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Hi, maybe this is something other sax players have encountered whilst learning to play so I thought I'd post.

I'm a beginner learning since last September so about 7 months, before I began learning I didn't have a musical bone in my body and learning sax is my first instrument. I have a really great teacher and thanks to him, I've learnt more than I thought possible and can even read music now and love learning it.

I've always wanted to play sax and tried to learn four years ago but stopped after about six weeks because everyone in my house at the time said that I sounded 'repetitive and annoying' I was so disheartened that I stopped.

Lockdown happened and I thought, I'm gonna finally learn! its been going great so far and I really love it and never wat to stop playing for the rest of my life now.
The issue is I think I've lost a bit of confidence lately with it, I lived with friends who were super great to put up listening to me play at the beginning especially when I hadn't a clue how to play anything but we recently got evicted and had to move house, when we were leaving our street we let a few neighbours know in the local WhatsApp and a neighbour replied with 'if its the house with the saxophone player, good riddance' and then a few other neighbours chimed in to agree, it seemed like a funny joke at the time but since that I just feel so self conscious playing and my practice has gone from practicing every day (a few times a day if I could) to maybe once or twice a week but I'm too busy thinking about other people hearing me that I barely think about what I'm playing or enjoy it.
I've moved to a new house and my new housemates are very nice and don't mind that I play but still I feel too shy and self conscious to play if they are home. I tried muffling the sound with socks but it didn't help.
I don't want to stop playing over some comments that make me self conscious like last time I tried to learn so that's why I'm hoping to get some advice, please

Has anyone else experienced this or something similar or know of any decent mufflers that would help?

I'm a 27 year old woman, and i always play in my room away from people if that helps.

Thanks so much for any help!
 

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I've been playing for over 60 years. I've been married (this time!) for 40 years. My wife still complains when I practice harmonics and altissimo. I tell her to deal with it.

Don't worry - if people complain, and they will, just apologize or say "I know" or something else comforting. Saxophone is loud, and beginning saxophone (as well as advanced harmonics!) is loud and kind of ugly sounding. And it's all repetitive. It's just part of what people have to accept when they have you in their life - which is, I am sure, a blessing :)
 

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Don’t listen to the naysayers. Follow your passion. I was in your shoes when I started playing sax at 25 years old three decades ago while living in an apartment. I practiced religiously for 1~2 hours every evening after work. I always felt I had at least 10 years of catching up from not having started sooner. Yes, it’s repetitive but that’s how you learn. To me the process of always improving is the fun of it. Some days a neighbor would pull his trumpet and start playing over my practice just to annoy me. I’ve never let it bother me. I say go for it, don’t let anyone get on your way.
 

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On the "if it's the sax player" comment, if most people had Bird or Sonny Rollins or any other great player who were practice fiends living near them, they'd say something similar. Listening to practice, no matter the level is distracting at best. Go for it, keep on practicing and try to accomodate and adjust to others and the environment the best you can.
 

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These guys have good advice, and are completely right. Saxophones are loud, and even great players are perceived as an annoyance when practicing, because practicing requires repetition.

As a kid, my confidence was so ruined that I stopped playing altogether. I didn't pick up the sax again until my 30s. I've played gigs, graced some stages that I have no business being on, and am still not very good. And despite how far I've come, confidence still affects how I play in front of others, too, particularly when I solo.

It sounds like you value being considerate of others. It also sounds like you're more self conscious from some of the feedback you received. Just remember that everyone is a critic - just go to one of the threads on this forum where someone shares a clip of some incredible playing, and you'll hear someone else talk down on it!

We are all here trying to become better players and love and enjoy the saxophone. It sounds like you have that need as well. Stay rooted in the joy that playing music brings you, and that the most joy comes while making music. It's the process of making music - like most creative endeavors - that is the most rewarding.

Lastly, if you would like strategies to soften your sounds from your neighbors, there really are not a lot of options. There are such things as sax mutes, but the reason why no one has mentioned them is because no one would recommend them. Some people play in their closet, because being in a room filled with clothes will muffle the sound a little. I have a whisperroom to minimize my impact on others, but this is a luxury.

Just practice. Everyone else owns headphones anyways.
 

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I understand your problem: I had my wife's daughters complain they could not study during exams in the house so they refused to come over.
I'm playing 5 years now, my sound is a lot better. But even then, practicing saxophone is a nuissance, with all the squeaks, repetitions, ... And it is loud.

My solutions: I adapted my practice schedule to their study schedule, so we negotiated when I could practice during their exams. I gave one of them a (good quality) noise cancelation headset. And I play often in the basement, which muffles the sound a lot.

You want to play saxophone? Then you need to accept it is loud. And practising often has repetition and strange noises which even annoys people more. Even when you're a more advanced player.

My experience is people become more tolerant when you show you try to accomodate for them.

Good luck.
 

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On the "if it's the sax player" comment, if most people had Bird or Sonny Rollins or any other great player who were practice fiends living near them, they'd say something similar.
I just saw an opera about Charlie Parker; there's a scene in it in which Bird's mother tells him that the neighbors are complaining about his constant sax playing. :)

To OP: A beginner on any musical instrument will not be particularly pleasant to listen to. This is not your fault. You are learning; you are not trying to perform for an audience. All you can do is to create as much separation between yourself and other people as your residential setting and schedules will permit. Practice when everyone else is gone, or mostly everyone. Move as far away within the home as you can. Keep windows and doors closed.

Here is what a sax mute looks like:

 

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One of the quizzes on Eric Marienthal's lesson program is a multiple choice:

"We practice with a metronome in order to" and one of the answers is "C. Irritate nearby listeners".
 

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Keep playing, you will get it. Try learning some easy Motown songs to play and practice your sound with songs. Everyone loves Motown and with a little time they will be singing along. In between do the "practice stuff". That was my secret when learning.
 

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Hi, maybe this is something other sax players have encountered whilst learning to play so I thought I'd post.
This is a type of social anxiety, and it is sadly keeping you away from something you truly value. Unfortunately advice for social anxiety mostly doesn't help people get over it. What does help people quite well these days is clinically proven actions which have been built up over the last few decades which combine mindfulness strategies with second generation cognitive behavioral techniques. The skills involved include learning both to tune in to your emotional reactions and to see them with a little distance, to hear what they are saying to you as part of a conversation rather than a commandment, to reality-test the ideas that fuel your anxiety (sometimes framed as "exposure therapy"), and to make conscious decisions about paying costs (like feeling anxious or experiencing negative feedback) for the things you want. :)
 
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These sax mutes are an aberration. Why would anyone have to spend the money, let alone use them regularly? I agree with others that showing you are reasonably trying to accommodate other’s needs is a nice gesture, as long as it does not interfere or impairs your ability to learn and have fun. These mutes cross that line IMO.
 

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These sax mutes are an aberration. Why would anyone have to spend the money, let alone use them regularly? I agree with others that showing you are reasonably trying to accommodate other’s needs is a nice gesture, as long as it does not interfere or impairs your ability to learn and have fun. These mutes cross that line IMO.
As noise laws increase in some parts of the world, and as housing density also increases in those parts of the world more likely to support musical opportunities, the need to be able to control the noise of one's practice is an issue for more and more people. Rather than dismiss the category of muting enclosures, we should be clamoring for better alternatives.
 
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The issue is I think I've lost a bit of confidence lately with it, I lived with friends who were super great to put up listening to me play at the beginning especially when I hadn't a clue how to play anything but we recently got evicted and had to move house, when we were leaving our street we let a few neighbours know in the local WhatsApp and a neighbour replied with 'if its the house with the saxophone player, good riddance' and then a few other neighbours chimed in to agree, it seemed like a funny joke at the time but since that I just feel so self conscious playing and my practice has gone from practicing every day (a few times a day if I could) to maybe once or twice a week but I'm too busy thinking about other people hearing me that I barely think about what I'm playing or enjoy it.
I've moved to a new house and my new housemates are very nice and don't mind that I play but still I feel too shy and self conscious to play if they are home. I tried muffling the sound with socks but it didn't help.
I don't want to stop playing over some comments that make me self conscious like last time I tried to learn so that's why I'm hoping to get some advice, please

Has anyone else experienced this or something similar or know of any decent mufflers that would help?
Welcome, Hazel.

I have been playing for 50+ years, and I am still considerate of others when I practice. Like you, I recognize that there may be times when my volume is unwelcome - especially these times when my wife and children are likely to be sharing the house for most of the day.

It is sad that you encountered such negativity, but that, too, is something that some people seem to feel more free to express these days. Don't let it get you down.

Your tone will develop with time, and will actually sound better when you don't try too hard to play quietly. Playing the saxophone quietly with a full tone is a skill to work on. For now, you need to learn to play with a well-supported air stream, so coordinate with your friends to find a time to practice - press them to be honest about it so no one is building resentment. Consider making time to practice outdoors - I used to take lunch breaks at work to practice in the parking garage. Shutting the doors and windows at home will help cut down the noise that travels to your neighbors. In time, however, once you have some nice tone and develop some facility with your etudes (if that's your path), consider practicing outdoors in your yard (save the awkward new material for indoor practice).

Enjoy the path,

George
 
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As noise laws increase in some parts of the world, and as housing density also increases in those parts of the world more likely to support musical opportunities, the need to be able to control the noise of one's practice is an issue for more and more people. Rather than dismiss the category of muting enclosures, we should be clamoring for better alternatives.
I have and will dismiss the category of muting enclosures. To efficiently practice the saxophone you have to hear how you sound, and that can't happen by enclosing/muting your horn. Sound proofing most rooms is not as difficult as one thinks. Most walls provide sufficient density to keep the sound down to a minimum. You can then buy some cheap rugs to cover windows and doors that will help absorb the sound. I have a basement room that is paneled and has carpet on the floor. My neighbors told me they never hear me practicing. I would suggest that the OP find a space where she can set up some sound proofing. She can also discuss with neighbors and set up a schedule for when they're at work or school or whatever so she can practice in peace.
 

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That's tough. When I moved to New York I largely stopped playing precisely because I didn't want to irritate my neighbors. Then marriage and kids. I've picked it up again over the pandemic, but I have great neighbors. I've talked to them to make sure it doesn't annoy them and I make it a point to practice during the day when they're not trying to put their kids to bed. I practice in a room in the basement that is surrounded by other rooms in hopes that it doesn't bleed out too much.

In the end, though, it's a loud instrument. That it annoyed some neighbors doesn't reflect on your playing and it sucks that they were jerks about it. As long as you're considerate, though, definitely don't let bad reactions from former neighbors shake your confidence!
 

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I’ve had the same proble. Tried the sax mute. Didn’t like it. Used friends houses. Neighbours complained. Finally bought our own place and built a sound proofed room. Problem solved.
 

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The deeply held secret in avoiding these complaints is that you first play the bagpipes for a week. Then, after you switch to sax practice they’ll be so relieved they won’t say anything.

What to do now? Play sax music from the Greats for a few hours every day. Loudly. Your neighbors will love it; they’ll think it’s you. Sneak in some practice in between. Tell them you need to practice like that in order to keep playing that well.

OK, seriously, I think the solution will involve finding a practice schedule that works for you and your neighbors.
 

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Had a similar problem. In the end I invested in an aerophone (which is basically an electronic sax) for most of my practices and as a back up to my real sax. Thing is it has the same fingering but you can play it with head phones :) so nobody can hear you. I sometimes even play it in the evening while watching TV with the rest of the family. :cool:
It opened up a world of possibilities! Of course you still have to switch from time to time to the real sax as the embouchure on the aerophone is a bit easier and more forgiving than on the real stuff.
aerophone.jpg
 
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My wife and I are both learning saxophone, but for the most part, we practice at different times. When my wife has been at it for over an hour and a half or so I'll put the backing tracks on and tell her which key's scales she should practice, "play these notes and you can't be wrong".
My daughter and I find it a lot better to listen to actual music rather than just a solo saxophone.
It's still loud, but it's much easier on the old brain!
 
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