How To Really Practice Scales

Like on any instrument we play, it's part of good musicianship to practice scales. But, is the way that many practice them, playing up and down the scale, maybe all over the horn, the best way to practice them? Or is this method a little, outdated? 

I'd like to say that the "traditional" way of practicing scales has its place, and I would like to introduce another way to approach practicing scales that may be more helpful and deliver better results.

Why not concentrate on the most difficult section(s) of the instrument and practice the scale segments there. I hope to make this clear in the following examples:

Ex. 1





Starting with C Major over the break, we use just five notes out of the scale to practice this "problem area". Then we would change accidentals to fit the following scales:









From this point on, you would do the same with the sharp keys.

The next "problem area" would be the lower extension of the instrument. These fingerings can be quite confusing for the saxophonist and they would need some intensive practice.

Ex. 2



Hereafter, you would advance through the scales in the same way as above. 

These can be done with any scales; melodic minor, harmonic minor , diminished, etc., using various rhythms in order to strengthen your technique.

Naturally, you'd want to use different scale patterns as well:

Ex. 3





You get the idea. ;-)

Try these out and let me know how they work for you!

Happy practicing!

Evan Tate

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