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Jazz Sax Lessons: Different Ways to Play Scales

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So now we're gonna work on some
different ways to practice our scales.
This is an exercise, I like to do
that the changes the intervallic
relationship from one note to the next,
how professorial is that?
So it kind of falls into my little
catchphrase that I've used and
continue to use throughout my school,
that is how we practice something is
more important than what we practice.
In this case, it may not be quite
as true because scales are key.
I mean scales are the language
of our music.
So in this case, how we practice is no
more important than what we're practicing.
This is one of the few cases.
This and long tones.
Scales and
long tones are super important to us.
But when I practice a scale, you know,
practicing a scale isn't just about
practicing the scale just
in one linear motion, or
one vertical motion, just up and down.
To really learn scales is a great
jazz bass teacher here at
Artist Works named John Patitucci.
John and I worked together in the Chick
Corea Electric Band for many, many years.
Recorded a bunch of records and
he's one of my real, real good friends.
When we were talking about practicing,
he actually introduced this idea to me
where I remember that he was
working on diminished scales and
I said okay,
well diminished scales are pretty simple,
they're symmetrical scales, you learn
the first three and then they repeat yeah,
it's actually among
the easier scales to learn.
And contrare.
He didn't use those words,
but quite not true
because learning a scale isn't just
about learning the scale up and down.
It's about learning it inside out and
sideways and
whatever kind of permutations you
can come up with because, hey,
in jazz music, we're learning our scales
so that we can improvise solos and
use them so that we can understand the
harmony and create our melodies with them.
So when we're soloing we're not just
playing the scales up and down.
We're doing different things.
And so when you practice the scales,
to really learn it, to really
internalize those scales you want to
practice in different ways as well.
So here's one idea for you.
The idea is to practice your scale,
not just in linear fashion, but
in thirds and ultimately fourths, fifths,
sixths, sevenths, and even octaves.
So let me give you an example.
Now, I intentionally
did not write this out,
because some things you want to
be able to do from memory or
off the top of your head because it
takes a little extra mental work.
If you want to write these out, hey,
more power to you, that's just fine.
Ultimately, I'd like you to get
to the point where you can do
these without reading anything.
Again because when it comes time
to playing a jazz solo you very
well may be looking at the chords but
you're not gonna be looking at
another sheet, a corresponding
sheet that has all the scales.
You know written down for you.
You've got to have those
learned obviously.
And so anyway, doing those off the top of
your head is really important, pardon me.
So the first thing I want a work on,
I'm gonna work on a D scale,
cuz it starts nice and low and
there's plenty of range to work with.
So and again, no matter what saxophone
you're playing, use this D scale.
Well, if you wanna play along with me,
and you're playing tenor or
soprano, you're gonna play your G scale.
That's fine too, that'll work for, yeah,
that will work for just about all of it.
So my D scale.
If I play that in thirds all that means is
I'm skipping one interval and going,
just it playing every other note, and
then returning to the next
note of the scale like this.
Okay, so you wanna play that with me?
[LAUGH] Okay.
Here we go.
One and two and three and four.
Thirds and fourths, thirds,
fourths now would be going up to
the fourth degree of the scale.
Okay, do that along with me.
One, and two, and
three, and go.
Okay, then fifths, ready?
So we go up from the root,
up to the fifth.
If you wanna do it together,
let's do that.
One, and two, so I'm going D, A, D, A,
E, B, F sharp, C sharp, and so forth.
So here we go.
One and two and three, go.
Good, six would be the sixth interval.
So D, B, E, C sharp,
F sharp, D and so forth.
So here are our sixths.
Together, one and
two and three and go.
So as you're playing along,
I'm almost thinking about.
if you want to think about it this way,
you have two different scales.
One scale starting here, and
the other scale starting here, and
they're both ascending, and you're playing
them both at the same time, but again,
this one is divided into sixths.
Okay, now sevenths, okay.
So you guessed it, D, C sharp,
E, D, F sharp, E, and so forth.
[LAUGH] Okay?
Here it is, hopefully.
Okay, let's do it together.
Here we go, sevenths.
One, and two, and three, and four.
Okay, and then octaves.
It's pretty clear.
Just octave intervals.
So here we go.
I'll give you the example.
So it's a good workout for
your thumb back here, okay?
So hopefully you can see this, but
I wanna make sure you're really aware
that when you're playing your octave key,
that you have no more motion.
Number one,
if you're lifting your thumb to go up,
this is not pressing the octave key,
and this is pressing the octave key,
and you're doing this motion where
you're lifting off the thumb rest.
That is a no no.
You wanna make sure, that's one of
the main balance points with your horn.
You've got your two thumbs and your neck
strap, and then ultimately your mouth too.
And that's what is keeping
the horn in place.
So the second you lift off your left
thumb you're messing up
the support of the whole horn.
You're messing up your whole left hand.
Then it's bad.
So and even if you're not lifting off of
the thumb rest, even if you're moving it,
it's again affecting the balance point,
how solid your balance is.
And that's bad.
So you wanna keep your
thumb just as efficient,
just as I talked about during the hand
positions lessons in the basic section,
making sure that your thumb is
just doing that up, down, up,
down, or up down up down, just making
sure that's all the motion you have.
Bring it back around here so
you can see it.
So, just super efficient
with your thumb there, okay?
So that's what's changing between each
interval here is just a thumb and
again keep it nice and
clean, so here we go,
do it one more time by myself.
Okay, let's do it together.
One and two and three and go.
So I want you to come up with as many
of those kinds of options as you can.
For example, you know, take all your
major scales, all 12 major scales and
do this exercise with it along
with the metronome making sure.
Now I wanted to play freely with you so
I could just talk as we go, you know, but
then I wanted you to play with me,
I'm playing it in time.
But practice these with the metronome so
you really lock them in time wise.
But you know any scale that
you find here in my school.
This would be a good thing to do as an
extracurricular assignment for yourself.
I'd love to see it if you've
got any questions about it, or
you're having difficulty, or you're
not having difficulty and you wanna.
I'm your teacher, so
shoot me that video so
I can see what you're doing, and
we'll stay on track that way.
All right.
Have fun practicing your scales
in these cool intervals.