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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
There is a fellow in our church who is musically inclined, and plays many instruments (not only sax). He has access to nearly evey type of sax made and has played most in our church. My wife hits me constantly when he plays solos or in small ensembles as I find myself grimacing and flinching through his pieces.

Two things really stand out to me: 1) No attention to the temperature of the horn before he plays, so he starts horribly out of tune until his horn warms up (can't he hear that?!)
2) No dynamic variation, except perhaps from loud to louder (maybe this explains #1).

I'm concerned that the congregation will begin to dislike having sax solos based on the poor musicianship I see when he picks up his sax. (we're the most consistant instrumental soloists, maybe 1 time every 6 weeks for him and twice a year for me)

As you can see by my signature, I'm no ace, but I was taught not to play above my ability. I receive praise after I play and from different people in the congregation each time (that I redirect to our Lord and Saviour, as it certainly is not because I practiced enough to perform flawlessly).

Should I be concerned, or bow out to avoid an over-saxed congregation? I can hear the comments comming (let's hear something else, enough sax already, doesn't anyone else play a different instrument...)

Right now, I'm dying to prepare O Come, O Come Emmanuel for the holiday season, but I also know he'll be playing something, if not more than once as well.

[Edit: Ok, he's not terrible, so maybe it should have been "questionable"]

Thoughts?:?
In Christ,
 

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I'm not the best person to give you advice on this one.
But I say play. O Come,,, is a beautiful piece. I wouldn't worry too much about the congregation. They may just see your playing as a blessing.
 

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bandmommy said:
I'm not the best person to give you advice on this one.
But I say play. O Come,,, is a beautiful piece. I wouldn't worry too much about the congregation. They may just see your playing as a blessing.
I concur with this. :)

Use your ability to counter what is being done to their ears and they'll
appreciate it. :)


mark
 

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I`ve come across this before. Those "musicians" that think they`re "it" because they claim to be able to play anything. Reality is they can get noise out of the thing but not much else. Well, I say go ahead and show them there`s a difference between a jack of all trades/master of none and a dedicated sax player.
 

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MartinHandCraft said:
Thoughts?:? In Christ,
Yes. My thoughts. Would Jesus have posted a thread like this?

I don't post this judgementally, but more in the spirit of giving you something to think about, if you are honest with yourself and think it's appropriate. It comes across to me that you are not as concerned about the other guy giving the sax a bad reputation as much as you have some resentments you have to deal with. This strikes me as being more about you and less about him and the saxophone.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Gary,
Thanks for the comments. I don't think you're being judgemental. In fact, sometimes it takes a prodding to move the focus inward. So I'm happy to do that. Let's see...

Resentments how? I would enjoy playing more often (a comparison I made), but I can't commit the time for practice in place of family at this time. This is a decision I am making conciously knowing that I'll have more time to play later.

I have mentioned the cold sax issue as a common issue we have but he just said "yeah" and ignored it.

I know I don't want the congregation to sigh when either he or I step up to play, but do I resent this? I don't know.

Is it the "play above my ability" comment (something like, shouldn't he think about things like I do)?

Really, I want both of us to be able to share our gifts with a welcoming congregation. Personally, I think he's a better emsemble musician than a solo performer as he seems to blend better in the groups we've both played in.

I admire his overall talent, and his willingness to share. I try to enjoy his performances, but I find myself finding issues with it rather than enjoying it. I suppose many musicians do this with their primary instrument, the same way we enjoy a virtuoso performer.

I will be praying during his next performance that I can eliminate the internal criticism and enjoy what he's sharing. Is that at the heart of your would Jesus have posted this comment?

Thanks for the comments. And I really do appreciate the comments.
 

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I don't even understand this playing sax in church stuff it seems very bizarre to me i used to go to a church to hear the band and get some exposure to gospel but it was more a choir with a small unobtusive rthyem section
I just don't understand this whole phenomenon i must be rather sheltered in the way of the world? If there is sacred sax can there be sacred dancing? who about cooking? I might want to explore some sacred pantomine or sacred horticulture i can grow mean bud?
 

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MHC . . .

I have a few thoughts on this:
1. Maybe you're the only one really noticing it because you know how it's supposed to sound; I can't imaging your praise and worship pastor letting this continue if it is really horrid.
2. Why don't you step up and play a bit more yourself. If you play more; he'll play less. Problem solved :)

EastCoastGhost . . .

Praise and Worship has started to rock the house in recent years, and not just Gospel. Contemporary praise and worship (think Hillsong, Michael W. Smith, Chris Tomlin, Lincoln Brewster & more) is becoming a staple in non-denominational Sunday celebrations, if not in mainstream services, as well.

On any given Sunday, we have a drummer, bassist, two electric guitars, one accoustic guitar, two keyboardists (piano and synth), trombone (usually), electric cellist (sometimes), four front line singers, and about ten folks in the choir.

In our church, we usually start out with a couple of real rockers that will get the congregation jumping (sometimes literally), and follow on with a couple slower, but powerful songs to get the Spirit moving through the flock.

We have a horn section (well, one trombone player), but I'm relearning the sax (after 35 years), and will probably start to pitch in (tenor sax) as part of the ensemble in a few months. Coincidentally, we have just had an alto player join the church. Our praise and worship pastor (aka band leader) is looking forward to the expanded tonal textures.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
ECG,
Listen to Kirk Whalum. You'll hear sacred sax (The Gospel According to Jazz, Chapters 1 & 2, and soon 3! Or Hymns in the Garden) Yes, there is sacred dance (which occasionally involves pantomime). It's in the attitude. Though I'm sure bud growing is not something on the list of virtues...
 

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Terrible Player

MartinHandCraft said:
There is a fellow in our church who is musically inclined, and plays many instruments (not only sax). He has access to nearly evey type of sax made and has played most in our church. My wife hits me constantly when he plays solos or in small ensembles as I find myself grimacing and flinching through his pieces.

Two things really stand out to me: 1) No attention to the temperature of the horn before he plays, so he starts horribly out of tune until his horn warms up (can't he hear that?!)
2) No dynamic variation, except perhaps from loud to louder (maybe this explains #1).

I'm concerned that the congregation will begin to dislike having sax solos based on the poor musicianship I see when he picks up his sax. (we're the most consistant instrumental soloists, maybe 1 time every 6 weeks for him and twice a year for me)

As you can see by my signature, I'm no ace, but I was taught not to play above my ability. I receive praise after I play and from different people in the congregation each time (that I redirect to our Lord and Saviour, as it certainly is not because I practiced enough to perform flawlessly).

Should I be concerned, or bow out to avoid an over-saxed congregation? I can hear the comments comming (let's hear something else, enough sax already, doesn't anyone else play a different instrument...)

Right now, I'm dying to prepare O Come, O Come Emmanuel for the holiday season, but I also know he'll be playing something, if not more than once as well.

[Edit: Ok, he's not terrible, so maybe it should have been "questionable"]

Thoughts?:?
In Christ,
Love is patient, love is kind........ it was 65 degrees in our sanctuary this morning. I had my hand stuck up the bell of my tenor most of the time we weren't playing just to try and get a sound out. The Holy Spirit works on the congregation even when our horns don't
 

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There is a fellow in our church who is musically inclined, and plays many instruments (not only sax). He has access to nearly every type of sax made and has played most in our church. My wife hits me constantly when he plays solos or in small ensembles as I find myself grimacing and flinching through his pieces.
This has nothing to do with you. Saxophone playing is not a contact sport. The other fellow’s playing should not affect your playing in the least.

Two things really stand out to me: 1) No attention to the temperature of the horn before he plays, so he starts horribly out of tune until his horn warms up (can't he hear that?!)
2) No dynamic variation, except perhaps from loud to louder (maybe this explains #1).
Again, this is not your problem. If he is playing out of tune, then do not play. Another horn will not correct the situation. Concentrate on being the best you can be. When you reach a mastery of your instrument and requisite comfort level – then play. Otherwise, more of the same isn’t what anyone wants. If this fellow can’t play in tune, then he can’t play period. And most folks in the congregation will not know whether you are out of tune or the other fellow. He may call it playing, but he is the only one. It doesn’t matter how many instruments one thinks they can play. A sound may be coming out, but it’s not playing. Since, you also list a number of different saxophones in your signature, get proficient on one – the one you feel most comfortable with. Otherwise, you are going down his path. And, we know where that leads.

I'm concerned that the congregation will begin to dislike having sax solos based on the poor musicianship I see when he picks up his sax. (we're the most consistent instrumental soloists, maybe 1 time every 6 weeks for him and twice a year for me)
It’s not how often one plays, but how well they play when the time comes.

As you can see by my signature, I'm no ace, but I was taught not to play above my ability. I receive praise after I play and from different people in the congregation each time (that I redirect to our Lord and Savior, as it certainly is not because I practiced enough to perform flawlessly).
So you are no ace today, what about tomorrow? You need to practice. PERIOD. No one ever became any better by not picking up the horn and not working on it. Ironically, this appears to be your main complaint with the other fellow. If you don’t have time to practice, then don’t play. The congregation is getting enough of that already. Practicing is a whole lot more than learning a tune. It’s working on your TONE; phrasing; building up your embouchure; programming your body memory; learning about when reeds are broken in and when they are not; and how it all fits together.

Don’t let the fact that the bar is so low at your church that you think you can cut corners. And, believe me, it’s low – given what you write. If one plays out of tune around these parts they show you the door. That’s just the way it is.
Should I be concerned, or bow out to avoid an over-saxed congregation? I can hear the comments coming (let's hear something else, enough sax already, doesn't anyone else play a different instrument...)
Well, if people are playing out of tune, you can’t blame the congregation for complaining. They probably think this is the way the instrument is supposed to sound. If you play your instrument well, they will not be overly saxed.

Right now, I'm dying to prepare O Come, O Come Emmanuel for the holiday season, but I also know he'll be playing something, if not more than once as well.
Again, don’t worry about what the other person is going to do, unless you also want to put the other fellow is in charge of your salvation. O Come, O Come Emmanuel, is not that difficult. Between now and the Christmas season you have plenty of time, IF YOU PRACTICE!!!! Do one thing well. If the director wants the other fellow to play O Come, O Come Emmanuel, then don’t play. If the congregation complains, at least you had nothing to do with it. If you don’t play the congregation will not be mad and neither will God.

I would enjoy playing more often (a comparison I made), but I can't commit the time for practice in place of family at this time. This is a decision I am making consciously knowing that I'll have more time to play later.
Then play later when you can do it right. Otherwise, work something out with the family so you can practice. If you can’t commit to practicing then don’t commit to playing. When your wife nudges you about the other fellow’s playing, let her know that you are not going to get up there unless you practice. Otherwise, wait till later when you have more time.

I have mentioned the cold sax issue as a common issue we have but he just said "yeah" and ignored it.
This is his problem. Let is go. Besides he isn’t going to listen to you. Play when he is not there, or get the leader to have him play another instrument besides saxophone, since he is such a Whiz-Bang. Otherwise, the minute he starts playing out of tune – stop playing!!! At times we can set a higher bar by not playing. He’ll get the message and so will the congregation. And when, you are not playing make sure the mouthpiece is not near your lips or folks will think you are playing.

When the congregation gets to a point where they want to do something about it, they will. Just make sure you are not on the same list. We learn from people who are better than we are -- not the other way around.

I wish you all the best in dealing with this situation. But, as with everything else—this too shall come to pass.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ok then, am I crazy? I usually sit down front, off to one side, when I'm going to play a solo (ensemble, no one seems to bother) and close all the tone holes, breathing slow deep breaths through the sax to warm it up. Seems to do the trick...and keeps the reed wet too (of course, Sop and Alto need less heat to keep them warm).
My Sunday school class ribs me when I arrive after rehersal with my reed in my mouth (which I then put into a cup of water...).
Is this over the top?

(Our congregation seems to have relaxed into overall mediocraty and though my performances are far from excellent, I like to try.)

Thanks,
 

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I went through the cringing and commenting under my breath at a memorial service I went to recently. A VERY well-known jazz educator was playing, but his intonation is so bad, I left with a stiff neck. His protege played also and I almost had to leave before the service even started. IMO NO sax in church (the service will be shorter and we can all get to brunch quicker).
 

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WWJD...I'd like to think, while still loving the man, he would go up to the guy and say "man you suck, go do some practice then come back and wail in my house".
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Straightsax,
Perhaps I was not clear. My cringing and grimmacing occurs when I am listening in the congregation, not when playing with him. I've actually only played with him once and it was a total disaster, but not because of either of us (actually, it was his father).
When I know I'm playing, I throw in lots of practice. I usually take my lunch hour and practice in the car, as well as at home in the mornings, after the kids are up.
I'm probably going to ask the worship director on Sunday what's on the schedule for December, and see if I can play Oc, Oc, Emmanuel. Once I get the nod, I'll start practicing that piece.
Oh Holy Night is also one of my favorites...

RandyJ,
That's too funny. Probably very true, but still funny.
 

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BigChas said:
MHC . . .
In our church, we usually start out with a couple of real rockers that will get the congregation jumping (sometimes literally), and follow on with a couple slower, but powerful songs to get the Spirit moving through the flock.

We have a horn section (well, one trombone player), but I'm relearning the sax (after 35 years), and will probably start to pitch in (tenor sax) as part of the ensemble in a few months. Coincidentally, we have just had an alto player join the church. Our praise and worship pastor (aka band leader) is looking forward to the expanded tonal textures.
Sorry if I'm taking your statement way out of context, but the "Spirit" is not some mystical substance that could be manipulated through music. And the role of a worship team is not to try to get a reaction out of the congregation or to "set the mood." It is worship. You do it to worship the Lord and not to "get the congregation jumping" at first, then slow things down like you're some sort of DJ. Don't mistake the congregation's emotional response to your great music for the Spirit of God "moving."
 

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If the sax player is making the most out of what he's got and he is happy doing what he's doing just let it be. Some guys don't want to be the next Mike Brecker, they just want to have fun. Ignorance can be bliss.

Offering unsolicited advice is a no-no. Remember, in his eyes and ears, he's better than you.
 

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Maybe G-D will just stike this idol worshipping heathen dead
hey we can hope right some of you might even want to pray for it inbetween the part about going to heaven and winning the lottery
 

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Thanks for sharing your observations and reactions. I've often wondered about "praise" musicians that, in any other context, would have no audience. I see so much here about "I play for the Lord and He likes it" etc. I, too, would find it very distracting because I would be listening to the music in my own musical paradigm rather than be able to let it wash over me in the judgment-free way in which it is offered. I, too, feel that there should be some metric, some threshold value, of musicianship for performers in a church setting. I agree that only the best should be allowed to perform for such a captive audience.

On the other hand, IF you choose to play in the church as a worship musician, maybe there are some other things to consider...

I am sure he is performing to the best of his abilities in a sincere manner. Maybe that's how it should be accepted. I have, only in the last year, come to realize that "tolerance" is NOT where we need to be in our heart of hearts. That implies that we are still making a judgment. Take a step past "tolerance" and grow into "acceptance" if you are able.

G'luck.
 

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I play for a worship team in my church and I believe in musicianship and playing to the best of one's abilities. My struggle is trying to not keep all the glory for myself and giving most of it to God, all of it if it were honestly possible in my case. Of course I like getting compliments after the service, and I enjoy having the respect of other musicians, who quite frankly, are not on the same musical level as I am. I'm a novelty at my church. I don't agree that only the best of the best should be allowed to play with the worship team. It is NOT a concert. It is WORSHIP. It's NOT for entertainment although it is important that the congregation can at least tolerate the music. Also, I'd like to point out that joining the worship team should NEVER be viewed as your opportunity to get "discovered." Sure, you very well could get that record deal you've been longing for after you get some exposure at church. But in the end, your motives will be dealt with by God. Anyway, it's one thing to weed out professing musicians who just sound plain terrible, but it's another thing to sort them out as if they're trying out for the Navy Seals. A simple heart of worship and enough talent to play the relatively simplistic tunes in most churches is all that is necessary.
 
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