of course, another enjoyable performance! and a good start on your improvising…
Thanks KEVIN a lot take in to advanced for me would nearly need to be standing beside you to learn will run it past my son to see can he translate Thanks LOU
Kevin just watched the link you put on youtube Thanks for taking the time out to do that much appreciated.Well done now to ebay i go. CHEERS
Lou, if you are more inclined to just undertake uploading a video for this site and not get into a “home recording studio”, then it can be as simple as using a phone (with video recorder and internet link-
1) place the phone in position to take the video and be in good proximity to the sax for good audio (may need to experiment with a few placements) Also if your playing a backing track in the back ground (via a stereo system) you’ll need to experiment with level settings for that.
2) use the “upload” to YouTube icon on the phone.
(again this requires having opened up a YouTube account (which is free))
3) paste the URL address of the video in the Blog comments box-
The sound quality from these phones can be pretty good. Klaus gets a good clear recording of his tenor(IMHO). You won’t be able add a touch of reverb(though your room may add some nice natural reverb), or optimize volume balance between you sax and backing track, but the simplicity of this process makes uploading a video easily doable for anyone wanting to participate on this blog…
Yes, all good comments…
keep it simple guys. Here, it’s about getting your sax performance up in a video…
Recording is a world all unto it’s own.
You can spend just as much time on your recording process as you can on learning your sax.
Keep it in prospective.
Not discouraging getting ahead in your recording endevours but as kevin said, an iPhone enough is good for this type of thing, anything better is a bonus but not necessary.
Just some beginner riffing…I’m getting out to the local Blues Jams and trying ideas live…Sometimes they work sometimes they do not but, it’s always fun…
Great posts guys keep em coming!
good for you, sounds like you’re gettin started on the right track.
You know what it is Johnny? You are the only one man that’s teaching this style that I know of…Thanks for sharing what you love cause I love it too…
Here is my first attempt… got this sax overhauled after 20 years in storage, and started playing 4 months ago – with a one month work interruption……
Do not be too harsh….
Nice job Philippe!
Sounds like you have all the notes memorized which is no small feat! Now comes the fun part of assigning meaning to those notes and adding a little “snarl” to em 😉
way to go Philippe, you made it and the ending was perfect. Still coming in ahead of the beat in many of the phrases.
When we are playing with a band, and we consider the backing tracks a band, we rely on the drummer for tempo, count and feel and the best thing to get this is from the snare drum.
Try playing the track but don’t play your sax, sway to the groove and listen to the snare – it hits on every 2nd and 4th beat each bar.
Each sway left and right should rock with that snare on 2 and 4. you can also or instead, tap you foot. When you are truly “feeling” this groove try playing. Seems like you got the licks memorized so it should be easier now. Keep up the good work.
Thanks Dan – I think the snarl that I can hear on Johnny’s interpretation will have to wait a hair – I can not get it to snarl on any note, ever. Yet.
To Johnny, thanks also – I did not realise that the snare was the signal for the second beat – this is how much of a beginner I am – and was going instead off the drum that does beat 1 and 3….. As I listen to the backing track it is now clear as crystal. Back to it!
Great job Philippe–You had your Sax in the garage for 20 years, got it serviced and started playing again just a few months ago?!? This is really great for not having played for so many years, and you’re certainly headed in the right direction by getting Johnny’s ebook; it’s full of Improvisation lessons! There’s no question that knowing how to Improvise will make you a way, way better Saxophone player. Really nice to see you do this from Memory too, no easy task. What type of Tenor Saxophone do you have? (I’ll be uploading here to the blog my first ever Blues Improvisation using just one scale, it’s the first lesson that Johnny teaches on the home page of Part 1-Improvisation. We’ll see how it turns out) Look forward to your next upload here to the blog Philippe; keep those videos coming!
Michael, thank for the good words…. Looking forward to learning more with Johnny.
My sax is a Selmer Mark VII that I bought used while in business school (in the 80s…..), played for about 5-6month before having to put it away for lack of funds, busy life, etc… and picked up again this April…
Here’s a neat little Blues Improvisation tune–and my first time ever to play an Improvised Blues tune, thanks to Johnny’s teachings :)–taken from part 1 of the Improvisation lesson here on the home page; Blues in C. I really didn’t have any idea exactly what I was going to do, I listened to the backtrack Johnny provided with the lesson, played around a little bit, turned on the Camera and kind of just let it happen. It’s not like memorizing the notes for a song, you just know you have the 1,2,3,5 & 6 notes to work with on the Pentatonic Scale. But you absolutely have to know the major scales. If you’ve done that, then you automatically know which keys you are to play in the Pentatonic scale for that Major scale. Near the end, I decided, literally last minute, to go up and down the Pentatonic Scale in “3s”, that is C# C B, then C B A, B A F#, then A F# and E, then work my way back up in the scale by just reversing it; but I did miss 1 key LOL 🙂 The trick was not to hit the G key, easier said than done! Looking forward to having fun with part 2 of the Improvisation lesson, playing a Blues tune with 3 Pentatonic scales. JOHNNY: After I finish the Improvisation lesson on the home page completely then I will start How to Play Killer Blues ebook. Thanks for all your instruction!
You’re getting it. Keep experimenting. Try learning a lick or 2 from somewhere and incorporate it into your soloing.
Hey Johnny, what types of beginning licks would be good to start with? And then what types of licks can those lead me on to? This is why I wanted to start with the Improvisation lessons on the home page first before starting the Killer Blues ebook.
What I used to do was take note of anything that stuck out… could be in a song you hear on the radio or from another sax player but don’t limit yourself to sax players. Can be a guitar riff like from Keith Richards or a boogie piano riff etc. The world of blues and rock is just too big. During a lesson last week we took the melody of a recent Adele song that is on the current top 40 and guess what? It’s main melody was totally using the minor blues scale so like I’ve said before, you can solo using these scales in much of pop music too. I know many here are into rock and so there’s a ton of sax solos starting from the early rock and roll years to the type of solos I posted on another blog here recently called “What do these songs have in common” or something like that. Just pick a tiny section of a solo you like, just one riff is all to get something under your belt. I include several of these in the Killer Blues book at the end. Also, the Stones song Brown Sugar is dissected and there’s some cool but simple licks there. It goes on and on…..
Hey Everybody: Johnny clarified something for me that I did not know when I did my first Improvisation based off of part 1 of the lesson on that home page that I just posted here to the blog–you are NOT limited to playing the Pentatonic scale in just that one Octave. I can play those exact same notes in a higher Octave too:) This really, really helps; as I understood that the Improvisation was based off of the 1,2,3, 5 and 6 of the A Pentatonic, but that I didn’t know that I could play those same notes an Octave higher too 🙂 Okay, now I can really add some licks, variety of combinations, and really make something going here. I’m going to go back and re-do that Improvisation lesson and will post it on the blog here again shortly. I want to nail it before going on to part 2 of that lesson; and doing all of this before going on to Killer Blues ebook. Thank you Johnny for clarifying this for me!
I hear ya. Such a nice feeling when Johnny answers a question and that little lite in your head turns on! He did the same for me when clarifying key versus chord changes and how to solo over chords. He wrote a pretty detailed description in the forum section under a improvisation link I posted. Check it out as this helps as well. This will help you out as well during your journey to learning to improvise!
Yes, it is a great feeling to know we have someone like Johnny to help us along the way. I was actually planning on giving somekind of donation to Johnny here on the site–after my wife gets her glasses :)–there’s a link on the home page where we can make donations. He has given many, many hours of himself to answer our questions, help us out on things we have difficulties with, takes time out of his schedule to check out our uploads here to the blog/forum, gives us pro points, the list goes on. The band teacher whom I’m learning Musical Theory from–I have now learned how to transpose music for the Saxophone thanks to Johnny’s link in the articles too!–checked out this site and really emphasized how great this is for Saxophone players. He loves Johnny’s video of the Rock-N-Roll Saxophone; and said that’s where Improvisation will get me over time. He told me don’t make the mistake of just memorizing notes for songs on sheet music all the time; Improvisation will take our Saxophone playing to a totally different level. Just one of the many things Johnny is teaching all of us here 😉
I’ve been working on the Improvisation now that I know I can Improvise the Pentatonic Scale on more than 1 Octave–I noticed a few posts above here on the blog that Johnny spoke of a song from Adele that they recently have been playing with………how timely 🙂 My Octave key has started getting stuck a little bit and there are 2 times on this song where you will see that happen; great timing with Johnny clarifying for me the Pentatonic Scale/higher Octaves too LOL; so I’m taking it to the music shop to have it checked out, don’t think it’s anything serious.
Recording yourself is a great way to track your progress, I’m about 2 weeks or so short of having 6 months of learning to Play the Saxophone now, it goes by so fast! NOTE: The No.5 Otto link metal MP that I have would not have gone well with this song, so I’m sticking to the MPs Johnny suggested I stick with. But I do think at this point I now can benefit from a wider MP, this song is being played on my No.4 Yamaha. I’m thinking a hard-rubber, No.6 mouthpiece would provide a really rich tone for this Alto. I played the No.5 with no problems at all, so a No.6 I’m thinking would be a great choice. No.6 is about as high as Yamaha MPs goes.
Good Michael. You can start to focus on your tonguing now. When you finish a note, it is dying off without any tongue support, and so get weak and sounds flat as it is dying off. The trick here is to not let it die on it’s own, but to control it until the very end by full air support and using your tongue to stop it. This way you are in control and it will sound fuller and stronger and not so flat as it ends. You can do an exercise such as playing consecutive notes and end them by placing the tip of your tongue on the tip of the reed to stop it. This is how we stop notes. Also, as you blow, make sure the tone is full and even all the way through. A little work on this will greatly improve your over all tone.
Right now I’m using a Meyer 6M (medium chamber) on my tenor saxophone. Reed sizes are Rico and Vandoren in 2 and 2 1/2. I have no problem using it. What are your thoughts on the Otto Link 7 (0.100″) and Otto Link 7* (0.105″) for rock/blues styles? And what is the difference in the two openings? The reason I ask is that I can buy the Otto Link7 for $215 new at Long and McQuade. The price won’t break the bank, so to speak,
Links are good and popular but not so much for the style of music you talk about…
Not enough of an edge to them.
Guardalas are way better and not much more money. I wrote an article about them:
They have been my preference for over 20 years now. There are some newer ones that I could make a switch to but these are around 600-700 hundred bucks.
I reread your article. I went to the Amazon link. A new silver-plated MB11 is $199.99. A new gold-plated MB11 is $349.99. Is there any difference in them other than the plating?
No, the MB (Michael Brecker) models are all the same, meaning they don’t make them with different openings etc.
This mp was actually designed for Michael Brecker by Dave Guardala. Just to clarify, Dave Guardala is in prison (or was) and isn’t in the business of making mp’s anymore. But these are being made by a company that is replicating his very successful line and these are still very good. If you go to ebay and buy an original Guardala you’re looking at nearly $1000 in some cases.
Anyway, the gold and silver will sound the same, to my ears anyway.
And if I buy through this link, does it benefit this site? I ask this because a guitar site I frequent benefits when one buys through their link.
Yes, we, like so many websites are signed up as an Amazon affiliate because by sending them traffic we get a small reward! Like about 5 or 6 % of the sale so it’s not much, but if you decide to buy it might as well go through the link because the cost is the same for you either way and so you are helping this site!
OK I’m trying to broaden my repertoire. I’m sure some of you Rockers may have been about to nod off half way thru my previous videos, so maybe this one will keep your toe tappin’.
Yeah this piece is a BIG stretch for me(and my YAS-52), but I had to take a crack at it. (No Guts No Glory?)
Can’t tongue the notes fast enough yet, so slurred the faster phrases.
Also can’t do the altissimo notes yet, but played as high as I could…
So go easy on me. Definitely a challenge to keep the fingers and tongue hitting all the notes on the beat at that tempo.
I think I got the majority of the notes in, and was pleased that I was still breathing and standing at the end! Tis the season for “costumes”, so had to try to ham this video up… Hopefully it’s not too Cheezy, and that it’ll brighten someone’s day!
I know I’ll look back on it in a year or so and have a good laugh…
Ha, I loved it! Bravo Kevin, you even got in the little fills, well done. Now you have another thing to do some work on and that’s tonguing. I have had my problems in this exact song trying to get all those notes in too. The good news is you can use these actual phrases of the song to develop your tonguing.
Slow it down for the tonguing exercises and speed up ever so gradually, but only after you are doing it really clean.
Kevin you obviously devoted much effort into this piece wood shedding no one sees, but is clearly evident here .as Johhny said Bravo Kevin well done
it is awesome! I like this song very much but i am far away getting to that tempo!
Keep on rocking!
Thanks, Johnny. I’ll definitely go through the link. I’m going to go for the silver-plated MBII.
SOOOO COOOOOOL KEVIN 🙂 I’ve often watched Johnny many times playing this song here on his Saxophone Music section–watching what he does/how he does it, etc.. It’s AWESOME to see one of the members playing this song for sure! If some of those Rockers nodded off your previous videos before (I never did), then there would be something wrong with them to nod this off. That’s not an easy song-everything has to be hit just right, the tongue, fingers, everything. You did great.
THANKS JOHNNY:)–I’ve had a sense of needing to now focus on my tonguing and focus on holding those tones even longer now just as you mentioned; which is why I wanted to upload this song to the blog for you to see. So thank you! Especially towards the end, it really is tough because so much of this song requires a lot of the diaphragm, so it was a great way to magnify what I was doing right and wrong. I LOVED KEVIN’S VIDEO, he also dressed quite appropriately for it too; I can see he’s getting more and more confident in his playing. That only comes with lots and lots of practice time; I’ll get there.
Thanks guys for the positive comments. This video was a stretch for me both in the technical skills and in trying to be entertaining, so it was a relief to hear that it came across favorably.
Paddy, yes you were on the mark about appreciating the effort put into learning this. I bought the backing track/sheet music back in May/June and began working a section at a time on it. About 2 weeks before this upload I began to try a full length recording. I wasn’t having good results, but I felt I was close. I would work the song a little each day with my other rehearsal regimen then take a stab at recording it on the weekend.
Yesterday I failed a clean take the first 2 times thru, then take 3 I was finally “feeling it”, and got through it. So yes it took lots of hours to get to that. And I’m not yet solid enough on it to repeat that take consistently, but for me it was a good feeling of accomplishment when comparing how hard it was for me back in June.
Holy cow Kevin!!!!! What an improvement, you are the man!!!!!
You should/have every right to feel good about your accomplishment Kevin–prime example that shows how hours of hard work pay off. LOVE YOUR NEW PROFILE PIC TOO, very stylish! You made a really good point too about how your video was a “stretch” for you. It reminds me of how in the world of bmx racing that I come from, we spent hours and hours on specific riding skills and the time came when it you simply had to hit a jump that previously we may have avoided. A rider couldn’t progress in his riding unless, when the time came and had the skills for hit, he took the jump. In that moment he got better and it was great fun to say the least! I see something similar here; each and every video I’ve seen of yours I can see Improvements.
As for myself, I have recently caught myself making the mistake of not having enough of the Mouthpiece in my mouth and my embouchure/tone suffered a little bit in the song of Adele I uploaded–it’s a work in progress.
Heres a song I wrote about a year ago,
and soon Ill be uploading one useing Jonny technic.
So we will here the differece.
The song is called “Dont touch the hat,Dont do that”
And I wrote it after leaving the band in the photos.
cos the singer didnt like me touching his hat.
so I wrote this to cheese him off.
hope you enjoy, yes its me playing everything..
Hi Kevin yet another excellent performance wish I had the time to practice more Great job were did u get the backing track. & sheet music from & what key is it in would be interested in it if it was in an easy key Thanks Lou
Sorry Kevin just seen it on the site didn’t think it was the same song due to Johnny dirty playing of the sax
Lou, It is in a good key for Alto- Dm(F), and the key for Tenor should be OK as well- Gm(Bb). I’m sure you’ll like Johnny’s arrangement and solo riff. I got alot of enjoyment out of practicing this piece…
Kevin, that’s just cooool. Really well done ! Bravo !
You really improved a lot, that inspires me to keep on going !
Great Site Johnny,After seeing and hearing Johnny play it is easy to see how he was voted best saxophone player in Canada one year…. I took the liberty of recording my rendition of your three Christmas Songs , Here is the link, all three will play one after the other. Thanks for your great site. Mike
Thanks Mike… I checked out a few of your video uploads but you are playing the same pattern over every song? I don’t understand.
I saw your videos. I agree with Johnny. I didn’t hear any parts of the songs listed, just the same pattern over and over. Am I missing something? Is there a point to this?
So here is a video, a live recording on a little Tascam DR-8 during a show at a jazz festival in Denmark this Summer. I started playing about a year and a half ago with a goal of playing a festival………to my surprise and terror I was accepted to play without pay in a cafe in one of the 20 venues. I played a 1925 Buscher C-Melody and the other sax is 20 year old Parker Jackson who flew out from Oklahoma and ended up in a Danish commune; but I digress. Free Jazz, all improvised around the idea of why were there so many images of white elephants in Denmark?
That was a little different. You should post a video of you playing your sax and then u can get a good critique.
Dirk, Sounds like this JazzFest was a great experience, and great way to see another part of the World! The “Free Jazz” genre is unfamiliar to me, but glad to have a new upload participant to the Blog! look forward to hearing more…
Cool video, but I agree with Jake. That’s the reason why Johnny GRACIOUSLY added this facet to his website. Would love to see you play some sax Music Dirk 🙂 BY THE WAY GUYS: I am going to try, with all my heart, to upload here to the blog with the recent holiday music Johnny just released but no guarantess due to school schedule.–I LOVE HIS VERSION OF GOING AROUND THE X-MAS TREE! WOW! TOTALLY AWESOME VERSION OF THE ORIGINAL SONG. I will try with all my heart, but if not please try to understand. Between now and Jan I am in the final stages of my degree and it’s ruthless, but will be well worth it. It may not be till mid January that I upload again, but rest assured I will be watching everyone’s awesome videos. In the mean time, I am working on the Improvisation lesson on the home page; my original goal was to start how to play Killer Blues ebook by January. So I’ll be happy to be meeting that goal for sure 🙂 THANK YOU JOHNNY for taking note of my tone in the last blog, I just didn’t have enough of the MP in my mouth, a mistake that just started to creep in on me without realizing it and the notes were falling off at the end. But I have corrected that now (I kicked myself in the butt because I didn’t start off like that and I KNEW better; shame on me).
Well, again me with the first upload on the new (3rd) part.
It’s an edute out of Fred Lipsius worksheet.
Had some difficulties to keep the rythm, but I’m working on it 🙂
Klaus, another challenging piece. I like hearing these Lipsius Etudes. I haven’t found in the blog where you shared what Model Tenor you’re playing? Was this your Yamaha MP (with #2 Vandoren Jazz reed)?
I liked the tone this time, the lower notes in particularly, but the higher notes as well.
Hi Kevin, sorry my late reply. Yes, it’s my oldfashioned Yamaha MP with 2,5 vandoren Jazz reed. I recently tried some different MP and got me an Otto Link (Metal) MP but finally I was not satisfied and I came back to the original Yamaha. Still searching to find the real nasty blues and rock n roll tone.
Hey Klaus–I’m definitely seeing improvements in your playing here and that’s what it’s all about. Keep it up and keep those videos coming. Yeah, I too was wondering what model of Tenor you play with? The horn on your Sax sounds really nice 🙂
This aspect of Johnny’s site is a real plus; he graciously added it so that we can all get better. His valuable insights helped me to avoid a mistake that crept in on me from becoming a bad habit that would have been 10 times as hard to break. Without the blog, that’s exactly what would have happened to me. Thank you Johnny!
Hey guys, here is my first recording. I have only been playing for three months, so please bear with me. I could have kept recording different takes and merge the best ones together, but I want you to hear my playing in it’s natural state. Therefore, there are timing and musical errors, as well as a long break where I have to turn the page. Either way, please let me know your thoughts.
Lol, my video won’t embed. In that case I don’t know how to include the video in my post. I’ll have to link it to youtube instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfpeNzUr250&feature=youtu.be
Warren, you went about it the right way… you have to only leave your video’s URL here and then the embed code can only be done in the websites admin backend section which is only accessible my me.
Wow, you’ve only been playing for 3 months!! You are starting to develop a soft soothing tone. You are doing well for such a short period of time! Keep what what you are doing. Looking back at your recorded videos will help your improvement as well! The sax your first instrument you’ve played? What kind of sax are you playing?
Thanks, Jake. Yea, I’m going to start a little recording diary and record myself at the beginning of each month. I think that will help to not only see my improvements, but to also establish what I’m doing wrong. I’ve already found recording Hey Jude very beneficial.
I’m playing Alto Sax, and no, it isn’t the first instrument I’ve played. I played trumpet for a couple of years when I was a kid.
Sounds good but you need to keep the timing going.
How long have you been playing?
I’ve been playing for three months. I started in August.
wow, I would have guessed longer. You’re doing very good.
great job Warren. You’ve only been playing for 3 months? Wow, this is great for only 3 months of playing. You’ll find this blog to be a great learning tool, as it really helps to monitor your progress. Keep those videos coming!
Thank you, Michael. I’m already finding this blog and whole website very beneficial and rewarding! The tips from Johnny and all the users are extraordinary.
Am looking forward to hearing other users play their sax too, so will keep checking this section!
Here comes another quick one, Imagine by John Lennon.
Backing tracks only the Drum computer..
good loud bright sound Klaus. I think I suggested to you in another video to try and have the sax more in front of you and not to put it off to the side of your face. I’m not sure how much it will change your tone but why don’t you record it again this time face straight at the music, you can hold the sax slightly to the side of the body but keep the neck inline with your nose. What I fear for you is that you may not be getting as much embouchure strength and control with it off to the side like you are doing.
Hey Klaus, great sound…..holding the Sax in front of you like Johnny is saying here will greatly improve you tone for sure and make your awesome playing even better 🙂
HEY WARREN: Look forward to hearing/seeing more from you–your feelings about this site/Johnny’s insights pretty much echo all of our thoughts and feelings. He’s a first-class act, he’s the real deal. I will try to upload to the blog before the end of this month, my school schedule is tough between now and Jan. I’m going to really, really try to upload to the blog some of the Awesome holiday music Johnny just released. Think a good number of members are planning to do the same. Keep those videos coming for us to see and just remember there will be many mistakes that you make, but that’s all part of the learning process. That’s why Johnny added the blog, so that he can help us get better.
Johnny, true , you already mentioned it. I will try it in this way. Thanks for the hint !
Don’t forget you can rotate the neck in the body to get a more comfortable angle, which should enable you to get the mouthpiece straight in your mouth but have the sax to one side.
Ever have one of those really long, long days/weeks where all you want to do is just come home, take your shoes off and realize how good it feels to just take a seat? It’s been one of those long days for me where your feet hurt from standing on them all day and I could listen to the Saxophone versions of these songs that Johnny has done for hours on end.
I had planned to come home and work on “tonguing” notes and Improvisation, but that will come tomorrow as it’s an off day, so here’s one of those beautiful saxophone songs that Johnny has done that helps me just to settle down and relax for the day. Being in the final part of my medical training, the schedule is crazy between now and Jan., you’ll notice I’m even playing in my medical scrubs, yikes!
The first time I ever uploaded to the blog-when I got the courage to do it-I played this very song while reading along with Johnny’s sheet music. The thought of playing anything along with a backtrack seemed completely out of the question. I haven’t looked at the sheet music since then and it’s been exactly 6 months of learning to play the Saxophone; so here we go. I didn’t warm up or anything before filming this with my webcam, just played it and see how it comes out; please forgive me if a couple of the notes fall of near the end, it’s been a long day. I’m working on tonguing them, as Johnny brought out on my last blog upload and I’m noticing a major difference in being able to hold the notes longer and more full all the way through. I’m working on something right now that I’ll upload soon that absolutely forces you to tongue the notes and if you don’t then you know it right away. I’ll make sure I do that on an off day when I’m well rested 🙂 I noticed that I no longer have those “puffy cheeks” while playing; which hurts the embouchure. Have a great weekend one and all!
Great job! It looks like your sight reading is coming on really well, too.
Am looking forward to hearing you play that piece you describe about tonguing notes.
Michael, this song is quite involved for a beginner so it’s very good that you’re working on it! You need to take a closer look at the notes before moving forward on memorizing because you’re not playing the low F’s.
Sounds like every time you play those low F’s you hit an F#.
Michael, heard some improvement on how you’re holding the notes out, and it’s better that you got the USB mic.
As Johnny said this song is pretty involved. I remember my attempt at it how hard is was for me to find places to take a breath. But allow me to also give you feedback on another element of this performance- you were starting the beginning of the phrases pretty much on the beat, but would then get ahead of the beat and end the phrase ahead of it’s place on the beat with the backing track. That’s part of the challenge with playing with backing tracks- the “band” can’t adjust to your sense of rhythm.
In this song that probably did in fact help with giving you chances to take a breath, but musically this is another one of those fundamentals that you need to nail down as you progress…
It would be good practice to play along with Johnny’s recording of this, then you can get the sense of his tempo and phrasing to the backing track.
Hope these comments are helpful…
Oh yeah….looking at the video I was hitting F# instead of low F; my mistake—I did the video at the end of a very, very, very long week and just wanted to “unwind” from it all. Your Saxophone versions of these songs help me to just take off my shoes, put the feet up on the recliner and relax Johnny 🙂 I’ve noticed that the webcam I have isn’t the greatest in the world when it comes to recording sound, whether it’s a human voice or a musical instrument; when it records it’s very “spotty”. So my son had an idea to go get a modest microphone that plugs into the USB port and try recording my playing with it…it was amazing! It will help me out greatly in terms of listening to my saxophone playing and listen to what I’m doing right and wrong.
WARREN: Thanks, I was in your shoes a few months back and everything Johnny has to teach works; plain and simple. But we have to apply ourselves to what he has to teach us. If you notice the comments he left for me here, it’s an example of him bringing something out that I didn’t even realize I had done; benefit of the blog. So now I can go back, re-analyze what I did wrong and correct it. Each and every time I upload; he’ll bring out something I didn’t know or didn’t realize; that’s how we grow and get better. I finally got the “courage” to book a private lesson with him here shortly LOL–just don’t be too hard on me Johnny! I’m a beginner LOL Thanks much for your awesome insights Johnny, keep them coming!
Yes, even a modest USB mic will out perform a cheap webcam or computer mic so you should be a step above with your sound quality moving forward…just watch out for those wrong notes now, even the best mics can’t fix those!
It AMAZES me that you’re able to hear the difference between that low F and an low F# though a webcam recording, WOW. Why I played a middle F natural and a low F# I don’t know, the scale for that song doesn’t even call for F#. Just another example of why I’m so glad you added this members videos to your site–I was caught red-handed making a mistake! LOL As a beginner, it can be easy for me to get down on myself for making an honest mistake. Over the years in bmx racing, I learned to laugh at myself, not take myself too seriously, learn from my mistake and move on. I made literally thousands of mistakes; probably way more than thousands. Same thing has happened now in my Medical training with Instructors who could have held their own with Sir Isaac Newton! LOL 🙂 Live and learn and have fun doing it. Thank you Johnny!
Whenever we tackle a new song or any piece of music or exercise, take note of the key signature, this is very important. Since Killing Me Softly is in F for you on alto, playing an F# as part of a simple pop melody like this would never happen. As we get more used to keys these types of mistakes become more rare. Also, listen carefully to yourself, hitting an F# instead of an F should be obvious that there is a “sour” note in the melody… just be more aware.
Hey, anyone have a soprano sax that they can play a video post with? I would especially like to hear one on a Christmas piece! “Variety- the spice of Life…”
i got one from a friend of mine.
I played about an hour yesterday and it sound not so bad.
I will try to send some “Ho Ho Ho” stuff 😀
BTW: It is a very big difference between vintage saxes an new ones.
The soprano is a modern yamaha and it is very easy to play. I am used to play with a lot of air on my alto and tenor and i have problems with it now on the soprano.
Thanks Kevin 🙂 Your’s, Johnny’s, and other members insights help me to learn. Some members have sent me messages of encouragement to tell me how far they think I’ve come in 6 months of plyaing. I just tell them that I’ve learned a lot from Johnny; but we have to apply ourselves to what he teaches.
As I listened to myself playing I too noticed myself getting ahead as you mentioned here; I was playing a little bit too fast. I’ll make sure the next time I do a blog upload it will be on my off day v.s. coming home after being exhausted and doing one. I didn’t use the USB mic here on this video; I bought one the following day. With the webcam, it’s hard to see what the tone really sounds like. It’s great for capturing HD video but not so great with sound. With the USB mic it sounds just like your standing right next to me; will help me in monitoring my tone, pitch, etc., with more accuracy. I don’t plan on using it each and every time I practice, but will use it to evaluate my progress. I’ll use it the next time I upload to the blog; hopefully with some of the holiday music Johnny just released. In terms of this song I attempted, I didn’t feel like it was difficult in terms of not getting a chance to take a breath but certainly is a challenge playing along with backtracks. Thanks for your insights Kevin and Johnny, I warmly welcome them!
I had ordered the Christmas Music through PayPal Pair-a-dice on 11/6/13. Receipt #4779-9729-9747-3005 total $20.00. I did not see any instructions on how to download the music.
OK Carl I’ll send you the link in an email.
Ok, here comes ‘Fly me to the moon’
Nice tune, I like the swing feeling.
On the video I found that I hold the Sax still at the side of the mouth but I’m working on it ..
I really like your playing and sound. Is that a tongue flutter I can hear at 0:17? Also, do you growl some of the notes in the second part? I love the effect it gives. Keep up the good work!
Hi Warren, yes I try the growl sound with flutter tongue as Johnny teached. It’s not really difficult after practicing and it makes a good sound.
Here’s my attempt at playing Samba Pa Ti. I can only play the first part at the moment as the rest is far too hard. Let me know what you think and how to improve. Thanks 🙂
Warren, your doing well! I took this word for word excerpt from Johnny’s first comment to me-
“When you practice, play twice as loud as you’re playing now. Some notes have a waver which tend to go a bit flat…this is your sax telling you “give me more air”.
That extra air has got to come from the diaphragm. Once you get this going be more dominating with how you handle your notes, specifically how you end them. Don’t let them disappear or fade out on their own, make sure to stop them when YOU want with the tip of your tongue. It’s these little things that can make a big difference in how you’re coming across as an instrumentalist… keep good air going right until you end it with your tongue.”
I think you’re doing better than I was with delivering air to the sax, but take Johnnys comments to task about starting and ending the notes…
Me playing Bourré from J.S. Bach on my Alto Sax.
It tok some time to practice the high tones. I wanted them to be clear and well and not only high an loud.
very good! You have a nice tone and a good feeling for the rythm.
For how long do you play alto?
You’re well on your way Adrian… watch your fingers, they are coming up pretty high off the keys, this can slow you down. We should all try to keep them as close to the keys as possible… I’m bad at it too but I don’t do much really fast stuff. If you are or will be doing more classical stuff you will need to increase speed at some point and having your fingers so far off the keys will make it hard to play fast passages.
Adrian, Glad to have a new “blogger”. Yes, nice tone and note playing… But I’m hearing a transposition key thing going on between you and the backing piano. Unless I’m wrong(it wouldn’t be the 1st time!) you need to be playing in a key a minor 3rd(3 half tones) lower than the key of the backing track.
Someone else please comment on this as well…
Hey Adrian, Yes Kevin has a good point which I didn’t have time to get into the other day but…
Check your chart, the concert key is D minor I believe, and you’re playing it in C minor concert (your A minor on alto)
You need to transpose your chart up one whole tone, so instead of your first 3 notes being ABC the way they are now, they should be BC#D
O.K. here is the first one on soprano. I have chosen “What a wonderful world” because i have not selected a nice christmas song Keven is waiting for.
It is my third session on the soprano, so please be polite 😉
HEY DIRK: That was fantastic–I believe this is the first upload to the blog with someone playing the Soprano. I actually was thinking about that about a month back about how cool it would be to see one of the members upload something with the Soprano. Now it would awesome to see you play that song with the backtrack, would raise some eyebrows for sure! Soprano has such a great sound to it. What type of recording device did you use for your upload? A suggestion for your next upload, if possible, is to put the camera where you can stand back and we can see all of you and your Soprano Saxophone.
Great job to everyone; Adrian, Warren and Klaus. Keep those uploads coming.
Dirk, good to hear you return back with a video! And thanks for the variety of breaking out a Soprano Sax. I thought you did very well with it for a 3rd session. Your intonation and musicality were good, and I thought the tone results throughout were good. some notes may have “thinned” out a bit, but they were few.. and for us students (for sure in my case) it is a lengthy process to dial in the right MP/Reed combo and get it working with that particular instrument!
Looking forward to the Christmas piece! Will be considering a backing track? Your playing is certainly solid enough to add that to your video!
Lastly regarding your vibrato- It was improved this time. I want to ask if I’m hearing something correctly in how you are doing it- Am I hearing a Lip(and/or lower jaw) vibrato
at times, then when ending a phrase do you at times use a “pulsating” air flow? For me the Lip vibrato is coming across good though your control of it is still developing (for me too!), but the pulsating vibrato sound I think is detracting from an otherwise pretty solid performance…
(Disclaimer- I hope that my comments will be accepted as constructive feedback when I do comment, I by no means intend to assert myself as one who has achieved a level of proficiency on the sax to be able to “instruct” others. I have taught students on other instruments, so I do have it in me to offer what I hope and intend to be helpful/candid comments to aid another for improvement purposes.)
Thank you for the comments.
Michael, at the moment i am using an iphone for both video and sound. I need some more time to spend more money on my equipment (two saxes within one year is enough i think). Changing the position of the device is planed for the next few weeks. I need another stand for that but i have an idea to do this withthings i have at home.
Kevin, thank you for the warm words. It is true that finding the right MP/reed combination is one of the hardest things. I am on a good way with my alto and tenor and i was surprised that i could play on the soprano. The most surprising thing is that it is normally harder to play the higher notes, but on the soprano it is the opposite for me. Upeatds from the middle register the intonation ist very easy on low and high volume. From low G downwards i have to blow harder to hit the right tone.
What to say to the vibrato … i can’t tell you if im using only the lips or the yaws! If i wan’t to do a bigger vibrato i am definitly using the yaws. I thing normally it is more the tension of my lower lip like on bending notes up and down.
Definitely i am not using a pulsating air flow from my loungs/stomach. The air is always flowing straight through my body.
The next time i will try to play with a backing track. In music school i play once a month whith another student to learn playing duets or trios (with our teacher) which helps. lot.
Kevin, on your disclaimer! I think it is very important to always tell truely what we think of what we can see and hear her! Everybody has an individual feeling for music and so i think it is good to tell what we think. Nobody want’s to hurt anyone but if we think there is a mistake we should say it. If we are wrong with it we will learn that our feeling is not correct and if we are right it helps the one who did the mistakes. That is what we are here for, right?
You did a great job too.
Thank you for your comment, i started playing Alto in 2010.
And since Juli 2013 i´m playing a Tenor too.
Nice tone Dirk, keep rockin that soprano!
Here we go,
Winter Wonderland …
Dirk, thanks again for the video posts with the soprano. Both songs are ones that I like to hear, and you played them well…
I had an aha moment practicing the other day regarding vibrato- I learned something that I think could help you as well- I took in less mouthpiece than normal because I was trying to use the lip and embrochure to control and mute the tone a bit. I then tried to add some vibrato and did it with too wide of a sine wave pattern, and the result was clearly a pulsating air sound due to the lip closing off the reed opening a bit too much.
So when producing a vibrato it takes way more control and a much smaller “sine wave” if you are not taking in much of the mouthpiece.
Listening to a metronome when hearing your vibrato there are times it reaches 320 bpm, which is very fast. I can’t get my lip to respond that fast, so in that respect you have a unique gift! If you can tongue notes at that speed as well, then you are well ahead of me!
Learning vibrato on long tones as you have mentioned and with a metronome starting with slow bpm’s is something I’m trying. Though it’s coming slowly, I am seeing more control of the vibrato as the months go by…
Ya right Kevin, doing those exaggerations is a good way to learn how to better develop and finally control your vibrato. We all end up doing it differently and it’s all a matter of taste but a vibrato that’s too fast usually is less pleasing as a general rule.
After playing the soprano for a while now i can put more light on the “vibrato” stuff!
Kevin what you have heared (about five hertz pulsating) is of course not a controled vibrato! It is more an intonation problem because the straight soprano is very difficult to handle!
The MP is so damned small that controlling what the lips are doing is realy hard.
On alto and tenor i am able to control the vibrato, if beat me to do that. When i play with my stomach feelings i fall into vibrato with nearly every long note which is not what i want in my mind.
I think have to practice a lot more but Johnny is also right. I definitly is a matter of taste. I like vibrato but not as much as it comes out at the moment.
Hallelluhjah, Leonard Cohen
http://youtu.be/7kGjVkHp8GI A couple of posts ago, Johnny encouraged me to start working on tonguing to hold the notes nice/clean so that they don’t fall off at the end and this song FORCES you to tongue those notes. If you don’t then you know it right away. Kevin also brought out for me to be aware of the tempo of the backtrack, seems to be better this time. KEVIN: I always welcome your comments/insights; they really help me out a lot. This is the first upload of using a USB mic-just a simple one I got from Walmart, we don’t need anything elaborate for the blog. It still is not perfect but better than using the webcam without a mic of any kind. I just realized as I was uploading this to youtube that I was holding the Sax a little sideways; I usually don’t do that. I hadn’t planned on uploading anything till later this month, doing a couple of the songs at the end of Johnny’s ebook–but seeing everyone’s awesome videos encouaraged me to go ahead and do this. A couple of my high notes “swayed” a little due to working on tonguing/holding those higher notes, so please forgive me. It’s growing pains 🙂
Wasn’t gonna post a video quite yet but figured it has been awhile since last one so why not… This is a classic with sax in it, hope I did it some justice. After listening I can see one area I need for improvement. At the end of the song I was working in the upper register and hit the F# for the first time in a performance. With that being said, the note was pretty weak and empty sounding. By the time I got to the note, I was pretty winded from the previous notes working up to the ending. I just played along with a live version and played over the sax that was in it. I added the famous intro at various stages in the song to highlite my playing without the sax from the song in it. The backing sound is also pretty low in comparison to my sax. The rest of the song I took the root notes of the chords and tried to blend them in with the guitar. Would love to play this on the tenor but will be awhile before I can get up to the altissimo A!! I started playing with a friend that plays guitar and it sounds pretty cool together. Let me know your thoughts/criticisms. Thanks!!
Jake, Good song choice and good job playing it! Your sound on the alto sounds fuller than your last video- What a Wonderful World. I bet learning to play the Tenor is helping with how your air delivery and sound on the alto is developing! Good sustain on the notes with steady tone and pitch. I did hear some notes that I thought were the sax on your tape- 2:06 thru 2:20 that you chose not to play?
Hey Everyone: Someone had hacked into my youtube account and I had to temporarily remove some videos from my home page which included a few videos of bmx racing, some videos our kids made and Saxophone videos. We did that until youtube can find out what happened. The good news is that I have my videos on file on my cpu, so if you try and click on one and see nothing, this is why. Yes Jake, great job!
Thanks for the comments Kevin and Michael. Yea Kevin, I noticed on the live version there is some sax that plays along near the end of the song. I like the mix but haven’t got around to figuring it out quite yet. That is on my list things to do.
I did my first record on my Expression X-Old Tenorsax.
I love this horn.
Adrian, well done! I love “Franky and Johnny” very much. I play it on tenor and alto but i think it sounds much better on the big horn!
Your Expression sound cool!
Maybe it is your kind to play it, but if you do it more swing-style it has more groove. A pause after a quarter-note means that you should play the quarter much shorter.
Not Tu Ta, but Tu Wap.
At the beginning In soundspeach not
Da da di du da di da da
Da da di du da di da dap
I agree, very well done. You have a nice mellow tone developing on those low notes. You are playing them well and they sound nice to the ears. I’ve never heard that song before and found it catchy. I agree with Dirk as well, that could have been played to be much more groovin, (not sure of the original nature of the song) I found myself getting into the beat. Keep up the good work!!
Hey! Very nice, Adrian. Great tune, too!
Got my new Berg MP. Getting used to the openness of it but so far I am liking it. I was playing along with this video of CCR on youtube. I listened and transposed the song by ear, trying to develop that part now and laying off some of the sheet music. I’m finding the growls harder to play on this piece. I seem to lose my mouths grips on the mouthpiece and the notes get lost. Some embellishments would definitely make this song a ton better than I did it here. Its still a work in progress. Hopefully it will all come together some day.
Jake, sounding better and better. I particularly liked the full tone on that lowest note. Playing with more confidence!
Something I’m hearing (that I’m also striving to work to improve) is that the start of the notes need to “pop” more. Klaus does pretty good in that regard, so I listen closely for that when he plays, and certainly revisit Johnny’s videos to hear how he starts his notes.
Yes Jake, there is a very noticeable difference in your tone when you get up to the high octave. This is a VERY common thing among many saxophonists. The saxophone requires something different up there to produce the same big full and in tune sound that it was producing in the lower range. We need to blow more air, open up the throat, and even make adjustments in our embouchure, such as opening up the oral cavity and adjusting the lip pressure as well. Practice the slow and boring octave exercise; blow a long and strong middle C, then high C. Focus on ensuring proper intonation and note strength by doing some or all the things I pointed out…. experiment with all of them and act on the ones that you notice make a difference.
Well Santa dropped by early at our house. I now have a new AX… and am anxious to get some songs learned on it! Had it now for 2-3 weeks and am starting on a tenor version of one of the three selections from Johnny’s Christmas Saxophone Music.
Chomping at the bit(mouthpiece?) to play something for the blog, so I threw together this short video doing a first attempt at improvising. My digital recorder has a built in drum track, so I picked a drum pattern, got out my acoustic guitar and layed down the backing track to jam with. This uses a simple repeating I, IV chord pattern, and is pretty easy and cool to improvise over it with the pentatonic scale.
The new(used) tenor sax is a Gary Sugal Series III. I’m using a #2 Alexander NY reed on a David Hite MP. The MP came with a .078″ tip opening, but I have refaced it now 4 times (for my educational and experimental purposes) so that it now is at .090″.
Not yet a very open tip for a bigger sound, but my chops and air delivery will have to mature to grow into something larger… Still getting used to the finger key placements, keep slightly grazing palm keys and such getting those occasional “squeeks”. But I must say the Tenor is addicting to play! My Alto’s gonna feel abandoned… (My Alto feels really small now, and the low notes don’t go low enough anymore?)
Anyway here’s my first video with a tenor. Had to let my sleeves out a bit to play this bigger horn, and my back muscles are complaining about how much heavier it is!
Kevin, very nice! I love the sound! Your sound is realy good for playing only three weeks on that instrument! Yes, it ist different and a lot heavier than the alto! My alto had to rest for six months until i played it again! The funny thing is that it feels like a toy when you play tenor but it also is a lot easyer to play then.
Your tone is very good! All notes have the same loudness and clearness so your are very close to feel familliar with it.
To help your neck and back a good strap is very important. I was happy that i chose a good one before i bought the tenor.
I am lookig forward to another video with your new “friend”!
Wow, nice transition from the alto to the tenor. I agree, having the tenor is addicting. I want more time to play it! You have a nice full sound, especially after only playing it for 2-3 weeks. I agree with Dirk about a good sax holder. I played my tenor quite a bit this week and jammed for a few hours with my guitar buddy and my back is feeling it. I was thinking about checking out one the the back harnesses I have seen. It seems as thought it would help with equally distributing the weight of the sax.
BTW: nice vibrato on the long tones 😀
Hi Kevin sounds just great. I like how you hold the long notes.
Merry christmas to you and your family !
Looks like you got a solid deal on your Tenor Kevin, good for you. For sure, something about the sound on the Tenor that lots of players find addicting. Your comments reminded me of a video Johnny posted about players who ask which saxophone should they play, and there’s some great points Johnny makes on this video regarding transitioning from the alto to the tenor. As he mentions on this video, it’s nothing that, with practice, you can’t overcome. Keep that improvisation coming, that’s what I’m focusing on now in 2014. I’m starting Johnny’s ebook on player Killer Blues now during the winter break–my goal was to start killer blues ebook by Jan 1 and I met that goal 🙂
JAKE: Great job on your video, that’s a real plus of being able to hear the tone and play it (I believe they call it “perfect pitch” for players who can transpose music by hearing it). This is a great step for you, as developing that ability can help you to break down and play some of those famous sax solos that is hard to find sheet music for. Great job, keep em coming!
Here comes ‘Rocking around…` including xmas greetings
Merry christmas to everbody !!
Great work Klaus! On my current tour I’ve been playing this song along with a Brenda Lee tribute artist and I get to play this every night. I’ve finally memorized the Boots Randolph solo and it gets applause every night. It’s such a memorable solo and a big part of this great hit song… try and play it along with the backing track that doesn’t have the solo on it now that you are able to play it.
Wow, good job playing what was the hardest of the 3 Christmas download songs of Johnny’s. I’ve been working on this one and know the fingering through the solo section isn’t easy to get through cleanly, so hat’s off to you for setting the bar pretty high on that part of the song. Just got to bust out a “dirty growl” on some of those phrases now!! You still have tell us what model of tenor sax you’re playing. Great sounding horn.
makeing progress Klaus thats what this is all about keep it going
Nice job Klaus!! You have shown much improvement! You have a nice bright sound going on. I even heard some growls in there. Man, that solo sounds rather tricky and fast, you did a good job keeping up with the backing track. Merry Christmas to you too!!
Back at you brother! Nice way to end your video Klaus. Regardless of whether it’s the holiday season or not, that’s just a great song, really nice swing going there.
Hey Johnny; I didn’t know we could benefit your website by going directly through your links to amazon. So, for example, if there’s something/anything that you have posted here on this site that links us straight to Amazon–in the posts above the member “James” is talking about the Guardala line of MPs that is mentioned here on these posts–then by clicking on those links and going straight to amazon, it benefits your website? I was going to get the book on How to improve our range on the Saxophone that you had talked about in one of your articles here on the blog.
Yes, that’s how Amazon gets everyone to promote them. Many websites set up an affiliation with them so when we send them a customer they in return give us a small percentage of the sale. It only works when you click on a link that is an affiliate link they recognize so in some cases yes, you will help this website by doing that.
Merry Christmas to you, Klaus. Great job on that tune!
I did buy the Guardala MBII silver-plated model but not from Amazon. Amazon did not ship to Canada so I called the seller, WWBW, and they shipped it directly to me. This website did not get a percentage of the sale from the sale. However, there is a ‘Donate’ button here that one can use to help support this great site which I like to refer to as the ‘Little Big Site’ !
On another note, I was using a Meyer 7M on my YTS23 tenor before I got the Guardala MBII. I’m finding there’s quite a difference in the amount of air it takes to blow through the Guardala. The Guardala has a big sound which I really like but it requires a lot more effort than the Meyer. I’d have to say it’s a work in progress right now.
Yes, more air equals more sound. This is how we get a bigger tone from our horns. Of course you’ll find it more difficult at first but it you’ll get more used to it and before you know it it will feel very natural… then try going back to your old mp and you’ll wonder how you ever felt comfortable on it!
What Johnny is saying is so, so true–I went to the No.6 MP with a 2.5 Vandoren reed and it proved to be a great combo. There is definitely a tone now that is far more deep and rich v.s. playing on a No.4 MP with a No.2 reed. Right now, it’s almost as if I can “feel” a tone in my Saxophone that is smooth, a tone that I couldn’t feel before-a tone that makes me think of the song “Careless Whisper”, that’s just how it feels to me anyway 🙂 I’ve since tried the No.4 a couple times, just to see how I was adjusting and, immediately, the difference was way obvious to me. It felt too small and I’m thinking exactly what Johnny said here; how did I ever play on an MP so small? While I still have a LONG way to go, it’s been an obvious sign of improvement. So like Johnny says here, adjusting to a wider MP takes time, but the more we use it, the more comfortable it will feel and the more we love it!
I recently switched to a 6C mouthpiece and I’ve been curious to see the difference between the 4C and 6C, using a 2.5 Vandoreen reed—so I played Johnny’s “Greensleeves” back-to-back, once with the 4C and the 2nd time with the 6C. It’s hard, as were playing, to really tell what the difference is between the 2, so there’s no better way to see what’s going on than to upload to the blog. Listen carefully, you’ll hear a little bit of Vibrato–it’s just a little bit but it’s a start and adds a little “spice”. I’m happy about starting Glissandos, this song was a great opportunity to use them. I wanted to upload “Over the Rainbow” with this song, which is also at the end of Johnny’s ebook. I wanted to play the last few measures an Octave higher than the sheet music shows but the high F# kept me from that….for now (bear in mind I’m talking high F#, not high F). The great news is that I have a private lesson with Johnny tomorrow and he can see what I’m doing right/wrong.
As sax players, we can think that we need to be playing “on the edge of our seats” to sound good. Some of the best songs out there are the simplest ones, and this song Johnny has put at the end of his ebook–that I just finished :)– is a prime example. It’s got beautiful “swing” to it and you can feel it as your playing. I even caught myself here on video “swaying” side-to-side a little bit. My wife/kids do the same thing LOL. Near the end of the 2nd take my finger accidentally touched one of the palm keys and you’ll hear it near the very end.
nice improvement you are showing on your tone. You are playing a lot smoother and have better control over the sax. Keep up the work on your glissandos to make them even smoother. I couldn’t really tell a difference between the 2 different mp’s. I hear ya about that F#, it still can be a bear for me to hit. When I do hit it, it doesn’t sound as full as the lower notes. Have a happy holidays!!
Very nice job, Michael. I replayed the two takes but these old ears couldn’t discern any difference. Hey, you’re sounding great! Merry Christmas!
Michael has only been playing for about half a year! Wile I try to inspire people I think the best inspiration may come from some of these self uploaded videos. I do remember Michael’s first video and noticed it’s not available anymore… Michael, can you repost those earlier videos? It’s very beneficial to see your progress, for you and others so it would be a real shame if you have lost them forever!!??
Michael, showing good improvement! And your song choice fit the season as well! (Green Sleeves tune is used in Christmas Hymn- “What Child is This”). I think the Christmas version comes to mind for me more so than the original lyrics. Nicely played. Can’t wait to hear that Selmer Tenor…
Michael, you become better now! The sound is much brighter now and the sond flows a lot more.
I also can’t hear any difference between the MPs. Which one is better in your mind? I know that one can here more differences than listeners of a recording.
I used a backing track for this song that leaves the middle of the song blank for improvisation purposes. Thanks to Johnny’s instruction, I was able to put a nice sounding solo together for this. As the video states, I used a F# minor pentatonic scale for the majoriy of it! Hope you enjoy!!
Nice take on a great tune that has some swing in it. Merry Christmas!
Jake, WELL Done! You definitely entertained with the “special effects” and song choice. That one will get rewound and listened(& watched) a number of times for sure! And good job on the improve too… Merry Christmas!
Jake, i like it verry much.
This time the overlay with you and the backing track was good and the song was well done!
Merry christmas everybody and a happy saxophonic 2014!
I have no time to add a new video but i have a second voice for Johnny’s Jingle Bell Rock my friend and i use for duet training.
It was written for tenor and transposed it to alto to become flexible.
Great job everyone on your music–thanks Jake. Had a great private lesson with Johnny today. I would STRONGLY encourage anyone to book a private lesson with him, as he helped me to see what I’m doing right and wrong with the high F#. While I still have a way to go, the high F# was already trying to come out much better and with a little practice of applying what he told me today, I should be able to play it shortly. The No.6 MP I was using is a Yamaha, but in the Spring (with our tax return) I’m getting a Meyer Mouthpiece. Now that Johnny knows I have a Tenor Sax, I’ll be uploading to the blog next time with it LOL
Hey Johnny–I have those original videos on my cpu and can upload them again. You may recall that I mentioned someone had hacked into my youtube account a while back (the good news is that youtube found who did it) and so for my protection I removed some videos from my channel. They tampered with some of my bmx racing videos/posted some things on other’s bmx racing channels I have subscribed to; which caused my bmx racing friends to freak. The good news is that they knew me better than the comments posted and youtube was very helpful in finding out what had happened. So I removed some Saxophone-bmx videos from my channel but still have them all on the cpu, I WAS NOT going to have anyone tamper with them. BY THE WAY GUYS: It’s always good to make sure on your youtube channel to change your password from time-to-time.
As for my progress in Saxophone playing, the only thing I can say to everyone is that Johnny has provided all the tools we need right here, and if there’s something that we need he works hard to provide that instruction (right now we need something on overtones/altissimo here on this site–hint to you Johnny LOL) It’s a matter of applying ourselves to his teachings. To be able to take someone who had never even held a saxophone before back in the spring–I didn’t even know what a ligature was–to what’s starting to happen now, should say that what he teaches WORKS! I’m staring the first exercise in Killer blues tomorrow and I’m REALLY looking forward to this book 🙂 And I’ll learn it the same way I did his first ebook. I don’t want to be just stuck on memorizing notes to songs 100% of the time=learning Improvisation! 🙂
I’m pretty sure the way youtube works is that you must upload those vids again, but if you still have them on your computer just go ahead and we can get them up on the same blog posts once they are up on youtube again.
we’ll do Johnny, thanks for your help today 🙂 With just a little practice on what you told me I don’t think I should have a problem with the high F#, but now you see why I went to a 6C. My alto sax has lately had some pads sticking to it after a couple hours of not being used and this probably accounts for a leak or 2 somewhere. When I get a Meyer MP in the Spring(I’ll make sure I go through the links here on the blog along with the book on increasing our range of the sax-didn’t know we could benefit your site by doing that) is when the alto will head to the shop to have the pads replaced.
KEVIN: Thanks, I wanted to upload some of the holiday music Johnny just released but finding the time to learn it was another thing, so playing Greensleeves at the end of Johnny’s ebook was the perfect solution. I do plan on learning those songs, at least next year I won’t have any excuses LOL
Had planned to get an upload sooner, but an ice storm had my services out for the last 2-3 days, so just got power and internet back in the last hour or so.
We’re definitely having a white Christmas here!
Merry Christmas to all !!!
Very nicely done Kevin! Sharp looking horn too. You’re starting to develop a very nice warm tone. I’m noticing your intonation is slightly flater than on your alto… try pushing the mp in a shade. Also, your growling is great!!
Yes, my intonation was a bit flat. My shop heater is in need of repair, so this take was a bit hasty since it was at best 48deg. You might be able to make out some breath fog coming from the horn if you look close (just kidding)…
I am seeing that when I push the volume particularly on the lower notes I tend to go flat, so I have that to work on…
Very nice Kevin!! You made an awesome transition to the tenor. You have a nice warm relaxing sound!!!! Have a happy holidays!!
Kevin, verry cool sound! Also some nice changes and trills in there.
You are familiar with this horn verry quickly!
Great job Kevin! 🙂 You got a nice, jazzy sound going for you. That’s the great thing about so many of the songs Johnny makes available here is that whether we have a hard-rubber MP that gives the horn that smooth-jazz style of sound, or you have the the Guardala MP that he’s got with a rockin’, edgy sound; it doesn’t seem to matter. They sound great either way. What type of Mouthpiece are you using on your Tenor?
You guys stay safe and warm!
I wanted to learn this song. Went thru it on my alto last Christmas 2012, but didn’t have recorder, this site or have it down well, so took another crack at it this season with my new Tenor.
Was a bit dismayed to have to wait a whole year to post another Christmas song, so hope all will indulge me this 2nd upload…
Hopefully next year it will be improved from what I hope to learn in 2014!
Many thanks to Johnny and all “the Bloggers” for supportive comments on this site throughout 2013. It has definitely been encouraging and helpful to say the least… Again Merry Christmas to everyone, and I hope that 2014 will be a memorable year for us all !!!
Much better Kevin! Now you know to keep that baby warm right?
Very good Kevin. I think it was worth to wait one year to be able to play it the way you did now!
Very nice playing on that tune, Kevin. Since I watched it, I’ve been googling backing tracks trying to find the backing track you used here. But I’ve had no luck finding it. I’m trying to get a headstart for next Christmas! Maybe I can post my first video by then. Can you point me to the site where I can purchase it? I downloaded Johnny’s Christmas tracks but he didn’t put one up for this tune, one of my favourite Christmas songs. I’m not looking for a freebie as I’m very big on paying artists for their creative efforts. Thanks, Jim.
Yes agreed, that’s a great tune as well. Will put it on the list for next year!
James, If you send me a message in the Forum I can respond to your question. Just select sinclairdesigns in the directory to send message to…
Wow, very nice Kevin–there’s a real warmth in your tone, your Saxophone kept all bundled up and warm, just like the rest of us, makes a real difference LOL I would be interested to see in time, when you feel your ready for it, what your Tenor would sound like with the Dave Guardala mouthpiece uses. Sorry you had to wait a whole year, but now you know this song that much better than before and it shows in your playing!
Here’s a tribute to one of my all-time favorite characters/movie; perfect for the Tenor Saxophone. This is a 1967 Selmer Bundy Tenor with a hard-rubber Mouthpiece that I’m playing with; perfect for that vintage jazz sound needed for this song. As I get more experienced, I’ll get a mouthpiece that gives the Saxophones that edgy sound that we all love so much. The good news is that lots of songs that Johnny has here in his music selection sound great with a jazz-type sound. I have no plans on stopping to play the alto, my wife got it for our anniversary this past spring and she would never forgive me for not playing it 🙂
Now in January makes 8 months of learning to play the Saxophone and this song is not the easiest song in the world to play by memory, so please forgive me for missing a note or so. Thanks to my son’s video editing, he made this upload a little more entertaining to watch, so that should make up for what I lack in playing LOL. I just started Johnny’s Killer Blues ebook and I don’t want to be just memorizing notes to songs all the time. So, over the next few months I will uploading Improvisations using Johnny’s backtracks. I had one I wanted to show him, based off of part 1 of the Improvisation lesson here on his lessons page during our private lesson, but time didn’t permit. The good news is that the high F# that he helped me with is coming along much better and this gives me something else to add to my improvisation.
Good effort Michael, but I have to say there are some questionable notes you’re playing. Do you have a musical; chart for it or are you just playing by ear?
When watching the Pink Panther song that I did above, this microphone that plugs into my USB port was located in front of me/under the bottom of the Sax. Whenever I swayed back/up a little the sound that got recorded was a little bit faint because of which direction the sound coming out of the Sax is directed, but if you notice when I was faced down a little lower, facing closer to the mic, the sound is much better and is what the horn/tone actually sounds like. I’ll have to position myself/the mic a little better next time.
I’m playing by a musical chart/backtrack I was given–I’m playing exactly the sheet music I was given.
ok good, check your key signature and make sure you’re hitting the proper sharps or flats. sounds like one of those are being missed.
I got the sheet music I was given and followed along with it as I watched myself playing, very carefully, on video. I watched Henri Mancini’s version of this song, the sheet music for the Sax solo that I’m playing here is a little different than his original version, There’s a couple of keys that missed as I mentioned earlier-I didn’t normally miss those when practicing it; stage fright LOL and in the middle of the song you’ll see a portion of the solo where my fingers held one of the notes a little too long, it turned 2 8th notes on the sheet music into a half note that is too flat here on video and with the microphone being in a bad postion that didn’t help any. Key signature is correct.
I’m going to have to try and find sheet music for the ORIGINAL version to Henri Mancini’s song of the Pink Panther. I contacted the man who gave me the backtrack/sheet music for this song–was really cool of him to do that–and he told me the Saxophone solo in the middle of this song is an Improvised version he created himself. I watched the original version of Henri Mancini playing it and followed along with the sheet music very carefully. Seems like he used too many accidentals in his Improvised version, but the beginning and end of the song in the sheet music is exactly right. I don’t have the ability to transpose a song by ear right now. Anyone know where I can find sheet music for the ORIGINAL version of this song?
I found a site that has solos. It is saxsolos.com
The site charges 50cents per page and the solos I have downloaded from them match right up to the originals. Check em out. Just make sure you download the solo for the right sax, some are for alto and others for tenor. Good luck!
Thanks for sending the chart… so like I said, you’re missing at least one of the sharps. It’s in A major so all G’s will be sharp and right off the top you’re playing a G natural (3rd note in). This is what I mean about really paying attention to the key signature before you start.
Thanks Johnny and I see what happened–I had my wife write down the sheet music from the chart as our printer wasn’t working and the way she wrote the sharp it looked like an F#, she didn’t write it high enough up for me to distinguish that it was a G#; glad you saw this; thanks and I’ll fix it. Other than that everything else is okay? (Other than the couple squeaks I had, tried to blow into the horn before the fingers were in position like I did when I practiced the high F# with you on my lesson)
Here is some video from a few days ago, Watermelon Man on my 1925 Buscher C-Melody. It is a jazz jam, and hours on a click track are just not quite the same as “live”. Then I missed some of the head as well, but it was great to do anyway.
Great and rare to hear a C melody so thanks for that. A few “questionable” notes there. I will have a version of this tune out maybe in the very near future as recorded by King Curtis which may interest you.
Hi Dirk ! Sound’s cool ! Well done !
@Johnny, would be nice to get this tune with backing tracks.
Dirk, thank’s for posting the “watermelon man” video. Great song choice, and you had a good groove goin’ and good bunch of guys to play with. Stand up Bass, Drums, Keys, Sax… A good combination for a 4pc Band! Enjoy as much of it as you can! It shows in the video…
For Christmas music here is a video from a year ago this time…six months into the bari at that point. I like this one because I really felt something while playing it. Student model Antigua bari recording on iphone.
ya, I like it, sounds like you felt a bit angry!
Happy new attitude!
This is my first sax video:
Please tell me what you think about, ok?
Take care and thanks is advance!
Regards from Brazil!
Well, for someone who is going for a rock/blues sound I’d say you’re well on your way! Very good tone and growl. I can see that you are breathing properly because you have demonstrated a strong “soft” volume as well…this is only possible to do well if you’re using the proper breathing technique from the diaphragm. Keep going!
Guto Santana, Cool name, cool Sax, and good(cool) start to playing… the growl especially! Anticipate hearing more from you!
Ok, as for Dirk’s Watermelon Man, I do have a version of this kicking around in my studio somewhere and so I will dig it up and make it available for you guys as soon as I can. This is a great instrumental and I remember was a lot of fun to play live with my band.
Thanks for feedback Johnny. I´m a harmonica player. And only three months playing this tenor! It´s a JK EX II. And the mouthpiece is vandoren hardrubber. Thanks a lot!
Here’s the re-take of the Pink Panther theme song. On the first one I did, we filmed with the webcam in a different area of the house and we couldn’t get the USB microphone in a good position. I returned to my usually spot LOL Combined with some tweaks that my Tenor needed, which surprised me because it had been completely serviced, but the guys at the repair shop are great and emphasized to me that with the Tenor being a bigger sax, even a modest bump on the sax when sitting down with it take a seat, as an example, can cause this to happen. I’ve also been really conscious of having my fingers in position before delivering air into the saxophone, as Johnny brought out during our lesson. It can be challenging to do when were hitting lots of 8th/16th notes. So there was no squeaks in this take v.s. the first take with a couple of the notes. I may have missed a note/hit it one time too many near the end of the song on this take.
This version of the Pink Panther, in the middle of the song, IS NOT an exact copy of Henry Mancini’s original version. The middle of the song is an Improvised version given to me with the backtrack; the guy was nice enough to give this chart/backtrack together. My cpu wouldn’t print the chart very large, don’t know why, so it was a little difficult writing it all out on sheet music.
Now it’s back to learning Johnny’s ebook on Killer Blues 🙂 Working on 1 exercise per month to make sure I really learn the in’s-and-out’s of Killer Blues well.
That’s better Michael, still gotta get some “knots” worked out and we’ll work on those “falls”!
This is not a typical beginner tune to learn because of it’s intricacies but you are making good strides… keep going!
In general, blow louder when you play, it will help to develop your tone… if you’re not making some enemies in the family and from the neighbours you’re just not practicing loud enough!
Michael, You definitely selected a difficult song to learn for your first Tenor Sax video! But applying yourself to those harder technical fingerings and embellishments and memorization will certainly payoff and it is showing.
I’m still striving to heed Johnny’s “blow harder” instruction myself, and continue to find myself hearing the recorded sound, sound less full than it feels that I’m blowing air into the horn. So “Grip it and Rip it” for next video!
Much better Michael. You are on a good way!
I know that we all want to play well known pieces, but they are mostly to complicated for beginners. We are all fighting with our fingers and lips and i think it is better to play simple songs well.
Thanks guys–there were some problems in the first recording with the USB mic in a bad position as mentioned and a couple of keys the got knocked out of adjustment as mentioned.
Thanks Dirk 🙂 I’ve, too, have always talked about playing simple songs that are within our ability, and the great thing about a number of the songs Johnny has made available; including “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Mack the Knife” that I’ll be uploading soon and what he just released yesterday–I hear Alto Saxophone written all over it 🙂 is that they’re really not any more difficult than “Over the Rainbow” that he has put at the end of his book. I’m actually focusing more this year on putting into practice what I’m learning from Johnny’s ebook on Killer Blues, so the BULK of what I upload here to the blog will be Blues/Improvisation this year.
But every once in a while, it’s good to stretch ourselves, just a little bit, as it helps us improve and magnify our errors; what’s going right and wrong. With regard to the Pink Panther, with the exception of some of the intricacies that Johnny mentions in his comment to me and the Sax solo in the middle (I got one lead to the original Sax solo by Henri Mancini!) it isn’t any harder than any of the songs mentioned above. I’ll play it about once every 6 months or so, great way to monitor progress by playing the same songs over the course of time (I’m actually doing that right now with some of the ones I’ve already done before here on the blog LOL)
Cool—yeah, I know I could have blown harder on this one as I went back to my usually spot and my says jokingly that she had to shut 2 of the doors of bedrooms leading to where I was playing at. Talking about making enemies, it was 10:00 pm over here and my wife trying to get the kids ready for bed….I’ll just leave it at that LOL. At the end of this song, where I think I may have hit a note one time too many or something, there’s a certain “rhythm” that those notes have; kind of like a blues-swing of sorts. I had it in my mind before playing this but it didn’t come out while playing. I actually think you’ve got something in your killer blues book regarding riffs at the end that will help me improve in this regard.
I was going to start re-uploading the videos to youtube of my saxophone playing/progress over the past 8 months that I had on my cpu(recall I said someone messed with my youtube account). Do I just upload them and e-mail you the youtube links? I actually watched some of them yesterday….pretty funny to see and encouraging at the same time 🙂
Very nice improvement from the other version. I agree with Kevin. When I play my tenor I feel that I am blowing the heck out of hit yet my notes, especially over high D are thin and of poor quality. I addressed this with Johnny and he made some suggestions that I am going to put to work. If you look up on this 3rd blog page a little bit under my “have you ever seen the rain ” video, you will see the recommendations.
Yea, 10 pm mite be a little hard to practice. without making other people mad. haha, but you gotta get time in when you can. I have the luxury of working the night shift so I usually have the daytime to myself=less angry people although that after much improvement from the start, I have gotten compliments as to an improvement in sound while practicing. Unfortunately when we practice its not always beautiful songs, it is the long tones and octave exercises that we need to do to improve our tone!! Keep up the work!!
Hi Johnny ! Thanks for this explaination. It comes in the right time for me. Sometimes hitting the high e or f (sharp) it doesn’t come. Tried with several reeds and MP’s, well, one works better than the other, but finally it seems it’s up to myself to improve the high tones.
Johnny, what I like best about your instruction is you go right to the crux of the matter unlike many of my former instructors. You present material that is useful right now. not 2 years from now.
Wow. Such perfect timing! Thanks so much! Will def incorporate these exercises into my practices!
This video is VERY timely for me Johnny–my high F# is coming out much better since our private lesson and it’s amazing the difference of using my bottom lip and going from F# to high F# like you showed me v.s. practicing it chromatically from a high C# and had made. In practicing it like you showed me, the closer it is to the tip of the mouthpiece then the thinner it becomes; but the more of the reed I push with my bottom lip then the fuller the high F# becomes. Is this how Altissimo starts?
tryin to learn the “growl” and Rock-n-Roll Sax repertoire…
this song is alot of fun. I’m still making reed and MP changes to get that edgy tone, so let me know what you think and what the tone needs “more of”?
I find myself struggling to keep the reed from shutting off when pushing the air hard for this type of playing.
It is also a challenge to manage the growl and all the other things a sax player has to do to!
You’re doing a lot of things right Kevin, good going. Growl coming along very nicely…slight note fades every once in a while and that’s because a lot of energy goes into growling so this is natural because the growling takes up so much air. When I do it live I constantly face bouts of almost passing out if I do a lot of this stuff…seriously. My advice for you at this point, do it standing up!
Wow. Amazing. Nice way to hit the low note! I’m still having trouble getting them cleanly! It sounds to me that you are on your way to that edgy tone. I can’t get mine yet. I’m still hearing the basic sax sound when I play mine. I recently upgraded my setup. I’m now using an open Berg MP with 2.5 vandoren reeds. How do you get that sound? Is it the way we blow into the sax? The berg I got is a bright and I’m still lacking the edgey sound. Keep up the work and videos!!
Jake, for the sound and tone that resulted for this video I did the following-
My MP is a David Hite hard plastic student level MP that I got on ebay for $25. It came with a small tip opening(.078″) and played easily, but kinda weak. Having a CNC milling machine and the desire to learn about Mouthpiece design, I have been milling various tip openings, curves, curve lengths and I have gradually recut this MP to where it is now at .096″ tip opening with a “medium-long” curve. I also milled away a fair amount of the plastic body with the thought that it would play brighter(which I think it does), and put on my favored ligature that is quicker and simpler to use. It also tends to contribute a brighter tone than say the Rovner ligs I had been using. Lastly with the MP I noticed that the mouthpieces like the metal Gaurdalas, Bergs, etc. for “edgy” rock tones have a long narrow ramping baffle for the air entering from the tip to speed up the air. So for my Hite MP that didn’t have such a baffle I made me an “L-shaped” sheet metal piece to replicate that and filed each side until it wedged neatly in place. It actually blew easier and was noticeably brighter, so my plastic MP with metal baffle insert experiment resulted in what was played for this video.
My Reed is a #2 Alexander NY. It is my first time to try these reeds, but I do like what I hear. Out of a 5 pack all played very well with hardly any differentiation in tone and feel. They do have a slightly “reedier buzz” than a Rico Royal reed I bought to compare with.
My Gary Sugal Tenor Sax does exhibit a characteristic that my YAS-52 doesn’t do so much- when I push hard with air the reed buzz resonates more, and the low notes really come out full and are surprisingly easy to play on this horn (maybe easier than my alto).
Now the main contributing factor IMO to the sound in this video is the “growl” that I’m using. I’m using more of a “gargle” type growl technique, not a “humm” or a “flutter tongue”. And I did try to use the growl continuously throughout most of the song except for the bridge solo, which I chose to play clean to contrast the harder driving sound throughout the rest of the song.
It was(IS) hard to keep the growl going and still manage all the other aspects- intonation, tongueing, embellishments, etc.. But I began trying to develop that by playing my scales with a continuous growl.
Anxious to get my hands on a metal mouthpiece to try though, so I know what to ask for for my birthday!
So hope these comments are helpful…
So cool that you can customize your own mp’s! and getting 5 out of 5 playable reeds is something that’s never happened to me, I will keep those reeds in mind.
Again, Amazing. Yep, don’t think I am doing any milling on my pieces. That is pretty cool that you can do that and try out various settings. I am curious as to how it would compare to my Berg I am using. I just ordered some #2 reeds to try. The Berg is open and I have to give a ton of breath support to it. Hopefully these #2’s will make it a little easier.
Here’s a question for Johnny: Will my tone improve by working on the various exercises in your videos? I chose a Berg MP because that is the type of MP used in Thorogoods band. The sound Carter produces is what I would like to sound like at some point. It seems as though I have a decent MP, but what gets me to the next level of sound improvement? Is it something that just eventually happens over time? Do we have to do more than just “blow” into the saxophone?
Yes Jake, your tone will improve a lot that’s why I record the lessons. You should be paying extra close attention to the high note lesson I posted on the blog a few days ago as your high register is thin and flat, this is the point to these exercises; to improve this poor tone quality. There is no magic mp to fix this. You are looking for a specific tone, that’s good, at least you have a focused goal. As you continue, keep this in mind; you can use the exact same reeds and mp as someone else and still NOT sound the same. (*hint, I use the Michael Brecker mp and same reeds he used and my sound is nothing like his!) Yes this is something that happens over time and YES we need to do more than just blow into the saxophone. The things we need to focus on while blowing into the sax are the points I made in the high note video mentioned above, you should go over it again and make sure to focus on the few points there on a daily basis. It’s not very technical like working out blazing fast scales but it’s focusing on what your body is doing with your saxophone, ya, very personal stuff for a very personal sound.
thanks for for feedback! It is truly appreciated. Ya, I watched the video and it is something that I am working on daily!! Thanks so much for your support and insights!
Nice Job Kevin and great sound 🙂 I’ve seen your tone improve already on the Tenor just from the few uploads you’e done here on the blog with it, awesome. Have you tried doing a “turn-a-round” using your bis key (the one we use for Bb)? For this song, when you go from Db to Bb (right here, between Bb and G is where we use the turn-a-round) G then F? Adds even more color to it 🙂
That’s exactly problem I had when going thru your book since I’m a piano player who has no idea how sound’s produced on sax. I thought something wrong with sax, so I brought it to SamAsh to fix, nothing found, the technician played high notes w/o any issues, she suggested me going to 2.5 reeds but it did not help at all until you confirmed that throat and mouth needs to be adjusted. Thanks a lot!
I’m 63 and have always loved the sax but never pursued. I just purchased a soprano sax and I’m excited I found your web site. I’m a beginner and never held a sax before, so I purchased your lesson so I can learn the proper technics so I don’t develop bad habits. I’m assuming soprano sax is covered in your lessons? I look forward to growing through your lessons, thanks for sharing your time and talent.
Hi Murphy, yes, the lessons I give on tenor or alto are the same for all the other saxes such as baritone and soprano. They are all the same as far as the fingering, mouthpiece, reeds, blowing technique, embouchure etc. Each sax will have their own little things that are a bit different than the other, such as the tenor needing more air than the alto… the soprano doesn’t require so much air but is a little harder to play in tune at first. I always recommend people forget about these little differences and go for the type of sax that you love the most and just deal with their little problems as you go because they all have something that’s gonna drive you a little crazy at the beginning.
Good luck to you!
Hey Johnny here’s a video I put on you tube almost a year ago hopefully ill get more feedback than youtube that was zero!!!!!!
Thanks Fergus, you have started to develop a nice sweet tone on your tenor. I would have you focus your attention now on intonation more. As I said in a recent lesson video, sit at your keyboard and hit a note then play it on your sax. Long notes….play around within the note, go up (sharp) go down (flat) try to find the sweeet spot that is as close to the intonation of the piano as possible. Many days and weeks of this exercise will have you more in tune.
Fergus, great playing! Love the tone, and the recording quality was very good! What mic did you use?
You ended up at the end of the 3rd Blog page just before a 4th one was created, so you may not see as many comments as you normally would. Hope you get another uploaded soon, really enjoyed the song choice and how it was played!
Here’s a really, really cool southern-style of saxophone tune played by Johnny he calls “Sax in the Country” and the name he has given it is SO appropriate. We live here in the Ozarks and I REALLY wish he had a extended backtrack/sheet music available for this one, as it hits so well with locals. I have had some friends over to the house for dinner together and showed them this tune and they LOVED it; and then they asked me if I could play it for them! LOL, sorry guys but I’m not THAT good 🙂
Video credit/edit goes to my son—I made sure he spelled Johnny’s name right before posting it here. So you guys can tell my son what you think of the video footage he picked/edited to go with Johnny’s tune? This great little song is available for download on his site johnnyferreira.com, there’s another great song called “Mexico” available to download. You’ll also find links where you can purchase Johnny’s Music on CD; awesome saxophone music.
Speaking of your other site Johnny, have you had any newsletters sent out to your subscribers from there lately? In about a year we’ll be looking to set up a modest home recording studio when we buy our own place and saw you have some great info there on how to get started–that is when my saxophone playing skills dictate that I’m ready for a modest home recording studio LOL
Johnny: I have been playing Herbie Hancock’s music to this for some time. Don’t have the solo though. Will do it on Wednesday. No backing either. Tim
Which of his records do you have it on?
I’ve got it on “Taking Off” his first album for Bluenote as frontman. In fact, it’s the original recording of the tune, which he wrote. It’s excellent – Dexter Gordon on tenor.
Way cool of a song for you to make available to get on your site here Johnny—I was looking for a video on youtube of King Curtis playing this one live and can’t find one. Is he playing this song as a duet with someone else? Not much time in the break between the Tenor and Soprano solo.
no that’s a studio version. A few years back there were some videos of King Curtis on youtube but some “A” hole from a record company had them all taken down.
this idea just took off that a rocket ship uh Johnny?…
…..something i did about 5 years ago a 1940 buescher stencil..a Drake 6* Mp and a 2 1/2 reed..
here is my first video. Sorry the sound is terrible, cause i recorded with my laptop.
I´m from Germany Munich, so i try to do my best to play Saxophon as well.
Richard, you’re off to a great start. I don’t know if it was intentional but you are getting some decent growls already!
I believe your head may be pointing slightly high at times…experiment by lowering your chin just a little and see if the air flows better.
The reason you lose some notes is that you are starving your sax from enough air, so blow harder and louder, especially when you start to lose the note as it gets too thin…more air is going to fix this.
great that you starting that course.
i´m agog about this.
Thank you for your clue.
i will try. but sometimes i lost my air and i dont know why.
A few months back, someone tried messing with my youtube account (as I had mentioned before) and I removed some of my saxophone videos–wasn’t going to have anyone mess with my tiny little bit of “history” but I have them all on my cpu. When I did Johnny’s Greenslevees we talked about uploading them again, as the blog is a real treat to help us progress–Johnny and other members can see what we’re doing right and wrong. So what I did–and what I’ll do over time–is to reupload them like I’m doing here, but play the song again as a new upload and combine it with the old one as a “before & after” type of comparison to see what kind of progress is being made. The first take is the video of the original upload that I did back in September, that was 5 months ago, oh my goodness time flies! The 2nd take is what I did today. I haven’t looked at the sheet music for this song at all since I first uploaded it and I played this today on a spur of the moment, so I was happy to be able to retain it in my memory and play it today.
There are some of us who have finished Johnny’s ebook on How to Play the Saxophone who may feel that his songs on the music selection are too difficult for us, which is what I thought too. Johnny doesn’t leave anyone out, and there are songs on his selection that are no difficult to play than “Over the Rainbow” at the end of his book. “What a Wonderful World” is a simple, beautiful tune. On the Improvisation section in his lessons link, you can go there and learn how to make your own blues tunes with less than 5 notes.
GREAT JOB Richard feurer! Keep your uploads coming.
Yes, big difference Michael! I’m curious about the reed here…
Your tone is heading in the right direction, it’s getting bigger and brighter, but that reed sounds like it’s too difficult to control. Might be too stiff or might be a size too hard for you.
very nice improvement michael. I can notice a huge difference. So much more subtle and pleasing to the ears. Your transition from the notes is so much smoother! Keep up the work. Its is nice to look back and see our improvement thru these videos. Keeps me motivated. It is often hard to tell that we are making progress without looking back! Awesome site Johnny has here to help us along!! Thanks johnny!!!!
Hey guys, I dont have a video made as of yet. But would it be ok to upload a song from my reverbnation page and get some feedback on my tone? I will work on getting some videos on here. I really appreciate all of the wisdom and help on here. I recorded this with a studio cut Legere reed (strength 2.75), an rpc 110 mouthpiece, and a Jupiter 889 artist Tenor. (Silver Laquer).
TJ, Hey I liked your song choice, and you played it well! Your fingering and playing in sync to the back track were very good. And a good job of recording too. Anxious to hear Johnny’s comment on your tone- but I would say you have alot of Positive things going on with how you’re progressing in that respect! Anxious to hear more!
Good one TJ!
There’s some good stuff going on there. I think your blowing needs more consistency… sometimes you fall out of tune with the band, while other times you are blending in nicely so listen to where you fall a little flat and work to avoid that.
Your next step or main focus should be on trying to get a bigger tone. I think it’a a little thin overall so your set up could improve to possibly a more open mp. Sometimes when we do that we also need to cut back slightly on reed strength. Do you have any cane reeds to see if there’s a difference?
Besides the equipment stuff, work on opening up your throat/oral cavity and try to blow more air (this can be more difficult on a narrow set up)… check out the video in this blog section from about a week ago on improving thin and flat high notes, it deals with this and you will get something pout of it. All that said, you’re well on your way, keep at it and try to step it up a notch TJ.
I hadn’t warmed up or anything at all here and my reed was very dry–I usually will warm up for about 15-20 minutes before doing anything to get the mind, fingers, diaphragm, etc. going; but here I just got up and played to have some quick fun. I’m using the same 2.5 reed when we had our private lesson, I just didn’t warm up or anything. But I’ll definately check it our for sure. Also,even before doing a 15-20 min warm up, I will put the MP on my hand and stick it in my mouth & suck on it to get a good seal (that “pop” noise to ensure we have a good seal). My Vandoreen reeds came in a set of 3 and I have been alternating them from one practice to the next. I have learned the hard way not to eat my favorite foods before practicing either LOL. Thanks!
The 2.5 reed I’m using here is the exact same one I used when I did Greensleeves; just didn’t do my normal warm-up routine here.
Does anyone know the tip opening for a Guardala MB II
Hey Kevin and Johnny. Thank you guys so much for the feedback. I had a feeling I was not blowing like I should and yes I can hear the parts where the tone is falling flat now and I understand what your talking about so thank you and thanks again for the video on tone…..very helpful.
Johnny: Thanks for doing this! We worked on it in the last lesson. What is interesting is that I can go higher than F on my M-6, but I don’t know what the note is? Gotta figure that on our next lesson? Thanks again. Tim
Yes. Tim your timing is right on with my upcoming altissimo course cause I just sent an email which I said something about how many struggling students will often hit an altissimo note but won’t even know which note it is. This is common and will continue until the altissimo technique is studied and learned. I hope you are on the special altissimo email list because you will get a lot out of…once I get it done of course!
I’ve been making it a point nowadays to use a tuner along with this exercise, especially when hitting that high F# that we worked on in our lesson; really helps. They’re cheap and a great learning tool.
Practice with a tuner, definetley! Everyone here can see how our member Kevin did this after his first video upload. In about a month’s time, by practicing long tones and octaves with a tuner the progress that was made is very noticeable. One month to accomplish something as noticeable as to improve your intonation is great. Keep using it Michael and it’ will reward you!
just paid for e book, can t find it on my computer
thanks for your time.
my email is email@example.com uk
OK, I’ll email you the download link again.
Here’s my take on Johnny’s Unchained Melody. Gotta a couple squeaks in there but overall think its coming along! Def a work in progress!!
Nice one Jake!
What’s your setup again?
Open up more. When you lose those high notes it’s cause your sax needs more air.
It’s there sometimes and other times not, so focus on being more consistant with the air supply.
Turn the backing tracks up in your room and let it out really loud!
Believe me, this will help you… as long as your set up is where it should be.
I just got a new custom mp. Its made from a guy in new york city. Its a metal .105 opening made similar to a guardala king model. I’m using a 2.5 java reed from vandoren. Sometimes when I blow into the sax at the high notes, it seems to close off on me, also my reeds tend to feel pretty wet, not sure if that plays into it as well. I wonder if I need something more open? My Berg .120 doesn’t do that on me but I don’t give it enough air. I think the openess of the berg is a little bit for me that is why I downsized the tip opening with the new one I just got.
Bravo Jake! Your “work-in-progress” definitely shows your due diligence in practice and improvement!
Good performance! You always exhibit a flare for making your videos entertaining.
I think the mouthpiece choice is working for you, tone is filling out more…
The recording quality sounded good too. You’ll have to tell us about your setup.
Nice one Jake–you’re the first one to post some of that great new music Johnny just released. I know what you mean about those reeds getting too wet–I’ve been using Juno cane reeds on the Tenor and initially these reeds are great but after heavy use they start to get too soft, because of getting wet from using them. It’s tough to get a smooth tone once that happens. I was going to upload “Fly Me to the Moon” but I need to replace these reeds first; I’ll do that next week.
Nice to see your uploads!
Curious if any will recognize this song and the sax composer who wrote it. This type of smooth jazz genre appeals to me, though I must say I’m certainly getting hooked on the Rock-n-Roll sax genre. It’s good to be able to enjoy the diversity of all the styles of music the sax is capable of being used for.
This song stays more in the upper range of the Tenor Sax so it was a good practice to try to get those upper notes to fill out. Not quite there yet, but I’m starting to hear them improve. It’ll hopefully help in the coming months when I can move to a MP with a bit larger tip opening.
The one thing my recording setup lacks is a good means to EQ the final output. This take and mic setting seems a bit “bright” to me. Like to know what others think.
So can anyone- “Name That Tune”…
Sorry but I can’t name that tune. Haha. Your
Tone is so smooth. You play those high notes
Well. It doesn’t even seem that you are up there
I’m still working to achieve that. As far as my
Setup goes I followed your lead. Thanks.
I took to eBay and got myself a zoom recorder
And a condenser mic. I record Johnny’s backing
Track into it and then I can record myself
It really help because once I put the headphones
On I’m really focused and connected to the music
It feels as tho I’m in a different world. It’s just amazing
To hear like that. Thanks do much for your
Valuable info for that. If anyone hasn’t seen Kevin’s
Post look back and check it out. I think it was near
The end of blog page 2.
Thanks for the comments Michael. It’s good to
Know that my wet reeds aren’t just me. Once they
Get too wet. I’m done. I have too switch them out
I lose my ability to hit various notes. It feels as
If the reed closes up on me. Once I put a new
Dryer one on the problem is fixed. So strange
Guys, by setup I meant reed and mouthpiece combination, sorry bout that. Of course in this regard setup can also mean your recording gear etc.
Anyway, I think a wet reed is better than a dry one! I’ve never experiences a reed getting too wet to play. If this is happening, are you also experiencing a lot of saliva in your mouthpiece too? This can be a common problem and I’ve heard others complain about. Usually it’s early beginners who just aren’t controlling that from not getting too overboard. With focus we can slow down that saliva river!
Thanks Jake, Michael,
This song named- “For You”(from his For You album) is written and recorded by Kirk Whalum. Kirk got one of his biggest breaks when he was asked to tour with Whitney Houston and play the sax solo on “I will always love you”. He plays a Keilworth Tenor, and is also well known on the jazz scene…
Hey Jake, on your recording I’m not hearing any reverb effects added to your sax track. Were you using any? On the Zoom recorder I use the effect- “Small Hall”(#25)
Kevin: Not adding any reverb to it. When I hit the clean button, I get an array of various effects. I just used one called standard. That effect is pretty mild and keeps the sound close to the sax’s actual sound as if it didn’t have an effect at all. Didn’t know if I would get a better critique from my video without the extras on it. There is so much to this zoom, I am just using some basic stuff. Haven’t really gotten into what this thing can really do!!
Hi Kevin ! sounds great !
Hi Kevin every time I log in to the blog I can hear that u are getting around the sax with no effort at all the sound is nice & the tone is great. The interface you have set up sounds great also.i bought a profire 2626 but I. Struggling to set it up I’m not great with this kind of stuff got the interface set up but can’t seem to get the setting sorted from garage band . Can’t find tutorials on YouTube bit frustrated.Thanks Lou
Nice one Kevin, very smooth 🙂 I sure recognize the tune and it’s on the tip of my tongue. Jake had shared a link with me about some recording equipment that you use; I’ll be looking in the Spring to get a modest recording station going; I put a post about in the the Forum that I’m wanting to get a good USB mic, check it out when you get the chance.
That smooth-jazz style of music sure sounds good on your Tenor; I would love to hear you play some of that Rock-N-Roll sax music you’re getting addicted to for sure!
This is my first recording of greensleeves – sxpoe i ran out of puff .
Ya, that was the quickie version! Good effort though. In general you fall behind a bit off the beat…while you’re already moving, try moving to the 3/4 time. So, every time the beat hits the one count, that’s when you rock to the left (or right) this in beat rockin may help you keep with the count better. Keep playing it cause it seems like a good workout for you!
So cool to see you upload here to the blog sxpoe; you picked a really fun song too. These simple songs are great; we may tend to think of super-high screaming notes with lots of flutter tonguing, sax solos where we see guys and gals hitting all the keys like lightning, etc.. But some of the best songs out there are the simplest ones to play. Look at Johnny’s sax version of Elvis’s song “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” an ever-so popular song by Elvis that SO MANY people love and it’s a very simple song to play. Good effort, keep going 🙂
It’s Patrick here, I purchased the sheet music for YAKATY SAX a day or two ago but regret nothing came through in my email. Hoping you can fix it for me.
By the way I’m looking forward to your Altissimo Lesson.
Ok Patrick, I’ll email you download link right away.
yeah its real challenging i’m doing this to keep the grey cells active – thats my main motivation. The 1st 2 months was spent on working on the embouchure and technique ie getting used to where all the keys are on the sax. The last month started working on timing – quavers, semi-quavers using a metronome. So my timing is to say the least atrocious. later on i plan to bring in the dynamics and articulation. Its a real juggling act – but its good fun. I have found your exercises in scales very useful!! My tutor was asking me the other week what type of sax music i was most interested in, in terms of him recomending me a future mouthpiece & ligature.
thanks for the support guys – i should have recorded that song 2 months ago (Only just worked out how to record it with a camcorder – getting the backing track the right distance away etc) that would have been painful to watch! like driving behind a learner juddering along the road! I want to record it again in a few months time & hope there is a difference. But i’ll always remember the first day i played the Sax. I took my 2 daughters along to the music teacher for flute/clarinet lessons, only 1 daughter had to drop out, so the music instructor asked me if i’d like a taster lesson on the Sax, and said he’d lend me his spare Sax for a couple of weeks.
Anyway like a fool i said yeah why not – there a cool looking instrument , no harm in trying it yolo. So in half an hour he got me playing D to B and a simple nursery rhyme. So i took his Sax home , got it out & spent 10 minutes and i could only play the middle B and the rest of the was just screeching! I was staring to sweat, turning grey in the face, i don’t believe it i was playing these 6 notes quite easy half an hour ago. Then the door flies open and the youngest daughter fed up with the racket shouts “DAD you’ve got the mouthpiece on upside down”. I told the music teacher – he said he had a little lad who 4 weeks to stop turning up with the mouthpiece on upside down!
sxpoe: You’re no fool for picking up a saxophone and starting to learn to play it. To the contrary………that makes you way, way cool!
Thanks Michael Saxaphones are truly awesome instruments – and it is a real pleasure to hear them played, they are second to the human voice!
Hi! How can I find your saxophone sheets?
Oh, there is a problem with that page all of a sudden…I will check it out.
you can see the page now:
your sheet music and backing tracks are great.
thanks Howard, it takes some time to get it all together but I’m enjoying getting the saxophone song list longer and increasing peoples (and mine) repertoire.
Why don’t you rock on and get your own video up here?!
In my post of 16 December, I said that my Guardala MBII was a work in progress. For the past week, I’ve been able to practise daily for an hour or so with it. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m really comfortable with it and there’s no going back. I’ve been using Rico, Rico Royal, and Juno reeds in #2. Yesterday, I tried a Vandoren Java in 2 1/2 and had no problem using it. When coming down off the octave key, I tend to get an ocassional squak but I’m working on that.
I bought a Vandoren Jumbo Java A45 HR for my alto at Christmas. It’s a big step up from the Selmer C*80 that I was using and overall I like the sound of it. My question, Johnny, or to anyone else out there, do you have a suggestion for an alto mouthpiece that will give that big Guardala MBII sound?
The only mp’s I’ve tried recently that can compare and even beat Guardala are the ones made by Theo Wanne. Not cheap though.
sorry missed a part,, here`s the whole thing didn`t cut and paste it right ,,har har
F# `C# F# G#~~~~ A~~~F~~~~~~~~
F# C# A F#~~ G#~A C# B~
B F# B C#~~~~ D~~~Bb~~~~~~~~~~
B A F# D C#~~ G# G F#
F# C#~ C~ B~ Bb A~~~E F# G~~
B Bb~A,, E F# G~~
B Bb~A,, E F# G~~
G F# E, C~C# E
E F# A B A D~~~~~~~~A B C
A E D~~A B C
D E A D ~ G C F Bb ~ Eb G# C# F# ~B~ E D `B C# E G# B
I don’t have the music chart for that one at the moment so hopefully there’s someone out there that does?!
Thanks. I wasn’t aware that there were Guardala mouthpieces for altos. Don’t ask me why I assumed this because I have no idea why myself. I’ve been googling and informing myself on his alto mouthpieces pieces.
No there aren’t alto mp’s for alto, sorry you miss understood. I meant that the only mp’s I’ve found that compete with Guaredala are the Theo Wanne, who does make them for alto.
Ok, I’ll check out the Theo Wanne.
It’s been 9 months for me of learning how to play the Saxophone and as student players, it’s important for us to have goals as we progress in our playing. My goal this year is to know, inside-and-out, Johnny’s ebook that I’m working on right now “How to Play Killer Blues”–I’m starting to flutter tongue now 🙂 and to be able to play some of the songs on his music selection. So here’s the first one I picked to play. I chose to play along with the backtrack where the sheet music shows to rest, just because it’s more fun to play than not to play LOL.
This song is also a good way to show how my high F# is coming along. I’ll be uploading “Mack the Knife” next month, just nobody expect me to hit those Altissimo notes like Johnny does when he plays it (not right now anyway).
The Mic that plugs into the USB port on the cpu is not the greatest in the world, it doesn’t capture AT ALL just how loud I’m playing and my family is complaining about it 🙂 but it’s certainly better than relying on the webcam mic like before. For blog uploads, we don’t need anything elaborate. But in time to come I am wanting to set up a modest home recording studio; think I saw some great info Johnny had somewhere about how to get up and going? Everyone is really positive here on Johnny’s site, thanks for your insights!
Wow, I think that’s the first tenor video for you Michael? You’re covering the full range now so way to go! It’s a beast but you’re staring to tame it…keep going.
Focus on using your tongue to ensure proper stopping of the notes. When we let them fade off they become flat because of less air support. I know you’re blowing pretty loud but you can go louder in that upper range.. it needs more air up there. If you practice louder, eventually you’ll learn to control it so it stays in tune while the volumes comes down….this is the trick and it’s not simple and quick to learn.
Nice. Gotta really put forth the effort when playing the tenor versus that alto!! What mp/reed combo are you using? I know you said a 2.5 reed. The sound did tend to sound a little bright in the upper register, you have a nice deep tone startin with those low notes tho! As I have heard in about all of post postings, “AIR..AIR..AIR” The tenor needs air. I wonder if you had more air flowing into the tenor if your sound would mellow out a little in the higher notes (they are a different breed!)? I am by no means an expert tho. I have made the jump from a 2.5 to a 3 reed (for the tenor) and wow, what a difference. I can’t believe how much more pressure is needed while playing the #3. I am sure with time we can adjust to it but I find I put so much into playing the sax with the thicker reed and I lose control of other aspects like intonation and holding my embrochure correctly. You should try some vandoren java reds. I have hear the 2.5 reeds are a little thicker than the traditional 2.5’s of a standard reed. The v16’s from vandoren are slightly thicker than that as well. These are subtle changes that can be made without jumping up a half step. Also, as Johnny said, unfortuantley we cant try only one. All reed are not created equal. There can be variations in the same package of reeds. I feel that is one of the hard parts about finding our own unique sound. When I order stuff I am taking a chance and hoping that it works out. Nothing is a done deal! Same goes with mouthpieces. Atleast places like music 123 and wwbw offer return policies so there is always that avenue to try mouthpieces with minimal lose if its not right for you. Man when I started playing the sax a little over a year ago I never envisioned all of these variations. I thought pick it up and just learn the notes. hahaha, WRONG. It is an amazing learning process tho and I can tell from our videos that we are moving in the correct direction. Again, thanks to Johnny for the tremondous support he is offering us!!!!!!
hey good show Michael!! Your timings loads better than mine!! Its great to hear different people play .. everyone has their own style.. cool!
Thanks for the insights Johnny; the Pink Panther was my first Tenor Upload-it’s in Part 3 of Members’ videos-and there are 2 takes of it; with the first one you may recall that I had problems with the sheet music not printing out big enough and my wife had to write it out for me, but she accidentally left off a sharp on the key signature to show I needed to play G# throughout the song and I ended up playing a regular G on many of the notes throughout the scale. So I did a 2nd take on it and you had commented it was much better–and thanks for bringing that out because friends/family come over and they ALWAYS ask me to play the Pink Panther for them LOL.
I still have the tendency to tighten up the muscles in my neck, as you brought out I need to relax them in our lesson so that the airway is open to let the F# come out freely…..easier said than done LOL. The tendency is to blow hard and I have to remind myself it’s my diaphragm that controls the air support and relax the muscles in my neck so those high notes can pass out freely, I’m getting there.
I’m REALLY looking forward to your Altissimo course, as you can see I’m just about ready for it and it’s a bummer looking online to find fingering charts that don’t work; NONE of them work on my Tenor! I found 1 for Altissimo G on the Alto that is working. I have been told that some fingering positions will work for some saxophones and that same fingering won’t work on another Saxophones and there really isn’t an answer as to why that is the case, that’s kind of weird.
well, as for these fingering charts… who knows who wrote them and why. I have an altissimo fingering chart that works, period. It uses one fingering position. I have added a few of my own to this and now I have a complete fingering system that works with only one or two positions to try, with slight additions of the odd side key to fine-tune it. I’m putting it together right now, (altissimo course, as you know) along with video lessons explaining how and what you need to do to get there. It’s all a bit like a jigsaw puzzle; you can’t complete it without having all the pieces, so a fingering chart, even a good, one isn’t enough.
Here is my video I said I’d post. I just simply put a 12 bar blues backing track on, and freestyled it. Playing on my Selmer Reference 54 Tenor sax
Hey Jonathan, way to go. Now that you’ve heard it you know that you can improve on the balance between your audio track and your sax. It’s kinda hard to hear what’s happening musically in the background. Anyway, what specific scales are you using or working on for your improvisation?
Hey Johnny. Thanks for the advice…I just put that video together like that so you could get a sample of my playing. I practice the B flat concert, the E flat concert, A flat concert, C concert, and F concert. Those are the scales I practice everyday, along with the B flat thirds exercise. my paradiddle exercise, and my lip flex exercices. Im curious as to your thought on my overall tone.
Hi Jonathan, thanks for messaging me about your blog video; cool to see you here on Johnny’s site. Everyone is very positive here; use all of the learning resources Johnny has and it will take you’re playing to a whole new level. This is your first upload to the blog, isn’t it?
I could hear a backing track in the background but couldn’t make out exactly what it was, I would suggest cranking up the volume on it so we can hear rhythmically what your doing in this regard. Or, if you uploaded this with a mobile, for example, even just placing it right next to the speakers of your stereo will help to hear/record the backing track better for video. Where did you start learning to play the Saxophone at? Johnny’s got LOADS of lessons here on his “lessons” page. There’s also super information in his ebook “How to Play the Saxophone” that any player of any skill level is sure to benefit from. Nice to see you here on the blog and keep rockin’ 🙂
Jonathan, when you have a short moment of consistency you have a real tone there which is great for such a beginner. What is happening way too much is the weak air pressure you’re giving to your sax. When we don’t deliver a good amount of air things happen, like, thin and flat notes, and some wavering as well. As bad as all this sounds, you can improve your tone immensly by started to focus on breathing from your diaphragm, and get way more air into that big tenor because it needs it to make you sound good!
hey Jonathan you seem a very relaxed player and control for that tempo is quite good – i reckon in time you’ve got the makings of a good player . Just remember genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration !
Thanks to all of you! I will try and make another recording tomorrow. and it will be better! I appreciate it!
I started playing two years ago in 6th grade. Yes, Im still a teenager in middle school. Im in eighth grade, and I go first chair and that’s the only reason I ended up with the selmer in the first place! Im still working on it though 😉
Hey Jake; thanks for your insights–I’ve had to really be focusing on relaxing the muscles in my throat, as this can almost “choke” (is the way I think about it) the notes and causes them to fade/fall off, as Johnny has brought out was happening a little here. For me, I haven’t had a major problem delivering air into the Tenor (maybe all those years of bmx racing for me/healthy lungs is a benefit here LOL) It’s been more about relaxing the muscles in my neck and really focus on delivering air from the diaphragm. I’ve noticed a difference even since a week ago and that’s the great benefit of the blog; we can see/Johnny can see what we’re doing right and wrong. It’s a work in progress; it’s getting there for sure though.
Here I was using a No.6 Hard Rubber MP with a 2.5 Juno reed; I went to the music shop and got one 2.5 Vandoren Java (you must be telepathic LOL) and tried it with this rubber MP, I had no problems playing it and it did produce a deeper tone, but didn’t strike me as the kind of Reed that goes well with hard-rubber MPs. In trying a Java myself now, they seem to be more suited/compatible with the Metal style of MPs. I think I had read somewhere here on this site a story the Johnny related regarding his first experience with the Guardala/Java reed combo; he wasn’t a big fan of the Java reed either, but a No.3 Java was sent to him along with the Guardala and he’s been using that combintion every since then. Trying the Java reed myself, when I do get a Guardala–planning on it very soon, strikes me as the way to go; it just seems to be the kind of reed that goes better with those kinds of MPs (now that I have personally tried the Java) v.s. a hard-rubber MP that I was using on Fly Me to the Moon.
However, I did also try a 1/2 larger size of a Juno reed (from a 2.5 to a 3) and it is REALLY good with the No.6 hard rubber MP. In contrast to Java reeds that are more suited to a Guardala, the Junos are definately suited for hard-rubber MPs 😉 Thanks much Jake for your great insights…now it’s your turn to upload something else here to the blog 🙂
Jake, Michael, just some comments on what has evolved to be my strategy on MP’s and reeds. Based on comments and what I have learned to date a more open mouthpiece (larger tip opening) is what will result in a bigger, fuller (and louder) sound. So rather than put a thicker reed on a smaller tip opening MP my strategy is to try to play as large a tip opening MP I can, which results in me going to a thinner reed to begin with. I like the #2’s at this stage in my embrochure development. I use a #2 Vandoren ZZ on a Meyer MP with 0.085″ tip opening on my Alto, and a #2 Alexander NY on a 0.102″ tip opening MP on my Tenor.
Hey Kevin. My Berg metal MP is .120 opening. I think majority of my problem is trying to open up more (throat/mouth). I feel as if I am giving the sax tons of air. I will keep practicing away! I feel as tho it is improving. As we improve, I think the improvements are more sublte (takes more time) as compared to the improvements we see in the very beginning!
My reed still tends to get pretty wet, gotta get my salivation under control. I find that after every song or so I give my reed a quick wipe down with my thumb (without taking it off mp) and this seems to help out! I have a couple of custom metal mouthpieces on the way and can’t wait to get them and try em out!
hey thanks Kevin for that input
my first Blues on a Saxophone …not Bluesharp 😉
Very cool, smokey blues tone! You’re nailin’ it. I’m sure many here would like to know about your set up?
WOW. that was amazing! Nice tone and amazing control up and down!! Your low notes have a ton of character! Sounds like you been playing for a while? How long you been at it? Yea, like Johnny said, whats your setup??
Yes Very Cool, thank’s for bringing the Blues to the Blog! Very engaging performance and use of many cool embellishments. Musically it was top notch and recorded well. I would like to have seen the musician(s) though…
[…] Saxophone Music […]
Thanks for putting this up, Johnny, I’ve been downloading both the alto and tenor sheet music when downloading your music. This is the first time I’ve heard Earl Bostic’s take on Summertime and I like his sound. This is the sound I want! While the tenor is what I’m really working on, I have also been playing my alto. I’ve become comfortable with my Guardala MBII mouthpiece on my tenor. I love the big sound I can get from it and now I’m trying to get a big sound on the alto, too. I retired the Selmer C*80 in January in favour of a Vandoren Jumbo Java A45 and it’s definitely an improvement. I’m going to give Summertime a try. Thanks again!
Hey, no problem James. Ya, the selmer c 80 is great for the beginning stages and I recommend it highly as do others. But at a certain point of development you must change up. The alto can be so expressive and occasionally when I do pick one up I really have a ball. I love the fact that it is that much smaller and so less air…it just changes your approach and feel and I love it!
I do plan one bringing in more alto stuff in the very near future.
thank you for sharing these video. wow, who woulda thought an alto. haha. I mostly use my tenor but there are a few songs that sound better on the alto. I wanna rock it up more so I just got a new mouthpiece for my alto. It is a berg hard rubber .115/1. wow, the openness of that seems harder to play than my open pieces on my tenor. I am still experimenting with some reeds. I have regular ricos, 2, 2.5, and 3’s. It needs air with all of them. I will get it and hopefully sound as these above players do. Thanks
hi i’ve made up, played & recorded something on the guitar (work in progress). Next i want to play something on Sax and add the guitar recording as a backing track. I like some ideas as to how i would lift the theme from the guitar music to derive a sax theme …
my instructor asks me lots of times have i found on youtube any Sax player that i like and would like to play like, at last i’ve found someone or rather you have found someone whose style i like – Cannonball adderley so cool!!
I’ve been playing the alto for a year now, just learning off u-tube and great sites like this one. I play the blues scales pretty much for everything – as blues is pretty much my thing. Any chance of some more blues on the site Johnny?
I had been considering moving to a tenor as I’ve heard the sound is more bluesy but after hearing Summertime blues on the alto will stick with it.
As for players and styles, I think emulating Johnny Ferreira would be more than enough for anyone!
Hey thanks Andrew…
oh ya, for sure more blues! In case you over looked anything: You can access some blues backing tracks in the “Improvisation” section that go along with the lessons there. In the “saxophone Music” section there are a few blues tunes that are available for downloading, these include the music charts and backing tracks. My Killer Blues course expands upon the basic stuff in the improvisation section and also dissects the famous “Brown Sugar” sax solo which is a great lesson for crafting a cool, simple solo that works in any blue-based music.
The great thing about all this stuff is that these blues lessons and theory cover so much in terms of not pure blues music but pop, rock funk R&B etc. Have fun and good luck with it!
Hello, the Trevor James are great horns, I started out some years ago with a “horn classic” alt, their student model. Later on got myself a “custom” top model. A tenor sax with a huge bell in the most beautiful red brass finish. Great profesional horn, big sound easy to play and looks good. All that said, i sold the horn and bought an SML gold medal from ’59 in silver finish. For me a better horn than the Trevor. I think the Trevor James are great begyners profecional horns, affordable and great sound, but it lacks the soul that a Semler or SML has.
i just play for 7 month right now, when i was 28 i had a Alto but then i stopped playing saxophone at all because i started to play bluesharmonica….
A friend give me back the love for the Sax….
I´m playing a Selmer Ref54 that i bought on ebay….crasy i know… but it was a nice price and wow I love this Sax….
At this time there was a Berg Larsen mouthpiece 110 ….but now i also play a
VANDOREN TENOR SAX MOUTHPIECE V16 Metal SM823 T75 …but i changed the opening into 113…
I´m playing it on the video for my new grandchild..
Reed is a 3 Vandoren Jazz…
Best regards Ralf
PS Sorry for my english
Beautiful! That’s a great Selmer model sax too… one of their best.
sorry …….Thanks for the nice comments…
To play Bluesharmonica and Sax is wounderful, because there are alot of techniques the same and now i can play also the high register on the Tenorsax …. not like a pro but it´s ok… i think 🙂
best regards Ralf
hey Ralf thats a lovely sound from your selmar!! i nearly bought a mark VI on monday literaly had to drag myself away from – the wife would have killed me!! lol
but the price for my rev was to great…will never give it away.i just changed into 3 1/2 reeds for mode breath in the tone…wow…thats cool. I like Ben Webster…B-)
Yes, Webster is one of my very faves too! #.5 that’s a pretty heavy reed…did you try a 3 yet?
a 3 i’m playing in the Video vor my grandchild, it’s very
Focus Sound i think, only in the last phrase i try to play a Webster like Sound. Just tryed 3 1/2 with my Vandoren MP
Thats gives me that breathing Sound i like.
With less MP i can copy it with a 3 but i like to have more MP in mouth for more Dynamik….for Rock i like the 3 more.
until now. I dont konw to do it better for this Moment…
the first in this vid it´s nice to try , becaues it´s a C Bluesscale… Webster …
will be my next Video ,, anybody knows the name of the first Song ? ..to find a playback… Whant to play it with SAX and Harp….thanks…
no, sorry I don’t know it. very nice groove…easy to play though.
it´´s easy to play and a nice lesson for Bluesscale i think…! Perhaps a Peterson song….
Oscar Peterson ” Putin “
Over here in the UK, Trevor James are very popular with Sax Instructors and they do sound very good.
From a parents point of view buying a Sax for your offspring – Saxophones are expensive instruments no matter which one you choose, and parents have the added worry that 6 months down the line the kids may decide its not for them!
My two daughters started playing recorders when they were around 7 years old so they were affordable, then at ages 9 one switched to flute and the other to clarinet not cheap instruments.
In the Uk we have grades 1 – 8, which you can take an exam & get a certificate to get you into orchestras etc..
roughly a grade a year.
Buying the flute was ok for all the grades, but the Clarinet we made a mistake, the beginner’s ones only take you up to grade 5, so we had to buy an intermediate model for our daughter – same price as an intermediate Sax.
If you are a learner, it doesn’t matter which Sax you buy (assuming its in working condition), once you get into it, find you like it, i reckon 5 or 6 years down the line you will want to buy another sax regardeless of the brand or make. In the meantime a Trevor James will take you as far as you want to go.
Hey guys, Johnny made mention of me here LOL Yep, will be looking to get it sent to me here soon,–the folks at Massullo Music where Johnny has access to these Trevor James are great folks to work with. If you’re in the market to get a new Sax, I would encourage you to give these guys a call. The suspense of watching this video of my soon-to-be Alto Saxophone is killing me LOL.
I would have thought the songs, Summertime, was played on Tenor by listening to it! Pretty amazing to hear that kind of tone Earl Bostic is getting on the Alto!
I love the way, Johnny, you put here how a player shouldn’t feel they have to switch to Tenor to get that Rockin’/Blues sound. I’m almost done with Take Five of yours and was afterwards wanting to learn “In the Mood” on my Alto v.s playing it on my Tenor. I was noticing on the video footage you included with that song on youtube how many of the guys back then on Glen Miller’s Band are playing the Alto, he’s got lots of them playing it!
i went along to a Jazz Cafe at the weekend to hear my two daughters play their instruments along with a bunch of other kids playing theirs. There was selmars, yamahas, trevor james, when the lights went down and they played their instruments, i honestly couldnt tell the Saxophones apart!! the standard of play was that good. One lad played hey jude exactly like i’ve heard on you tube well into the altissimo register!
yeah it’s really strange – i started out, came across Johnnys website, looked at Johnny & his tenor sax videos, and thought – wow i’ve got to get a Tenor. But then i bought a bunch of Johnnys songs, my tones improving – and hey i really like playing these songs with the backing tracks, and suddenly i realised the Alto’s really cool man!! i’m getting so much enjoyment out of it – switching to a Tenor now would be like trading in your old pet for another one.
aS A New Alto Player looking for the best that I can get within my budget of ($200.00) is that even reasonable for a good mouthpiece???? And if so, where would I start??? Vinny
Yes. I highly recommend 2 of them for alto…go to the blog and you will see a post called Trevor James Saxophone and 2 Mouthpieces. I play 2 different ones and you can hear the difference.
thanks so much I will do so
Thank you so much for the suggestions and I am going to go to one of the big stores in My area to check out some that they have and also going to look at Jody Jazz . they have 2 within my price range , The HR and the JET . Thank you so much for what you do for us. Vinny
The Claude Lakey Sounds nice. As a new beginner I should be looking at a 5 or 6 tops. I will have to see if the shop near me has them . Vinny
Yes, sounds about right. I can tell you they’re very easy to blow.
i purchased how to play the blues with seven notes i still have not received the link to download the program help ??
Ok, will email you the link.
Having my alto sax coming soon…….and I’m glad Johnny put this topic up on the blog about how good the Alto Saxophone is. Check out these 3 guys Improvising on stage, all 3 of them on Alto Saxophones! One of them on stage is pro player Michael Lington, He’s well-known for his famous song “Show Me.” GORGEOUS saxophone song!
The improvisation starts at about 3:30 on this video NOTE: What you see these 3 Alto Saxophone players doing, Improvisation, is what Johnny’s ebook “How to Play Killer Blues” is all about. If you don’t have a copy of this book, you’re really missing out 😉
cool video Michael – i’ve got the killer blues e- book , but haven’t started it yet, until i can do all the 12 major scales! I like jazz songs especially the ones you can sing along to – like the girl from ipanema etc. I also like the lively jazz sax, but nit the dreary send me to sleep jazz…
Hey Johnny – i’m really looking forward to your beatle songs, fingers crossed, i’m hoping they will be easy to play?
I’m really enjoying learning and playing them as I’m a huge fan.
As far as reading and playing the basic melody goes, they’re very easy.
I always add a bit of extra stuff like altissimo notes and other things to make it more entertaining for the listener but I keep the music charts simple so most people can play it.
One song has a transcription of a George Harrison guitar solo note-for-note that’s not super easy to read, but I will include one backing track with the solo played on the sax to make it easier for you to learn. When learning a solo just take it a few notes at a time. Think of a solo as a paragraph. We can all memorize a paragraph by first taking a few words, this turns into a sentence, then after a few sentences have been memorized you now have a whole paragraph. Same for music.
excellent!! Rock on!! One of my goals is to be able to play a song from memory, without the sheet music in front of me.
Yes, that’s a good goal and one everyone should have I think. I don’t think we don’t truly play a song as good as we can until it’s well memorized.
Been enjoying playing along with the downloads though for the life of me I cant find them in my emails to print the tenor sheet music. Is there anyway of Searching your site for previous files received.
Bit of a long shot I know.
Thanks in advance
Sorry Darren but I’m not understanding your question/request.
Which emails/downloads specifically are you referring to?
do you have any video on this site that would show and play out all the notes on the saxophone? if so can you tell me where i can find it?
yes, I posted the link on the forum last week (don’t have it handy at the moment)
It’s part of my eBook course “How To Play The Saxophone – A Complete Beginners Guide”
just downloaded tequila with the backing track
and I must say thank you. A great tune to play
I will try and get a vid of myself on here playing it
and I will download your ebook. Many thanks dude.
Thanks Paul, and good luck with it!
Johnny: Just read over you comments on all of the mouthpieces in question here. You heard my Otto Link Hard rubber during our last lesson. It is a 6 or 7? It may be as old as my M-6? Large chamber. It took getting used to. More air for sure. I am putting enough through now. The tone sounds good to me. Your thoughts? Tim
[…] you’re ready to take your playing to the next level start on the Saxophone Altissimo Course. It will get you playing in the altissimo range we all love AND improve your overall tone as […]
Hey guys, I haven’t been able to post any kind of video here on the blog for a little bit–sorry about that 🙁 Here’s that famous Saxophone song that everyone loves so much, and Johnny provides a free backing track/sheet music here for us to use. Couple of important notes:
1. The Allergies are FIERCE here in the south right now, and you’ll notice a slight pause when hitting the high F in the solo–I’ve been dealing with coughing/congestion. All the growling that this song requires didn’t help me any either LOL.
2. I’m playing this song with a Dave Guardala Studio Model Mouthpiece–for this song I decided to try the Juno No.3 reed that I’ve been playing with before getting the Guardala. I’ve been doing some reed comparison. When I upload, tomorrow, the 2nd one of Johnny’s fantastic songs from his music selection, I will do it on a 2.5 Vandoreen Java Reed. I really appreciate/need your insights and feedback, as others are able to see/detect things that we can’t individually while were playing…..that’s a huge benefit of the blog. When I upload the 3rd of Johnny’s song that I’ve learned recently on Sunday, I’ll upload it with the reed that is “clicking” with me better. Thanks guys, share your thoughts with me please! 🙂 Cheers and good playing to everyone.
The only complaint I have is you forgot to yell “Tequila” at the end!
Wow Michael, I’m amazed, really. You’ve developed your growling and even got most of the solo down pat. It’s such a huge improvement from your last videos. You should be VERY proud in what you’ve accomplished in only ONE year!
I wanted to yell “Tequila” LOL but allergies are FEROCIOUS here right now. I can’t remember it being this dry here; Arkansas is a wet land; this is not normal for us. Perhaps you heard up there of the F4 Tornado that struck here in Arkansas…..where it first touched ground is only 10 miles from our house–no joke. No one here has ever seen a twister so destructive.
Thanks for encouragement Johnny, I’m just applying myself to what you have to teach and it works as you can see; provided a student player doesn’t cheat themselves and want to miss steps. In the solo I probably missed an 8th note due air supply but my eyes are on fire from allergies and I’m congested; I tried to block it out of my mind while playing. The congestion is why I paused for a moment before hitting that high F. You’ll notice those last few notes are a little run-in together; but again that’s due to my congestion. What is your thought on the sound/tone with the Juno reed paired with this Guardala? This studio model is just right for me. I know with the Java reed with this MP is pretty awesome to say the least….but that will come tomorrow.
Oh that’s just crazy about the twister right next door!Living in western Canada I just couldn’t imagine that.
You obviously made the right choice with that Guardala mp. I’ assuming you got the Java reeds?
Like I said before, your sound is waaaayyyy better than even a few months ago.
If you really get into the altissimo course you will make even bigger strides over the next few months. I suggest you upload a couple tunes just so you can compare a little ways down the road.
I have the Java reeds-they came in yesterday-and they sound VERY good with the Studio MP. In what I call “Part 2 of my 3 part Reed Experimentation” LOL I’m uploading to the blog tomorrow WITH the Java v.s the Juno I used today. Having both videos here right next to each other will help me make a comparison and do part 3 of my little experiment on Sunday. I can do the same thing again, later down to road as you mentioned, to see how it’s coming along. Once I find which combination is working for me, then I’ll stick with it. From what I can tell (the way it sounds like to me when I’m playing anyway) is that the Juno sounds a little more “bright” when paired with this Studio and the Java gives the Studio MP a very fat & full sound. But that’s the benefit of the blog here, I can actually see what it really sounds like v.s. what I think it sounds like.
In terms of REALLY getting into the Altissimo course, that’s why I bought it 🙂 Just from the first exercises I’ve started to work heavily on, I have no doubt about my tone will be getting a lot better. Just taking the rest of this month to really, really work those chromatic scale exercises and Arpeggios to make sure they as slick as butter before going on. And I DID find which Bb fingering works best for me for playing “In the Mood” it’s pretty much perfectly in tune now; really happy about that for sure. It makes the transition MUCH easier to the other Arpeggios in this song v.s the Bb key I was using.
Part 2 of my experiment coming tomorrow…….:)
Wow Michael, nice gritty sound. Yea, big improvement!! Would like to hear again when your not so “stuffy” haha.
I have been playing on a custom made metal mouthpiece since February. Not sure that I’m loving the sound. After hearing this, I decided to try a Studio as well!! Just ordered it and will get it next week! Thanks for the demo. Can’t wait to try it out. Getting quite the collection of mp’s now. Prob have to start throwing some up on ebay to clear some out. LOL.
Glad the tornado missed ya! There was quite a bit of them down your way. Keep the vids coming!! It seems there has been a drought since the altissimo course went live!! Guess we are all busy working on those HIGH notes!! haha
Here comes another upload from me.
Pieces. unfortunatly poor quality still need to work on it..
JAKE: I would high recommend you get a good ligature with your Studio Guardala. The ligature that is included with the MP won’t let the reed vibrate for nothing, really important in getting that tone you’re after. The “Ultimate Ligature” Francois Louis Ligature that Amazon sells is the way to go. Make sure you get the model “SAB”; this is the one that fits the Guardala. Amazon is showing that it’s made for Altos metal MPs, but it’s not just for Alto MPs. This is the ligature that I’m using and it’s great–go back to the forum and check out the pics I posted of it.
Here’s PART 2 of my reed experimentation. This song of Johnny’s is being played with a Vandoreen Java 2.5 reed. Gone in this song is all the growling and trilling LOL so that alone will make it seem different. From what I can see, the Java reeds seem to give the Guardala Studio a full/deep tone v.s. edgy like I did in Tequila with the Juno reeds. Both are sound great, different styles and different sounds for different songs. Just no one expect me to hit those high-screaming Altissimo notes like Johnny does in this song……not yet anyway 🙂 I appreciate your insights guys!
Michael you Rock!! Can’t wait to hear the next one. I must record greensleves again, put it on the blog and compare the change. I have to confess i haven’t recorded anything since i last recorded in february. I have sax lessons every week, my instructor sets the pace that i learn at, so theres not much chance of me cheating myself. lol
Michael, as you work on chromatic scales, try incorporating them in your downfalls. Like when you slide down from the A, include all the chromatics in the fall instead of the way you did it there.
We’ll do Johnny; one of those things we come to realize we didn’t do when watching video, great benefit of the blog.
Thanks for bringing this out for me. What’s your take on the Java reed I played with here? The sound on this video, to me, seems to be “deeper” and not as “edgy” than the Juno. But then again I was playing differently, wasn’t doing any growling, trilling, etc. Part 3 of my reed experimentation coming tomorrow.
Sxpoe: Now it’s your turn to upload something 🙂 That’s the benefit of the member’s blog here; it’s a great way to see how things are coming along for us. Have you tried playing the other songs in Johnny’s ebook “How to Play the Saxophone”? “Falling in Love” by Elvis and “Over the Rainbow” are beautiful songs and simple to play. Some of the best songs out there are the most simple to play……now that I come to think about it; I never got around to uploading “Over the Rainbow” myself and I have planned to LOL. I’ll have to do it; it’s a great melody!
KLAUS: Good one and super cool song for sure! Nice to see you here on the blog again too 🙂 Looks like you had great fun with this one for sure. It’s on my list to do this year too. I’m curious about your Mouthpiece/Reed set up.
I have just registered your forum from Japan, and been following your play on Youtube. I have play an alto and a tenor for ten years. I want to get your playing sheet score of the Moon Flower. Can I get it ?
I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Hi Ben, sorry but no I don’t have that song. I used to play it many years ago in college but I don’t have it now.
Michael, thanks for your comment. Yes, it’s a great song but still I need to improve on this one. Specially the timing and solo part. By the way I use a Yamaha 4C MP and Vandoren Jazz No 2 reed.
Klaus & Michael – love both of those songs, can’t play Klaus’s song yet and can only play the 1st page of Michael’s song! In terms of reeds Michael i like the reed you used in the 2nd song – perhaps we ought to take a vote on it? Overall you guys are doing very well. I need to sort out a better recording system – as i’ve only got an iTouch player & a camcorder for recording with! In terms of practising i’m a bit more tied down to practising for my sax lessons. But just to give you an idea – currently learning Summertime, Moon River, Fly me to the moon, As time goes by, Petite Fluer, Satin Doll, The girl from Ipanema, Mr Pc & Besame Mucho. Then on top of that i fit in Johnny’s Altissimo course, and i want to start Killers at some stage. So watch out and trying to catch you guys up! lol – only joking
Klaus and Michael. Wow! You guys are sounding great. I’m impressed! Jim
Sxpoe: A simple webcam with a modest mic that plugs into the USB port is all that’s needed for the blog. What did you like about the sound with the Java reed in Mack the Knife v.s. the Juno reed in Tequila? Both are Cane reeds–I’m not a synthetic reed fan. I’ll get to part 3 of my reed experiment sometime over the next few days as allergies have been KILLING me. They’re not as bad today as they were when I played those 2 songs. Also, today is a day to give to my wife–she the mother of my 4 kids, awesome lady 🙂
JOHNNY: My wife was asking me at some point in time if you would look at doing some of Otis Redding’s songs. I mentioned to her that I had talked about it on the forum before but it has to be worth your time financially. In any case, Otis Redding has some terrific stuff for sure. The 2 songs that I think about of his for the Saxophone is “Love Man” and “The Arms of Mine”. We’ve been married for 17 years, of course she wants me to play those 2 songs LOL
Michael when it comes to picking reeds the final choice is down to you, juno sounds great for tequela & the vandoren sounds great for the Mac!
When i get a new reed i check 3 things.
1) how fast it responds to getting a note out(try playing yankee doodle quickly) this helps me decide what tempo its best suited for.
2) what range the reed has by playing bottom to top, some reeds i find only play well in the mid range, while some are useless in the altissimo range.
3) feelings. When you play the reed can you feel how it is expressing itself, does it have a presence. I don’t find many reeds that fits this category but when you do it’l blow your mind and you wont want to put it down. Trust me you will know when you find one.
Then mark each reed, check it the next as may be the complete opposite!
Sir, what do you think of the Mariyasu Shanghai alto sax mouthpiece, a guardala New crecent sound ???? Vinny
Never heard of the Mariyasu. The Crecent is a darker sound, it was modeled after John Coltrane.
Killing Me Softly
recorded with a Java 2 reed.
Nice sound and some nice additions but everything goes out of whack because you came in too early after the intro part. Check the music chart again and notice the 4 bars rest at the 1st box. You played right through this and then were out of sync for the rest of the way.
recorded with a La Voz ms reed.
finaly uploaded 2 songs, have problems with my camcorder, so had to stick a boring picture on each one. Made loads of mistakes, timing issues etc etc.. lol
Nicely done. You are getting a very nice tone already. Your biggest concern for playing these songs at this point is the timing. Are you reading the music or playing from memory? Either way, listen more to the tracks and get the first beat of every bar down… maybe with a steady foot tap and try to feel that beat every time.
excellent sorry for a long delay. Free blowing is what I need. How do I read the information about the opening. Because the are as an example 4,3 or 4,4? I will try to find out as well
Different companies use different numbers or letters but generally the bigger the number the bigger the opening etc. The bigger the opening the bigger tone potential you have but remember that it will be harder to blow because it will require more air!
Thanks for the tips Johnny, i’ve got a long way to go yet.
Hey Sxpoe, COOL to see you upload to the blog again 🙂 It really helps when Johnny can actually see what where doing; it’s a huge help when he can watch us play.
Going along with Johnny’s point of feeling that beat in his songs; do you practice with a metronome? I would strongly recommend that you do so, if you’re not using a metronome at this time. On Johnny’s “Saxophone lessons” page he has a section there where he talks specifically about using a metronome and the benefits are immense to say the least. Working on the “Chromatic Scale” exercises in the Altissimo course, I’ve been doing these with the aide of a metronome. It’s a FANTASTIC learning tool to say the least. I’ve always enjoyed doing chromatics but wasn’t fully aware of the 1 or so rough spot that I had until I started Johnny’s Altissimo course and the metronome is a super tool to help out in many, many regards.. I’m not going to hurry and miss ANY step in the Altissimo course, I’m going to learn everything the right way and address something I find I need to work on v.s. overlooking it and moving on.
Another important point to think about that can really help you is Johnny’s lesson on “long tones” here on the “Saxophone Lessons” page, but do it with a TUNER. The tuner will show you instantly if there’s any swaying, even in the slightest bit, when playing any note; not just long-tone type of notes–unless you’ve been hit with Allergies and congestion too LOL–I’m feeling MUCH better and been taking Clariton and getting lots of rest, will upload part 3 of my reed experiment soon.
Keep those blog videos of your’s coming, it really helps each other/encourages each other 🙂
Awesome. Thank you
Had another go at Moon River, see what you are saying. Playing along to a metronome & playing along to a backing track are 2 different things when reading music. This time tried to get more in time with the beat – not perfect but getting better, but now know what to aim for when recording with backing tracks.
Yes I agree that’s better for sure. This song is in 3/4 time so get counting 1 2 3, 1 2 3
Foot tap on 1 and come in on the 1.
So, these notes / words that start the phrase all happen on the 1 – moon / river / wider / mile
You are still placing these somewhere in the middle or slightly off. Be more precise, even rigid until you are playing it right on.
Cool video Sxpoe 🙂 Making good progress! That’s a really neat backing track for MoonRiver 2. With a few more videos on this part of the blog and we’ll have to start a new member’s video blog Part 5.
Playing along with backing tracks and playing along with a metronome are 2 different things for sure….but a metronome is a great training tool that can teach us(or has taught me anyway LOL) not only to get fast fingers, but when used properly, to be able to “hone” in on a rhythm and learn to control the time element of our playing. We pay attention to the notes were playing yes, but we also have to learn to control the timing that we’re playing in. When were starting to learn to play, we can make the mistake of playing the right note at the wrong time, or the wrong note at the right time. Every note were playing has to be played at a precise time. If we can’t feel it; then we can’t play it. The metronome helps to develop our rhythmic ability.
Thanks for the help Johnny. You guys are really helpful! A great website this!
i started with sax lessons mid November and one of the issues we’re working on now is the timing with backing tracks and playing sax duets. I’m a lot better in time with a metronome, its when you take the metronome away it gets harder, but thats down to practice. The other thing is my instructor is setting the learning pace, so we’re having a recap and going over what i’ve learn’t.
In terms of playing Moon River, he wouldn’t normally let his pupils do it until they’ve been playing for 2 years or passed their grade 2. He felt that i could start doing grade 2 level songs as an exercise in improving time keeping.
But have to get some more guitar practice on 3 songs for playing in a church band next month. Time keeping easier with guitar playing in a band – Base guitar & singing is so loud, its a metronome equivalent.
Pretend you’re a drummer and just play along with the tune by tapping your hands or feet. Just keep time listening to things like the snare, which in 4/4 time plays on every 2nd and 4th beat of every bar. In your Moon River song it’s 3/4 so snare on the 2 and 3 and down beat on the 1. Once you can keep time like the drummer you’ll be closer to singing along in time and then playing after that.
Thanks Johnny thats really helpful, going to go through it again with my sax teacher tomorrow. I greatly admire music teachers for their patience! and the blog & forums are great for picking up tips from fellow learners! (cheers michael)
Warning: Watch your volume before you play this. I recorded it with my ipod and didn’t use my recorder at all, so the video is unedited. The sound is pretty loud, you may need to turn your speakers down before you play it.
Still working on a clean and full sounding F#!!! I can hear a little improvement but still more work to go!
I’m open to any other suggestion/critiques so I can improve as well!!
Yes Jake getting there. I suggest more dynamics. Right now it’s all basically the same level all the way through so having even just 2 extremes will make your performance more dramatic. For example when starting the 2nd verse play as quietly as possible. The chorus that follows should be as loud as possible and up the octave. You can exagerate these dynamics because no matter how soft or loud you think you’re playing, it probably isn’t enough!
Johnny i had my Sax lesson today and we listened to various Jazz backing tracks. My sax teacher also advised me for Moon River to listen for the Piano Base as that comes in on the 1 beat.
Bottom line now is i need to get a louder sound system, as what i’ve got i can’t hear the base, and snare drums when i play the sax to help keep me in time.
Once again – you’ve been really helpful!