Get Cool in 4 Steps

Imagine This:

You’ve just finished a performance, and it was perfect. People are coming up to you, shaking your hand and patting you on the back. They’re amazed at you mastery on the saxophone. What a great feeling, right?

Do you think this is possible? Do you have the nerves to get up there in the first place? Want to learn how to control your nerves? Check this out!

First, a Scenario

In your past, have you “accidentally” not studied for a test? How did you feel when you walked into the classroom? Did you feel super nervous, or even sick?

In your past, have you been fully prepared for a test? How did you feel when you walked into the classroom? Did you feel confident and excited?

It’s the same in a performance situation- if you go in prepared you’ll be excited to perform rather than nervous. Being prepared is a simple principal that will calm your nerves, even in the most stressful situations. Let’s go over how to be prepared on the saxophone.

How to play saxophone

Be Prepared (The 4 Steps)

  1. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. It also means you need to play perfectly from the beginning. How’s that possible?
  2. Play slowly. That’s right, play so slowly that you’re completely confident you can play (a scale for example) correctly the very first time. Yes, this could be an incredibly slow tempo at first.
  3. Once you’ve played it right, keep it going. Play 9 more times perfectly without speeding up (use the metronome to keep you honest with your slow tempo).
  4. Do the exact same thing the next day.

If you follow this pattern every single day for a week, you’ll have played your new scale 70 times correctly. How many times have you played it wrong? Zero times! If you’ve only played the scale right, what are the chances you will be successful in a high stress situation? Chances of success will be very high. Why? Because you have programmed your fingers how to play the scale right. What do I mean by program?

Program Your Fingers

Our fingers are pretty amazing. Every time you play something on the saxophone, your fingers are remembering, or being programmed. It’s called muscle memory. Whether you play something correctly or not, programming occurs.

Think of this. You’re working on a new scale and you play it incorrectly 7 times.  Finally on the 8th attempt, you get it right. So, you’ve played it right 1 time and incorrectly 7 times.  What have you programmed your fingers to do?

Answer: play it wrong.

What are the chances you’re going to play it right the first time in a high pressure situation?

Answer: You’ll probably make an error since that’s what’s you’ve practiced.

If you switch things around and always play right, you are more likely to succeed. Go ahead and apply the “perfect practice” approach today. Follow the steps and you’ll walk into any performance situation cool and confident.

Start Now!

Begin this method of practicing today! You’ll see amazing results, and your confidence will soar. You can easily do this on your own, and if you are taking the Free or Premiere Lessons, this approach is built in.

I would also like to invite you to do something that is essential to conquer your nerves:

Have your own performance experiences. 

I invite you to have a mini performance within the next 7 days. Invite a few friends and family members over, and play for them. It doesn’t matter what you play, just have the experience. Will you have a perfect performance? Probably not, but with proper preparation you’ll have a great time…and so will your audience.


Have you tried this method of practicing? How did it work? In addition, I would love to hear about your mini performances. Share your experiences in the comment section. You are going to sound great!

Your teacher,


Comments 3

  1. This is such an important concept! I have taught piano, violin and voice for years and try to get this concept across to students. For some reason it is hard for the students to accept, but logic tells us what Jeff has written here about “perfect practice” is true! Input=output.

    Thanks, Jeff, for writing this out in a way that I can share it with my students on different instruments. It is nice to have a second teacher say this. Maybe students will believe it if they hear it from someone else! The “need for speed” has to take a back seat to the need for accuracy at first.

    1. Post

      Glad you liked the post Carol. Thanks for your comments as well. I would be interested to hear how your students respond to this information (from another source). Thanks!

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