Have you ever had one of those moments where you saw something, and then, once you did, it was all you saw?
I remember once watching a movie with my kids, when my youngest boy started to chuckle. I asked him what was up, because it was a drama we were watching, and so I didn’t think it was something in the lines of the actors or anything.
As it turns out, he had picked up on something the film editor had done: he had made use of the “Burns effect.” But just a little too much....
Years ago, I took some lessons from a guy named Steve Woods. He was a music professor at a community college in the metropolitan Detroit area. And even though I only had a handful of lessons with him, some of the concepts I took away from those lessons has shaped the way I practice and the way I have played over the years.
One of the "sound bites" that Steve said to me that has stuck over the years is the idea that music is a language and the musical phrases we learn to articulate become the vocabulary we use to express ideas in that language.
In the "members section" of the site, I link to a video where I describe something called "muscle memory," and how, for good or for bad, when you practice a physical motion with your body, the body tends to "remember" how to do that motion. When you practice your sax, your body "remembers" it in ways you might not think.
This might or might not seem obvious at first. But for those of us who can walk and ride a bicycle, it is a pretty quick realization when we think about it that we don't think much about these things when we do them.
As a matter of fact, if you hop on a bicycle after having not been on one for years, you realize how quickly you can get on it and not have to rethink how to keep that sucker upright. It just stays up. But what does that mean for your saxophone practicing?
There is a bit of a step between bad and good. Learning the basics of something makes you better. The difference between good and great is perhaps a little harder to reach. It takes work. What you might not realize, though, is that there is a real "thing" about how people who are good at playing saxophone become great at playing saxophone. A lot of it comes down to this: