In this post, I would like to stress the link between two previously-mentioned thoughts: listening, and slow practice.

Listening: Trumpet great Vince DiMartino tells his students, “Whatever time you have to practice every day, spend half of it listening to great musicians.” And Mick Hesse, in his book Perfecting Your Practice, stresses listening for many reasons, including improving our pitch. He writes, “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of listening to skilled musicians…Even trumpet players [despite the inherent intonation problems of the instrument] can learn to play in tune. We must fill our aural memory banks with what is in tune.

Needless to say, we’re talking here about careful, analytical listening. It’s fine to listen for fun—after all, we all love music! But we only grow if we regularly listen carefully, for specific things. How does a great player shape a phrase; prepare an octave leap; articulate difficult passages; vary volume and sound to create a line; tune to the players around him/her, etc.?

Slow Practice: Use this time-honored, effective technique to exercise care.

A frequent error is slowing down difficult passages only enough that we can “get all the notes”, however imperfectly, then speeding them back up, still imperfectly. While better than nothing, that approach omits far more than it includes. Those notes that we’re “getting” may still be inconsistent in sound or pitch, lacking in line, or in other ways falling short of our best efforts.

A far more productive use of this technique is to slow down difficult passages (or easy passages, or even single notes) to the point that we can focus entirely on producing 
the sound, musical line, phrasing, perfect articulations, and intonation that we are seekingnot just on “getting the notes.”

And though occasionally tedious, that approach pays an extraordinarily high dividend: even a short period of very slow, careful practice (always reaching for
that sound, that attack, that perfect phrase) doesn’t just improve the passage you thought you were working on—it improves EVERYTHINGTalk about Bang for the Buck!

A specific example: if you’re not happy with, say, your attacks, just spend ten minutes—honest, just ten minutes—really focussing on playing perfect whole notes at, say 
=  60, removing the instrument from your embouchure after each. You won’t believe how much that improves everything else you do in the rest of your practice session.

The Link Between The Two: At the risk of repeating the obvious, the path to bringing a beautiful musical sound out of our instrument is to first put it into our ears.

And that’s the link: listening brings it in, slow practice brings it out.

 here's a good link from Steve Ferrandino, MWS Baritone Saxophone (thanks, Steve!) with some additional thoughts on practicing in general, including some particular thoughts on efficiency: getting the most out of time spent.