Coming up with topics for this blog can be hard. I don’t want to just spout needless information for the sake of writing something, so in order to encourage quality in my posts, I have elected to write only when I think of something that I believe will be worth you reading. This week will be a sort of extension of what I covered in my last post about my carpal tunnel problems.
I want to talk about tension and how a metronome can be a way for you to release it. If you have natural talent are used to being able to play much anything that’s put in front of you, then this goes double for you. Why? Simply put, you’re not good enough to sight read EVERYTHING at the correct tempo and the correct technique. Eventually you will encounter a figure that will make you work. What’s your natural reaction to “I have to play this better/faster!” It’s tension! You naturally tense up! This is where your metronome comes into play:
As a general rule, if you see a passage that gives you the tiniest inkling that you *may/should/need* to work on it, you should practice it with a metronome at a tempo slow enough not only where it can be played fairly clean, but where you can play it “gently” or relaxed and with absolutely no tension. Once you feel that you have mastered that, allow yourself to go up a few clicks. Rinse and repeat the process and soon you’re playing lightning fast with light finger pressure. Practicing with a metronome doesn’t take long to set up and it also doesn’t take as long to work up the tempo as you would think.
Now I will speak as a saxophone player/technician hybrid: You MUST ensure that your horn’s pads are sealing up perfectly (not just well, decent, or okay) in order to allow yourself to play with light finger pressure. If your pads are in poor condition/installed poorly, then you will find yourself compensating through clamping your fingers down in order to cause a pad to seal correctly. This can be detrimental to hands, wrists, and your arms, as well as your playing.
I believe that’s all for this post. If you have any questions or anything you want me to address in my next post, feel free to contact me through my website and let me know!