The Quantum Level Theory of Saxophone Practice (QLTSP): A New Philosophical Approach to Practicing the Saxophone

In describing an atom in the most simplistic terms, an atom is made up of three kinds of fundamental particles: positively-charged protons in the nucleus, neutrally-charged neutrons in the nucleus, and negatively charged electrons in orbit around the nucleus. The orbit of the electrons around the nucleus are quantized; electrons can only orbit the atom's nucleus at discrete levels. For example, an electron orbiting a carbon atom's nucleus can only orbit the nucleus at discrete quantum levels 1, 2, 3, 4 etc., but the electron cannot orbit at level 1.5. The quantum levels can only be whole positive integer numbers.

Let us pretend that the saxophone can only be practiced and played at discrete quantum levels (QL) of speed (QL1 - QL15):

Quantum Level (QL)SpeedBeats Per Minute
QL125%30 bpm
QL250%60 bpm
QL375%90 bpm
QL4100%120 bpm
QL5125%150 bpm
QL6150%180 bpm
QL7175%210 bpm
QL8200%240 bpm
QL9225%270 bpm
QL10250%300 bpm
QL11275%330 bpm
QL12300%360 bpm
QL13325%390 bpm
QL14350%420 bpm
QL15375%450 bpm

Let us pretend that during a saxophone practice session, a saxophonist can ONLY play at one of the 15 quantum level speeds, and cannot play at any of the speeds between the quantum levels. What would be the advantage of this philosophical approach? It would force the saxophonist's brain to work harder: the brain would have to make large jumps in performance, instead of making gradual improvements in performance. To better understand this concept, let us make an analogy using the sport of basketball.

Imagine a very good basketball player named Michael J. Michael is 6 feet 6 inches tall, weighs 210 pounds, and can easily dunk on a 10-foot-tall rim. Let us assume that Michael J. lives in a universe where basketball rims can ONLY be manufactured in two sizes: 10-feet-tall and 11-feet-tall. Though Michael can easily dunk on a ten-foot-rim, he cannot currently dunk on an 11-foot-rim.  Since he currently cannot dunk on an eleven-foot-rim, he cannot practice the specific act of dunking on an eleven-foot-rim, but he can work out in the weight room, he can run, he can wear ankle weights, and he can practice dunking on a ten-foot-tall rim. If Michael works and works, and then works some more every day, he will wake up one day, and he will be able to dunk on the 11-foot-tall rim even though he was never able to practice the specific act of dunking on an 11-foot-tall rim. His work and practice of other activities would eventually naturally lead him to the breakthrough of being able to dunk on an 11-foot-tall rim.

Now let us consider the case of two very different saxophone etudes: Etude A and Etude B. Etude A is very easy, and Etude B is very difficult. Imagine that we have a professional alto saxophonist named Charlie "Bird" P. who can currently play Etude A at a maximum speed of 330 beats per minute (QL11), but he can only play Etude B at 180 beats per minute (QL6). Though they are two completely different etudes, practicing easy Etude A at 330 beats per minute is actually helping to prepare Charlie's brain and muscles to play difficult Etude B at 210 beats per minute (QL7).

Let's take a look at hypothetical Etudes A and B:

QLTSP Exhibit Etude A - Easy by Rex Djere

QLTSP Exhibit Etude B - Difficult by Rex Djere

Now that you can see both Etudes A and B, does it seem clear to you that practicing Etude A at very high quantum levels could help to prepare Charlie P. for eventually playing Etude B at very high quantum levels?

Download Etude A here:

Download Etude B here:

Right now, QLTSP is just a theory, but I have put the theory to work in my own etude, and I think that I am on to something substantial with this new approach to saxophone playing: G-3 Focus Etude. Until next time, Happy Practicing!

More on the Quantum Level Philosophy here

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