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Discussion Starter #1
Here's an updated list of what beginners need need to do. This my highly biased opinion as very late bloomer playing for four years.

1) Find a good repairman.
2) Buy an intermediate to professional level sax.
3) Use cane reeds to determine the level of stiffness you need and then switch immediately (don't look back) to a synthetic reed. Only unemployed people have the time to screw around with cane reeds.
4) Get a good teacher.
5) Practice at least 2 hours a day because that's what it takes.
6) Treat your instrument like a new born baby. Get a music Medic Swab, and a pad dryer. Use them everyday.

Murdick's axiom: If you have been playing for several months and you are having difficultly either playing the high notes and/or the low notes, it is the fault of the saxophone - go to your repairman. In my experience it has never even once been my fault.
 

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Some good suggestions there, Lutemann. The only one I would really disagree with is the synthetic reed suggestion. I also usually suggest renting a student model sax with a repair contract first, that way you get a feel for what you might be looking for in a sax and you can also determine better whether you prefer alto or tenor.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Online Jazz Lessons and Books
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Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
Rhythm Changes Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrT0Xw_y9d0
Rhythm Changes Lesson:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMOW7QAfpwo
 

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Seriously? It's never once been your problem that you had trouble getting the high end or the low end? Must be a pretty lousy horn you've got there! Wow! An interesting list. I'll check back for the entertainment. REALLY fascinating a good teacher only came in 4th (but then you've only had problems with the horn, not with your playing).

No kidding, this could be lots of fun.
 

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If you need to be unemployed to have time to play with cane reeds how exactly does the employed person practice for 2 hours every day?
I know I can't. I would love to - but I have to be content to get 30-40 minutes every evening and 4 hours on weekends.

It's either that or play at 10 o'clock at night get eventually get killed by my neighbours and/or wife!!!

I do agree with your number 6 however :)
 

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1) Find a good repairman.
Why? Are you planning on breaking instruments a lot?

2) Buy an intermediate to professional level sax.
USED intermediate to pro level.
3) Use cane reeds to determine the level of stiffness you need and then switch immediately (don't look back) to a synthetic reed. Only unemployed people have the time to screw around with cane reeds.
Totally DISAGREE. Synth reeds you might like at first, but a good cane reed is better.
4) Get a good teacher.
This really ought to be #1
5) Practice at least 2 hours a day because that's what it takes.
Depends on what you want to get out of it.
6) Treat your instrument like a new born baby. Get a music Medic Swab, and a pad dryer. Use them everyday.
Eh....I don't think I've ever swabbed my saxes. Ever. Pad dryer like HW Padsaver thing? Yeah, when the horn is in the case. But that's it.

Murdick's axiom
I googled Murdick and isn't he a brass player? Does that really apply to woodwinds? I think if you are having problems you go talk with your teacher first, then your repair person.
 

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My ten cents

a) Find a good Teacher who you can work with and who you understand ( I say this as my first was terrible!)
b)Keep a sense of humour - learning the sax is one of the most frustrating things I have ever done - being able to laugh at my frustrations has definately helped
c)Find the music (with Teachers help) that you want to learn to play - working through my first book was torture. I think it was something like a tune a day . I had no interest or desire really I just plodded on through it.
d) accept that more often then not - it is you NOT the sax!!!
 

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Here's an updated list of what beginners need need to do. This my highly biased opinion as very late bloomer playing for four years.
Yes, it is a bit biased indeed. [rolleyes]

1. Get a teacher.
2. Go rent a sax, ACCOMPANIED BY YOUR TEACHER.
3. Do likewise with mouthpiece and reeds (you really should own these, regardless of you renting or owning a sax)
4. Make good use of your renting contract and see if you can switch from Alto to Tenor or vice versa, before you settle on Soprano or Bari.
5. If you decide to buy, listen to your repair person. An easy-to-keep-in-good-shape instrument is likely to perform more reliably in the long run. Expensive isn't automatically good, and good isn't automatically good looking.
6. MOST IMPORTANT: Whenever unsure, check online resources like SOTW. You will get a truckload of answers, including those addressing questions you didn't even dream of in the first place. :mrgreen:
 

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Me, as a late bloomer of 5 years.

Agree - Repairman. But its not crucial until you need to get a horn fixed. I treated my first horn pretty nicely.

Disagree - Intermediate + sax. I started with a beginners level saxophone and used it for 3 years before buying a professional model. Only a small part of it is the horn. Most of it has to do with the player itself.

DISAGREE - Sorry, but I swear by cane reeds. Synth reeds just don't have the same feeling, tone, depth of sound for me. But there are players out there that do love synth reeds. But for me, I would have beginners practice on 2.5s for awhile and have them grow accustomed to playing their horn. After that, send them off to discover reeds on their own.

Agree - Definitely. The only way I was able to play for 5 years and catch up to players of 8-9 years was thanks to having a private teacher from day 1. And definitely find a good teacher.

Half-half - Beginners gotta build chops first ;) Plus, when I was first starting out I certainly didn't practice 2 hours a day. At that point and time, I wasn't disciplined enough or mature enough to practice that duration. Of course we all look back in retrospect wishing we did. But as it turns out, only very few of us have that drive to practice that much at that stage. Occasionally, you'll find that beginner that does practice 2 hours a day, but not all the time. So, I do wish I had practiced 2 hours a day when I was younger, but I know I wouldn't have cause I just didn't have that drive. I discovered that drive 2 years later after.

Half and half - Murdick's axiom. I would say practice for awhile first. I feel its as if I just haven't learned it. For example, playing a Low Bb at pianissimo without a harsh attack. That is something hard to learn. So you practice and its not getting any better, then get the horn checked up. Of course I also get my horn checked up regularly.

Agree - Definitely treat your instrument nice. Although I probably went overboard after I bought my pro horn. I spent so much time cleaning and polishing after I practice. I OVER cleaned :p

For me I would like to add on...These aren't in any particular order.
-Listening to the music you play. Whether it be classical, funk, jazz, ska, etc. Trying to learn jazz and listening to rap may be counterproductive to your jazz skills :p
-When you practice (or if you're teaching), practice (teach them) with good technique. That way they don't pick up on any bad habits and then have to spend time to unlearn and relearn. Or at least with the best technique they can learn at the time.
-Performance opportunities/having fun. Its fun!
 

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Here's an updated list of what beginners need need to do. This my highly biased opinion as very late bloomer playing for four years.

1) Find a good repairman.
2) Buy an intermediate to professional level sax.
3) Use cane reeds to determine the level of stiffness you need and then switch immediately (don't look back) to a synthetic reed. Only unemployed people have the time to screw around with cane reeds.
4) Get a good teacher.
5) Practice at least 2 hours a day because that's what it takes.
6) Treat your instrument like a new born baby. Get a music Medic Swab, and a pad dryer. Use them everyday.

Murdick's axiom: If you have been playing for several months and you are having difficultly either playing the high notes and/or the low notes, it is the fault of the saxophone - go to your repairman. In my experience it has never even once been my fault.
Hello Lutemann,

Interesting (and somewhat contraversial) post. Just the way to get tons of replies:bluewink:

I would move your No.4. "Get a good teacher" right at the top of the list to no.1.

No.2 would be the choice of instrument. It makes good sense to get the teacher to come along when you make your choice. In this part of the world, most teachers seem to recommen a student-level saxophone for the beginner. Here the Yamaha YTS275 is favourite tenor for new players. It's a very good instrument for the money, easy-blowing, pretty well in tune with a fairly light action and good ergonomics. This horn also holds it value well. I bought mine at a 12% discount 2 years ago. I could sell it privately for the same sum today.

Then later on, if you decide that playing the saxophone is what you really want to do, then the purchase of an intermediate or pro horn might be appropriate, depending on your pocket book.

I am with you on the subject of reeds. Synthetic reeds seem to be a grade or so stiffer than cane. I started out with a 2.5 cane Vandoren, and found a #2 Legere Sig was about equivalent. This reed, with a Link 7 NY mp gives me the sound I want. I found this very early on, and am glad I don't have to faff about with cane reads or take part in the never ending search for the Nirvana of mouthpieces:twisted:

Your advice to practice 2hrs a day is about right. At my first lesson, I asked my teacher how long it takes to become a good player, and he replied "10 000hrs of study and dedicated practice" That's works out about right - 5 years if you were a full time student at college or conservatory.

The practice regime I was recommended was stints of 15 mins, three or four times a day, until the chops get acclimatised. Now at 2 years, I practice two or three sessions to make a total of 2 hrs a day - long notes - scales, sight reading and set pieces or play-along.

I honestly believe there are no short cuts. You just have to put the time in. The learning curve is quite shallow at first, so one can make good progress and play tunes with a fair tone quite early. Playing with others, preferably a grade or two above your own standard is also a very good incentive.

I am a very late bloomer, who started with saxophone just 2 years ago. I now play in a semi-pro big band, a classical wind ensemble and also a rehearsal swing band. The swing band is just for fun. The two other tenor players there are self taught, with about 15 years experience. They can bothg inprovise well, which is beyond me at the moment, but I can already sight-read and play at least as well if not better than they, with a better intonation. I put all that down to my teacher.
 

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when i started i bought a vito (yamaha 23) in great shape for cheap. i wasn't sure i'd stick with it. i'm all for starting with a good horn, but it doesn't have to be pro or expensive. save $$ and instead, invest in a good teacher and a bunch of jazz cds.
i didn't find a repairman until 1.5 years later, i just got lucky with that horn.
i went from cane to synthetic, then a better cane reed (java) and never looked back. it's just my preference, and i'm employed fulltime.

i'll add (and this worked for me, probably not for everyone):
1. start with a good mouthpiece, and they are not always expensive. hite, yamaha, etc.
2. start with a soft reed. i made the mistake of starting with 2.5 when i wasn't ready, and went down to 1.5 for a few months. not worth getting frustrated sounding like a fog horn. i'm playing 2 now.
3. study scales, chords, different modes and etudes. it's a pain for me like eating spinach but the payback is worth it.
4. listen the heck out of as much jazz as possible, learn their licks, and play along with their recordings. this has helped me so much, even though i struggle to catch up with the masters [rolleyes]
5. learn from everybody, including the guy who can't play through the c scale.
6. learn something hard to push yourself, then something easy to see the progress you've made.
 

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"5. learn from everybody, including the guy who can't play through the c scale.
6. learn something hard to push yourself, then something easy to see the progress you've made.[/QUOTE]"

Learning drums I took this into consideration. Every musician can teach you something or give you a different perspective, since they are a different person. They might say something and put it in a way you never thought of before.

I always pick something harder as the brass ring, then pick a new brass ring, and so on.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I'm not saying that a beginner won't have some problems with the high/low notes. But if you can't get them to speak, it's the horn. I wrote to this list a few months ago talking about my high note problem. It wasn't my problem, it was the horn. I forgot my own axiom.
 

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Biggest problem I see: How do you find a teacher who's exactly right for you?

Reed: test, test, test, and later test again.

And yes, make sure the mouthpiece is of good quality and fits the sax and you nicely.

Treat the instrument nicely, or not so nice, or whatever. Your choice.
Just make sure it does not get bent or dented and that it does not have leaks - or have the repairman check it.
 

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As a late bloomer myself I have something to add: I did not buy an intermediate sax. I played intermediate saxes but couldn't hit every note the first time. Then I went to Sam Ash and picked up a Jean Baptiste alto and was able to hit every note low to high the first and second time, so I knew it was the sax for me. I still use cane reeds- Rico Royal#2. Agree with the good teacher point. I practice 1 hour or longer every day, longer on the weekends.
 
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