1 Thing You Need to Know: Listen

Listening to professional saxophone players through recordings and live concerts is essential to your success. This will help with tone, time, technique, style, articulation, and musical phrasing. It can really accelerate how quickly you learn the saxophone. There's another type of listening that provides huge benefits as well, which is what we will learn about today.

The 1 Thing

Here it is: listen to your own playing and fix what you know how to fix. This is not always our default action. For example, have you ever thought the following when learning a new subject?

  • I guess I did that one thing right, because the instructor didn't correct me
  • I didn't do that right, but I'll come back to it later
  • I can't do that one thing, but it's not a big deal. I can skip it

We tend to have these thoughts when learning the saxophone, but hopefully it becomes less and less as we mature. Even though we may have these thoughts, it's essential to focus on what you know how to do. Here's why.

Don't Waste Your Money

If you have not fixed everything you know how to fix, then when you have a private lesson, you'll be wasting your money. Why?

Because the instructor is going to focus on the basics, and if you don't focus on what you know how to fix, the instructor is going to ask you to fix what you could have fixed on your own (I apologize if you have to read that twice).

Here are some specifics that students can fix on their own, but don't always take the time to do so:

  • Counting rhythms correctly
  • Scales
  • Articulation
  • Sticking with the metronome
  • Dynamics
  • Musical terms
  • Ensure all equipment is working (make sure it's a good reed and it's on straight)

Your ear may not be at the level of a pro, but these are items that we can improve without being told to work on them.

Get This Benefit

If you take the time to fix what you know how to fix, then when you have a private lesson, your instructor will not talk about the items you can fix on your own.

Sure, they may explain how you can lock in better with the metronome, but if you prepared properly, they may share a tip that helps you take it up a level.

Here it Is

In short, you want to fix the things you know how to fix. That allows your teacher to focus on what you don't know how to fix on your own. That's getting your money's worth and you'll improve faster.

Here are some things that teachers may want to share with you, after you get the basics:

  • How to get the tone of your favorite saxophone player
  • How to growl
  • How to improvise
  • How to play fast, effortlessly
  • How to have crazy fast articulation
  • How to play altissimo notes

Don't Have a Teacher?

You may be on the path of being self-taught, so you may not ever have a private lesson. In this case, decide to do what a professional saxophone player would have you do and don't skip the details. You won't regret it.

What Do You Know?

Have you had a private lesson where the instructor shared something that you never even considered? What was that thing? How did it change your playing? Share your one thing in the comment section below. I've posted my own saxophone revelation, to get us started.

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Comments 1

  1. Post

    I was in college when I first learned a correct saxophone embouchure. I had a good tone before, but when I made the adjustments (which you can find in the free lessons), my tone immediately became better and all notes became easier to play. It was very exciting, and I’m happy to share this with anyone who is interested. If you have already signed up for the free lessons, click here to go directly to the embouchure page (must be signed in).

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