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What is the best buy for a parent to get his son started with the sax? I don't want to invest too much, I can always upgrade down the road.
 

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Alto would be easiest, size wise to start on for someone that age.

<edit> looks like SearjeantSax is on top of things for you.
 

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Dan: Welcome to SOTW. If the boy has no musical training, start him on piano. After learning the piano, any other instrument should be a cakewalk. I sure wish I'd done it that way.

If he knows music, then find a saxophone teacher who specializes in young children and be guided more by what the teacher tells you. DAVE
 

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A good one..

When i started on the sax 5 years ago, i first rented for about 3 months, to make sure i liked it. then we boought a Yamaha Yas-23. it is a somewhat good quality sax that wont fall apart in 2 months. has good sound quality for a beginner. it is an alto, which is good for beginners because it doesnt weigh 15 pounds( like me baritone sax), and it is a good and manageable size for beginners.
 

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The Vito clone of the YAS 23 (Vitos stamped Made in Japan and built by Yamaha) is hard to beat for the 200-300 range they sell for used.
 

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Yas23
 

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Dave Dolson said:
Dan: Welcome to SOTW. If the boy has no musical training, start him on piano. After learning the piano, any other instrument should be a cakewalk. I sure wish I'd done it that way.

If he knows music, then find a saxophone teacher who specializes in young children and be guided more by what the teacher tells you. DAVE
Excellent advice, Dave. I started at 9 years old and was also told to get some piano in me first. I wouldn't listen and missed out on learning music until many years later. Starting on sax kept me chained to single notes on a piece of page for way too long. First leaning an instrument that requires music theory and chord progressions (piano or guitar), or at the very least at the same, is the way to go. And yeah, get a used Yamaha.
 

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Billt4mn said:
Starting on sax kept me chained to single notes on a piece of page for way too long.
Wow, my experience as well. Thirty years later, my biggest source of frustration! Well said.
 

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Dave Dolson said:
Dan: Welcome to SOTW. If the boy has no musical training, start him on piano. After learning the piano, any other instrument should be a cakewalk. I sure wish I'd done it that way. DAVE
From my own personal experience I respectfully have to disagree. My biggest source of frustration is that I was forced to take piano and not a band instrument. When I was in 4th grade the music teacher asked me if I wanted to learn an instrument so I could play in the band. I said sure, and she suggested trumpet. I liked that alot and went home to tell my mom, who immediately nixed it in favor of the piano, which she considered the only proper instrument to play. So I took piano lessons for 3 years including some theory classes at the beginning, and the occassional recital, playing the standard classical repetoire. I wasn't great, but I wasn't too bad either, merely the typical kid taking piano from a private teacher, but by the 7th grade I had quit.

Regretting that for years and thinking about it, I can't say that if my mother had let me play trumpet I would have done any differently, but then again there would have been one important difference. Trumpet is a band instrument so it seems to me that it comes with a ready-made social support network of all the other kids in the brass and woodwinds sections learning and playing together in after-school practice and rehearsals. Piano, on the other hand, at least in those days before portable electronic keyboards, was strictly a solo instrument (there not being any piano section) and was not taught in school as part of the band program, so learning it meant being isolated from other kids, practicing alone or once a week with a private teacher.

Of course with trumpet you have to practice alone too, but it has an immediate payoff, which is learning to play in an ensemble right from the start. Since there was no band or orchestra practice with piano, I didn't even know what I was missing there. All I knew was that I was being forced to be alone to play moonlight sonata with that damn metronome and all for the purpose of being able to play piano later on in life, something my mom said I would be greatful for. For an extroverted kid who craved social contact, whatever benefits that might have meant on down the line didn't seem worth the enforced loneliness that it required there in the present. So I gave up.

Now I might be out of line, off base or merely ignorant since I am not an accomplished musician but rather someone coming at finally really learning to play as an older adult because that early experience made me believe I "just didn't have what it takes" and also for decades afterwards that in any case it was too late because my opportunities had passed me by and one couldn't possibly learn as an adult. So tell me if you think so because I want to learn from others more experienced than me.

Yes, theory is extremely important, but these days it can be learned on-line simultaneously as your chops develop (which is what I am doing) and you can even get the kid a cheap keyboard to use to help himself learn (I diddle around on one of those two. You can do ear training with a chromatic pitchpipe to learn intervals and make the dry theory come alive. Anyway, I can't believe that in band and orchestra they don't teach enough theory so that a kid can build on it easily later on. You're right that he may only be playing that small one line alto part, but isn't that just the experience he needs and can build on by getting with a small band playing jazz, rock or r&b on the side, where he will learn to make the changes and solo?

So, IMHO a kid starting on sax or any band instrument will be learning to play music with others right from the start, something you don't normally get with piano, and which seems to me to be the most important thing, since interplay with others is what most music is all about. I think the immediate gratification that will bring would create a greater desire to keep one at it, something more important at the start than digesting a whole lot of theory while simultaneously wrestling with learning to play two different clefs lines at the same time.

Sorry for being so longwinded, but I can't express myself any other way.
 

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Jazz Is All said:
From my own personal experience I respectfully have to disagree...

Sorry for being so longwinded, but I can't express myself any other way.
Long indeed, but well said.
 
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