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Learn to play fast

If you’ve been playing the saxophone for a while, you've probably come across this, let’s say minor issue: Difficult passages become sloppy, uneven, messy. You can play a piece just fine, except for those little passages that you don’t quite get in that same tempo as the rest of the piece. I’ve had many students that sort of just gave up...thinking: I’m just not that technically gifted, my fingers aren’t quick enough, I started playing too late in life, I’ll never be able why, they ask themselves, would I even bother. Well...because that’s nonsense! You can train your fingers (and everything else by the way, staccato etc), if you do it the right way!

Maybe understand a few things before we start. Why are these passages difficult…?

Because of how the brain works: So many notes, there’s no time to ‘think’ every note, to send a message to your fingers/tongue for every note. So you have to make the movements automated. This is actually what you’ve been doing anyway...only, you’ve been studying the sloppiness, that’s what you’ve been automating! Remember, when you first practice something new, the connections in your brain, the pathway, is very fragile, delicate. And the more often you repeat it, the sturdier the pathway becomes. By repeating and repeating, you’re turning the little pathway into a 6-lane highway. So, if you’ve been repeating a not so precise playing of the passage all this time, that has become the highway...very hard to mend...but not impossible, so stay with me ;-)

Also: you might simply be doing something wrong, or at least not very efficiently. In order to fix this, you have to analyse what you’re doing, how your fingers/arms/shoulders/body perform the movements. Are they efficient, or are you adding movement that isn’t required to play this passage? Did you choose fingerings that don’t help?

Now, let's fix all that in these 4 steps:

  1. Tempo - start slow, you know this... but there's a few extra things to it that will get you so much further!

  2. Rythm - playing in different rythms will help your fingers automate the movement

  3. Back-to-Front - will help your brain train the transfer of the message-of-movement to your fingers

  4. Go crazy - will prevent you from crumbling under stress!

Read the next 4 Blogs for all the details per step...I have too much to say for 1 blog...And besides, you don't have time to read that much before you start practicing. So: choose your first difficult passage to practice with my 4-step-tutorial and then read on!

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