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Jazz Sax Lessons: Eric's Secret Warm Up: Long Tones Exercise (Alto Saxophone)

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Okay now you have
entered my practice room, and
along with this rare glimpse
into the deep dark world of my
practice arena I wanna give you.
Three of my top secret
warm up practice routines.
To say top secret is a little
bit of an exaggeration.
It's really not Secret at all.
Very simple things actually.
But, the idea with these exercises,
you're gonna rock them,
the concepts of the exercises are simple.
But remember what I've
said in other lessons.
If you haven't seen the other lessons, if
this is the first time you're hearing it,
you're hearing it now, which is how we
practice is not as important as what we
practice, how we do it is not as
important as what we're doing, got it?
So in the case of top secret
warmup number one which
are long tones,
[SOUND] the dreaded long tones.
There's a lot of different
ways to do this.
There's a lot of wrong ways to do this.
I've seen teachers teach this and
I've cringed.
I've said, well it's not about
just playing a long note and
then maybe at some future point
playing another long note.
No, it's how you go about doing it, and
so this is the best thing to think about.
Again, when you're playing long tones,
one of the important
things to think about is that
you're working out your muscles.
It's hard to play one long tone than
it is to play a series of notes.
When you're playing a series of notes,
you're changing things,
you're reoxygenating your muscles,
you're blood is flowing and things.
When you're holding one note, not only are
you having to keep completely still, but
you're trying to keep one
steady sound as you're playing.
So what I want you to do as you get ready
to play these long tones is to settle in.
I want you to use a metronome.
Also, said, I was going to say
settle in because if, you know,
not only are they long tones but you're
going to play them from beginning to end.
Now, I don't want you to pass out,
that's not the idea.
If If you need to take a break,
your mouth is like quivering from
exhaustion, absolutely stop.
I'm not going to, I'm gonna keep going.
So stop as long as you need to and
then jump back on here
if you're playing along with me,
which I encourage you to do.
Certainly, encourage you to
do this on your own as well.
But so As I'm playing, again,
I wanna make sure that you know
about the athlete analogy.
It's like when you're running on a track,
and you're running, and
you're running, and
know that as you're running,
if you continue through the entire half
hour run, 45 minute hour long run.
It's more beneficial for you than if you,
you know,
take a break every five minutes obviously.
Run for five minutes take
a ten minute break, run for
five more minutes,
take another ten minute break,
and at the end of the hour you said,
yeah, I ran for an hour.
[LAUGH] It's not gonna be as good,
same thing with practicing.
Especially this type of
endurance building routine.
So we're gonna play these long tones now.
Look on those PDFs, I actually wrote out
those PDFs for you in the way I prescribe,
in the way I do it,
which is as you can see, I start
on the middle of the horn, I'm gonna start
on B, no matter what horn you're playing.
And so side note, if you're playing,
I'm gonna do this on Alto this time.
And so I'm gonna start on B on the alto.
On the B flat chart, it starts on E and
so that way we can both
play at the same time.
So check your charts if you're playing
baritone or alto, use the E flat chart.
And if you're playing tenor or
soprano, use the B flat chart.
And I've got my metronome right here and
it's set on 70 beats per minute.
Pretty slow,
it's gonna be kind of a challenge.
That's the whole point.
And so, I want you to hold your notes for
Eight counts, breathe where you
have to and again don't pass out.
But as you're playing this make sure you
hold your notes for eight counts, and
we're gonna start on B and then go all
the way down to the bottom of the horn.
Then take a short break, and
we're gonna start on B again, and
go up to the top of the regular
range of the horn, up to F.
We're not gonna get into
altissimo quite yet.
You're welcome to on your own, but
F is definitely sufficient for now.
Okay, so in order to play these together
on this lesson there are two versions.
I played an E flat version
of these long tones and
a B flat version of these
long tones on a soprano.
So if you're playing baritone or
alto you can play along with the E
flat Baritone or alto version, and
if you're playing tenor or soprano,
you can play a long with me on
soprano with the B flat versions.
So, here we go with whichever
one you're playing, so have fun,
we'll see you at the end.
Okay, how do those
chops feel right about now?
Yeah, if you don't feel anything
in your mouth whatsoever,
you're either superhuman or
you're not doing them right.
And that's pretty much, you know,
there's no way not to do them right.
You're playing one note.
So I'm sure you're feeling a little
bit of burn which is good.
That's the whole point,
we're conditioning our muscles.
Also too you wanna be thinking
as you're playing these
to keep your sound as steady as possible.
That is really the ultimate
idea behind playing long tones,
is that you want to be able to play one
long note as controlled as possible.
There's a lot of different ways
to approach long tones, too.
This is one, this is my way to do it,
and I recommend it to you too.
There's a very common flute exercise
where prior to the long tone,
you approach it with a chord note
pick up a half step below, so
you chromatically go [NOISE].
So forth same thing on the way down.
Also you could use dynamics a lot
of people will start from your
softest dynamic your softest volume level,
halfway through get to your peak level and
then come back down.
That's fine too but I think for the
purposes of long tones as I'm describing,
trying to really solidify one note,
it's good just to bam, just have it on.
So as you're playing these notes,
I want you to,
first of all start
the note with an attack.
Don't just start with a breath.
I want you to start it with your,
with an articulation so
that it begins just like
a light coming on, bam.
It's off, it's on.
It's off, it's on.
[NOISE] And shut it down the same way.
Just put the tongue back on the reed,
and have that note just stop.
That's important because if, you know,
for obvious reasons if somebody
wants you to start a note exactly, or you
want to start the note right exactly where
it lies say on beat one, and somebody
counts you in, you say, one, two, three,
four, bam, you want that note to start
right exactly where you intend it.
So for those reasons I encourage you
to play these long tones at one volume.
Start them square.
Play them even and
end them just as squarely.
So, man, this is the backbone
of any practice routine.
And if you can do these well, you are well
on your way to becoming a killer player.
So that is my first of
my top secret warm-up.
Lessons so stay tuned for
number two top secret warmup.