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It’s been a busy summer…

I managed to get away camping on the North Norfolk coast here in the UK, which was beautiful - as you can see in the picture below

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I had a load of gigs pretty soon after returning from holiday, so I had my alto all packed up and ready to take away with me to practice still and be ready to “hit the ground running” when we got back. But…

…to be honest, leaving for the camping trip was more stressful than it should have been and my alto got left in my work room! By the time I realised, it was too late to go back - arrgghh!

I did have a good rest, but I was pretty anxious when I got home with only a few days to get in shape for my first gig…

You’ll see from the smile on my face in the photo below that I did manage to get it together in time though, just!

sax vides

And at my most recent gig last week I actually played a 2 hour solo set, without a break!

I know, that’s pretty intense and I don’t normally play for that long in one go. But I’ve shared that to show you how much my stamina had built up in a fairly short space of time.

I’ll tell you how I did it, but first here’s a picture from the 2 hour gig

sax videos

This is the main point of the article really, how do you go from not playing for a week (or longer) to having the stamina to play for 2 hours?

Obviously practice, but practice what, and how often?

I thought this would be useful to share with you as, often people play less over the summer and then get back into the practice again in the autumn.

I’m going to tell you more in the next article, but what I’ll say now is that at the front of my mind was to make sure that I had the basics right throughout the work I did.

Which basics?

1 - I made sure that I was playing with a good embouchure - you can find out more about what that means with this video.

Using this embouchure is hard work, and the muscles get tired quickly so it’s easy to cheat and not do it, but it is definitely worth the work.

Because of this I had to do lots of playing, little and often throughout a day - 10 minutes here, 5 minutes there… gradually the stamina built up and I could play for longer and longer.

2 - I made sure that I kept my body relaxed and had a good posture, with my fingers touching the keys. You can recap on this subject in the 5 Essential Tips To Improve Your Sound On Saxophone videos.

The moment that you start to force the sound and try too hard, tension comes in and it’s a downward spiral from there. Being relaxed and having a good posture are fundamental to everything.

So they’re the two big basics that I kept in mind whilst practising, and in the next article I’ll tell you a bit more about what exercises I practised to get me back in shape.

Until then, enjoy the rest of the week :)