Creative Confidence by Jody Espina

Creative Confidence by Jody Espina

Posted by on Dec 2, 2014 in Community, Play Even Better, Social Media | 0 comments

This Blog Story was first published by ‘The Creative Coast’ and is presented here by Permission This blog entry is an almost literal written representation of my TEDx CreativeCoast Talk on Creativity from earlier this year. There and here I share how I became more creative in all aspects of my life, which by serendipity led to the formation of my company, JodyJazz. Hopefully by the end of this article you’ll have more confidence to go out and do whatever you want without worrying about how good or bad you’ll be. I borrowed this saying from Guy Kawasaki because it fits my subject so well: “Don’t worry – Be Crappy.” When you don’t fear failure, amazing things can happen. Here goes…. I started playing music when I was 12, by 14 I knew I wanted to be a musician and by 15 I was gigging steadily. I was so into music that sometimes my parents had to ask me to stop practicing. But it seemed like everyone was always telling me why I shouldn’t be a musician. I remember my band directors saying, “If you’re going to be a musician, don’t get married and have kids because you’ll never be able to support a family. Many other people told me that I should study anything else other than music so that I’d have something to fall back on if music didn’t work out. I didn’t listen to them and I did become a successful musician in New York City, doing every kind of gig imaginable, teaching a lot of private lessons and running the Jazz department at a private music school. But it takes a lot of hustle to be a working musician and somewhere along the way music became more of a job than a passion. So I picked up a book called The Artist Way, and I began a creative journey that has led to an amazing life. Here are some of the things I did in the 12 weeks of exercises that the book takes you through: Morning Pages Every morning when you wake up, write three pages in long hand about anything and everything or nothing, but write no matter what. The simple act of writing every morning opens you up and gives clues to where your demons hide and what your true desires are. The Artist Date The artist date helps you fill your well of creativity. Once a week you go somewhere by yourself and get inspiration. It could be a park, a museum, a dollar store or anyplace you go with an open mind and heart. One thing I started doing on my artist dates was taking pictures of flowers. I had never taken pictures in my life so this was a big deal to me because for some reason I was convinced that I had no visual sense or talent. I...

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Squeak Be Gone!

Squeak Be Gone!

Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 in Play Even Better | 1 comment

Squeak Be Gone! – How to Stop Squeaking on the Saxophone Squeaking occurs usually on the higher notes when you are tonging. That is because your embouchure tenses up on the high notes and each time you tongue a new note you bite the mouthpiece a little. If you look in the mirror you will probably see that this is true. It is a common problem among developing saxophonists so don’t feel bad. Also it can be fixed and anyway a squeak is not the worst thing that could happen so don’t get too down on yourself over this. I have heard the greatest players of all times including John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Benny Goodman squeak. Even I squeaked on a gig this weekend. (Just kidding) One way to work on your squeaking problem is through long tones. Long Tones are the way to work on most sound producing issues because you don’t have to worry about your fingers moving or reading notes or skipping from one note to the next. In long tones you can concentrate on one aspect of producing tone at a time, such as your embouchure or your air support or your vibrato. Here is my exercise called “Squeak Be Gone”. If I could put it in an aerosol can I would but it’s not that easy. As with any bad habit that we are trying to change, we must have patience with ourselves. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your squeaking won’t go away overnight. But if you do this exercise for two to three minutes a day I think that in two weeks you will see vast improvement and in a month or two you won’t be able to produce a squeak even if you want to. Here is an interesting experiment I’m going to give you, although it is not related to the exercise. Try to squeak on purpose. Go ahead. I dare you. Play a high note that you sometimes squeak on and try to squeak on it. Go do it now. I’ll wait………………………………………….. Funny isn’t it. When you want to squeak you can’t. Ha, Ha. Let that seep into your brain and try and figure out what it means to your playing. At the least it should show you that your squeaking problem is not such an insurmountable obstacle to you becoming the saxophone great that you aspire to. But now on to the exercise. Play a Long Tone A on the saxophone. That is the A on the second space of the treble clef staff. Relax take a deep breath and play it again. Now while looking in the mirror play the long tone and make sure that you start the tone with your tongue. In the mirror did you see your jaw move at all the moment you tongued the note? I know you did. The...

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Transposing Instruments

Transposing Instruments

Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 in Play Even Better, Your Questions Our Answers | 0 comments

Frequently Asked Questions – “Transposing Instruments” In this series we share Jody’s answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive through our website. Question: I was advised that I can’t play a soundtrack in F major, with sheet music written in F major for medium voice if I am playing a B flat soprano sax. Can you unravel this mystery for me and advise what key in sheet music for medium voice, and what key soundtrack I can use and harmonize while I play along with my B flat soprano? Answer: Transposing instruments is confusing. I’ll try and unravel this mystery with a brief explanation. When you play a tenor sax or an alto sax you finger the A on the second space of the treble clef the same on both horns (two fingers down on the left hand). But they are actually different pitches. But it is kind of nice not to have to learn new names for the notes on every saxophone. So two fingers down is an A on every saxophone. When you play a Bb soprano or Bb tenor saxophone, when the concert pitch is a Bb, the soprano and tenor sax have to play a C to match that Bb Concert pitch. So think about playing one whole step higher than the Concert pitch. A whole step is two half steps, or two notes on the Chromatic scale. When you play a Eb alto saxophone or Eb baritone saxophone, when the concert pitch is an Eb, the alto and baritone sax have to play a C to match that Eb Concert pitch. So think about playing a major 6th higher than the Concert pitch. That means whatever note the concert pitch is, A for example, you think of playing a major scale from that note and stop on the 6th note of that major scale. So in the case of A Concert (2nd space of the treble clef) the Eb alto sax note is F#, top line of the treble clef. The exact note on Eb Baritone sax is actually up a major 6th plus an octave. At this point if you are not familiar with some of the terms that I’ve used above, then you should get the “Harvard Brief Dictionary of Music” and learn your musical terms. Back to transposing for the Bb instruments of Soprano Sax, Soprano Clarinet (the normal Bb clarinet) also Bb trumpet, and Tenor sax (which is one octave lower). So when you want to play sheet music that is only written for piano and voice for example you must transpose the Bb soprano up a whole step or the tenor up a 9th to match the exact pitch. The saxophone can play in any key. Some are just less practiced than others and therefore they seem harder than others. One of Charlie Parker’s...

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Have More Fun in the Shed – Introduction

Have More Fun in the Shed – Introduction

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Play Even Better | 0 comments

Have More Fun in the Shed – Introduction In this series of articles I’d like to put out a few ideas that are aimed at making your practice session more fun. I call the series “Have More Fun in the Shed”. Introduction – These articles are primarily dedicated to the many adult amateur musicians there are out there.  However, beginners, intermediate and advanced players should also be able to find something that they can use here. I’ve come to know many of these saxophone and clarinet players through e-mails and phone conversations as customers of JodyJazz mouthpieces. I have a great deal of respect for the adult player who has a serious career and a family and still finds time to practice, and play in a community band, big band, at church or the occasional gig. I’d say that the number one problem facing these players (as well as all musicians really) is finding time to practice. So this series provides some ideas on how to have fun while improving your playing with that precious little practice time. JodyJazz Saxophone mouthpieces are hand-crafted in the USA with the strictest attention to detail using the highest quality materials, and every single mouthpiece is fully gauged and play tested. Visit us at JodyJazz.com   Share...

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Have More Fun in the Shed – “Relax”

Have More Fun in the Shed – “Relax”

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Play Even Better | 0 comments

Have More Fun in the Shed – Part 1 “Relax” You’ve worked hard all day. We want your practice time to be the best part of your day. You’re playing for fun, right? So let’s start off with a breathing routine that will relax you and get you ready for the next step. You should be in a standing position for this exercise. Take a deep, full breath, and then exhale. While exhaling, release all of the tension in your body. Take another deep breath and let your shoulders drop while you exhale. Take another breath and release the tension in your neck. With each exhalation concentrate on a part of your body and and just let go of the tension. After eight to ten nice deep breaths and full exhales you should feel ready and open for the next part of your session. JodyJazz Saxophone mouthpieces are hand-crafted in the USA with the strictest attention to detail using the highest quality materials, and every single mouthpiece is fully gauged and play tested. Visit us at JodyJazz.com   Share...

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One More Thing

One More Thing

Posted by on Mar 15, 2014 in Play Even Better | 0 comments

On Being A More Interesting Improviser Series – Lesson 7 “One More Thing” Practice at home, perform on the gig. To be a good improviser you have to practice new ideas and techniques before they can sound and feel natural. But, I believe at the gig you should play from your heart. Play what you’re hearing at that moment. There’s nothing worse than hearing a saxophonist practice on the gig. To me it’s insulting to the audience and the other musicians in the band, and it doesn’t show you in your best light. There’s room for debate on this issue and there is definitely something to be said for stretching, taking chances and trying things that you’ve never done before. These are all responsibilities that an artist has. But I also believe that as an artist, you have a responsibility to the audience to show them what’s in you heart, not only what’s in your head. I personally try and play every solo like it might be the last one that I ever get to play. If I know that it’s my last chance to play, I want to go out giving one hundred percent and playing notes that I will literally die for. That may be a melodramatic thought, but I think that everything in life should be approached with that sincerity and intensity. Practice with intensity, Play with sincerity. I hope this article helps make us all more interesting soloists. Click here to visit the original article on the JodyJazz Website JodyJazz Saxophone mouthpieces are hand-crafted in the USA with the strictest attention to detail using the highest quality materials, and every single mouthpiece is fully gauged and play tested. Visit us at JodyJazz.com   Share...

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