The Air Sax Ear Training Exercise – with Grace Kelly

YouTube video

I sat down with a veritable star of the saxophone, Grace Kelly. I’ve been following Grace on Instagram for a while now loving her content, her music, her style, and her positivity. But after having spent time with her one on one I became even more of a fan since she has so much going on so many levels on for someone so young.

Don’t be fooled by the occasional silliness. Grace is a serious saxophone player, composer, band leader, singer, and entertainer. She is absolutely not afraid to be herself on stage.

We talked for a while and in this video I’m going to share with you the best parts of our conversation. Grace shows us a fantastic air sax ear training exercise which you have to check out. I’m going to be adding this to my daily practice on and off the horn.

I came away from this conversation feeling inspired and I know you will too.

Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly. She’s an amazing saxophone player who also sings, dances, composes, and probably does a whole list of other amazing things that I don’t even know about.

We met up at the NAMM show in January of 2020 and discovered that I had actually seen her perform with the legendary Lee Konitz when she was a 13 year old child prodigy.

Finding out that the little girl I saw so many years ago was now my guest for an interview was pretty cool. Plus, it also helps make sense as to why Grace is so good at what she does.

After a while of us chatting, she spontaneously starts playing on what had to be the driest reed ever.

Seriously, we had been talking for about an hour, and she had the horn in her lap the whole time with the reed just drying out. There were several great moments in our conversation, but one of the highlights that I really wanted to share with you was when Grace showed me an ear training exercise that she does, and works on with her students…

Air Sax Ear Training Interval Exercise

So let’s break that down

1st step give yourself a pitch reference on your instrument somewhere that fits nicely in your vocal range.

Here Grace plays concert Bb which is G on the alto saxophone.

Step 2 is to sing a phrase starting on that note and record yourself.  Just use your phone. Don’t worry about rhythm at first, just sing something simple with only a few notes. Grace sang G D B A.

Step 3 is to sing it again, but this time finger the same notes on your instrument.
For a lot of you this phrase may already be too much. Start with really easy phrases in the beginning if you need to. Even just 2 notes is fine.

Grace goes on to show us a few way to develop this as you get more and more advanced…

It’ll get trickier as you start to work in some chromatic notes, but go ahead, give it a try.

Grace is demonstrating this pretty fast here and she’s obviously done this a lot. I recommend going nice and slow in the beginning, don’t worry about the rhythm – focus on the pitches.

Once I’ve sung this phrase a few times, I’ve really got it in my ear. You’ll notice that this is the exact same process as transcribing song melodies or improvised solos the only difference is the source of the music is ourselves.

Of course, the phrases that come out of you are going to be heavily influenced by the music you have put into your ears through listening.

This is all about the fundamentals, the basics – slowing yourself down… Something I talk about a lot on this channel, and working on a technique for 5 minutes a day. Stuff like this is hard at first and can be discouraging to practice. Often we try it out, get frustrated and then don’t practice it anymore. For me, things like overtones and altissimo come to mind.

So instead of trying to master these things in one practice session, work on them for only 5 minutes, but do that every day.

Final Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed my meeting with Grace and I love the content she’s posting on Instagram and YouTube as well as her many recordings. I strongly recommend you go follow grace in those places and check out her music on Spotify. If she ever comes to town, you DON’T want to miss her. If you’ve ever seen her in concert or have a favorite track of hers, let me know in the comments below!

Interested in more BetterSax interviews? Check out “Sax Study with Jaleel Shaw” or “Solid Sax with Bruce Willams.”

Also be sure to follow BetterSax on Facebook, InstagramLinkedIn, and YouTube to stay up to date with us for news, giveaways, and other saxophone tips and tricks.

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Jay Metcalf and Grace Kelly talk about Sax and more – Better Sax says:

[…] If you love Grace as much as we do, check out my interview with her from earlier this year in the “The Air Sax Ear Training Exercise with Grace Kelly.” […]



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