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Hello All,

To make a long story short I've flirted off and on with the saxophone for a while but I put my horn down for a long time and finally decided it wasn't doing me any good sitting in the basement.

I took it to a local woodwind fixer for a tune-up (keys sometimes stick after years in a box), and here I am.

I also found some old Hal Leonard Essential Elements 1 & 2 books.

I would like some recommendations on how to jump back in. The Leonard books are OK but are a little grade school if you get my meaning.

So, what are some recommended ways to jump back in? Should I take a few lessons to get started again? I am essentially starting at zero.

Thanks,

GHEN
 

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' Flirted off and on ' .

At your best, what could you do with it ?

Play a simple song ? A melody ? Did you have a decent tone ?

What do you own ? An alto ? A tenor ?

What is your long term goal ? Play at home ? Play with a group ?

Are you coming from another instrument/do you have other musical background ?

People take lessons at all stages of their development, so it's not the worst idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
' Flirted off and on ' .

At your best, what could you do with it ?

Play a simple song ? A melody ? Did you have a decent tone ?

What do you own ? An alto ? A tenor ?

What is your long term goal ? Play at home ? Play with a group ?

Are you coming from another instrument/do you have other musical background ?

People take lessons at all stages of their development, so it's not the worst idea.
My horn is an Alto Sax (Reference 54, the horn is wasted on me currently :) )

At my best, I could play some simple to moderately difficult songs and even improvise a little. I like Jazz and want to hear myself play some at home.

My embouchure seems to be coming back and I am trying to re-learn the different scales. My tone is shaky but getting better every day.

Thanks for the great questions and any thoughts you might have.

I am in Columbus, Ohio BTW

GHEN
 

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For me it was like riding a bike. I didn’t have re-learn anything, just picked up where I left off. It’s surprising all you prior knowledge is gone. So I don’t really know what to tell you besides start as a beginner. If your beginner books are too basic, get some intermediate books. But it depends your goals. For reading, then Rubank is fine. For improv and scales/patterns, just listen, transcribe and play. All scales/chords have simple patterns you can learn by ear. Then just play them until you can do it without thinking.
 

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Rubank is boring but moves fast. If you are reading okay. Some of the omnibook solos are doable slow. K
 

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joining community band best thing i did after my 15 yr layoff. my reading is back as well as my stamina and chops . i dont have the best decipline to practice on my own so this weekly 2 hrs is just what i need . i highly recommend it
 

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Get Rubank Advanced Method. It is a bit classical, but work through it. Classical will get you back in shape in no time. Then get Hal Leonard Movies Hits and Jazz Hits. Improvise.
 

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For books, you can’t do better than The Art of Saxophone Playing, by Larry Teal. The Better Sax YouTube channel is a wealth of information too; I haven’t checked his online lessons, but I suspect they are useful and thorough. There are several other YouTube saxophone channels you should check out - a couple by members here are Dr. Wally Wallace and Dave Pollack. Dr. Wally has some excellent play-along style videos that cover some very basic things, and would be a good starting place.

If you are looking for things to play with, there is a YouTube channel of jazz backing tracks called “Backingtracks JAZZ”. There is also the iRealPro app for generating backing tracks. There are more expensive solutions, but iRealPro is very useful.
 

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Not sure where to start here. Long time alto player thinking about coming back after a 10 year hiatus. Life and family stuff just became overwhelming and I stopped playing altogether after practicing 3-4 hours a day for 20+ years. To be honest with you I'm scared, not sure I can match that commitment ever again.

The other thing is mental. The world is a different place than it used to be when I quit playing. Music to me was always exciting, magical...inspiration came from new discoveries and there was always something on the horizon from my favorite guys, David Sanborn and Kenny Garrett. That someone like Charlie Mariano was always out there that I could discover and learn from. More than anything physical, it's the mental side of getting back into it that's the biggest challenge.

Now? It seems like there's nothing out there that's going to get me excited. Chris Potter and Dave Binney were my last hope. Even worse it seems like nobody cares that the landscape is so bleak. People are too wrapped up in their devices and apps that Music appreciation is at an all time low, especially jazz.

So, all the cynicism aside if I can generate a spark perhaps that can light the fire. I always said I played because I loved the sound of the saxophone, specifically the alto. I didn't play for adoration or attention, honestly I could care less what people think, except for my teachers.

I need a jump start, something that brings me back to the reason I started playing. I've played a vintage Lakey for years, think Charlie Mariano. I haven't bought a new mouthpiece in long time, and I'm going to buy the Aaron Drake David Sanborn HR. That should give me some new incentive, and brings me back to the reason I started playing, which was listening to Sanborn.

The decision to start playing again is still scary. It's the commitment. It's like getting married... yes it seems that big and daunting to me. I know what it means, long tones, scales, patterns, triads, classical etudes, all that stuff. I'm not sure I can do it, make that commitment like I used to, and I don't know if the sound of my Mark VI can keep me inspired like it used to.

Just venting my thoughts here, wondering if anyone else has suffered through the same fears, emotions and trepidations and successfully made it through.
 

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I played professionally in the '70s & '80s, burned out on touring, quit the biz to spend more time with wife & start a family & explore other careers. Over the next 30 years I'd pick up the sax from time to time, do a little recording or performing, but never liked how I sounded or felt motivated to build up my chops.

Four-&-a-half years ago I went out to hear some jazz, met a drummer who encouraged me to start attending a weekly public jam session. I certainly sounded like crap at first, but attended faithfully & found the motivation to woodshed seriously between sessions. Took me a while to learn tune structure, repertoire, riffs, harmonic concepts -- 'coz this particular scene was new to me, an opportunity to start from zero with a clean slate.

As I learned the ropes & prior training kicked in, I gained access to, & respect from, better players. Got invited to sit in with bands. Joined other jams. Joined a band. Left that band. Looking to join -- or start -- another band, I'm meeting musicians. Each of them turns me on to new musical concepts & influences. Am playing better than ever, in new directions, filling in the woeful gaps in my musical knowledge. Been digging the process & the accomplishment, the camaraderie, the challenge of an ever-rising benchmark.

There's lots more to do. Dunno how long I'll have. Mind is active, body gradually falling apart, nobody gets out alive. I feel lucky. I feel grateful. I wanna inspire other players as mentors have inspired me. Yes, there is life after music... & what it is, is more music. Be bold. Trust the journey.
 

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So, all the cynicism aside if I can generate a spark perhaps that can light the fire. I always said I played because I loved the sound of the saxophone, specifically the alto. I didn't play for adoration or attention, honestly I could care less what people think, except for my teachers.

The decision to start playing again is still scary. It's the commitment. It's like getting married... yes it seems that big and daunting to me. I know what it means, long tones, scales, patterns, triads, classical etudes, all that stuff. I'm not sure I can do it, make that commitment like I used to, and I don't know if the sound of my Mark VI can keep me inspired like it used to.
I understand your hesitation. Back 3rd year after a 30-year hiatus. There have been some milestones along the way that has kept my motivation up (like scoring a great setup and getting my sound dialed in). With a job and family, I cannot commit 3-4 hours of practice daily, but I try to get at least 7 hours of playing time per week across practicing, lessons, and sessions.

Now I am feeling like I am in the same mental place I was 30 years ago when I put the horn down. I've definitely improved beyond where I left off, but I feel stuck again and wonder if I am not just postponing the inevitable confrontation with my limitations. My initial goal was to be able to show up at a session and hold my own (which I am comfortable with now), but I am finding sessions to be alienating experiences. Everyone there seems to be in their own world and working on their own shxt, or you can't stand someone's playing, and rarely gels cohesively. And then you stop and wonder whether that is what others must be thinking of you...

I am finding it is tough to run on self-motivation alone and craving to be part of a band or group of players at a similar level, share similar taste in music, and can work together (open to suggestions and criticism) to improve our craft. Maybe some lone genius type can create beauty in a vacuum, but that is not me.
 

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Now I am feeling like I am in the same mental place I was 30 years ago when I put the horn down. I've definitely improved beyond where I left off, but I feel stuck again and wonder if I am not just postponing the inevitable confrontation with my limitations.
I totally understand that. My initial goals were similar. I wanted to be able to sit in with anybody at anytime and be able to hold my own, play any style and have a great sound. I wanted to be able to pick up the Omnibook and open any page and get through it without stopping, minimal mistakes and a reasonable tempo. I accomplished both those goals, then I stopped playing.

That took a lot of work, but I enjoyed the journey. But now I don't know what my goals are, I feel older and disconnected from what used to drive me. I almost feel foolish for even thinking I can do something with the alto that's going to make me happy like it used to. Yet, there is something there, I'm just not sure what it is or if I can muster up the devotion that's required to make it happen.
 

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I wanted to be able to sit in with anybody at anytime and be able to hold my own, play any style and have a great sound. I wanted to be able to pick up the Omnibook and open any page and get through it without stopping, minimal mistakes and a reasonable tempo. I accomplished both those goals...
Impressive skillset, Indio. Have you considered giving sax lessons? Perhaps you'd find meaning & motivation that way: distilling the essence of your technical proficiency & paying it forward.
 

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If I were you and once knew how to play then I think I would first try to play all of the major scales again using sheet music to them. It may sound silly but my guess is that you will tire out pretty fast and that playing with the sheet music will start reconnecting those neurons that knew how to play once upon a time. There is a lot of free or very inexpensive music out there on the web also. Someone else suggested Bettersax.com and that is a great place. Yasuhiro Fujii has a lot of stuff on his Youtube channel that is free unless you want the sheet music and backing tracks. If you just need to build back up then you can try to play along with him. The notes are there on the screen with a cursor point to which note is playing. What I have been learning from him, the songs start easy, get harder in the middle and get easier towards the end.
I think that these are a couple of the most important things to me. First is to have a time set aside every day when I can play some, say at least half hour to an hour. I can stay with it longer now, before trying more than a half hour was a waste because my mouth muscles just didn't have the stamina. Second is that I don't try to beat to death something that I am trying to learn. I have to know when let it go and move onto something else because I just can't improve anymore. You know what though, I come back to it the next day and find that I am better than the day before. If you doubt me just Google 'sleep and learning', you will find a lot of credible sources to back up this phenomenon.
 

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Impressive skillset, Indio. Have you considered giving sax lessons? Perhaps you'd find meaning & motivation that way: distilling the essence of your technical proficiency & paying it forward.
Nah, I'm not good enough to teach. My improv skills were good enough for me to fake my way through many situations, but lacking in variety and originality. The Parker stuff took me 6 years to accomplish, and I'm not sure what I learned from it other than finger dexterity. I've had some great teachers that were patient with me and also part time psychologists, I could never do that.
 

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I spent last week giving my Mark VI a makeover after the long hiatus. Thorough cleaning, oiling, some pad and cork repairs - it's all fresh and minty ready to play, but I still have not yet stuck a reed on a mpc. I did try to get something going by picking up my flute and giving that a go, no expectations there since I was never very good with it. That went okay, i actually like just playing scales and long tones on that, except it did something to my right shoulder holding it in that awkward position for a couple hours and now that hurts. Sucks getting old.
 

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joining community band best thing i did after my 15 yr layoff. my reading is back as well as my stamina and chops . i dont have the best decipline to practice on my own so this weekly 2 hrs is just what i need . i highly recommend it
I’ve mentioned a few times that I recently joined a community band. Playing with a band very quickly brings your playing weaknesses to the surface. I read okay and play the right notes after some practice but I’ve been forced to work on my counting. I’m always coming in early or too late. Haha.

The other benefit is that I’ve had to practice every day I can. That alone has made a big difference in my embouchure and tone control.
 
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