Does improvising using melodic shapes and warming up have anything in common?

Yes! Let me explain.

I frequently am asked how I warm up.

I don't do long tones like most people, where you hold out 1 note for as long as possible.

While this is invaluable, I feel that there is something equally valuable.

Something that is more musical and practical because this is what we do as musicians.

I call them “moving long tones”.

These are the same idea as long tones except I'm not holding out just 1 note.

I'm playing phrases (all slurred on trumpet or saxophone) in one breath.

It took me a minute to remember why and when I started doing this, but it goes back to when I first got the Clarke Technical Studies for Cornet in 7th grade.  

Many of the Studies are all slurred and are very soft in dynamics.

Instinctively, I would use these Studies as warm-ups.

And I still do to this day.

While this is a trumpet resource, saxophone players and other instrumentalists can also adapt the Studies from this book.

And one adaptation is directly related to how to improvise using melodic shapes.

In the Clarke book, there's a particular exercise that is a beautiful melody, and also a great lick.

It's Study #2.

Recently, when I was teaching this exercise to a student, we decided to explore using melodic shapes from the lick and developing them by improvising over a Blues form.

Doing that helped us create some really cool lines.

Watch the video lesson below to see and hear the exercise from this popular resource, and see how you can apply it to your practicing, improvising using melodic shapes:

I would encourage every musician to learn this exercise by ear, in every key, to really benefit from this lesson on using melodic shapes.

While I don't think saxophone players need to purchase this resource, every trumpet player must have this book!

Clarke Technical Studies

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