The Saxophone Chose Me…Kind Of – Part 3

Part 3

As I mentioned in the last post, the beginning of my musical life (as a music major) was a challenge. In fact, at times I felt I was going to fail. But for the first time, I had all the direction I needed to excel. This idea brought a lot of hope to me. Why? Because the only thing that came easily to me on the saxophone was my tone. Everything else…? I had a long way to go. However, this was a huge benefit to me and it’s a huge benefit to you too. Let me explain.

Are Some Teachers Overqualified?

I have observed at times, when people have “natural talent”, it can be a challenge for them to communicate effectively to the average beginner when teaching. For example, I knew a private teacher who also made his living playing professionally on the road. He had an amazing ear and he picked up on things very quickly. Because of this, there were some important concepts he didn’t teach to his students because they came to him so easily and naturally. These students missed out on many important concepts for playing the saxophone. Think in your own life where you do something naturally. Can you explain everything to a student or would some of your descriptions be something like this, ” I don’t know, I just do it.” Would you like a teacher with this type of response, or a teacher who understands and has methods and approaches to help solve your issues?

Experience and Natural Talent

The more we have in common with those we teach, this easier it is to relate and understand their situation. In addition, the teacher who has worked through similar issues, and resolved the same problems, has a great deal of experience on their side. Don’t get me wrong, there are many top notch performers out there that can do both very well and I don’t want to discount that. But the more experience we have, the better off we are.

So what type of experiences did I have? As I mentioned, I was confident concerning my tone but that was about it. Here is what I needed to work on.

Improved Skills (Selected)

  1. Playing all the notes on the saxophone (Not only fingerings, but getting each note to sing)
  2. Articulation (Had to change my technique, learned to get faster)
  3. Tone (This improved too!)
  4. Embouchure (I was way off with this one, and it made a world of difference when it was corrected)
  5. Technique (Gained ability to play fast, consistently)
  6. Scales (Didn’t know much at first, but the saxophone became much easier to play as I learned them)
  7. Counting (Gained ability and confidence in playing complex rhythms)
  8. Low notes (Learned to love these notes and no longer avoided them)
  9. Swinging (Learned some important concepts that sped up the learning process)
  10. Playing by ear (Learned any song, just by listening)
  11. Improvisation (Went from “I have no clue how to do this”, to getting paid to play gigs)
  12. Playing with others (Learning how to collaborate with other musicians)
  13. Time (Dramatically improved- Thanks metronome!)
  14. Playing fast and accurately (Learned the simple approach that can help anyone be successful)
  15. Playing musically (This is when the fun really began)
  16. Dynamics (Learned how to control air and use the ears to effectively execute)

Let’s Fix It

Before I started studying at BYU I didn’t realize that I could fix almost any weakness in my playing. I had many experiences (you can see from the list above) that required a lot of work and dedication in order to succeed. This success is not only evident in my playing, but can be found in the way I teach. I understand the challenges, but I also understand how to work through these situations and how to be successful.

The saxophone is a wonderful instrument to play and very rewarding. It’s a lot of fun, but at times we can feel stuck. I’m here to let you know that you can work through any tough situation. I can help you. Here is the formula:

  1. Practice
  2. I’ll share with you, step by step, how to resolve your issues. You won’t be alone!

What Next?

  1. If you haven’t had out free lessons, try them out. They’re free!
  2. If you’re done with the free lessons, try the Premiere Lessons. There’s a 30 day money back guarantee and you’ll be on your way to playing the saxophone the way you want to play.
  3. If you’re already taking the Premiere Lessons, send me a recording and I’ll provide feedback. Also, send me a quick email and let me know what your biggest challenge is.

Remember, we can fix or improve just about anything in your playing!


What’s your biggest challenge on the saxophone?

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Comments 4

  1. hie, am a begginer i am now playing G-blues scale staff like that. Now i need help with my tenor sax to progress from where i am the purpose for the instrument was to praise God. I feel like there’s no moving forward, pease help me i want to do jazz and powerful gospel

    1. Post

      Hi mbuso,

      I’m happy to hear that you have a strong desire to play the saxophone. Right now the lessons don’t focus on jazz specifically but will provide a strong foundation for your saxophone playing. From that point, you will be able to move onto any style you choose. In the future we may have jazz lessons available, but not right now. If you want to send me a recording so I can provide some tips, please feel free to do so and I will be more than happy to help you out. By the way, have you tried the free lessons? If so, how far have you progressed?

  2. Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for your post. It helps to see that impossible is not possible !
    My way to improve may still be long but seeing your talent to play and to teach indicates that if one is willing to learn and to play, then it can be done. So my aim is to get better and better and learn from my mistakes (of course with your help and support)!
    One day we will be playing together some fun partitions ! Take care,


    1. Post

      Hey Mehran,

      Thanks for your comments. Keep up the consistent work and you will reach your goals! As you know, I’m here to help anyway I can. I look forward to your continued progress!

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