Monday, December 3, 2012
I'm in a rather unique situation, where I can give you some advice that might come in handy. I like to think I'm a pretty good musician, particularly with the alto saxophone. I wasn't always. It took me a long time and a lot of practicing to get as competent as I am now. I practiced at school a lot, but I also practiced a fair amount at home.
Recently, I've downsized, into a sort of apartment where, for obvious reasons, I can't practice my saxophone. Not that my sound and the music I make is bad or anything, it's just loud and I practice a lot.
So, if I can't play in my residence, what can I do? Well, the answer lay outside my walls- it was time to play outside! This was a good idea, at the time, and perhaps the only thing I could do. In fact it is the only thing I can do, even on campus at my college, there are no practice rooms, so it's outside for me. When I first decided to practice this way, it was late summer, and there was nothing wrong with this plan. I have a couple nice secluded parking lots, the lower field of the high school I live right next to, and similar locations nearby. However, now that it's winter, it's a bit harder.
I obviously don't go out while it's snowing. While my favorite location is in a covered dugout, I still won't risk getting my saxophone pads wet, as I can't afford to replace them at this time. Rain is, of course, also out of the question, but if there are clear skies, even if it's bitter cold, I'm out there practicing, and the only reason I have been surviving it is for one big reason: gloves.
I got lucky. On my recent vacation to farm country in Pennsylvania I got a cheap pair of leather gloves that fit nicely. When I got back and started practicing again, I found that I could wear them while I played- they were warm, yet not overly chunky as to get in the way of my key work. In fact, I've gotten quite adept at playing with my gloves on.
As for the rest of me, while a coat and warm clothes help, a few minutes of playing the saxophone warms you up. All the vibrations and sound coming from the horn warms both horn and player up nicely.
All of these things fell together, and I've found that I can practice outside in most any weather (if I wanted to, I could bring an umbrella and make it to the dugout in rain or snow). So even though I cannot play in my place, I can still practice most anytime I need or want to.
In fact, I'd say it's a good way to practice my 'outdoor voice' for any future live jam venues in my town or elsewhere. You never know what you'll learn, in dire situations.