Evan Tate's SaxTips eZine

Saturday, March 12, 2005

"So you wanna play saxophone, huh?"

No other instrument enjoys so much popularity as the saxophone. People love it’s sound. How many times have you heard people say; “You play saxophone? That’s my favorite instrument!” Whether it’s jazz (where the sax is the number 1 symbol of the music), pop music (next to a screaming guitar solo, fans love a hot sax) or any other contemporary style of music, the saxophone has secured a place in the hearts and minds of avid listeners.

That much more pressure is on you, the saxophonist, to live up to many expectations. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am someone who believes in setting personal standards and not chasing after the ideals of others as far as how one should play. Nonetheless, we are all confronted with the desires and ideas of others and somehow “must” give a little compliance to these ideas in order to lead a successful saxophone career.

Think about it. What made you choose the sax as an instrument to play? Was it the sound? It’s popularity? The desire to play modern music? Was it forced upon you? Were there certain saxophonists that you heard that inspired you to play it, too? You see, you also had your own ideas, desires and expectations and you still do.

What are you doing to live up to your expectations? Are you practicing what you want to play, or are you just practicing? Do you have an idea about what sound you’d like to have, or are you hoping to develop a sound some day?

The saxophone carries a long history behind it with many master players in very diverse directions of music. The sax may be a little over 100 years old, but it has come a long way from Adolphe Sax’s attempts to have it included in the orchestra, and it having to settle for a place in military bands.

Saxophone technology has come a long way. There have been attempts to re-invent the instrument. Jim Schmidt tries it. Check out http://cvip.fresno.com/~js210/. Simultaneously it’s experiencing a “retro” phase (Check out the Selmer Reference, Julius Keilwerth saxophones).

In my humble opinion, I believe that saxophone pedagogy is still in its baby shoes, but more techniques are being discovered to advance this area as well.

Mouthpieces mad from different metal alloys and woods have also taken their place next to the standard hard rubber and plastic models. Cane reeds have to share their place with plastic-covered and fully synthetic reeds as well. Ligatures have taken all forms and are made from several materials.

Today, we have such a wide choice in equipment; it’s baffling trying to keep up with it all. But be glad! The up side of it all is that we have more choices than ever before, and we will probably continue to have ever more choices in the years to come. Adolphe Sax can actually be proud if he were alive today.

Think about it. Where do you fit in amongst of all this? What statement do you wish to make to contribute to the vast history of the saxophone (if at all)?

Many more composers have taken on the challenge of writing for saxophone as for years gone by. Some attempts have been successful. Many have been failures. But the beat goes on. (Or is that the “honk”?)

So, you wanna play saxophone, huh? Well, do your best and honor the instrument by being the best you can be.

Have fun,

Evan Tate


Post a Comment

<< Home