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Hey all,

I'm looking for some insight. For a number of reasons I've been having doubts about the teacher I am currently studying with. Just one of them is this: he is not familiar with some pieces I deem to be if not standard, at least relatively so in the contemporary sense, such as the Maslanka Sonata and the Dubois concerto. He's also unfamiliar with such players as Kenneth Tse and John Harle. Would you say that as a professional teaching in a university, this lack of knowledge would be a reason for concern?

One other thing. Do you think it unwise to program both the Glazunov concerto and the Creston Sonata (among other things, naturally) in an hour-long recital?

Thanks
 

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britt said:
One other thing. Do you think it unwise to program both the Glazunov concerto and the Creston Sonata (among other things, naturally) in an hour-long recital?

Thanks
A recital with both the Creston and the Glaz wouldn't necessarily be bad. But it really depends on what else you have on the program. I usually like an hour long recital to have at least 1 or mabye 2 standards, usually not more.

It's too bad that your teacher is so ignorant about the classical sax world, espically when people with saxophone DMA's can't get college teaching jobs. Has your teacher studied classical sax, or just jazz? Either way, there are things that any serious teacher needs to know. I would definitely be concerned.
 

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I won't get into the teaching problem. (I'll keep it to myself, for a change). The Glaz, and the Creston would be great in the same program, IMO.
 

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I don't think not being familiar with those two works is necessarily a reason for doubts. I know for a fact that there are pieces that some saxophone teachers in top positions aren't familiar with that I deem to be important. I also know of important and knowledgeable teachers who don't think those particular pieces are worthy enough to concern yourself with.

If, however, unfamiliarity with those two works are indications of an ignorance at a larger scale then I would say there is reason to have concerns. But to me, using those particular works and nothing else as an indicator may not give you an accurate picture of what that teacher has to offer you.
 

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My professor also has a jazz focus with less attention to the classical side. He too does not know all the music that I know. Despite those issues I still think he is a great teacher. He can make up for having spent less time focusing on the classical side because he is a fantastic musician.

Will he ever have grad students focusing on classical performance, no. Can I still learn a great deal from him in all genres, yes. The most important thing for a specialist teaching out of their area of expertise is an open mind. When I hear something that he has not heard I share it and more often then not he gets just as excited by the music as I do. If that was not the case then I might have a reason to worry. However I feel that for me, at the level I am at, that I am in a wonderful place to grow as a musician daily.
 

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Part of his responsibility as a university level teacher is to teach you repertoire. Kind'a hard to do if you haven't played it, much less even know about it. You also need to be able to discuss with your students various playing styles of major performers. Again - foul.

However, how does he play what he does know? How is his teaching? Does he produce students that he's improved? I wouldn't sell him short if he's teaching you well, but the things you mentioned would cause me to take a deeper look.
 

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britt said:
Hey all,

I'm looking for some insight. For a number of reasons I've been having doubts about the teacher I am currently studying with. Just one of them is this: he is not familiar with some pieces I deem to be if not standard, at least relatively so in the contemporary sense, such as the Maslanka Sonata and the Dubois concerto. He's also unfamiliar with such players as Kenneth Tse and John Harle. Would you say that as a professional teaching in a university, this lack of knowledge would be a reason for concern?

One other thing. Do you think it unwise to program both the Glazunov concerto and the Creston Sonata (among other things, naturally) in an hour-long recital?

Thanks
It is fine, and actually a good idea to program a couple of standards (like Creston and Glazunov) into a recital. I look at it sort of like programming a Beethoven symphony and a Haydn Symphony on the same orchestral program.
These are "warhorses" that audiences are familiar with, and therefore should be on a program together, but you'll want to mix them up with one or two more contemporary pieces. (I'd suggest something unaccompanied, like a Noda "Improvisation".)

As far as the comments about your teacher go, it is not necessarily a problem that he has not heard of Kenneth Tse or John Harle. It is also not necessarily a problem that he hasn't heard of more contemporary pieces. You have to ask yourself some questions though:

1. Are his goals the same as mine? (For example, if he is mostly a jazz guy, and you want to play mostly Art music, is he going to be able to teach you what you are looking for?)

2. Is his ignorance due to neglect or "willful ignorance"? (I have run into teachers who just haven't kept up with the larger world, teachers who refuse to acknowledge "newer" players because they can't play as well or pieces that they can't play, and teachers who just don't focus on newer stuff. All of these could be problems, or they might not be.)

3. Is he teaching you what you need to know, or have you "plateaued"?

4. Have other players who have had the same teacher done well after they have studied with him?
 

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It seems to me it should be more about how this person plays and teaches saxophone. Although he or she should be familiar with the players and pieces you've mentioned; it doesn't make the teacher a BAD teacher.

Why not show up with the pieces and recordings and say

"MR TEACHER - Check this out - What do you think!!!!"

GOOD TEACHER Reaction:

He or she may be impressed with your knowledge. Encourage you to work on and bring in new pieces while continuing to work on assigned "standards." This may also motivated your teacher get current on saxophone literature and players.

BAD TEACHER Reaction:

That nice (oh lowly student) - I'll look at that later but we should really focus on the Creston.
 

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I agree with the above statements as far as reason for concern... remember too that there are thousands of saxophone works and that not everyone will have heard them all (although the works u listed I think are fairly standard). If the teacher can teach you to play with a classical sound (I wont define that to avoid arguments... haha), teach you proper technique (ok... I wont define any of these), proper playing position, how to play MUSICALLY, etc., I wouldn’t be too worried. Just because someone hasn't heard of a piece doesn't mean they wont be able to help you learn it.

My advice would be to do A LOT of your own research on the above-mentioned topics as well as repertoire, no matter who your teacher is. This is what I do constantly. I bring in something new to discuss with my teacher almost every lesson about rep, new techniques, performers, etc. Its good to collect opinions of others and discuss them with your professor. I have learned a lot about the saxophone and its rep by doing this. A buddy of mine and I talk saxophone ALL THE TIME. It helps if you have someone else in your studio really motivated and excited to learn as much as possible about the saxophone because you can feed off each others knowledge and new findings.

I think the Glazunov and Creston go fine on the same recital (.... I hope so cause that's what I did before... haha), they are both standards that the audience seems to enjoy, even if they have never heard of classical saxophone or are in a general music course doing a concert review and don't really listen to "classical" music ;)

I've been taught that it is good to have at least 1 sonata, concerto, unaccompanied work, and baroque transcription on a recital, along with another 1 or 2 pieces of choice. This is for a school recital at least (I've strayed from this a few times), to show off the full capabilities and range of the saxophone... it also shows how well you play different styles. Again, not everyone may agree with this, but it seems to at least help when programming a recital.

I wrote too much... I'll shut up now. haha :)
 

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Thanks everyone for your insight. In reply and to give you more info: he is not a jazz guy; he never plays jazz and doesn't like to teach it.
When I presented him with the Dubois which I had spent much of my summer working on, and can play fairly well now (I'm just doing the first movement, though), he said that he'd rather not teach me something he wasn't familiar with. And he doesn't want me to do the Creston and the Glazunov in the same recital, but his explanations have been mixed. Sometimes I get the feeling it's because he doesn't think I can handle them both (which is not very encouraging) but usually he says that I shouldn't do two of the major works in one recital. Again, I spent like all summer working on this reperetoire... I dunno, I'm just getting more and more dubious, but I don't know if my doubts are rational. We never accomplish much in my lessons. First we play duets, and then I run through my music. He usually only has a couple things to say, and they're usually only about breath support and dynamic contrast. Never about phrasing or technique or anything else. And I run through just about everything I'm working on, since he only has a couple things to say about each piece. But nevertheless, I always get the feeling he doesn't believe in me or that I can accomplish the goals I have for myself (various competitions, getting into grad school). So I'm trying to set up lessons now with teachers from nearby universities to get second opinions on my playing. In the meantime I'm just concerned about getting my recital programmed. It'll be in April, but naturally I need to program it asap so I can spend the next few months working on it, but he seems to think I can just wait around "till the end of the semester, and if it's not ready then just throw in some flute transcriptions." One of the lessons I'm in the process of setting up is with Eugene Rousseau in the beginning of October. I just hope I can get this all worked out; I'm just an undergrad and I don't want to overstep my bounds by complaining about someone who should know more than me, but yet...I don't think I'm learning much from him.
 

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I think the bottom line is that it is YOUR education (and your money, all things considered). You seem to have a great musical head on your shoulders with all the hard work you put in over the summer and the great rep in which you're interested. In short, you are doing your part very well, and if you don't feel like your professor is pulling his weight or teaching you what you want to know (and it has been a consistent problem) then perhaps a transfer is in order. Scheduling lessons with other profs is a great step in this direction.

I think Glaz and Creston are a great combo. I second J.Max's idea of including a Noda Improvisation or something similar - that is edgy, contemporary, and ideally unaccompanied. Beyond that, perhaps you could include something shorter but punchy like the Muczynski Sonata, which only takes around 7 minutes to perform.

And I don't know - I understand maybe not being aware of the Maslanka Sonata, but the Dubois Concerto? I think that's a pretty standard work that university professors should be quite familiar with.
 

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britt said:
Hey all,


One other thing. Do you think it unwise to program both the Glazunov concerto and the Creston Sonata (among other things, naturally) in an hour-long recital?

Thanks
I don't think it is necessary to for a woodwind player to play such a long degree recital. The Glaz and Creston are both standard classical rep., and so appropriate for any degree recital.

Add to that a contrasting piece from the late 20th (Noda Improv. is a good choice) , and a 'short' baroque transcription to open, and you've got a pretty much comprehensive recital.
 
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