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Jazz Sax Lessons: Practicing: Using a Tuner

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Okay, let's talk now a little
bit about practicing with a tuner.
First of all, which kind of tuner to use.
I think it's obviously best to use one
that's gonna be as detailed as possible.
I'm sure you're familiar with
the ones that have the two dots, and
if you're flat, the dot on the left
lights up, and if you're sharp,
the dot on the right lights up, and
if you're in tune they both light up.
They may be super accurate.
I’m sure they're very, very accurate, but
it doesn't show you to what degree
how flat or how sharp you are.
It'll just tell you that you
are either flat or sharp or in tune.
So for that reason, I use Bam,
my Peterson Stobotune.
It's not a commercial, it's not an ad.
You can use whatever you want to.
But that's what I use,
I just want you to know.
And the reason I do is for this very
reason because it goes totally crazy.
Number one I can put it on my
phone because it's an app.
I think it was $9.99.
Don't quote me on that, but
I'm pretty sure it was about 10 bucks.
So, well worth it because I can tell
exactly whether I'm flat or sharp.
As you can tell if I'm flat or
sharp while I'm speaking.
It's picking up every pitch
that I'm speaking here.
Thing's really good.
But obviously it'll tell me to what
degree my pitch is on my horn.
So on the left, you can see that
the strobes are very macro,
the very biggest ones.
If those are moving when you're playing,
you're quite a bit out of tune.
And the ones over here
are the most sensitive.
So if I play my tuning note of F sharp.
[SOUND] Okay, that was lucky.
But usually if I play that note,
it's gonna be a little bit high or
a little low.
[SOUND] If I push it up a little bit,
it'll go sharp.
if I break it down it will go flat and
you can tell that not only
will the strobe move but
the indicators will indicate high or
low as well.
[NOISE] It's cool the little
arrow will get bigger as
it notices how much more out
of tune you're becoming.
That's another indicator too.
How to use your tuner.
First of all, while you're playing
your long tones would be a very,
very beneficial thing to do.
I know that I mentioned one
one of my long tone lessons,
A lesson on not only on the warm ups but
also on how to create
a practice routine lesson.
I talked about playing long tones
not only with the metronome but
with the tuner as well because
while you're playing one note you
want to be able to track yourself
to see if you're staying in tune.
And what's happening in perhaps you're
dipping in the middle of your note, for
whatever reason, without even knowing it.
Or maybe you're going high, or
more likely, almost guaranteed,
is that you're gonna rise a little
bit at the top of your note.
So that happens when we play
one long tone, one long note.
We start running out of air and
so what happens,
we are left with our embouchure
to do all the supporting.
And because of that, you're not pushing
here which is bringing the pitch down.
You’re only pushing here which is bringing
the pitch up because you're directly
on the reed.
And this runs out, you've only got
that left, pitch is gonna go up.
So I'm gonna give you a little
example of that, okay?
I'm using my phone here for my tuner,
so my metronome is unavailable.
[LAUGH] Cuz they're
both in the same place.
But that's okay.
I'm just gonna play one long
note without the metronome.
And check it out, at the end of the note,
invariably it would go up.
If it doesn't by itself,
I'll make it go up.
So did you watch and
did you listen to me?
Very often that's the way our notes
sound when we finish a long tone.
[SOUND] So not just a long tone, but
any note longer than
a quarter note sometimes.
And so that is because we don't push
our air forward through our playing,
all the way until the end of the note.
Gotta make sure that that both is like
having two gas pedals on your car.
You wanna make sure that your air and
your embouchure are both supporting
your sound all the way to the end.
Conversely, if your air is fine, but for
whatever reason, you're biting too much,
or letting go with your embouchure,
that's obviously going to
affect your pitch too if you let
go before the note is really done.
[SOUND] Or if you bite at the end.
see how radically sharp
we went there at the end.
So it's not only that we might run out
of air here, but our embouchure might
do either of those two things,
either bite or loosen up too much.
How can we correct this?
[SOUND] You guessed it, with our tuner.
So make sure you've always got your tuner
going as often as possible when you're
practicing these hings.
If you're practicing and you've got
your long tones going at the beginning
of your routine, that's the perfect
time to have your tuner going.
It's also good, as I say that
I’m realizing that it is good
to be checking periodically
throughout your practice routine.
Also, when you play, I work with a lot
of studio brass players in Los Angeles,
where like the trumpet players will have
their tuner right here on their lead pipe,
so that they can see exactly
if they're in tune or not.
And it's a good idea to train
your ear certainly, but
in a studio situation you've
gotta be on it, right?
So that's important.
Anyway so for, for our practice
routines and our practice purposes,
you want to make sure that
throughout your entire long tone,
your entire note that you're
playing totally in tune.
And hedge your bets by making sure you're
pushing your air all the way to the end of
the note, and you're supporting evenly,
with your embouchure,
all the way to the end
of the note as well.
So, let's play a couple more notes,
actually, as I go a little higher,.
Let's see if we'll run into problems,
Okay I created a couple
problems there, it went high and low.
But just make sure that when
you're playing your log tones,
you lock right into that note.
Another good test for
yourself is actually to close
your eyes and play a scale,
or play anything.
But you can use a scale, and
the last note of whatever you play,
hold on to that and
then check where your tuning is.
But don't look at it,
close your eyes or look away.
So i'm high for sure.
Okay, so now i'm gonna try that again,
and i'm gonna try and lock it in.
okay that's better.
So, since I looked at it I can adjust, and
I knew that I wanted to bring that down.
So, rather than adjusting with my
embouchure, I adjusted with my air.
Good point, folks.
Nine times out of 10 if you're
playing out of tune, it's not so
much an adjustment with your embouchure,
it's an adjustment with your support okay?
It's a matter of bringing
your air forward.
You want to push that air.
These are wind instruments.
It’s the wind that drives the engine.
And so
it's not a matter of playing louder,
It's a matter of playing more support.
So again it's not faster air but
more air analogy.
So as long as your using a lot of air,
it's the speed of the air
that creates our volume.
It's the amount of air
that creates our sound.
So make sure that you're open.
That you're chest is open.
You're throat is open.
You're generating enough
support from your diaphragm.
You're pushing forward.
And, again, if you're feeling whatever,
if you're by yourself,
and you feel like you're high or
low push forward.
Very often when you're playing with
someone else in the band or whatever and
you feel like you're out of tune,
the first thing you do is just
make sure you're supporting.
Don't play louder,
just support more and again,
nine times out of 10,
it'll help your pitch.
The other thing too that really
drives me crazy when I see.
Hate to say this but
band directors very often, or
bands whatever where they'll say
okay it's time to tune up and
point the tuner to each player and
each player will play and
then they go to the next player and the
next player but nothing's really changed.
Yes they've gone through the process of
tuning, but nothing is actually improved.
The tuning hasn't gotten any better.
So, make sure that when you are tuning,
that you're actually making
an adjustment if need be.
And again, making sure you're supporting
all the way through the note so
that it locks right in.
There you go.
There's some tips on how to use your
tuner, how to play more in tune.
There's nothing more important
in our playing than pitch.
If you could be the next
John Coltrane in your playing, but
if you're playing really out of tune,
nobody's going to want to hear it
because it's not going to sound good.
So intonation is really key.
So work on that.
If you've got any questions about it,
please shoot me that video and
if if you want to,
I'd love it actually if you'd send me
through my school a video of
you playing with a tuner.
And I can give you a pointer if
you're playing a note long enough, or
high enough, or low enough, or whatever.
I'd love to give you some feedback
on if you're doing it correctly and
very often too, if you've got a note on
your horn that is just uncontrollable for
whatever reason every other
note is really working.
There's certain adjustments that you can
do on certain parts of the horn rather
that help ring up a note or
down a note, too.
So, hit me with one of those videos and
I'll hit you right back.
All right, see you on the next video.