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Help with lower C#

Hi guys!

My daughter (11) has been really struggling with lower C# on her alto sax - she can play lower C and lower D nice and strong with any dynamics and articulation, but somehow the C# is a hit-or-miss affair for her. Her teacher suggested relaxing the embouchure a bit and putting more mouthpiece in, but it didn't seem to help much. Any suggestions will be much appreciated, but please note I am not a musician and I do not play any instrument myself so as plain English as possible, please. :-)
Also, any exercises you'd recommend? We've been trying interlaced scales (C, C#, D, C#, E, C#, etc.) and simple tunes so far.

Thanks!

Pawel

Resources for creating leadsheets

The following are resources that might be useful when creating a jazz leadsheet.

Song Indexes

* The fakebook tune index at Seventhstring.com is a very comprehensive and user-friendly index of many commercial and non-commercial fakebooks. It can be useful to compare various existing leadsheets when making one of your own.
https://www.seventhstring.com/fbindex.html

Other indexes:
https://library.buffalo.edu/music/collections/fake-book/
Several other fakebook indexes are listed at the bottom of the following page:
The Joy of Fakebooks

Song Lists

* The website JazzStandards.com has a list of the top 1000 most commonly recorded jazz tunes (a mix of popular song standards and jazz pieces written specifically for jazz performance). The website doesn't say exactly how the recordings used as the data set were chosen (for example, whether or not "jazz adjacent" artists like Frank Sinatra were included), but the resulting list will certainly be recognizable to anyone familiar with the mainstream jazz repertoire as it was played and recorded from the 1920s to the 1960s. This group's "transcription plan" is based on the top 100 songs on this list.
http://www.jazzstandards.com/compositions/index.htm 

JazzStandards.com also has articles and book reviews, including articles like "Performance Practice vs. Composer’s Intention" and "Harmony and Form of Jazz Standards" that would be of interest to people learning about how to document a tune in a leadsheet.
http://www.jazzstandards.com/theory/overview.htm

* The website Cafe Songbook has a "Catalog of The Great American Songbook" that documents several hundred songs commonly performed by jazz and cabaret artists, giving composer details and background information on them in many cases. They don't claim to have any kind of criteria for inclusion beyond the judgment of the editors (unlike JazzStandards.com, which has a list based on how frequently songs made it to commercial recordings). 
http://greatamericansongbook.net/pages/cat_pages/title.html

Background Information

* The Joy of Fakebooks (web page): This is an illustrated historical overview of fakebooks, written by Bob Keller, going back to "Tune-Dex" cards used by gigging musicians of the 1940s. 
https://www.cs.hmc.edu/~keller/jazz/TheJoyOfFakebooks.htm

This page also contains a link to a Google Docs spreadsheet by Keller that ranks fakebooks by all kinds of criteria. For example:
# number of tunes
# consistency of layout
# presence of song verses (introductory sections)
# readabilty
# chord substitutions
...and many others. 

The spreadsheet reviews some 120 fakebooks. Just by reading the criteria Keller uses to evaluate fakebooks, you can learn a lot about what stylistic decisions you will be making as you put together a leadsheet. 
http://spreadsheets1.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?hl=en_US&key=tqfLbKzNkWhtm4GW97PljIw&hl=en_US#gid=0

* "It’s Time to Get Rid of Your Real Book" (blog post)
Experienced jazz musicians are well aware of the fact that the original 1970s Real Book has many errors in the charts. But younger musicians, and musicians in places where jazz is not very common, might not know this. This blog post makes the case that it's time to get rid of the Real Book and use other, more accurate alternatives when learning jazz tunes (or creating a lead sheet yourself).
http://blog.danreitz.com/?p=1128

Musescore Tools

Chord Symbol Voicings for Playback - This resource created by Marc Sabatella provides you with  copy and paste chord voicings that you can use in in your own score to get basic chord symbol playback. Leave a comment below if you have incorporated chord playback into a lead sheet (successfully or unsuccessfully), and tell us the way you went about it.


Tutorials

* A two-part tutorial exists for creating a leadsheet in MuseScore. This tutorial was written by Marc Sabatella prior to the release of the 2.0 software, and is slightly out of date (particularly regarding the need for plugins), but most of the information remains current.
https://musescore.org/en/node/11723 (Part 1: The Basics)
https://musescore.org/en/node/11726 (Part 2: Advanced Topics)

Marc is responsible for coding many of the nice features currently available in MuseScore for creating jazz charts, including the software's jazz chord symbol features. Marc also wrote a user guide to Musescore 2.0 (Mastering MuseScore), if you want to get something a little more refined than the community-authored user guide on MuseScore.org. Marc tirelessly answers new users' questions (including many of mine) on the MuseScore.org forums. His MuseScore user's manual is available for puchase here: 
https://masteringmusescore.com/go/books/

* Poor Butterfly and 'What Makes a Good Chart?' (blog post): In this two-part article, Peter Spitzer offers guidance on the art of creating a successful 'vanilla' leadsheet, using the standard 'Poor Butterfly' as an example. He starts with the original 1916 sheet music, then moves on to discuss leadsheets and chord changes published by Hal Leonard, Jamey Aebersold, Ralph Patt, and Dick Hyman. He then looks at the chord changes used on recordings by several jazz greats, comparing these arrangements to the leadsheet chords. It's an excellent demonstration of the kind of analysis and background research that can be used to create an accurate, general-purpose leadsheet that reflects both the composer's intentions and jazz as it is actually played in the real world. It's also very similar to the process used by the music editor of Chuck Sher's New Real Book series for putting together jazz charts of traditional popular songs, as described in Vol. 1 of that series.
http://peterspitzer.blogspot.com/2012/06/poor-butterfly-and-what-makes-good.html (part 1)
http://peterspitzer.blogspot.com/2012/06/poor-butterfly-and-what-makes-good_07.html (part 2)  
 
Jazz Theory

* Jazz musician and educator Stuart Smith has put his text Jazz Theory: 4th Revised Edition online for free. This text can be useful when you are trying to understand and make decisions about things like enharmonic equivalents  (e.g. "Is this chord a D#7 or an Eb7? Why does it matter?")
http://www.cs.uml.edu/~stu/JazzTheory.pdf  (.pdf file)

* The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine (Sher Music Co.). Available for purchase at Amazon and many other books stores and music stores. "A required text in universities world-wide, translated into five languages, endorsed by Jamey Aebersold, James Moody, Dave Liebman, etc." says the Amazon copy. Also recommended by jazz pianist and educator Billy Taylor and this group's Paul Ukena.
https://www.amazon.com/Jazz-Theory-Book-Mark-Levine-ebook/dp/B004KA9UX4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532956037&sr=8-1&keywords=jazz+theory+book+levine&pldnSite=1

* Jazz Theory Resources (Volumes 1 & 2) by Burt Ligon (Houston Publishing, Inc.) is another well-reviewed resource for jazz theory.
https://www.amazon.com/Jazz-Theory-Resources-Bert-Ligon/dp/0634038613/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532985698&sr=1-1&keywords=Bert+Ligon+-+JAZZ+THEORY+RESOURCES

* MuseScore's own Marc Sabatella has written a book titled The Harmonic Language of Jazz Standards that may be useful to helping you understand why certain harmonies or chord substitutions are used by practicing jazz musicians, and what chords to choose when creating a leadsheet. Marc is a college-level jazz educator, and an excellent writer and communicator. His book is available for purchase here:
https://outsideshore.com/product/the-harmonic-language-of-jazz-standards/

Scores online

If you have an interest in popular songs written prior to 1960 (which most jazz musicians do!), there are many online collections of sheet music, including the following: 
https://library.stanford.edu/music/digital-scores
https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/search/index?filters%5Btype%5D=notated+music&keywords= 
https://www.loc.gov/collections/historic-sheet-music/about-this-collection/
http://digital.library.msstate.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/SheetMusic
http://library.indstate.edu/rbsc/kirk/popsong.html

Most online archives feature only public-domain works, which in the United States tends to mean works published prior to 1923 (so, a few early-jazz age pop standards like "After You've Gone" and "Alexander's Ragtime Band", but don't expect to find "All the Things You Are" or "'Round Midnight")

Miscellaneous

* "Review: The Story of Fake Books and the 6th Edition Real Book": A book review on Jazz musican and writer Peter Spitzer's blog concerning two works: a book chronicling the history of fakebooks, and the Hal Leonard Real Book (6th Ed.). Interesting nuggets taken from the history book included the fact that there was no known 4th edition of the Real Book (the 5th edition was apparently produced by parties not responsible for the first three Real Book volumes), and the fact that the FBI investigated the publication of the Real Book.
http://peterspitzer.blogspot.com/2011/04/review-story-of-fake-books-and-6th.html

* "The Vocabulary of Tin Pan Alley Explained" (journal article): A 1949 glossary of terminology related to the popular sheet music industry, with a few definitions related to jazz (including 'leadsheet', and one for the brand-new movement of be-bop). One amusing footnote: around the time this article was published, Downbeat had a contest to see who could come up with the best name to replace the old-fashioned term "jazz". The winner received $1000 ($10,000+ in 2018 dollars). The winning entry? "Crew-cut".
https://photos.app.goo.gl/KS3tUMUF57YFYvP78

+++++

More resources to be added to this list as I come across them. Suggestions are welcomed.

Help

I have been in my school band for 2 years. I went from elementary to middle school. We started in 6th grade and are now in 7th and I am a tenor sax. I currently gave problems with coming from over the break to some of the lower notes like F, F#, E, D, et cetera. If anyone has suggestions, please post some.

[article] Sax practice routine

One of the main problems every saxophone player faces at some point is: “what and how to practise”. I just wanted to share some experience and knowledge on the topic - I’ve been a practising saxophone player for about 18 years already. This is not a complete guide or an instruction, but a note containing some suggestions. Though I am more into practising improvisation now, I’ve tried to mention some more general practise activities here .
So let’s just go through an example of daily practice schedule:

  1. Breathing.
    Whenever I have time I get back to some breathing exercises (see my article on breathing) - 3-5 minutes or so - as breathing is one of the most important things for producing great sound, and cool sound is what we are constantly aiming for.

  2. Long tones
    - indispensable both for embouchure and for breathing skills. Moreover, different dynamics, cresc, dim, steady tone, etc. - at least 15 minutes. Be aware of your intonation and timbre during this exercise! You may want to use some tuner. Also read the article about embouchure posted in this group, I find it important. One of saxophone myths is that “only beginners should practise long tones”. I like to compare that with sports: every sportsman warms up before actually starting doing sports; long tones - is a warm-up for professional wind player, we need that to be in good shape, that’s of vital importance!

  3. Overtones*
    - practising overtones and matching them to standard fingerings. Try to match the “full” timbre and pitch of overtone when playing tones using “normal” fingerings. There are several books on the topic, a good place to start is the corresponding section of David Liebman’s “Developing a personal saxophone sound”

  4. Techniques you need:
    tonguing exercises for “junior” saxophonists , different articulations - for all sax players (it’s extremely helpful to start with simulating articulation of your favourite saxophonists, especially for jazz-oriented musician) for more advanced players the list might look like this: flutter tonguing, split tones (multiphonics), altissimo, growl, circular breathing, etc.

  5. Scales and arpeggios.
    All kinds of scales and arpeggios you need; a plenty of things for jazz players: all modes of major/minor scale, diminished and augmented scale, melodic minor scale (actually there are tons of scales, see the fundamental work of “Yusef Lateef “Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns”) , triads and 7th/9th chords (including augmented ones) arpeggios, studying chord/scale theory (check Mark Levine’s “Jazz Theory Book”). David Baker’s “Creative.Approach To Practicing Jazz” is a good source of ideas. “ I am not too familiar with classical stuff, so feel free to post your thoughts and share your experience in comments.

  6. Exercises.
    Both classical (for developing your overall playing technique, like “Daily exercises for saxophone” by H.Klose) and jazz (elements you need for improvisation - enclosure, 3 to b9, licks and patterns:II-V7, all kinds of cadences, cycle of fifths, etc.. Just remember to practice things in all 12 keys whenever it is possible. Here are the authors of literature on the topic: Jerry Coker (co-writer of “Patterns for jazz” and the author of a bunch of other books), David Baker (“How To Play Bebop” in 3 parts, etc.), and, of course, the educational books with playalongs by Jamey Aebersold.

  7. Practising improvisation.
    That is: studying transcribed solos (and the process of solo transcription itself, of course) - remember analysing not only the notes played in different harmonic situations, but also the master’s articulation and time feeling (is he behind, before or on the beat?; learning tunes with chord progressions, applying patterns, licks and everything you’ve learnt in steps 5 and 6 and, finally, several minutes of “just improvising” to track your progress and just for pleasure. There is a really cool book called “Elements Of The Jazz Language For The Developing Improvisor” by Jerry Coker, I highly recommend it. The same author has an article entitled “How to practice improvisation” in his “Complete Method for Improvisation” book (part of this article was included in Jamey Aebersold’s “Jazz Handbook”)

If you have any questions or if you have something to add to this article - please don’t hesitate to do it in comments!

Saxophone scores and groups

 Welcome to the Saxophone group! Here is some Information for you and links to sax scores and other sax-related groups on MuseScore.  

First of all, this particular group (Saxophone) is kind of “basic” saxophone group, containing discussions and articles about saxophone. To read an article - just scroll down after clicking the "discussions" section. You will recognize an article in "discussions" by the [article] prefix in its title.

You are very welcome to make more posts!  

Then, here are some links to other saxophone-related groups including sets of valuable saxophone scores:  

1) Saxophone ensembles group (quartets,quintets,etc.) - 
https://musescore.com/groups/saxophone-ensembles
2) Jazz Standards Lead Sheets
https://musescore.com/groups/jazz-standards-leadsheets
3) Sax arrangements group - saxophone arrangements of rock/pop music or movies’/games’ soundtracks      
https://musescore.com/groups/sax-arrangements
4) Sax solo transcriptions
https://musescore.com/groups/sax-solo-transcriptions
5) Collection of scores: sax solo or with accompanying instrument - https://musescore.com/groups/saxophone/discuss/5015764

Feel free to create discussions and articles, to add your scores and to comment! 

Solo transcriptions

Hello everyone! I am a professional improvising sax player (mainly tenor sax). Created this group to post sax solo transcriptions synchronized with youtube videos/audios.

Have posted first 2 solos - check out them in "sheet music" section of the group, here they are:
https://musescore.com/user/27845251/scores/4993696
https://musescore.com/user/27845251/scores/5008464

Please feel free to post solos transcribed by you and sync them with original recordings on YouTube.

See the post below on synchronizing scores with youtube videos/audios

Guaranteed Feedback on Saxophone Scores

Hey, everyone!

This is Joshua, and I'm a composer and a performer and a new admin for the group Saxophone Ensembles. I just wanna generate some discussion and get some activity for these forums. Alex has done a really great job so far with his helpful information. Now, it's my turn: to do this, I think the best way to start would be a feedback form: post your scores to the group or just post a link in this chat and I'll do my best to give feedback. Arrangements or original compositions, I'd love to look at all of them and give feedback. This is just to raise some awareness for this community and also get activity going. Expect more discussions and whatnot in the near future.

So, if you want any feedback, I'd be happy to give some to your saxophone score. Post to this discussion or just send to me and I'll take a look at it.

Collection of scores: sax solo or with accompanying instrument

This is a collection of scores for sax+accompaniment (sax+piano or sax+guitar) or solo scores, mostly of classical style, provided by ORWELL6 ( https://musescore.com/user/139709 ), checked by me. I also added some scores there. Please feel free to post more scores of this type (post in this group for now and paste the link to it in comments).

The idea is: If we get more shit music of this type, we will create a separate group of classical sax scores, which will contain this set as a part of it.

[article] Breathing

One of the most important, even the most important aspect of saxophone playing technique is producing sound. Well, that’s obvious: after all, music is the sequence of sounds, and if some musician can’t produce full, nice, let’s say “high-quality” sound, then it’s not worth practising anything else - both the performer and the listener won’t like any music such musician could ever play. But the good news are: with “right” breathing and embouchure (position of lips and everything that is in and around your mouth) anyone can produce the sound he or she really happy with. So let’s deal with the first part of it in this overview: breathing. I’ve been playing saxophone for 17 years and would like to share the information on the topic I find extremely useful.

Actually there are three breathing methods that we use during our day-to-day life. Those are: clavicular (colar bone), chest (throatic) and diaphragmatic. In order to get a full-supported sound on saxophone we need to combine all three methods, but the accent should be put on the diaphragmatic breathing, as this one is the most efficient for our goal: wind instrument playing.

So, what is diaphragm? I don’t feel like inventing something new here, but just referring to wikipedia article instead: it is ” a sheet of internal skeletal muscle that … separates the thoracic cavity, containing the heart and lungs, from the abdominal cavity and performs an important function in respiration: as the diaphragm contracts, the volume of the thoracic cavity increases and air is drawn into the lungs.”

The idea is simple: the air flows naturally to the place with less resistance. So all we need is: 1) Exhale as much air as we can, thus making our lungs a low resistance area 2) Inhale expanding our chest cavity as much as we can to get more air (for our future use in playing instrument) - that is done by lowering of the diaphragm. When playing saxophone during exhaling we “support” the air column contracting the stomach muscles, meanwhile preventing the diaphragm to get quickly to the initial “upper” position, That enables us to play long musical phrases with steady tone/sound.
Here are some exercises on the topic.

To feel the diaphragmatic breathing

  • Ex.1 While lying on the floor (or on the bed or couch if your floor is too dirty:) place an average sized book on your abdomen area. Just breath in a regular way and you will notice the rise of the book when you breath in and the fall of it when you breath out. So the whole breathing process consists of expansion during inhaling and contracting on exhaling

  • Ex.2 To feel the diaphragmatic floor extending: bend over, place your hands on the back of the abdomen area and inhale.Then slowly straighten up and try to get the feeling in the abdomen. For more extreme example try panting like you are out of breath while you are bent over.

To practise the diaphragmatic breathing

  • Ex.3
    1. Place your hands on the abdomen or on the back of the abdominal area
    2. Breath in.with your mouth. I visualise it like being a balloon filling with air (under high pressure) by some pump. So the idea is the quick and powerful air flow to your lungs; quick sip of air, kind of “sucking” it through some imaginary straw.
    3. Breath out with a loud whispered sound, something like “ah”. Try to do that as loud as you can and don’t interrupt the sound. In several days you should be able to reach at least 10-15 seconds of sounding this way.

In this exercise feel the muscles in the abdomen squeezing more and more until you run out of breath. Try to exhale all the air you have, think of it as of squeezing out a sponge. At first squeezing is gentle, but when the sponge runs out of water it becomes more tight. And then - back to step 2. Do it several times, from 10 to 20.

Remember: when inhaling don’t raise your shoulders. Of course they will rise( but just a little !) as the chest cavity expands filling with air, but our goal is diaphragmatic breathing, so focus primarily on the expansion in your abdomen area.

Very thorough study of breathing process and its connection with saxophone player I found in David Liebman’s “Developing A Personal Sound” book, also John O’Neil’s “Jazz Method For Saxophone” contains some useful information on the topic. I’ve mentioned only some pieces of information from the books in this article.

Share more thoughts, breathing exercises in comments. I am eager to know your experience on the topic as well.