Mastering A Capella Playing: Tips from Ryan Devlin

Mastering A Capella Playing: Tips from Ryan Devlin

Struggling with your time, harmony, or sound on the saxophone? Pro saxophonist Ryan Devlin shares his secret weapon: acapella playing! Discover how it can transform your skills with this new video.

And now is time form Ryan Devlin's third video!

This video dives into the world of acapella playing, a practice method highly valued by professional saxophonist Ryan Devlin. He shares valuable insights gained from years of experience.

Devlin emphasizes three key aspects of a capella playing:

  1. Time: This includes your overall sense of timing, your timing in relation to chord changes, and being aware of rushing or dragging.
  2. Harmony: Focusing on hitting chord tones on downbeats and being mindful of the harmonic structure of the music.
  3. Sound: Maintaining a full and clear sound even when focusing on other aspects.

Practicing with a Cadenza:

The video explores using cadenzas, improvised solo passages, as a way to develop a capella skills. Devlin suggests:

  • Starting with one chord and focusing on playing freely within the tonality.
  • Gradually transitioning to playing cadenzas based on multiple chords.
  • Experimenting with different lengths and forms of cadenzas.

Developing Your Skills:

  • Listen to the Masters: Devlin recommends listening to renowned saxophonists like Chris Potter, Michael Brecker, and Seamus Blake, who excel at a capella playing.
  • Record Yourself: Capture your playing and analyze it to identify areas for improvement.
  • Use a Metronome and Backing Tracks: Practice playing with a metronome or a backing track featuring only drums to focus on your timing and interaction with rhythm.

Beyond Performance:

While a capella playing can be showcased in performances, Devlin emphasizes its significance as a practice tool. He highlights the benefits:

  • Identifying weaknesses: A capella playing exposes areas needing improvement that might be masked when playing with a band.
  • Building a strong foundation: Mastering a capella playing translates to better time, harmony, and sound when playing with others.
  • Earning the respect of rhythm section players: Solid timekeeping developed through a capella practice is highly valued by musicians playing in the rhythm section.