A Note on Homework in my Lessons

Generally, the homework I give you will be divided into three parts: 1. longtones, 2. technique (scales, arpeggios, etc.) and 3. repertoire (pieces of music). Right now, you should spend about the same amount of time on each. Getting into the habit of practicing daily is much more important than trying to sit down for an hour at a time every few days and force the music out. At this point I would suggest sitting down for 15-20 minutes for the 6 days you don’t see me in a lesson and playing through the homework material once or twice, focusing on the parts that are hard for you. If you are able to put in more time, great! If you are busy and have to put in less time, try to focus on one thing for the short time that you have instead of jumping between all three items.


  1. Continue Descending longtones as a warmup (G, F, E, D, C in low octave). Open up your throat and loosen your embouchure when playing low notes! Remember, we want to play with zero tension.
  2. G major scale – low octave up to high D. Go slowly and think about moving as little as possible from one fingering to the next.
  3. Read through next Rubank lesson and choose two challenging pieces to work on and play for me next week.
  4. Continue working on Woodchopper’s Ball: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4OcySBum734. Play the first rhythm with a metronome at 130 bpm, adding to the rhythm note by note like we did in lesson (start by hitting beat 4, then 4 and 2, then 4, 2 and 3, etc.) Once you build up to the full rhythm, try playing it along to the youtube video.


  1. Warmup: Continue witch chin warmup on the barrel. This time, try to bend the pitch down by a semitone and back up again without moving your lower jaw (check with your right hand as you bend). The only movement should be a voicing change, your tongue going lower and then higher in your mouth.
  2. As you play, remember:
    1. Play with the pads (not the tips) of your fingers to make sure they cover the tone holes properly. This is the biggest cause of squeaking – so practice in front of a mirror to keep on eye on your fingers.
    2. Maintain the witch chin until the end of the note.
    3. Try not to puff your cheeks – check this in the mirror as well.
    4. Play with high, curved, relaxed wrists – shake them out and let them drape onto the instrument. LH pointer finger should touch the A key and the side of your RH pointer finger should touch the side Eb key.
  3. Galper Lesson 2: #4, #5, #6. Keep everything above in mind as you play!


It was very nice to meet you this week. I look forward to a productive year!
Please pick up Selected Duets for Saxophone and Selected Studies for Saxophone this week. Once we have the books we’ll get a chance to look at some of this repertoire and add some longer-term goals to our practice.

We decided on a few general goals in our lesson that I’ll write down:

  1. To get a fuller sound
  2. To get faster technique

I’d like you to think about specific performance/repertoire goals as well, whether that’s preparing a piece for a school performance or being a part of ABC’s recital at the end of the semester. As I’m sure you know with your experience on the piano, preparing a piece for performance can be a really valuable process that improves your musicality. If you’re at all interested in improvisation and jazz let me know and I can integrate some of that material into our lessons as well. We can talk about it next week.

Homework for this week:

  1. Longtones on C
    • Start at mezzoforte and slowly get quieter until the reed makes no sound. Continue exhaling and slowly breathe the note back into existence without a drastic jump in dynamics when the reed begins to vibrate again.
    • Right before the full sound starts, you should aim to hear a subtle hum of the reed beginning to vibrate – slowly increase your exhale and try to create a smooth crescendo with no jumps.
    • If your low C fingering is producing high notes (overtones), try to lower your throat, breathing hot air into the instrument like you`re yawning.
  2. Overtone exercise
    • Try to produce a middle-finger C and a high-octave G overtone off of your low C by creating a higher voicing (tongue position). Stick with whatever sound comes out of the horn; if you don’t get the desired note, try to open up and bring it to a lower overtone.
    • Whatever you do, don’t bite down on the mouthpiece. We want to play with as little pressure as possible from the mouth muscles and jaw.
  3. Bb major scale full range (low Bb to high F)
    • Practice with a metronome at a comfortable tempo, aiming to have smooth note transitions. Don’t go too fast for now – by focusing on small movements at a slow tempo, you can improve your technique faster than by trying to play quickly and potentially solidifying bad habits.
  4. Chromatic scale
    1. First of all, focus on implementing alternate fingerings for F# and C. Isolate the small surrounding parts of the chromatic scale around those notes and work on them slowly.
    2. Once that feels good, work on a two-octave chromatic scale at a tempo that just feels comfortable – using the new fingerings, try to push your tempo a little faster. We’ll aim for sixteenth notes at 65 bpm.