Lightning Fast & Crystal Clean: The Complete Guide to Endless Saxophone Technique

with Adam Larson

Date Posted: January 23, 2019

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I was eleven years old when I first started playing the saxophone. Driving down the road to a basketball game, my father had the Brecker Brothers album “Back to Back” on the car stereo and a little over three minutes into the song “Night Flight”, I heard a flurry of notes from the very bottom of the saxophone, all the way to the top. It was at this exact moment that I knew I wanted to try and be able to play like that; with impeccable time, clarity and sound.

With my interest in Michael Brecker, came an equal interest in having what it took to play fast! I remember feeling frustrated when I would learn new material but had a hard time moving the metronome to that next click marking. After talking with some teachers in my young teenage years, I became more aware of how I was carrying certain tension in my body and in my psyche that was actually preventing me from feeling truly connected with the instrument. Thus, it’s always important to feel as relaxed as you can when attempting to play fast and to be as present of your breathing as you can. I would often find that if there was tension in my body or if I felt overly nervous about what I was about to play, that the result was never what I had intended.

On the instrument I was fortunate to work with a teacher named Larry Harms, who would forever change the way that I thought about technique. Larry was the person who insisted on me having a bulletproof understanding of scales in a horizontal (linear) and vertical fashion. From day one with Larry, it was expected that I would know all of my major scales in different segments and groupings, as well as intervals and arpeggios. This information was all at once overwhelming but extremely exciting because I could instantly see the long term effects that committing myself to practicing all of these things would have on my technique and subsequent ability to improvise at any tempo.

The entire aim of this instructional video is to provide you with that same feeling of “wow, that’s a lot of work, but I can see how this is going to be GREAT for me long term”. The great news is that the work in this course is not difficult, it just takes discipline and methodical practice. If you’re just starting your journey into better technique and put minimal amounts of effort into even the first few exercises, over the course of a month you will already start to see the difference and you will be able to unequivocally track your progress. Whether you're just starting or have been practicing technique for years, I firmly believe that this course will offer a wide variety of other technical exercises for you to consider, pushing you to find creativity within yourself to integrate some of them into your playing.

"Lightning-Fast and Crystal-Clean" is a unique video series inspired by the awe I experienced as a kid, listening for the first time to Michael Brecker tearing effortlessly up and down the horn. This program is intended to serve as the only course on technique that a sax player would ever have to invest in. The material here is based on years of experience identifying the exercises and concepts that were most transformational to my students as well as myself in the realm of technique, while at the same time expanding improvisational vocabulary.

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