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Hello all!

I currently working on a final research paper for my undergraduate degree exploring the saxophone in the orchestra setting - but I've hit a wall.

Being completely submerged in the classical realm, I'm not too familiar with what students are doing elsewhere in the world, concerning the saxophone. For example: I know that most schools force students to major on the alto saxophone as there is more repertoire for them to fulfill a degree. However, are there any schools where students can major on tenor?

What about jazz schools? At the jazz schools where tenors are able to major, are they finding it extremely limiting in repertoire? How do they overcome that obstacle? Does anyone know of any examples of schools in the US or Canada that allow students to major on tenor saxophone?

Thanks very much :)
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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What about jazz schools? At the jazz schools where tenors are able to major, are they finding it extremely limiting in repertoire? How do they overcome that obstacle? Does anyone know of any examples of schools in the US or Canada that allow students to major on tenor saxophone?
Surely if it's a jazz school, the repertoire is jazz and there's quite a bit of that for tenor you know!
 

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FSU allowed tenor only in the classical degree, though they all learned alto too just because it's worth getting comfortable on both. I would imagine the great classical tenor players allowed it at their schools: Roger Greenberg formerly of UNCO and James Houlik of NC School of Arts. Between soprano/tenor pieces and transcriptions, there's plenty to warrant a tenor only study. I'm not a UNCO guy, but as I recall, Roger Greenberg went deep into Latin American works for the classical tenor.
 

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I think John Moore of U. Louisville spends most of his time on the tenor as well. Might be a good resource for classical tenor works.
 

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I thought you majored in 'saxophone'. I'm not aware of differentiation. Do we now have bass clarinet majors and english horn majors? Can you major in snare drum? How about bass flute?
 

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I've never known a performance sax major on tenor, but my studio had an education major on tenor. I don't recall her ever bemoaning the lack of literature. I think she had plenty to keep herself busy between that written for tenor and transcriptions. Not to mention that etude studies work in any voicing. Our studio was classical-only, so I'm not sure about jazz schools.
 

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I thought you majored in 'saxophone'. I'm not aware of differentiation. Do we now have bass clarinet majors and english horn majors? Can you major in snare drum? How about bass flute?
A number of schools offer a degree in jazz performance on whatever your primary instrument is. While I would think that the sax prof. teaches some classical technique, the emphasis is going to be on jazz techniques, literature, styles, etc, not classical or hybrid styles. And likewise, there are schools where the degree is in musical performance and where classical technique, etc. are the primary focus. I liked my training at UNT, which was classical primarily in the studio and jazz in the lab.
 

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I'm with hakukani--is it really true that classical saxophone majors are "forced" to use alto sax as their major instrument? Or does it just seem that way because most people play alto, and most of the literature is written for alto?

It doesn't make any sense to force one instrument or the other--what would be the point? I thought one majors in saxophone, period.
 

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Most universities allow (classical) students to spend time on any voice they wish, with a semester or two on alto. I think that's great, and if you're at a school that won't let you specialize in bari sax, maybe you're at the wrong school...
 

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I thought you majored in 'saxophone'. I'm not aware of differentiation. Do we now have bass clarinet majors and english horn majors? Can you major in snare drum? How about bass flute?

is very different.. for example why do you must keep playing alto everyday for 2 or 3 years if what you want playing tenot for instance..? yes you are playing/mastering on saxophone, the teacher may even be the same but why not to let do you master/just play on the horn you really want to?..
 

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A good school is going to promote you playing as many saxophones as possible, thus becoming the most versatile saxophonist possible. On each of my 4 masters recitals at MSM I performed on 3 different saxophones. I think it's less and less common to see teachers not promoting a multifaceted approach to this.
 

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I totally agree with Jordan on gaining comfort on all the saxophones. At Eastman, each wind ensemble concert has you on a different saxophone/part, bass to soprano. Invaluable experience.

Quinn
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I totally agree with Jordan on gaining comfort on all the saxophones.
I agree doubling is very useful, especially for a commercial career, but at undergraduate level it's hard enough for any student to get a decent performance just concentrating on one of them, let alone SATB and beyond)
 

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I agree doubling is very useful, especially for a commercial career, but at undergraduate level it's hard enough for any student to get a decent performance just concentrating on one of them, let alone SATB and beyond)
I disagree. I believe there are many things that, when mastered on one size of saxophone, can improve areas of playing on other sizes. For instance, playing bari nearly exclusively for 2 years has dramatically increased my low-register playing on both soprano and alto. Similarly, playing soprano often helps me build my embouchure muscles more than say bari would, giving me a much higher endurance in general.

I would also try and refrain from using the term "doubling" when discussing only saxophones. Sure, when a flute, clarinet, or basson is involved. However, I believe that a "saxophonist" should be comfortable playing any member of the family. Otherwise, they're just "an alto player".

Quinn
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I disagree. I believe there are many things that, when mastered on one size of saxophone, can improve areas of playing on other sizes.
I don't think there's any disagreement about that. I found playing baritone really helped my alto and tenor playing. All I meant was its best for anyone at undergraduate level (unlikely to have actually mastered any one horn), to concentrate or focus on one. I didn't say they shouldn't play different size saxophones.

Having designed and examined undergraduate performance courses as well as taught students extremely successfully (ie got many of them through with 1st class passes) I have had a great opportunity to notice the difference between those who focus on one instrument (with or without doubling on others) and those who try to play them all.

I'm talking purely from a POV of a performance rather than a teaching degree, and most great performers that I know of do specialise in one size instrument, even if they do some doubling on other size saxophones or other woodwinds. There are a few exceptions of course.


However, I believe that a "saxophonist" should be comfortable playing any member of the family. Otherwise, they're just "an alto player
Nothing wrong with that IMO, especially if they are a great alto player. I wouldn't expect a viola player to be a great violinist (cue the viola player jokes)


I'm pretty sure if I had just concentrated on alto, I would be a much better alto player than I am now. I opted to play them all and I ended up as a good allrounder, ideal for professional session work and other commercial playing, but not (IMO) a great virtuoso soloist.

One thing that held me up was the confusion of switching between Eb and Bb instruments, just as my ears were developing.
 

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Having designed and examined undergraduate performance courses as well as taught students extremely successfully (ie got many of them through with 1st class passes) I have had a great opportunity to notice the difference between those who focus on one instrument (with or without doubling on others) and those who try to play them all.
I'm quite happy for you and your students for getting such distinguishing honors. However, yours is just one experience, at one school, in one country. I'm sure other teachers at other music schools have gotten different results. Not saying yours isn't relevant, but your experience isn't the end-all-be-all.


I'm talking purely from a POV of a performance rather than a teaching degree, and most great performers that I know of do specialise in one size instrument, even if they do some doubling on other size saxophones or other woodwinds. There are a few exceptions of course.
Hmm...Vincent David, Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman, Claude Delangle, James Carter, Arno Bornkamp, Branford Marsalis, Tim McAllister...I think these all qualify as "great performers" and they CERTAINLY play the entire family of saxes (and sometimes beyond) at a virtuoso level. Sure, they weren't like that as undergrads (presumably), but they haven't grown into what they are today by sticking to alto ONLY.

Though, I'm sure you are more describing the virtuoso violin, piano, cello, etc. soloists in the mainstream. That point is valid as well, but if we're talking about strictly saxophones...

Nothing wrong with that IMO, especially if they are a great alto player. I wouldn't expect a viola player to be a great violinist (cue the viola player jokes)
Why not? Because violinists have thousands of magnificent pieces at their disposal without needing to turn to viola occasionally for something new? Many new music composers today write for one violin/viola player just like they would for a multi-sax player or Bb/bass clarinet player.

About the "alto player", you would hold a virtuoso on one instrument in higher regard than a virtuoso on many? I'm sorry, but I'll take Joe Lovano over Kenny Garrett.


I'm pretty sure if I had just concentrated on alto, I would be a much better alto player than I am now. I opted to play them all and I ended up as a good allrounder, ideal for professional session work and other commercial playing, but not (IMO) a great virtuoso soloist.
Of course. Playing only one instrument in your life FORCES you to learn it better than you would with other instruments involved. Your "opt" to play them all was a good one, IMO. However, did you create a self-fulfilling prophecy by limiting yourself to "a good allrounder" as opposed to a virtuoso saxophonist?

Quinn
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I'm quite happy for you and your students for getting such distinguishing honors. However, yours is just one experience, at one school, in one country. I'm sure other teachers at other music schools have gotten different results. Not saying yours isn't relevant, but your experience isn't the end-all-be-all.
Of course not, but it's what I know and what I post about. Anyone who has different or superior experience of saxophone teaching is more than welcome, as always, to disagree with me.

Sure, they weren't like that as undergrads (presumably), but they haven't grown into what they are today by sticking to alto ONLY.
Of course - I don't see any argument there - but in this post we are discussing undergraduates. I believe they do best when they focus on one instrument (but not necessarily exclusively) as opposed to trying to be an all rounder at such an early stage.

It's irrelevant in this thread to quote great players who are just as at home on tenor, alto, soprano, baritone, kazoo or whatever. Many probably didn't even do music at (or go to) University or Music College anyway.
 

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I would have to agree with you on this one, Pete. I can and do play alto and have played a soprano (and may pick up another one soon), but I have chosen to put more effort and time into learning and playing the tenor. It is just a better "fit" for me. I would agree that a sax player is well served by being able to play the other members of the sax "family". There are clear benefits to this as has been pointed out, and if you're going to teach then you need to be at least "adequate" on most voices of the saxophone. But for me there simply isn't TIME to really try and master more than one, not to mention buying and maintaining a full stable of horns from soprano to baritone (not to mention bass and sopranino).

More relevant to the thread__my wife works for the University of South Carolina and I play in a couple of bands the College of music sponsors in the community. As far as I know from meeting several students, faculty, and the Dean of the College of Music, no one is "forced" to play a particular voice if they are a sax player. Many do seem to settle on one where they place the most emphasis, but to the best of my knowledge this is their own choice.
 
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