San Diego Saxophone Lessons

San Diego Saxophone Lessons
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Monday, February 11, 2013

Multi-Scales

Have you ever noticed that any woodwind player can fly over C major, but when it comes to Db major, it is a disaster? This is a practice method I call multi-scales, which helps to immediately remedy this problem. Instead of practicing C and Db major independently, practice them as one scale as illustrated in this exercise:

sax lessons San Diego
For a variation or just as a warm up to this exercise, you could play each scale twice before changing to the adjacent scale (ex: C-C-Db-Db, repeat).

Most scales with few accidentals are next to a scale ½ step away that has many more accidentals. This exercise is a great way to make sure your F# scale is on the same technical level as your F scale, C and Db, B and C, etc. I got this idea from drummers doing hybrid rudiments and groups of rudiments. Once you get used to doing multi-scales, I recommend never practicing C, G, or F major by themselves again. Always use multi-scales and kill two birds with one stone! I’ve had great success using this method with intermediate and even beginner students.

Here is a similar example with three scales:

Scale Exercise - sax lessons San Diego, jazz improv lessons

In jazz improvisation, we have to be able to recall scales and patterns virtually instantly. When navigating chord changes at a very fast tempo each measure can require a completely different scale. This exercise is great for learning how to switch gears quickly. Since we are stringing the scales together, you must learn to switch to the next scale instantly!

To become even more proficient at this concept of switching scales instantly, try groups of four scales each a minor-third apart. You’ll notice that the first note of the next scale is always ½ step up from the 2nd degree of the previous scale. The pattern is a bit different on the way down.

Scale Exercise - sax lessons San Diego, jazz improv lessons

Also try your multi-scales in major-third groupings:

Scale Exercise - sax lessons San Diego, jazz improv lessons

For more possibilities and the complete exercise, download the free PDF sheetmusic.