Amateurs, Pros, and Superstar Sax Players

As you read the title of this post, which category would you place yourself? I’m sure most people reading this post would fit under the Amateur title, as our lessons are designed for people learning to play the saxophone.

However, where are you going with the saxophone? Are you limiting yourself to Amateur? Do you think you can become a Professional or even a Superstar?

The purpose of this post is to not only describe who fits into these categories, but to think about the possibility of what you can become!

A Quick Story

I’ll tell you right off the top, I believe beginners can become better saxophone players than they think possible. I am very optimistic with people gaining skill on the saxophone. Why? Because I have seen what people can become by working hard and the receiving the right direction. However, not everyone believes this is the case.

Some people believe you are born with the ability to play, or you’re not (“You have it or you don’t”). I don’t believe this, because if this were the case, I would not be able to play jazz at all. I struggled to learn this style and finally arrived at a point where I could play in that style and get paid for it.

However, it took 4 years of intensive study and practice, after I was already proficient on the saxophone. If I would have thought the “you have it or you don’t” theory was true, I never would have thought it were possible to play jazz; I would never had attempted to meet that challenge.

The Point is This:

Anyone can learn to play the saxophone and play in different styles. It may take a lot of work and time, but anyone can do it. However, I will say that the level of proficiency someone can reach is where the difference is.

3 Types of Pros

Using a sports analogy can help us understand the different levels of ability people reach. Think of a pro sports team. Who makes up the team? You may have a superstar on the team, you also have solid players, and then you have players that no one really remembers, but they make a living at their profession. They’re all pros, but they have various levels of ability.

The Superstar

We’ve described three categories of professional athletes, and there’s definitely a difference between them. They all work hard, but for some reason some people end up being better than other professionals. This is where “you have it or you don’t” comes into play.

To me, this phrase is false unless you’re talking about superstars. For some reason, some people have the ability to play at a higher level, with the same amount of work and determination.

For example, Mozart wrote his first piece of music at five years old and played clarinet for royal courts and nobility at the same age. He was a superstar of music, no question about it. Other musical superstars include Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker. They are unique and are remembered for years to come.

A Pro Musician Definition

This can range from a studio musician, a music teacher (who teaches during the week and plays gigs on the weekend), to a superstar saxophone player.

The Amateur Musician

This category is for the hobbyist: someone who wants to play but not for the purpose of providing an income.

We All Start Here

We all start as an amateur, but with the right direction and hard work, many people can play well enough to gig, and reach the pro level.

Which One are You?

The superstars are rare, and I agree, they are born with something that others are not. Which one are you? What can you become? You may be able to scratch superstar saxophone player off the list (because they are rare), but can you become good enough to gig on the weekends? Many of my students, that I have taught over the years, have hit that level of playing, if that was their desire.

There’s so much you can accomplish as a saxophone player. Get the right direction, work smart, and you’ll become better than you thought was possible. The majority of people are born with the ability to have some success on the saxophone, and understanding what you can become is motivating. So keep up the work, be consistent, and some day you’ll reach your goals or even surpass them.


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