Practicing Saxophone While Babysitting

April 15th, 2018

Until this past month, I really hadn’t touched my saxophone since my son was born. But then I was recently asked to teach saxophone lessons. At first I was reluctant to accept the opportunity because I didn’t see how I could possibly make time to practice. Between working full-time, helping take care of a baby, and my endless pile of side projects I didn’t see a way to make room in my schedule to get out my saxophone every day. Then I began wondering if it would be possible to watch a baby while practicing. I should make sure to mention that if you plan to be practicing saxophone while babysitting (not your own kid), make absolutely sure that the parents are OK with this.

There’s a general principal here: You never know what you’re capable of until you try.

baby touching saxophoneTo give you an idea of what I’m up against, my son is quite mobile now. Not walking, but he’s trying really hard.  Here are the tips I have so far:

Practicing Saxophone While Babysitting

My eyes are needed at all times, so I have to practice from memory. Glancing at a measure or two, I play through the music (while I know the boy will be safe for ten seconds) to learn what it sounds like. I just let the metronome do its thing and repeat what I saw and heard from memory. While it was difficult at first, I quickly learned to play the music by ear. And just like that my music is memorized. I then drill it down until I have another ten second window and then learn the next few measures.

Now, not only am I practicing saxophone while babysitting my son, but I am watching him more attentively, interacting with him through the music (he thinks it’s great), and learning the extremely valuable discipline of memorizing my music (a skill I need to have anyway).

Key Clicking During Nap Time

Another exercise I’ve been doing in the morning before anyone is up is key clicking exercises. Even the quietest saxophone makes a little noise when pressing the keys. I set the metronome at a slower tempo than I’m used to and work on my technique. I click through scales, arpeggios, and tougher passages of music I’m working on. This allows me to practice silently during nap time or before the kid is up while refining my technique faster. Faster because listening for a key click instead of a pitch change forces my fingers to respond more quickly than if I were putting air through the horn since the sound of the key click happens first.

The exercise exposes even the most subtle sloppiness so that I can clean it up. But even more than that, it allows me to focus on my hands instead of the sound. Sometimes it’s appalling at how far my fingers are coming off of the keys! As a bonus, I can even listen to an audio book or a podcast at the same time.

I’m sure that having more than one child would drastically change the dynamic (see what I did there) of practicing saxophone while babysitting, but you never know until you try!

Portrait – Kaori Muraji – An Album Review

December 24th, 2016

If you like good music, classical guitarist Kaori Muraji’s Portraits is some of the best.

Listen to Portraits on Google Play

Kaori doesn’t just sit in a recording studio and play some tunes like a lot a classical artists do. She has put a lot of thought into the way this album is laid out. Just when you want to hear a little more slow lyrical guitar playing with those lush extended ternary chords, she switches to an impossible flurry of virtuosic technique. She stuns you with both musicianship and technical capacity from start to finish.

Just when you think you’ve heard everything she has to offer, she takes you on a educational journey of every sound this instrument is capable of making. But not just for the sake of using the whole guitar’s sound spectrum. She finds legitimate artistic reasons for playing near the bridge, in the center, both hands on the neck, using the body as a drum, open harmonics, pitched harmonics, ect. After using each sound, the listener is still fully present to the music itself. She relentlessly pulls the listener towards the big picture.

Kaori is not afraid to simply entertain her audience either. Tunes by Chopin, Bernstein, Schumann, Clapton, and Lennon along with an original arrangement of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, will pleasantly surprise you as you move through this experience. She rightly recognizes that familiarity adds contrast to a group of pieces like Portraits.

I generally get bored with classical music after a while. But I have listened to this album twice in a one day and was sad that I didn’t have the time to listen to it a third time. I’ll be surprised if the same doesn’t happen for you.

Band Piece Underway – The Modulator

June 19th, 2015

As some may have noticed, I’ve been in a slump. I am happy to announce that I am writing again, and am starting with an intermediate level band piece I think I’ll be calling “The Modulator”. The key continually goes around the circle of fifths while developing its melodic and harmonic content. It’s going to be a blast for high school bands to play, and will hopefully be ready to go in time for the spring semester of 2016. No promises, but I will do my best!

I prefer to write many of the notes out on a grand staff before I begin orchestration. I will share a little of this reduction when some of the ideas for this band piece are a little more solidified. Stay up to date on the progress through the Music Interactive Facebook page.

Here’s a fun little blip. We’ll see if it makes the final cut for the band piece! Keep in mind that I am thinking through the accidentals to be easily read in individual lines, not to be read by a pianist. Save you theoretical criticism for now!


Harmony App – We Built it Anyway!

February 4th, 2015

How to Sing Harmony appEven though it wasn’t successful, this Kickstarter told us an important thing. You guys want this harmony app to exist! So far we have successfully built the iPhone version with the android version to come in a few weeks!

The harmony app features a menu where you can select a song. Then you can mute and un-mute whatever parts you want to hear. It shows you the words, and all you have to do it sing along. Perfect for teaching yourself and others the art of singing in harmony very quickly and easily.

We hope you find this to be a useful tool both for learning and teaching how to sing harmony. Enjoy!

Harmonizing App – We Are Close to Our Kickstarter Goal

November 18th, 2014

We’ve gotten over 60% of our goal with four days to go! Of all the projects on Kickstarter, 98% of those that have gotten to this point have been successfully funded. Let’s make their record even better and get this Harmonizing App nice and ad-free.

Things you can do to help us out:

  • Spread the word to people who would benefit from the $25 sponsorship. We only need 5 more of those to reach the goal. Remember, if someone really wants a song on there that isn’t in the plan, we’ll include a request for $25 backers.
  • The hit stats on this Kickstarter are telling us that a lot of people are interested. Share this project on your social networks encouraging people to pledge just $2. If you know someone with an Android device who will probably buy the app, make sure they know that they will be helping us out by “buying it” (pre-ordering is what it comes down to) via Kickstarting in the next four days. It probably won’t take much encouragement.

We’re currently hard at work finishing up data entry for the bass lines. We’ll be adding the finishing touches to the development of the harmonizing app in the next few days. The only thing we’re missing is making it ad-free with this Kickstarter! Thanks so much for your support!

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