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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

In about 6 months I will be auditioning for music school. I'm a non-traditional student, being 26 years old and still not having finished my bachelor's degree. I prefer to play bari sax, and hopefully I'll be able to do so during my college career, but my current teacher stated that most schools will prefer an audition on alto. That's no real big deal, as I play alto as well.

My concern is thus: I need to get a new alto and a new bari. My alto is a YAS-23 that I've had since the 5th grade. It's in decent condition, but it's still a student horn. My bari sax is a late 20's Buescher True Tone stencil. It has some intonation problems, but has a good sound. It's obviously not a top of the line instrument, even for it's time, however. I can really only afford one or the other, so my question is, which should I replace first? The bari will quite obviously be more expensive, but it is what I would like to focus on. I know a lot of schools emphasize alto plus whatever you choose, so I know I will be playing both frequently. Any advice on how I should spend my money? Thanks!

Jim
 

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Alto. It will be your bread and butter horn at school surely?
 

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While you may want to focus on bari, I'm willing to bet most of your time, at least at the beginning, will be spent with an alto in your face. Go with the alto, and start saving for the bari.
 

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While the lions share of your lesson time will most likely be on alto, I am going to buck the trend of the posts here and say get the bari first.

If bari is your main horn, your lesson teacher will have to adjust to you. Besides, it is an Eb horn, so the literature will not be any different. I believe your Yamaha will do you fine for your lessons should the teacher refuse to let you focus on your main (bari) during your lessons.

Bari will get you more work and more opportunities since there are far fewer bari players out there (who are good). I think you should focus on bari at the expense of alto, rather than the opposite.

Although I truely love playing the tenor, if I had it all to do over again, I would have focused on bari rather than tenor.
 

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Randall said:
Bari will get you more work and more opportunities since there are far fewer bari players out there (who are good). I think you should focus on bari at the expense of alto, rather than the opposite.
Agreed. There'll be ton of alto players and possibly no other baritone players with fewer still being specialists or people who've focussed on it.
I've gotten more gigs playing baritone than alto or tenor combined. (which is why i don't own either of the latter anymore.)
 

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I agree - replace the alto - lots of good used horns out there for good prices.

FWIW - your True Tone bari IS a top of the line horn - espec for it's day.
These horns have a rep for the best intonation going - so I am inclined to say bring it to the shop and have it gone over for leaks & keep playing it when the opportunities come up.

If it's not in tune there's something going on. No reason you couldn't play that horn for the next 50 years if you wanted to... (and they have a great sound too).
 

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Good points about the work oportunities, but wont those be present even playing the old bari? What counts is that the teacher doesnt discriminate against you in your studies due to limitations in your main study horn. I guess without knowing the teacher (and perhaps getting their input) we just dont know.
 

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I think since less people play bari, you would have a better chance with it. It's a scholarship instrument. But I play only alto and bari, and I prefer the alto over it any day. The only time I might prefer bari is when I feel strong and powerful. :D
 

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I would say, bring your alto and baritone. It couldn't hurt.

Also, if you want to upgrade your set-up, start looking around for "sleeper" proffessional horns.

SML or stencils are great values, as are used Yanigasawas, Selmer mk 7s and early Selmer BAs. Eastlake King "Super 20" are cheaper than the older classic Cleavland horns.

Bottom line, the Buecsher is too funkey for proffessional use today. Look at Conns, Martins and SML (if you can find one). VITO (Yanagasawa stencil) is a good baritone value if you want a low A. BTW, I hate low A baritones, but if you must get one, the late 70s Yamaha YBS61 is a great horn.

Good altos are easy to find. A good Conn "Chu" can be found for under a grand, and a 6M for under $2k.

Good luck! Let us know the up-shot.

REMEMBER! Music school is NOT trade school. It IS art school. Learn all you can about your craft and play with the best player's you can find. Expose yourself to as much music as posible.

Don't expect to find a gig after school. I am a full-time working saxophonist/composer/arranger, but not everyone is as lucky as me. You might luck out, but who knows? Not evertone that jumps off a building dies.

Only make this your life if you CAN'T do anything else. (or you're already rich.)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
BarrySachs said:
Only make this your life if you CAN'T do anything else. (or you're already rich.)
I think this sums up why I want to major in music. I've had quite a number of majors (hence why I haven't finished my bachelor's) plus 5 years of full time IT work, and I've realized that the only thing that doesn't make my stomach churn is the thought of making music my life. I don't expect to make a living off of performance, though I'll be majoring in Jazz Studies (sax gods willing), but I do intend to do instrument repair as a day job. It's something I've always wanted to do, and hopefully I can supplement that with gigging.

Back to the original topic though. I do wonder about auditions. Should I do a piece on baritone and alto, or do both on one or the other? I also play string bass, so I understand about getting gigs because there aren't enough to go around. That's one of the many appeals of bari sax for me, I think :) Would it be unheard of to contact the sax professors at the colleges I'm looking at and ask them what they would like to see?

Thanks for all the responses so far :)
Jim
 

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akumaJFR said:
Would it be unheard of to contact the sax professors at the colleges I'm looking at and ask them what they would like to see?

Do it. It shows you are interested and motivated. Contact with the professor never hurts; they know who you are.

What schools are you looking at?
 

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akumaJFR said:
Back to the original topic though. I do wonder about auditions. Should I do a piece on baritone and alto, or do both on one or the other? I also play string bass, so I understand about getting gigs because there aren't enough to go around. That's one of the many appeals of bari sax for me, I think :) Would it be unheard of to contact the sax professors at the colleges I'm looking at and ask them what they would like to see?

Thanks for all the responses so far :)
Jim

If you play bass, it will be easier to obtain a scholarship. Of course you'll have to promise to play bass in some ensembles. If you play gut strings without an amp, you'll go far in NYC with the be-bop crowd.

Anyway, play both alto and baritone at the audition, and bring the bass too!

If you know any of the saxophone teachers, call 'em up.

BTW, what schools are you looking at? Maybe I know some of the teachers.

I see Martinman has asked this also.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Right now I'm looking at Bowling Green State University (I went there for a year, so I know the jazz faculty pretty well), University of Oregon, and maybe University of Denver. Bowling Green is my biggest prospect, mostly due to being in state. I've thought about OSU as well, but I'm not sure I want to go to a school that huge.

I definitely want to keep up with my bass playing. In fact at the moment I'm struggling to decide which instrument I want to major in. I feel like I have an easier time playing saxophone, and I feel I pick things up quicker on sax, but to be brutally honest, bass playing pays better ;) Either way though, jazz is jazz, and a lot of improvisation knowledge goes from instrument to instrument. At the moment I'm thinking sax will get me through college easier, but I also know it's far more competitive than bass. It's a tough decision, because I love both, but I'm really leaning toward majoring in sax, and "minoring" in bass.
 

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In my experience, you will get the most gigs if people perceive you as competent on both alto *and* bari. Being seen as "a bari player" may be limiting, while being seen as "a sax player who's really hot on bari" is a far better thing.

I'd go to college prepared to spend a lot of time on BOTH horns. If it were me, I'd keep the YAS23, spend some $$$ on a good bari (please consider some things OTHER than a top-of-the-line new horn), and plan to upgrade your alto later.

You may even find that it makes more sense to still keep the YAS23 and instead of spending $$$ on an alto upgrade, get a good bass clarinet. If you really intend to specialize on bari, you'll get a lot more gigs if you can play (and also own) a bass clarinet.

For the audition, I'd try to play bari, but take both and be prepared to audition on both; hopefully they'll want to hear you on both horns.
 

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BUY A NEW ALTO! If you want to play bari, fine, but the school will have good baris to play, however, they won't have altos. You will be spending most of your time as a performance major on alto, and a YAS-23 won't cut it. Your Tru-Tone is already a professional line horn, so you need an alto.

Yes, the bari may get you more gigs, but we're talking about academia here, and if you go to a school like Bowling Green State (with John Sampen), he will INSIST on alto for lessons. Academia is much different than real life, and most classical repertoire is written for alto.

As far as what type to get, that's where you need to talk to the professor. Many professors prefer their students to have one over another, although a Selmer Serie II is usually a pretty safe choice.
 

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Don't hesitate to call the schools you're interested in and talk to folks there, whether you already know them or not. Part of their job is to answer questions from prospective students. They can guide you, from the particular perspective of their degree programs, far better than anyone here.
 

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It sounds like you have two good instruments there. A YAS-23 in excellent condition and the right mouthpiece (for you) can certainly carry you a ways into your school career, and although I know nothing about them, it sounds like the same is true of your bari. If it were me, I'd take them both to a good shop and get them whatever service they need. Then if you want to buy a new horn in a couple of years, you'll be in a much better position to decide what to get.

As for playing bari as your primary instrument, one of my best friends did that all through college (IU) - didn't start playing alto at all until our Junior year or so. But that's one school, one studio. You should definitely find out what's A) expected, and B) tolerated and go where you'll get what you want out of it. Remember, you'll be paying tons of $$. It's your education you're purchasing, so make sure you can get what you're looking for (assuming hard work, of course).
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Sorry to dig this up, but I have some more info. I spoke to the sax teacher at BG, John Sampen, and he said that he does allow baritone sax majors (yay! one more plus for BG), but he said that if I didn't have a good baritone, I should audition on alto. I like my baritone, but it needs some work. No problem, to the tech it goes.

I think I will be getting a new alto...he suggested a Selmer Series III or Yamaha Custom, so I'll have to go sell my kidney and see if I can get one used ;) He did say lessons would be on alto which is why I'd like to get upgraded beforehand.

One other question I had for you folks is audition repertoire. I'm currently working on the Maurice Tableaux, movements 2 and 3. I don't know why but these 2 movements speak to me more than the other 3. I know they aren't as technically demanding as the 1st or 5th, but will they be seen as "picking the easy ones?" I'd like to do those 2 on alto, and also do Rachmaninoff's Vocalise on Baritone. I absolutely adore that piece, in fact I've been working on it off an on on string bass for years now. Any other suggestions on what I could play? For my jazz audition, I'd like to do Fly Me to the Moon and one other, but I'm not sure what other that should be. Thanks again!
 
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