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  1. I realise that it's been a while since my last musings so I thought i'd share my latest activities.....

    On the teaching front despite the 'credit crunch' I have had a regular surge of enquiries re tuition with mainly adults keen to take up an instrument. Could it be due to the re-emergence of saxophone solos and the like in the Lady Gaga songs or even Mister saxobeat?! Who knows! I do operate a waiting list and can sometimes re-jig my schedule to fit in one or two who have been waiting a while so don't lose heart, I haven't forgotten you if you're on it! My school age students continue to enjoy working for their monthly set targets (and the prize when completed!) and it's wonderful to see the delight in the very little ones faces when in the 2nd or 3rd lesson I tell a story and they put in the sound effects (flute head joint etc!). The story usually involves themselves and a brother / sister venturing into a creepy wood, an owl (slide finger into open end of headjoint for a slide down in pitch = owl sound) a scream (blow as fast/firm as you can!) a creaky door (finger fully in headjoint, slowly remove) etc. It's great fun being a teacher and wonderful to be just slightly crackers enough to keep thinking up different ways of 'getting something in there'. Have you ever played your must upside down? backwards? or both? .... Highly recommended!

    Now the children have returned to school (and my youngest is now at secondary so I am feeling old!) I have several projects in the pipe line. These include organising ISMN numbers for my publications. Distributors like the popular which currently sell my 'Songs for claire' suite do obviously require these so this is the next step to reaching a wider field. A celtic flute album is planned in a addition to a piano chillout collection.

    Performance wise I'm really enjoying playing publically (although time allows for little of this!). I was fortunate enough to play at Southwell Minster on 2nd September with Equinox saxophone ensemble, Christian Forshaw (saxophonist mainly in the area of sacred music arranged beautifully for saxophone, organ, percussion and voice/s). The arrangements were excellent, and heart breakingly beautiful at times. I've also lately been rehearsing with Chris Lawry ( ) composer, pianist, and we've begun recording a few tracks and preparing for our first recital together on 22nd October 2011 (see events page). It's quite interesting to me to see how another composers brain ticks and some good results are emerging music-wise.

    We now have 2 new member in the Degg household; Smoky and Coffee, two 'fancy' mice (although I have my doubts about Smoky, she's positively HUGE and I think she's actually just a rat masquerading as a mouse!) a gift for my daughters 14th birthday.

    anyway, bye for now, i'd better prepare for this mornings teaching...




  2. Hopefully, having read parts one, two, and three, you'll be venturing deeper into your musical adventure. This final part wraps up our virtual 'practice session' and hopefully will send you on your way armed with further ammunition for more exciting practice!

    Below are two examples (similar to in part 3) where we have altered the rhythm. This time we are doing the SHORT, LONG version to exercise the fingers further;

     gigue 2C
     gigue 2c


    Play the above examples at varying speeds, along to a metronome occasionally. Have you also tried 'silent' practice? You can learn quite a deal from listening to the rhythm of the keys / tone holes as you 'play'. Also with the breathing / sound production out of the picture, your brain can focus on rhythm alone..........
    This session has only covered a limited amount of activities, but as mentioned in part 1 I have aimed this blog at adult students with limited time.
    However, here are some further ideas to send you on your way;
    • Speed. DO practice at various speeds, pushing yourself OUT of your comfort zone. You won't get anywhere fast plodding along at your normal 'comfortable' level. Increase the speed until the wheels fall off (then have a good giggle!)


    • Do play by EAR. Well known tunes, tunes you've studied in the past. This will help your aural skills to improve. Don't get disheartened if if takes you several attempts to find the next note. If you are recognising that the one you have just tried is wrong, then you're learning already!


    • Play your piece in different styles; swing your classical studies (sorry,....just heard all the Bach purists screaming in agony!) Baroque-ify adding trills, ornaments and more, add random accidentals (or dis-regard the key signature, not a problem for many ;) !) for a contemporary feel.


    • Try playing a MAJOR piece in its relative MINOR key and vice versa! Have you tried Frere Jaques in a minor key?.....most creepy!


    • Get your thespian head on, or take drama classes! A great performer has the ability to 'become' someone else in order to put the mood across. try playing AS your favourite performer (you won't see James Gallway fumbling about, apologising every bar and suchlike would you?!) perform as the Queen, Norman Wisdom, Ali G!

    Anyway, I hope these tips have proved useful and you have a long and happy practice life with your instrument,

    Keri Degg.

  3. This third installment follows parts one and two and deals with digging deeper into practice.

    So far we've exercised our visual, aural, and memory skills, so now lets get technical! The following exercises will test your kinaesthetic skills as we aim to get fingers, tongue, brain, breathing and more all working in unison!

    Lets take this passage, bars 5,6 and 7 (25, 26, 27) but now we'll alter the rhythm; in effect making it MORE difficult to play! The beauty is (and stay with me here!) is that if we practice the harder version, the normal version then feels rather effortless afterwords in comparison. (there is a method) to my madness.

     gigue 2
     gigue 2a

    Play through the two examples above (the 2nd is identical to the first, just 4 times slower). Note how fingers must keep close to navigate quick note changes. Breathing must be planned to get through the phrase. Set your metronome and play it at various speeds. Play the original bars again (not dotted) can you feel an improvement? Great! :D

    Let's move on to part 4.............