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Practice routine for a doubler with a day job

I'm always interested in what both the pros as well as the rest of us do in keeping sharp across multiple instruments. I play soprano, alto and tenor saxes, along with clarinet and flute. A high-quality community band is keeping my clarinet chops in shape, and my contemporary praise band at church along with our local community jazz band keeps me going with the saxes. The flute? Well...currently it's getting neglected.

I find rotating the saxes in practice sessions keeps all 3 going. Currently using the Voxman Selected Studies and the Kynaston Daily Exercises along with a Real Book for jazz.
For clarinet the Rose and Klose studies, an old copy of the Albert Scales and the community band music on weekends and the night before rehearsals. When I have to get the flute ready for something, I love the Galway tone exercises and scale work.

I really love it when I can get an hour on any of them in a single day. But my 40+ hour a week job as a database analyst/developer and being a husband, father and home owner prevent much more.

How about the rest of you?
Welcome to the forum, RCNELSON. Nice to have you visit.

I'll try to respond in just a minute ....
I think the question for people who regularly play multiple instruments (and I include voice in this mix) is what to practice and when to practice.

Simple answer: it depends.

Complex answer: I don't know.

I feel that I'm a better sax player than a clarinet player and I think I'm a better (and actually talented) singer than at either of those two. However, my level of skill at any of the three allowed me to be ... good enough when the groups I needed to play in needed me to do those disparate things. When I was able to practice, it was almost always to practice something that I needed to work on for an upcoming concert/gig, and that defined what instrument I'd be practicing.

However, with voice, I can practice in the car. And I've got some vocal warm-up/exercise CDs.

My playing/performance days are behind me, because of health and other reasons, but when I was playing and singing in multiple venues, I had (at one point) three jobs, a wife and a small child. I WAS able to get to go to weekly rehearsals (3 hour long), but unable to do any other practicing. So you have my sympathies.

As far as what to practice on, Rascher's 24 Intermezzi. At double speed (and I think it's a free download at that link. I must check). However, Bach's Cello suites can help you out on sax: the leaps help with intonation and tone and a Cello has approximately the range of a bari, so any sax can finger the range.
Pete, interesting your comment about practising vocals in the car. I asked that question on another forum and the reply was that vocals require as much concentration as a musical instrument if you are to get anywhere with it. I also asked about learning singing while practising piano which I recently started as a second instrument but that was also not recommended for the same reason.

I've thought off and on about learning to sing, but don't have the time, so I thought maybe practising in the car could work. If you could point me to that CD or any other resources that would be great. This would be for jazz vocals. I'd love to be able to scat so you could apply your improvisational skills on the horns to vocals.
CD recordings as a musical tool

What I have done for "band vocals" (those where some of the guys in the band have to step up to the plate and sing) is to make practice CDs that cover the tune in question. That way they can practice at their own pace, rather than trying to learn it all during a full band rehearsal.

I use Sound Studio, a audio editing program for the Macintosh, to slice things up. It's a simple task to chop out what you want to include in each looping segment, some no longer than five or six seconds in length. Then, you stack them in the order that you want them, and save them all in a folder. From there, it's a simple set of steps to burn an audio disk with all of the segments laid out in proper order. (This may be a bit more complicated on a PC compatible machine.)

Each segment that has to be sung is chopped down to individual phrases. That way, they can "loop" the phrase and repeat the same small segment over and over to get it by rote. (One member has admitted to using his while sitting on the toilet.)

At the end of the broken out phrases for a particular verse, I will place the entire verse so that can be looped, and (after all of this) I place the entire song so it can be practiced in the whole.

Using this approach, I had the entire band singing the vocal chorus in Marie in one rehearsal rather than the three or four it would usually take. The only area that needed to be worked over in rehearsal was the "hissing" in one of the phrases. (Well, that and the trombone solo).

For one tune that we have worked up in the past (In These Shoes), there are additional provisions:

First of these is a phrase by phrase pronunciation guide (the verse is in Spanish), with each word clearly enunciated by a Spanish speaking employee of mine. Following that is the phrase break out, and then the phrase with music, and then the full tune at the pitch that we perform it at.

Added to this disk is a copy of the Bette Midler arrangement, which is in a different key. It was included for the "licks" on the numerous auxiliary percussion instruments used in the tune. (These are played by one of my vocalists on timbales, the pig, scratcher and shaker (by the altos and the baritone (me); only the two tenors have a part in this tune, and my bass trombone guy on conga/quero.) I haven't tested this in full for a while (we've not performed the tune for well over a year, due to a vocalist change), but it will help when we start getting serious about it again this month (with a new girl singer).

You can go wrong when getting too reliant on CDs for this sort of thing. But, they are very handy for vocalists (who learn intervals, not fingerings) when working up a new tune for the first time. And, throw Spanish or German or French lyrics into the equation, and they become almost a necessity.
I used http://www.worshipmusic.com/compact-discs-independent-labels-vocal-coach.html (there are a lot of CDs from these folks, as you can see). While I was a professional church musician, as are the folks that do these CDs, I only recall that they occasionally have snippets of hymns and such; don't worry about the content.

1. When I was singing in (mainly) church choirs, the best possible thing was to get those CDs/cassettes with someone that's good singing your PART and havening the full piece. The latter, of course, could be copyright infringement (depending on the licensing the church has), but I digress. So +1 on SOTSDO's comments.

2. If you had the ability to practice an instrument anywhere, you would. Why not sing in the car? Yes, you're splitting your attention, but it's not gonna be as bad as talking on a cell phone or something. Just don't be so loud as to drown out the sirens ....

3. My last vocal teacher would record my lessons and tell me what things to work on. She'd also record warm-ups and exercises for me to do.


I made a statement, in another thread, that if you're practicing an instrument, it's a good idea to do that with a tuner, so you get the intonation right. You'll feel how that embochure feels when you're playing the note right and muscle memory will take over. Same idea with singing, although a bit more difficult to do with a tuner. I don't see any problems doing it with a piano or a CD (cassettes can alter the pitch).
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