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Hey everybody,

I’m new to this site but I’ve used it before for just tips on what mouthpiece and horn setups would be best for what I’m looking for. I’m a junior in my high school and man I am in a LOVE with playing baritone sax in jazz band, I want to do this professionally once I graduate because music is what I love, I’ve been playing saxophone in general almost 6 years now but it’s only my second year on bari.

Also, I don’t know if this is deemed a good setup, but maybe some of you more experienced folk can help someone like me out.

Mouthpiece - Selmer Paris S80 and Metal Otto Link 5*

Horn - Currently using a Selmer Super Action 80 Series II in my high school, love the horn

Reeds - I try to use double Z’s but I’m open to trying any new ones

I’d appreciate the help on what I should and shouldn’t do while going down the road, I see this website and I’m like a kid in a candy shop! Anyways, thank you for reading this, have a good day.


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Hey everybody,

I’m new to this site but I’ve used it before for just tips on what mouthpiece and horn setups would be best for what I’m looking for. I’m a junior in my high school and man I am in a LOVE with playing baritone sax in jazz band, I want to do this professionally once I graduate because music is what I love...
Wow, this takes me back. That was my perspective when I was your age - 45 years ago. I don't play professionally, but I have continued to keep music as a mainstay in my life. I've played in the same big band for much of the last 20 years, and treasure the experience. It makes my life rich.

Also, I don’t know if this is deemed a good setup, but maybe some of you more experienced folk can help someone like me out.

Mouthpiece - Selmer Paris S80 and Metal Otto Link 5*

Horn - Currently using a Selmer Super Action 80 Series II in my high school, love the horn
Count your blessings - you are spoiled. Enjoy it while you can. Sure, there may be other mouthpieces in your future, but you've got some great gear for where you are now. Keep sheddin' and playin' 'til you hit a roadblock that you KNOW is your gear. Until then, accept that you have everything you need and much, much more.

Enjoy the path.
 

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There aren’t a whole lot of regular contributors here who make/ have made a living playing professionally. Just keep that in mind as you consider the advice. Btw: nothing wrong with your gear at all. What it sounds like is up to you.
 

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What aspect of music do you suspect will earn you a living? A few of us might be able to count well known professional baritone saxophonists on one hand. The general public? Probably couldn't name one. So if it's being a professional player, well... how good are you? Are you the best in your school? The best in your county? The best in your state? Are you prepared to move from place to place and take other jobs to get by?

Dreams are fine. Then life happens.

Oh... one more thing. It has nothing to do with gear.
 

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What you should do;
* Do your regular school homework to keep your grades up
* Practice 3-4 hours a day 5+ days a week
* Take private lessons if you can
* Try out for region/state band
* Start figuring out where you might want to go to school to continue your studies
* Start learning a double like flute or clarinet
* Start learning to play piano
* Figure out where you are going to get a horn from once you leave high school
* Try starting a small band or getting a sax quartet together

What you shouldn't do;
* Worry about gear (except to figure out where to get a horn from when you graduate)
* Spend copious amounts of time looking at any sort of screen - texting, Facebook, Twitter, Snap-Chat, web surfing, video games, TV watching, etc..
* Put too much faith in advice you get from online forums

The "music world" is a big place so you need to figure out how/where you plan to "live" in it. Very few people today make a living entirely by playing music. Teaching as public school band director or private lessons is a popular way to supplement gig income but there are many other possibilities and combinations - writing, arranging, managing or marketing bands, recording, etc., or just having some other "day job" that has little to do with music. Spend some time thinking about and investigating the possibilities that interest you. Talk to your band director as well as other pro musicians you see at concerts and shows to find out more about what life as a musician is like in your area. Also talk with your high school friends who are considering going to music school or going into music as a career and see what they are thinking.
 

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Like others have said, your gear (mouthpiece & reed) is fine! Keep it. Many wish they could have what you already have. A different reed & mouthpiece is not going to change you as a player, but you can master what you already have.

You starting this post makes me really think and I will be honest, I look back to my high school years in band (I changed from Tenor to Bari in 10th grade), and I wish I had held on and kept playing. I hung it up after graduating HS, went to college, got married, had kids (I don’t regret any of that btw), but I wish I had held on and kept playing even in college!

I can relate to what Tenor Mattness said, I personally am in the engineering field and that allows me to play these instruments, and have a few mouthpieces….and all my other hobbies too, have a home and support a family on top of that. Engineering & Computer Science might pay well, however if it is not your interest, do what you like. You can never put a price on enjoying life and doing what you love. Many have some good advice here. I suggest to think about your future a little bit, do you want a home, family, a few hobbies on the side?

I am not sure how much of a living can be made at it, but that should NOT put a damper on any kind of dream, you just may have to modify that dream a little is all! No matter what, don’t let that Bari cool off man (another sax player I look up to gave me this advice, I love that comment), just keep going!

I will give you an example of a guy just like yourself, he is my brother in law: My brother in law is a percussionist and people/places literally seek him out to perform for them, and pay him good money because he had that drive in school that you have right now, he stuck with it, but also went to college for something different (in the finance world), all while still being part of his high school drumline & connected with the school (they pretty much hired him on to help the drumline!!), and he also played percussion in college too with the college band. He has had more avenue’s and places coming to him to perform (including weekend gigs) than you could imagine & he also started teaching other’s also because parents & other students were coming to him asking for help & training, that’s how good he is because of all those years of practice & hard work.

He started out just like you are right now and had that same drive you have, and he kept at it. He has another source of income, however you mix that other source of income with his percussion income….oh yeah, he is doing really well. Another way to think about it, and still have a ton of fun doing something you really enjoy!

All the best to you! Keep at it!!
 

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Dye your hair pink, get a pink suit, and learn how to dance while playing. This is what it's all about now =)
 

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Dye your hair pink, get a pink suit, and learn how to dance while playing. This is what it's all about now =)
There’s actually more truth in this statement than many may think. There are heaps of young (and not the best) players in my region who are getting a lot of gigs because they look cool/have some form of different image....not because they can play.
 

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To be a pro, you have to be very good - better than all the weekend part-time players. So, take lessons and practice - a lot.
Session work opens up opportunities - your sight reading skills will have to impressive.
You should become very good not only on bari, but the other saxes, flute, clarinet and oboe - for pit orchestra work.
Get into an R&B, soul, and funk band with a horn section for the experience and contacts.
Get into a jazz band for skills development.
Go to good jam sessions to make contacts and be visible.
Attend workshops run by touring pro sax players - and talk to them.
Read the trade papers to keep up on bands that need sax players.
Organize your life so you can go on tour when the opportunities become available.
 

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I agree with everything empressdiver said as well. Also to add, be a cool guy that people want to be around. Gigs = lots of down time. People hire people they don't mind spending that down time with. People will generally hire a lesser player, if that player is someone they don't mind being around, versus the best player out there that is a huge jerk. At the beginning, you should pretty much take every gig that comes out there, because music is all about networking and who you know. If people know you are a good player and a cool guy, you will be remembered when the next gig comes up.

This is going to sound bad, but I'd say learn to play Tenor. This is a little bit of a joke, but a bit not as well. I consider Bari to be my main, but honestly I get way more calls to play gigs playing Tenor than I ever do Bari, and I personally don't think I'm that great of a Tenor player either. Now granted, there are plenty of community bands and stuff that need Bari players, but those are all volunteer and that is still is really cool, if you have a day job and don't depend or want on music as part of your income.

All in all, figure out what you want out of music. Do you want to make a living 100% playing music? Do you want to make your living in music, but not necessarily playing it? Like do you want to teach or direct or be a sound guy or whatever. Or is playing just going to be a lifelong hobby? Technically, I've made money in music for a little while. I don't make it playing saxophone. I was a paid sound guy for a while. Now, I lead music for a church. Though playing saxophone a lot of times is more fun for me, the gigs and stuff I do on that are just extra. I have to say some of the community groups I play with are actually more fun to play with than some of the paid gigs I do. I've played in some groups where basically the whole group is made up of a bunch of band/orchestra directors that do it in their spare time.

If you want to make your 100% living off of playing saxophone, it is a whole other ball game. A few are able to do it playing one horn. A lot do it because they play a lot of different things. Like empressdiver said, for pit orchestra work being good at all woodwinds in general can be a big help. For rock and R&B and stuff, it is all about being able to play by ear and making up parts most of the time. For jazz, it is about having a day job because jazz doesn't pay much :mrgreen:, I'm kidding, a bit.

All that to say, don't worry about your setup that much, because in the end it really doesn't matter much, and what you have is more than good enough. A lot of us on here talk about gear a lot, but that for some of us is just part of the fun. Take every gig you can at this point, that's how you learn what you like and don't like, and make connections. Connections are probably more important than most anything else out there. You can start now, I used to do stuff for community theatre productions, coffee shops, and churches and what not when I was in High School.

Anyway when in doubt, dye your hair a weird color, learn some funny dance moves, and get a crazy outfit.
 

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Your gear is good, don't worry about that, I'd be pretty happy with SAII...

I’d appreciate the help on what I should and shouldn’t do while going down the road, I see this website and I’m like a kid in a candy shop! Anyways, thank you for reading this, have a good day
A few thoughts based on my experiences of life on the saxophone...

Should do: (in no particular order)

- find a good teacher (OK, actually this IS the 1st thing to do)
- listen, listen, listen
- practice, practice, practice
- play in as many ensembles as you can, versatility is key.
- have fun
- take on all musical challenges
- start working on doubles, Fl& Cl
- talk to old people (musicians), no really
- check into Military Cadet or Reserve Bands (possible employment as well as networking)

Shouldn't do:

- fall into the trap of alcohol or drugs (its definitely not glamorous)
- waste time with negative people or situations
- choose hard-fast favorites (everyone has something to offer) while discarding others.
- avoid cheesy gigs, sometimes/often they pay the best
- substitute technique for musicality
- snicker a struggling musicians, find a way to help, you can learn a lot by teaching...

Regarding Employment:

My sax story in a nut shell (7yrs-49yrs)started like your, loved to play, played lots.
- Went to Jazz college, free lancing at the same time, university for classical saxophone, free lancing continued.
- 4yrs showband musician on cruise ships.
- Currently in 15th year full time with Canadian Forces Music Branch.

Ok, well that's a little longer than I thought it would be...lol

Good luck, have fun and love the music....
 

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I am a few years ahead of where you are at and I know precisely how you feel. I'm currently a graduate student at a university in Detroit as the primary baritone player. Baritone is my main instrument and I do get called to play it more often than not, but I do have other gigs that require alto or tenor. Here are a couple of other things to think about:

Learn your doubles. Go on ebay or craigslist and find a plastic Vito Resotone clarinet and an Armstrong flute for $50 each and start learning to play them. Make sure the teacher you find is well versed in these instruments so they can help you learn these instruments as clarinet embouchure is quite different from playing the saxophone, especially the baritone. Learning your doubles is the key to getting into more advanced big bands and to playing in pit orchestras, one of the more lucrative gigs you can pick up.

I would also look for any summer jazz camps to be a part of as you will meet likeminded students your age and you will get coached by the best jazz musicians in your area.

Don't worry too much about your setup, I played on a Yamaha 5C on various school owned baritones across the 7 years in public school and I've played my current setup for the last 5-6 years. You will have a better outcome in tone and technique if you focus on those instead of finding gear to make your life easier.

Yes, I do have a "day job" of teaching private lessons and running the sound board for the main jazz club in downtown Detroit, but I am lucky in that those jobs are related to my field. The thing about this life is that you have to hustle hard. I work at the club a few nights a week, I teach a few days a week, plus a rehearsal, gig, or both everyday, not to mention balancing class with all of that. You have to be seriously dedicated and determined to succeed. I'm happy to say that I make my living off of music and there are times where it is incredibly rewarding and times that are very difficult to get through. Spend as much time playing in as many different groups as you can and good luck.
 

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The best and simplest advice for getting ahead in the music business was imparted to me by an old musician in a club on Bourbon Street. He told me to keep playing, and learn as much as I can, take every opportunity to play, AND DON'T LEARN HOW TO DO ANYTHING ELSE.

Though I've moved on to incorporate other things into my life, the guys that I knew back then and who are successful at music today never really gained any other marketable skill. They're smart guys. Some are intellectuals. Some could be teachers if they had the credentials, but their only marketable skill is to be able to play music. They pay the bills, they have mortgages, successful marriages (those who married) and most are healthy.That compares favorably (in some ways) to working a corporate job.
 

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You've had a lot of good advice already: most of what I had to say would only be duplicating it. I spent 15 years as a fulltime professional, back in the '80s and '90s. I was mainly playing clarinet and tenor at first, then I added in soprano, because it was easy - the same as a tenor, only up an octave, like a simplified clarinet. I got a bit of TV ad work with the two saxes. Then I added in alto and baritone (my big love).

The changeover from Bb to Eb instruments gave me no problem reading, but when it came to improvising, I had a lot of trouble thinking like an Eb player — I'd finger a C when the note required was Bb concert and I should have been fingering a G. You were advised a few posts back to take up tenor as well as baritone. That's good advice, for the long haul, but, as you're an Eb player already, I'd recommend you add not tenor but alto to your baritone as soon as you can - the same notes, just up an octave. Once you're happy with alto as a second sax, only then try out tenor.

As another poster said, if you're going to play theatre jobs, you'll need clarinet as well, which is not that easy — it's like playing an alto sax and a soprano sax in the one instrument. It's very rewarding — but it takes a while to get used to changing up a twelfth instead of an octave. (The best way to familiarise yourself with that is to practise arpeggios in all keys across the whole range of the instrument, so that the fingering change across the register becomes second nature to you.)

The same poster advised you to add in flute as well. I've messed around with flute but I'm no flautist: I can't advise you about taking it up. Theatre work has never been a main source of income for me, and the theatre work I have done only called for clarinet and tenor. That doesn't mean you won't need flute if you intend making pit orchestra work a staple source of income ! But get hold of playing the Bb saxes (and clarinet) first. "All good things in all good time."

The best of luck to you.
 
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