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Three weeks to get it together

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by saxhound, May 6, 2010.

  1. saxhound

    saxhound Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Got a call yesterday to play a benefit somehow related to Terry Kath (former Chicago guitarist) and featuring some current and former members of the band. I'm thinking "cool - I get to play music I like with some really good players", when the guy says "You do play flute too, don't you?" Uh-oh.

    The gig is all on tenor sax, except for Color My World, where I have to play the flute solo. The good news is I know the solo cold - it was probably one of the first things I learned when I picked up the flute so many years ago. The bad news is that the horn has been sitting on the shelf untouched for years. There just hasn't been much call for flute doubling in the bands I play with. Amazingly, despite the disuse (disease?), the flute seems to be sealing well and in good shape, although I will probably take it to the tech for a quick check-up.

    So my question is - what are some good quick recovery exercises to get some tone (and air) back. I have already started on long tones, scales and arpeggios. I'm thinking in terms of things like harmonic tone matching on sax, or the mouthpiece exercise. Practice regimen ideas are welcome as well. Right now, it seems like I can only play for 10 or 15 minutes at a time without getting dizzy.
  2. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Admin and all around good guy. Staff Member Administrator

    Regarding the dizzy thang; someone, I think it was John, recommended using an embouchure that was blowing air through closed lips. Supposedly there would be more efficient use of air that way. I've been meaning to try it when I didn't have a bunch of gigs staring me in the face. Have you tried that?

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Flute playing sucks. Well, more explicitly, it blows, but you get the general idea.

    Double reeds and flute are two areas where I have found that nothing works but a lot of "face" time, this to recover the tone in the embouchure (I am so proud that I can spell that word without resorting to the spell checking system) muscles. There are many times that I want to get out my tax dodge bassoon and run through the circle of scales, but I always crap out after ten minutes, with a sore face in the bargain.

    Put simply, there is no substitute for regular practice with these categories.
  4. saxhound

    saxhound Moderator Staff Member CE/Moderator

    No, but I found the thread. I'll give it a try. I remember getting dizzy when I first started playing, and my teacher told me to practice in multiple 15 minute sessions.

    I've practiced the solo about 10 times so far. It's definitely stored in my long term memory - why can't I remember what I had for lunch! I can just tell that my tone has a completely different character between the lower and upper octave. I'm going to try that sax overtone matching exercise to see if it helps.

  5. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    There is nothing better than practicing octave slurs to get the "sensitivity" and air control of your flute embouchure back.

    Start on a tone in the lower octave and without blowing faster change the opening in the lips to produce the note an octave above and then slur back down. Do this at a slow tempo---half, half, whole is a good rhythm pattern. Go up chromatically to as high as you are comfortable, then come back down. See how many pitches you can do on one breath.

    Once this begins to lock in and feel comfortable, then add the next harmonic above the octave and do the same pattern. It is important to make the octave and register change with only the embouchure and not by blowing faster air.
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