Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Parallism of Learning II

Another aspect of learning is your tools, or rather, learning the nuances of our tools, before we can actually perform. In the case of photography, it's learning about just how to operate the camera, from basic stuff to like filenames, to more advanced stuff like setting up dynamic AF, tweaking the exposure meter, AF tracking time etc.

Things like this take time and experimentation, and only experience gives you the knowledge when to use it e.g. If I have time, I will use a single point AF combined with the AF confirmation light, if it's a fast moving street type situation I might go the hyper focused route, quick busy situations may require the dynamic af, giving the focus more chance to be "in focus".

Not to mention the exposure meter, no reflective meter is that good, and after years working with the camera, I instinctively know when to increase/decrease my compensation for the exposure I need - without checking the histogram to know I'm in the correct ballpark - comes with experience and many, many thousands of deleted frames.

Even though cameras are built to perform similar functions, I choose mine because it is the most intuitive to me, and it is only after years of use on the same camera that I can quickly adapt to the situation.

Similarly for the saxophone. Unlike cameras, they don't come with instruction manuals (ok it does come with a fingering chart), and it takes years to learn the nuances of the instrument. For example, my Middle D plays very sharp - a characteristic found (supposedly) in almost every saxophone.

Adjusting your embouchure (shape of mouth, in layperson terms) supposedly is the way to fix this, but not on my sax - it drops to the octave below. I need to play it with another key (high D) pressed down, just to get it on pitch. That said, I've noticed that my middle D intonation is actually getting better, so much so that with high D pressed, I actually go flatter......

Apart from variables like these, we've got the favourite part every saxophone player tends to fiddle with at times - mouthpieces, and their ilk, the ligature and reed. I've swapped a few mouthpieces in my short span of playing the saxophone, and everytime I tried on a new mouthpiece, I have to relearn how to play the piece. With my current piece, the Vandoren V5 A27, I think I've had it for at least 4, 5 months, and I'm still learning subtle nuances about it. How to hit harmonics, where to put the jaw, breath pressure for different notes.

Bottom line is, unless there is something majorly wrong or holding you back, equipment nowadays is more than suitable for most of us. Ok well more than suitable for me. No plans to change the saxophone (although I am still drooling for a vintage finish keilwerth sx90r) - and definitely not for the camera. Heck, ever since I got bitten by this music bug, the camera's usage has dropped significantly, only bring it out once a month or so.

Let's see how long it takes before I buy a new sax or mouthpiece :3

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