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  1. I'm assuming you've read part 1, so lets dig a little deeper into this piece. If we take bar 4, lower it an octave and then REPEAT the bar RAISING the starting note by one degree of ther scale, (but keeping within the key of G major) we're going to boost the use of that grey matter for a change!;

    gigue 1 
    How did it go? Did it get easier as you went on? (hopefully your brain was recalling the familiar pattern). Did several bars sound odd and NOT how you thought they'd sound? The second bar (starting on E) will certainly have a different feel (play the first 3 notes of both bar 1 (17!) and bar 2 (18). The 2nd bar we can hear has now become MINOR. If you didn't hear the change in mood, try again......really listen carefully.
    Right....... let's take a similar passage, bar 9 (47) and again create a pattern/memory study from it. HOWEVER this time we're going to make it more challenging and test your auditory skills and scale knowledge (a musical swear word for many!). Here's the passage;

    gigue 4 different keys


    see part 3 for more.....................

  2. Many students pass through my door each week from whole walks of life, all with different aspirations and goals for their own musical journey. The goals may vary enormously, but one thing is universal; the desire to improve their skills and move on to more exciting repertoire.

    Adult learners in particular seem to often have high expectations of themselves, only to grow frustrated when life events throw a spanner in the works resulting in limited time to practice. This blog will hopefully be particularly useful therefore for such a reader. I hope to share just a few ideas that I have found useful and beneficial to both my students, and my own practice sessions. As a multi instrumentalist time can be an issue so my practice sessions must be thought out and focused; I must employ my visual, auditory and kinaesthetic abilities in addition to memory skills. Hopefully you will find the suggestions useful......


    I am basing this example 'practice session' on a portion of a Bach Gigue (figure 1). Chosen for it's range (therefore suitable for Saxophone, Flute and Clarinet readers) and around grade 5, I imagine similar pieces will feature on your practice list at some point.



    Right..... off you go, give it a try.....! This is perhaps what you'll normally do. How did you do? Try it again, any better? No doubt you will be hitting odd 'corners' of tricky technical areas that are slowing you down. Looking away from the music (no cheating now!) can you recall the key signature, the time signature, repetetive articulations, first and last note, dynamics?

    Hmmmm, it can be tricky to absorb all this detail in just a couple of play throughs can't it?! Sadly in our practice sessions we often consider a piece 'practiced' when we can get through it with mainly the right notes and rhythms, a smattering of dynamics and not much else......

    Please see part 2 for the next step........











  3. Well Spring has sprung in our garden, bringing with it a new surge of inspiration and ideas. I don't know what it is exactly about Spring that causes it; must be the enhanced levels of vitamin D from the previously hidden sunshine!

    Our Spring season launches off very nicely with our student concert (2nd April) which will hopefully encourage my students to 'step out of their boats' (my catch phrase for 2011!), push themselves beyond their natural comfort zone, see the social side of making music, and maybe even gain a duet partner in the process!

    Soon after that I will be performing solo in my concert 'Those were the days' ; an enjoyable programme of Clarinet and Saxophone favourites from the 1940's onwards, celebrating the clarinet and saxophone in all their glory! Repertoire will include 'Stranger on the shore' (Acker Bilk), One or two Benny Goodman items, novelty saxophone items made to make you smile, and many more......

    My ever popular 'Ensemble work shops' will be scheduled for late Spring and are designed to build confidence and encourage the social side of music making. Students wishing to take part will receive their music 2/3 weeks in advance of the workshop in order to prepare as best they can. A great time is always had by all, and...........there's free cookies / cake and tea/coffee/fizzy drinks! Again, keep tabs on the 'events' page to keep updated (however all students will receive an email as soon as dates are set).

    Intonation....... a fascinating topic! Lately i've been pondering rather more deeply into this subject and have highlighted a few findings;

    YES, you can pay in excess of £3000 for a good instrument/mouthpiece set up, YES it will far improve your sound but NO it isn't guaranteed to have perfect intonation (tuning)! In fact if you have ever found such an instrument PLEASE let me know! The problem is when we are fairly new to playing, the embouchure (position the mouth and surrounding muscles adopt) is only being developed, thus high notes can tend to be flat initially due to lack of strength in the embouchure. As a result we tend to then 'lip up' or tighten to get these notes in tune. HOWEVER, as our embouchure gains strength and we move onto a higher strength reed, this action is no longer needed and unfortunately notes that were flat or in tune can now be dangerously sharp :(. So........

    Using the MOUTHPIECE ONLY (and your tuner) try and produce an A on alto sax, G on tenor sax, C on sop sax, or D on bari sax. Once you have it, mentally make note of how your embouchure feels (how tight/slack).

    TRY; playing a low F# on the saxophone (or low B on Clarinet). Keep the embouchure as you did a moment ago. If you're flat or sharp, udjust the mouthpiece position until correctly achieving the low F# (or Clarinet low B) perfectly in tune. NOW comes the tricky bit (especially for those who have developed bad habits!) playing your lower note (in tune) now ADD the octave key (or speaker key for Clarinets) in order to produce middle F# . Is it in tune? If not, chances are it will be sharp and not flat. Try again, THIS TIME concentrating on trying to blow the LOWER note as you go for the HIGHER one. You should see quite a difference! It's definitely worth working on and will transform your playing. Try with other notes but also be open to learn the odd new fingering where selected notes still won't quite come into line. The other problem with intonation is that we get so used to hearing ourselves sharp up the top end that it sounds wrong when we begin to practice being in tune. Patience and continued ear training will help here; it will get easier!

    Finally, all is very well indeed for my publications website; where my compositions are published. There are an increasing number of FREE RESOURCES (free music, pattern workouts and scales by grade to print) within the 'shop' page. I'm receiving lovely feedback from musicians that have performed my music in their concerts and recitals, and it's exciting to hear that plans are in hand by some to record one or two for inclusion on their Cd's soon.

    The 'Pick & Mix' flexible quartets collection (Bb, Eb saxes or other woodwind including C instruments easy - medium ability) is taking shape very nicely, and one of the latest additions to it; 'Shmooky and Mo' can be hear here; Apologies that it's initially a digital interpretation, but at least you get the idea! Keep checking in on for news of availability, AND if you add your email address to the mailing list on the 'About us' page you might be selected at random to win a free book of your choice from the catalogue!

    Anyway i'd better pootle off now and get something constructive done. Thank you for visiting again,


    Keri Degg

  4. I was recently playing through a selection of possible contenders for my next solo concert 'Those were the days' (music for Clarinet and saxophone from the 40's era onwards) and happened upon 'Saxo-phun' a brilliant comedy piece made famous by saxophonist Rudy Weidoft who was well known for his entertaining saxophone style. The piece requires a 'laughing' technique and also slap tongue. To my annoyance I had never mastered slap tonguing (which gives a percussive thud effect) despite watching demonstrations on youtube etc. However on this day, with no expectations I simply enjoyed myself and spontaneously put in a sound that might hopefully sound like the recording i'd heard. The resulting thud was therefore quite a pleasant shock!

    However....INSTEAD of enjoying the moment, my brain immediately began to analyse what had just occured; 'was it really bonafide slap tongue?' 'was there too much note in there and not enough thud?' 'what if it wasn't REAL slap tongue and now i'd made a fool of myself declaring to all and sundry on facebook that i'd just done it?!' . After doing it again with some success (all featured a thud but some were far better than others) I finally came to the conclusion that I ACTUALLY REALLY LIKED THE SOUND REGARDLESS OF WHETHER IT WAS 'GENUINE' SLAP TONGUING OR NOT..... Break through!

    Sometimes you can stumble upon a real eye opener through a 'mistake' or accident; a strident note in your improvisation that really SHOULDN'T be there, but boy it sounds good, a new take on a piece that maybe you've never heard before so you simply play it your own way with possible great results.

    This has kick started a whole new way of looking at things for me in the last couple of days and is proving rather revolutionary. As a musician we constantly look up to our role models and musical heroes but even THEY make mistakes. I often reflect on my own musical identity and must admit I am a strange creature that can be strongly influenced by current mood (some of my most creative moments by the way seem to appear when in a state of higher level emotion). I often think 'Oh I really should be working hard to try and sound like this player or that player' 'Stand still, that's what most of the pro's do' 'Be dignified, polite smile, act the part' when INSIDE there's this cheeky fun loving character desperately trying to be seen and connect with the audience!

    The moral of this story; DON'T be afraid to make mistakes, you might just discover something revolutionary! What's the worst that can happen? ; it sounds dreadful and you LEARN something?

    So................... who you are and don't be ashamed of your backround / accent / lack of education. The world would be seriously DULL if we were all the same.

    SHINE at what you do best, listen to advice of course but at the end of the day make your own decision about your own path.