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Where to Start

1770 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  MusicDude

Not sure if I consider myself a late bloomer, but I feel it matches somewhat. I played from middle school through part of college, and only have been slowly hopping back on the band wagon a year after getting my degree. So say I have had 4-5 years off. I never had any saxophone lessons, just whatever my band instructor could teach me. I wasn't bad, but now I have obviously fallen off quite a bit from the time off.

Now at home, I wanted to be able to structure my practice, and really develop myself from kind-of-scratch.
Without a teacher, I have been looking up resources online to use. I'll just say I am a bit overwhelmed at all of it. Spent 3 or so hours just today looking up all kinds of things. Lots of YouTube channels with good vids, but seems to lack structure I am looking for. Also lots of sites with lessons and plans, some paid or free, which might include:

-Saxophone Academy
-Better Sax
-Hello Saxophone
-Universal Sax Method..... and so on

Overall I want to be able to strengthen my chops, really develop my sound/tone and eventually sound how I want to, gather and improve upon skills (like tonguing/double tonguing, altissimo, etc.), and read and improv jazz (and where this should hopefully translate to other music forms as well). Possibly in that order too. Who knows. It sounds like I'm looking for a beginner->intermediate/advanced pipeline 😂 Obviously the practice takes lots of time, so I don't expect anything quick when it comes to me working with whatever resources I find.

Such sources I mentioned above interest me since they have that structure and seem to cover a lot of these bases I am looking for, though I am unsure of what routes other members might recommend and what other experiences might be. Maybe a mix is best, maybe there are resources I haven't seen, etc. etc. I appreciate any feedback as I restart my saxophone hobby!
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I don't think there's really any substitute for a real teacher (i.e., someone who will watch and/or listen to you play and give you feedback), especially when you're first starting out.
Lots of teachers offer remote lessons (in a variety of formats) these days, and I think it would be worth doing something like that for at least a few months as you ease back into playing.

In terms of lesson plans and subscriptions, I think a really good option that you didn't list is Steve Neff's (user @Nefertiti on SOTW) offerings. I was a member many years ago, back around the time when Steve first put it together, and I found that there were a great variety of solid lesson topics and materials back then, targeting players across the full range of playing ability. You'd now have the advantage of more than a decade of additions.

One of the problems with a la carte subscriptions though is that (like watching a bunch of YouTube videos), it can lead you to try to do too much at once, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Conversely, structured lesson plans made for mass consumption can wind up moving way too slowly. Part of what real teachers do is to act like coaches: guiding your progress based on your strengths and weaknesses and based on your rate of improvement, and tailoring their suggested practice routines accordingly. There's no real substitute for that.
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