Here are some introductions from past members of Saxophone Tribe if you’re interested in reading more.
Jerry February 16, 2012 at 2:40 pm
Hello, I’m relatively new to the Saxophone. I’ve been playing for two years and although this is a hobby and a lifetime goal finally realized (learning to play an instrument)
I now realize at 50 plus I should have started this interest a long time ago. But nothing I can do about that now so I’m trying to learn as much as I can as fast as I can.
I know where all the keys are for the Sharps and am working on all the flat keys for the Tenor Sax. Neal has sent me information to start using the altissimo keys, pretty interesting and a lot of work but I know I can get there.
Well that’s my story, feel free to share any lessons learn you think will make this journey a little smoother. Thanks!
Neal February 16, 2012 at 4:05 pm
Seems like you’re making some good progress with learning saxophone.
That’s funny that you’re learning the keys with sharps first, I actually did that too. The reason for me was that I played in an orchestra in school on clarinet and it seems like strings prefer the keys with sharps. So those were more comfortable for me initially.
Bob March 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm
I’m Bob sometimes from California, sometimes from Michigan, sometimes from Germany.
I started playing about three years ago at the age of 63. I am still working full time so time with the sax is limited. Some of the literature I’ve gone through: most of the beginning and intermediate Rubanks; got the major scales with the Dorian and Mixolydian modes pretty well down and am well into the II-V-I progressions; got a start on three of the Aeborsold’s Maiden Voyage; worked thru the 10 tunes on Fishman’s Jazz Phrasing for Beginners; got a start on Mintzer’s 15 easy etudes; found the exercises in “Know Before You Blow” (I didn’t make that up, that is the actual title) to be worthwhile and dabbled in big bunch of other stuff. I enjoy memorizing simple tunes. I would like to play well by the age of 70 – and am curious how far an old fa- – can push it – though am mostly in it for simple and plain fun, thus until now I’ve been playing in the evenings whichever of four horns I’m in the mood for (S,T or A sax or a clarinet that I used to play decades ago). Improvisation still (with the exception of very rudimentary and poorly played Maiden Voyage Stuff from above) remains something for the Gods. About a month ago I got broken into and will be limited to the soprano sax and clarinet until I can afford another tenor (cool thing about it is that my soprano tone has improved a lot).
Simplest and most valuable things I’ve learned as a beginner (maybe someone can use the beginner’s perspective but remember that’s what it is so a grain or pound of salt might be appropriate):
1) On embouchure: stick your thumb in your mouth and suck on it – hold that form for your sax mouthpiece (forgot who the genius was that came up with that but Google it on the internet and you’ll find the original).
2) Play-alongs are good and force staying in rhythm (duh).
3) Ditto the metronome – the damn thing really doesn’t speed up on the hard phrases.
4) Playing pianissimo or as soft as I can helps me get a feel for a tune.
5) Listen to music – another duh! (Newest find: the CD and DVD from Marsalis/Clapton at the Lincoln Center – if you don’t enjoy this bunch of fine musicians having a great time meshing styles on stage, trade in your horns and go fishing…).
6) Most of all have fun. In spite how intimidating and complex Jazz is (and don’t let my babbling make you think I’m competent (probably should rephrase that)- I’m truly at a very mediocre stage of Jazz and find it intimidating to the Nth degree), end the day’s practice with something fun! Actually, from my perspective of a tortoise crawling towards intermediate: most of it should be fun (if it’s your free time and you ain’t enjoying it…maybe bowling?)! I find it fun daily by not focusing too intently on Getz or Mulligan or Bechet or Parker or Coltrane, but on Bob Baby Steps.
Lastly, my particular kick is playing in isolated settings outside – want to get good enough to play well to the land at the family Michigan cabin, or the forests or mountains or oceans or deserts (minor pentatonic scale blends in well with a Saguaro Landscape) – sorry folks as my kids would say: hereby introducing a Walden Guy with a Saxophone tick
Oh! I did forget after having my horns, recording equipment, iPods and other stuff stolen, maybe a solid gun cabinet/safe bolted to the floor might be a good idea…if I do catch the thieves that got my stuff I’m going to handcuff them immovably and practice hours of Sop Sax upper register exercises from three or four feet away…
Neal March 10, 2012 at 1:25 am
Thanks for sharing a few things you have learned. Sometimes the things that seem obvious later aren’t as apparent earlier on.
Christopher March 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm
Hi all. I am Christopher from Charlotte. Just started with Sax and I love it! I am having issues with embouchure, low notes, squeaks, bla bla bla. At 59, this is a trip. i have learned one scale C Major, but still need to LOOK at the chart. Thanks Neal That has helped. I work too many hours and have only a half hour or so per night due to home chores too. With the travelling the company has me onand the OT
Some nights the horn looks at me asking “Hey man, you need to just blow” I will improve, but like all my age, it is slow with the reading and the ear training. Neal, you have been challenged! And I thank you!
See you in the movies soon!
Neal March 10, 2012 at 2:35 pm
Welcome to Saxophone Tribe!
For the scale, since you can play C major but need to look at it, focus on just that one scale during the time you practice scales. Get it under your fingers. Make it feel comfortable. Learn some tunes in the key of C major. I could even put up a section on here called ‘songs in C’. If the songs weren’t originally in C, I could transpose them. That will give you an application for the scale and make it feel more comfortable.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Dan Daigle March 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm
I started playing clarinet in 1949 (you got it – I’ m older than dirt) – but I’m not done. In 1953 I played Alto Sax in a 10 piece band and we had a rythm & blues singer and we were playing R&B in 1953 in Lafayette, Louiasiana – home of the Rajin Cajons. I switched to tenor sax in 1960 and played for about 6 years and laid off for 3 years or so, and played for 8 years with my own group. I didn’t play for over 20 years (long story) – – and picked up the horn in 1999. I play with the church band and I make CD’s of the old classic jazz tunes. I want to get better at improvising and using chord structure to create a good “ride”.
I have a Yamaha EX Custom Black Laquer Tenor – I have the Theo Wanne GAIA mouthpiece #8 and I use the Fibracell Premier reed #3.
I don’t plan to win any awards – – I’ve had my share over the past 77 years.
I just want to have fun and play some good jazz and take good rides.
I’m looking forward to the experience with y’all.
Neal March 29, 2012 at 3:01 pm
This should be good for you.
Start with the Lindeman Exercise, and start slowly.
Try recording yourself playing it and send it my way. It will help clean up your technique.
Bob March 30, 2012 at 10:02 pm
To Dan Daigle,
Wow! What a story in the few lines you wrote and what stories have been left between the lines!
I’m only about a decade behind you in years and out of curiosity, do you have the Oleg Sax Harness? I know with my old neck and back I had trouble playing the tenor for a long stretch before I got it and is the only harness I found that keeps the weight off the neck.
Neal June 12, 2012 at 3:10 pm
Welcome to Saxophone Tribe.
Let’s change that around then. Can you play the C major scale without reading it? That would be a starting point in terms of scales. Then you want to gradually learn the rest of them.
There are some basic melodies in the ear training section. Try those out and let me know if you have questions.
I also want you to try the Lindeman exercise. That will transform your technique if you work on it consistently.
And let me know when you want to do a ten minute skype lesson this month. (after June 18th) I’ll check out how you sound and play.
Neal June 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm
What book is that?
For Tenor Madness, start by learning the melody.
Neal June 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm
Welcome to Saxophone Tribe.
I think you can play some things by ear, you just haven’t tried it out. Since you know the blues scale, maybe I’ll do some exercises by ear just using the notes of the blues scale. If you know what the possibilities for notes are in advance, it makes it a bit less daunting.
Also, are there any songs I can help you learn?
KT June 26, 2012 at 11:08 pm
I’m new to your Tribe. I got an alto sax for myself on Christmas Eve. The holidays were a good time to buy but not to practice. I just want to play. I had a good book and a dependable music store, so I taught myself. That may not be the wisest approach. I hit a wall. I love blues, and ballads, and won’t every forget my week at a lighthouse across from the Newport Jazz Festival. I am anxious to polish up reading music and move on or work simultaneously on playing by ear. My tastes in music is eclectic…rock, blues, folk, jazz, country, and big ballads.
KT July 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm
Forgot, that having taught myself, vocab for sax is deficient. I am also teaching myself piano, so I am counting on the SaxTribe to move me along in sax. You all sound experienced and on your way already.
Neal July 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm
I think you learn a lot of vocabulary from tunes and solos, and generally by ear. Figure out some things you want to learn and let me know if you need some help.
Jerry July 23, 2012 at 8:19 am
I read some of the post today from new members and it is good to see I am in good company. Since I started playing in my early 50′s I thought I was a lone ranger but I’m very happy to see others are fulfilling there dreams just as I am. I have gotten off track these past few months but all the comments have lit a fire under my but. I have always had a problem developing a sound study plan and now I feel I have one. Thanks to you all and Neal!
Neal July 25, 2012 at 6:43 pm
Yep, you can play saxophone at any age it seems. Glad you feel like you’re on track. Send a new recording my way!
Gilles July 26, 2012 at 7:47 am
A quel rythme recevons nous les cours ?
How often do we receive the course?, I am sixty years old and I can train at least one hour per day. I hope to move forward and make me happy.
Neal July 26, 2012 at 12:45 pm
You can access quite a few lessons immediately, I’ll also walk you through a few steps and will email about that. As you try out the lessons, leave a comment on the site about how it went.
Practicing an hour each day should help you progress quickly.
Doug July 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm
I am 65 and a retired airline pilot who loves sax music and decided it wasn’t too late to start a new hobby of learning to play one. I played the clarinet for awhile in grammar school and then moved into sports and stopped with the clarinet. I have been retired for almost 6 years and now have time to spend on learning to read music and playing the saxophone.
I purchased a Yamaha YAS-23 and although it has many buttons on it, it doesn’t quite match the cockpit of an A-320 Airbus. I am however, really looking forward to the challenge it brings and the satisfaction it gives me when I am able to play more complex songs than the beginning tunes while learning notes etc. I am already able to play Careless Whisper that Neal has put on his website and feel very good about mastering it at this point. I have been at this now for about 6 weeks and really enjoy my practice sessions.
It is great to read where everyone is from and what motivates them to learn the sax. I currently live with my wife of 41 years in southern California and look forward to working under the guidance of Neal.
Neal July 31, 2012 at 4:40 pm
Welcome to Saxophone Tribe! Sounds like your background with the clarinet will help, I started on clarinet too.
Let me know if you have some other tunes you want to work on that you are having trouble with.
I checked out your recording of Careless Whisper. Will get back to you with a few things to work on soon.
John August 7, 2012 at 2:02 am
Hi, I’m John.I live in Jersey Channel Isles UK.I started as a kid on clarinet,but soon got hold of my Dad’s Martin Tenor,he played in dance bands, taught me to read music,so I can play a fair amount of stuff if I read it.
Didn’t play for about 40yrs picked it up again a couple of years ago. Most of my friends are pro musicians,and know I dabble. I’m 68 now & would love to be able to jam with them at least once before I pop my clogs mainly blues r&b,rock need to get improvising under my fingers. Cheers.
Neal August 7, 2012 at 7:19 am
Welcome to Saxophone Tribe!
Glad you started to play again. Send a recording my way when you get a chance and let me know what sorts of blues, R&B, and rock you want to play.
Mike Solomon August 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm
Hey all. I played sax back in the day, and two years ago I decided to get back into playing. Now here I am at 38 trying to make something of my saxophone interests. I’m not very good at sticking to a practice schedule, so I figured I join up to try to get some structure. I recently moved from alto to soprano, and I enjoy the soprano so much it has renewed my interest. I’ve been on the Sax Station email list for a long time now, and have basically just been complacent up until now. So… here I am Neal… lets light this puppy up!
Neal August 7, 2012 at 9:20 pm
Welcome Mike, glad you’re playing again. One of the main things is to try and play each day, even if it’s not for a very long time, that will be more effective than playing longer a few times a week. I would incorporate the Lindeman into your daily practice, work on some scales (get the major scales first if you don’t have them yet), learn some tunes by ear. Then depending on what your goals are, what you practice varies a bit.
Mike Solomon August 8, 2012 at 10:09 am
I started adding the Lindeman today, and it’s going to take a while to get myself to keep my fingertips near the keys. I curve my hands, but I have fly-away fingers. I have all the major scales that start on the main Cmaj scale note, but need to work more on scales that start on flats and sharps. I’m working on a piece to submit for your critique, and when I do, definitely be blunt about where I need to improve. I’m going to try to work 2-1 hour practice sessions in each day. Thanks Neal.
Neal August 7, 2012 at 9:18 pm
I bet they enjoy hearing you. What tunes do you play for them? Thought of a video I saw a little while back when you mentioned you played in nursing homes. http://youtu.be/fyZQf0p73QM That’s pretty cool you have the Mark VI, I want to get one of those at some point I think. Have been playing more on an old Buescher tenor that I got lately. Has a great sound, but it’s harder to to play, less ‘user friendly’
Dave T August 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm
Hello All & Neal,
I always wanted to learn to play the Sax. I am 53 and live in the Toronto Canada area. Last Oct 2011 I started on an Alto Sax. Things were going really good by myself but I wanted more so I started lessons in Jan 2012.
I had a sound in my head and the Alto was no satisfying it. I went to the music store and rented a Tenor Sax. After just 10 minutes I realized the sound in my head was the Tenor. I went back to the music store and purchased a new P.Mauriat Tenor which sounds great.
The last few months have been a great struggle because of a health issue with my lower back. I will leave it at that for now. Through this whole time I have been corresponding with Neal. Finally 2 nights ago I subscribed to the Tribe. Once again, thanks Neal for keeping in touch over the last few months. I am going to keep attending my weekly lessons and try and keep up with what Neal throws at me. I look at it as a 2 prong approach.
There are quite a few of us half century + people with the same dream.
All the best to everyone. Let’s do this.
Gil Ross August 29, 2012 at 8:57 am
Hi my name is Gil, living temporarily in Michigan and moving back home to California at the end of September, I play the Alto Sax, Im 63, played when I was in middle school, and taking it back up again, probably at the Intermeditae level as far as playing, but want to learn to improvise and play by ear and master all the different keys to play in, know about 5 scales by memory, love all types of music genres, my goal eventually is to play in a church contemporary worship band, also I would like to send in a recording of a simple song so they you can critique my ability and sound, I dont know how to go about that, thank you for your time, thanks Gil
Gil Ross August 29, 2012 at 9:01 am
Hi Neal, yes I did try the Altissimo notes, but didnt have much luck, I must be doing something wrong, but I am going to try again today.
Neal August 29, 2012 at 12:11 pm
How far up the harmonic series can you play using the low Bb fingering?
Gil Ross September 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm
Hi, I’m 63, retired, soon to b moving back
Home to Northern California( Comcord) I play
The Alto Sax, played when I was real young
And taking it up again, looking forward to
Learning all I can. Thanks
Margy October 2, 2012 at 6:07 am
Hi there. I’m Margy, and yet another of the saxo-come-lately group. Having played (and still love) my cello for 40 years, I finally decided I wanted to play the instrument that I initially hoped for in the 5th grade.
Besides, a cello won’t fit in our dry box when we boat down the Grand Canyon.
I have a soprano saxophone, and and finding it extremely interesting learning to control breathing and embouchure (new word for me).
Look forward to learning (at my own pace)
Neal October 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm
Welcome Margy, yep, a few in the group have started saxophone not at four years old (or 11). Sounds like you have played a bit of music though with the cello.
What songs are you working on and what questions do you have so far?
Asha October 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm
I am over 50 and learning to play the saxophone is on my Bucket List. I have been taking classes for 4 years, but not consistently. I work a full time job and sometimes and do not have the time to practice as I should to become good. I would like to play in front of a crowd and not get booed off the stage. (I have been booed off the stage) When I practice, I do long tones, scales, songs and the method books.
Neal October 12, 2012 at 10:16 pm
You’ll find that the consistency in practice and persistence will pay off. Even if it’s 15 minutes in a day. Sorry to hear about that situation with the crowd, it takes courage to get up there and for only playing that long with limited practice time it’s hard to develop certain things. But it can have a lot to do with what song you play.
Sometimes the crowd is just rough, they may not be into what you’re playing. In those situations, you want to be able to have a few things in your repertoire that you can bring out that might work better with the crowd. We played a wedding a couple of weeks ago and our original set list just wasn’t going to work, so we changed it quite a bit.
Other times people in the crowd might know a song really well, and in that case you don’t want to mess up a certain part, because they’ll know it. Entertaining and music have different nuances.
Performing can be hard, but it also can be fun. If you work at it, you’ll get to where the crowd enjoys what you play.
What method books are you working through?
Kenny Gonzales October 21, 2012 at 6:56 pm
I am 43 years old and have been playing the alto sax for three months now. want to learn, enjoy practicing, and live to far from instructors.
I wished I had started this years ago. I am a retired police officer. The Sax relaxes me so much. Should of done this during my twenty years of service.
I am ready to learn. Thanks
Neal October 21, 2012 at 7:01 pm
Hey Kenny, welcome to Saxophone Tribe! Should be able to help you progress. Feedback is pretty important. Send me a recording of yourself playing When the Saints go Marching In and I’ll give you some ideas for working on it. And let me know when you have questions. Will email you with some steps to take. Feel free to explore the site a bit too. Thanks
Joanne roche October 27, 2012 at 4:22 am
Hi my name is Jo I have done my level 2 sax exam but
Haven’t played since(2 years) but desperate to get good enough to
Play with others. I live in Herefordshire in uk, and have 3 young boys.
Neal October 27, 2012 at 9:38 pm
That would be good for you to play with some musicians. What options do you know about to play with others where you live? Classes, jam sessions, etc?
Daniel lee October 27, 2012 at 6:46 pm
Hi Neal, hi Tribe
I am really impressed with your site! I have been getting email from you for a few months now but now I have decided its time to sign up and make use of all these lessons! I have been learning for around six months now, I had a teacher back I the UK, but am now travelling New Zealand and so am pretty much trying to self teach…. That’s why I have joined Sax Tribe!
I really love the blues and jazz musicians… There are so many to name, so much great talent, but I’m also a fan of saxophonists like Wes Magoogan, Candy Dulfer and Eric Darius. David Bowies sax on ‘somebody up there like me’, was one of the many pieces of music that inspired me to take up the instrument.
Well I look forward to the lessons, and being a part of the sax tribe! Thanks for the opportunities!
Neal October 27, 2012 at 9:39 pm
Welcome Dan, thanks. Sounds like you’re having a fun trip down there, what made you decide to go to NZ with an alto?
David Sanborn played that solo and it will take a bit of work to get there (including developing some altissimo). You can do it with some dedication.
Check out the steps I outline.
Lindsey Duhs November 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm
I am a 53 year old male, And I have been playing for about 3 years. Not very good. Could go on and on about where I am at on the sax but Thats why I am here. The light just has not clicked on yet. I want to learn how to play, short and simple. I am giving you a try because you seem to want to help. Thanks.
Neal November 1, 2012 at 4:39 pm
Welcome Lindsey! One of the first things to work on is the fingers, they’re incredibly important – affect rhythm, intonation, and more. Keep going with the steps, I’ll check out a recording when you send it in.
Vijai Anand November 27, 2012 at 10:58 am
Hello Neal and All,
I am Vijai, who just joined the tribe. I learnt for around 2 years initially in 2004 but haven’t touched for almost six years from 2007 and coming back again. So pretty much starting again as beginner. My daughter who recently started lessons at her school motivated me again. After a week trying I realised don’t want to lose focus this time and need help so decided to join here.
Neal November 27, 2012 at 9:20 pm
Check out the steps and the Lindeman. Get me a recording and I’ll check it out. Did your daughter start on clarinet or flute?
Daniel lee November 28, 2012 at 10:56 am
Hey Neal, hey hi tribe!
S I have been a member of tribe for a few weeks now and really getting on great with the exercises on here… My learning has come on greatly since signing up! But I do have a question for you and the guys…. What websites do you find most useful for buying sheet music? I am travelling and so would need to be able to download or have music emailed to me. Just wondering where everyone goes for variety/accuracy etc?
Neal November 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm
Thanks, glad it’s helping.
For sheet music, I have used Sheet Music Plus sometimes, more to get books of music.
Musicnotes is another option that would have more digital music.
A lot more often, I’m learning music by ear these days.
What sorts of music are you looking for?
Daniel lee November 28, 2012 at 11:50 pm
Thanks Neal! Ill check them out! I’m really just after a whole variety of music…. Usually if I am struggling with learning the song by ear or I want to check what I’m doing…. Everything from blues and jazz to rock tracks are on my list so ill have a look at the sites and post on here if I find any other useful ones!
Joyce November 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm
Hi, I am Joyce from Christchurch, New Zealand.
I began playing the alto sax in May of this year. A friend mentioned he had an old Selma Bundy in his garage that had got a little knocked around by the earthquakes we had. It seemed such a waste that it wasn’t being used, so I have taken it in and given it a home. 🙂
I began playing with a small music group in our local church and really enjoy the challenge of adapting and transposing music.
I am also looking forward to learning more and developing my playing abilities.
Neal November 29, 2012 at 3:03 pm
Check out the steps and let me know what you have questions about. Thanks
Daniel lee November 29, 2012 at 10:26 pm
I have also been learning and playing since around may of this year… I’m from the UK but travelling around New Zealand for a few years on my big OE… Would love to chat about how your getting on after these few months on the sax,, and maybe pickup a few tips about telling the South Island?
Ted November 29, 2012 at 3:22 pm
Hi, I’m Ted from Hamilton Ontario Canada. I bought an Alto sax for my daughter quite a few years ago and now she’s moved on to other things. I’m retired now, so in September I decided to learn to play it myself.
Neal November 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm
Had you played music before on another instrument? That’s funny about the saxophone, I got a flute from my sister which I play just a little and there’s an electric guitar sitting in the corner from my brother, but I don’t play that one!
Ted December 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm
Yeah, I played piano a bit as a youngster and one of my sons plays drums and the other one plays guitar and my wife plays piano.
Gaspar Leyva November 29, 2012 at 4:41 pm
Hi, my name is Gaspar Leyva, I am a General Contractor in the state of Florida and I just started to learn to play sax.
Neal November 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm
Welcome! How’ Sabor a Mi coming along? Great tune.
Hanis December 20, 2012 at 5:56 pm
Hi, an almost retired from Malaysia. Started on flute but found sax more easy to fit with bands. Began with alto but love tenor , more expressive and smokey. Hope to learn lots or at least find out why it’s so damn difficult 🙂
Neal December 20, 2012 at 6:09 pm
Welcome Hanis! Check out the steps and especially the Lindeman, breaking down the movements will make things make a little more sense. Thanks
Manuel Gonzalez December 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm
Hi all: My name is Manuel Gonzalez. I have being playing the sax for almost 15 years. I am enrolled in a Master Certificate in Theory, Harmony and Ear Training with Berklee College of Music.
However, I need to improve my technic as well as to start playing by ear. Also, need improvement with the phrasing part. I am very confident with all Major, Minors, Pentatonic and Blue sscales. I can write any scale starting in any notes.
Also, I can voice lead a chord progression with no problem. But when it is time to play without a written paper I can not play nothing. That’s why I am here, to work with everything that I need in order to start hearing music and be free of the written part.
My goal is to play at a professional level and I am willing to pay the price. I know is a lot of work and practice but here I am. My job takes a lot of time from me since I need to travel basically around the world. But my plan is bringing my sax with me and practice anywhere. I have a tenor and alto sax (Yamaha YTS62 and YAS62).
Neal December 28, 2012 at 5:21 pm
We’ll get you learning some songs without sheet music very shortly. Glad the tech. issues are sorted out.
KT January 15, 2013 at 10:41 pm
Berkelee has some great success stories. Keep at it!
Manuel Gonzalez January 17, 2013 at 7:00 pm
Thanks KT. I have a lot of information and will be my pleasure to share it with you and everybody here. Obviously, with Neal’s permission.
KT March 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm
Neal is a great help…in all areas! I practice my YAS62II 1 to 2 hrs a day. Still, without Neal’s patience I would still be teaching myself. When I hit a wall, Neal tells me what to practice/work on to get over those walls.
Are you taking classes AT Berklee or online? A while back, I was going to get their cert in songwriting. Met Pat Pattison at a few conferences. It is very expensive! Decided to keep writing, but learn both sax and piano….so, I am trudging along with Neal’s patience and guidance.
I am hoping for snow tonight while I am back home in New England.
Sandy December 30, 2012 at 5:40 am
Hi, I’m Sandy. I live in Helensburgh, Scotland and have been playing tenor sax for about 7 years. I play second tenor in a local 22 piece big band but am interested in getting better at improvising and increasing my sight reading speeds. I’m retired and have lots of free time for practice but also need practice techniques that are interesting and productive.
Neal December 30, 2012 at 1:04 pm
Welcome Sandy. Working on technique and developing more control should help with both of those. A good thing to spend part of your practice time on each day. Keep going with the steps. Thanks
Bengt December 30, 2012 at 11:28 am
I’m Bengt, 72 years old, started learning sax 2-3 years ago. As I started training I also found some favourite sax players like Getz, Mulligan, Rollins, Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster. 50 years ago one of our absolute favorites was – and still is – Lester Young. I want to be able to play the blueses. Now working on Bessie’s blues (Coltrane wrote it).
Neal December 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm
Welcome Bengt! Those are some great musicians. How is Bessie’s Blues going? I started to learn that by ear not too long ago, Jerry was interested in learning it, could come back to it.
Bengt January 1, 2013 at 1:39 am
I have problem with the timing. Also, the passage (chords 6 and 7)
“2 eight Bb – quarter A flat – eight F – (eight A and F) – quarter A, gives me rythm problem. (I wrote this almost by memory – nice). I have never made any recordings of how I sound. Believe I need some equipment.
Neal January 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm
Does your computer have a webcam or a microphone built in? That would work. Let me know about that.
For Bessie’s Blues, I think I see where you’re talking about. Measure 7? What seems to be the problem you’re having with the timing?
Bengt January 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm
Neal, I will send a photo as soon as I have arrived at the 8-12 level!
Alan December 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm
I am Alan. I have learned playing alto sax by myself for six month. I learn to play sax because I love it’s sound. My goal is trying to be able to play with the local band
Neal December 31, 2012 at 7:26 pm
Welcome Alan, what kind of music does that band play?
Ron January 2, 2013 at 5:54 am
I started playing after I found my daughters alto sax in the basement. Thought that I paid a lot of money for it and someone should be playing it. I found an instructor that I went to weekly for a couple of years. I have since bought a tenor that I love. I play songs out of numerous song books that I have and have learned a little about transposition. I want to play more by ear and learn to improvise.
Neal January 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm
Welcome! Glad you’re enjoying the saxophone. What songs have you learned by ear so far?
Bengt January 3, 2013 at 5:35 am
Hi Ron and Neal. What do we mean by playing by ear? Hearing a song somewhere in the town, go home and pick out out by yourself? That is goal that is too high for me. My aim is to be able to play songs “by ear” after having learnt them from sheets. First by only myself and later in a group. What’s your reaction to my proposal?
Neal January 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm
It can be done by learning something you hear when you’re out and then getting it later. More often, for me at least, I’ll learn things from recordings. Then I can listen to it many times if I need to and slow down if necessary. Also, take it piece by piece.
What you’re describing is more like memorizing the music, which is good too. But not really learning by ear.
DavidElijah January 12, 2013 at 9:36 pm
Hi, am DavidElijah and im here to play .Been practicing for some time but i not quite hearing any melody yet. I am a beginner ,i have a Tenor,Alto and Soprano.I mostly practiced with the Alto i would like to be to play well.Please help me i’m struggling .
Neal January 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm
Welcome! What are some songs you would like to work on?
Nelleke January 17, 2013 at 8:54 am
Hi, I am Nelleke, Dutch,new on saxophonetribe and play altsax for 5 years. I discovered a passion in playing this instrument. I prefer playing jazz and blues.
I’ d like to have more structure in practising, which I do 2 Hours a day.
Neal January 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm
How would you describe your approach to practicing right now?
Nelleke January 18, 2013 at 3:08 am
I just start doing something and see what I like to play. I really would like to play better by ear and improvise more. When I know what is right to study I just do so. But I often do not know what to do in which order.
Neal January 18, 2013 at 9:42 pm
Keep going with the steps I have outlined, one of the early steps is to send me a recording of what you sound like. That will give me a better idea of what you should be working on and what suggestions to make. Thanks
fergus January 23, 2013 at 10:08 am
Hi Everybody my name is Fergus (Ireland) have been learning for the past 12-15 months on my Tenor, need to structure my practice routine as i keep jumping from one tune to another,
Really looking forward to this journey with Neal.
All the best to everyone on
their sax journey,
Neal January 23, 2013 at 12:26 pm
Welcome! Check out the steps I have outlined. Send me a recording of Black Orpheus or Tequila for the song you choose
KT March 4, 2013 at 6:47 pm
Have been to Doolin? I spent about a day and a half there on a bicycling tour inn to inn. Quite the place for a music lover, beach addict, and cyclist!
Dan January 29, 2013 at 8:19 am
Hi everybody I’m Dan 54 years old. I played alto sax for around 3 years 25 years ago until one day no less than my teacher took my instrument for repair and never showed up again. I was so frustrated and every time i hear sax music I remember what happened. Time had passed so fast and I think it’s time to move on.
Two months ago I bought a flute just to return to a wind instrument, It was so difficult I gave up after 2 weeks, I rented a clarinet instead since I remember reed instrument is not as difficult as the flute. I was able to play the clarinet easily on the lower register but with much difficulty in the higher register.
Again after 2weeks I have to accept the truth that what I’m looking for is the sound of a tenor saxophone. I returned the clarinet and got a tenor sax instead. When I got the instrument in few minutes I was able to play the all notes from Bb to F# Now I can play few ballads. I’m so glad and excited to wake early every day to practice.
I need somebody to guide me back to play the instrument i always loved. I know it is you Neil. Thank you
Neal January 31, 2013 at 7:19 pm
Damn, sorry to hear about your sax a while back though.
I played clarinet for a while, took it with me last weekend on a trip actually, but then mostly do tenor. Though I play some alto.
What ballads can you play?
Barb January 30, 2013 at 5:25 am
Hi! I am Barb from north central PA. I played alto sax in school. I have played very little over the past 35 years.
Now that I am retired, I would like to play in church and for the Town Band. I am looking forward to learning techniques in order to improve all areas of playing.
Neal January 31, 2013 at 7:46 pm
Let me know what questions you have.
Donny Piela January 30, 2013 at 7:57 am
Hi, My name is Donny Piela. I’ve been playing tenor sax on and off for 18 years. My setup is: Selmer Reference 36, Phil Barone custom neck, Phil Barone custom hard rubber 6* mouthpiece and Forestone synthetic reeds. I play in a big band and a jazz combo.
My fav sax players are: Stan Getz, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Paul Desmond, Phil Woods, James Moody, Michael Brecker, James Carter, Joshua Redman, Eric Alexander, Ravi Coltrane, Dexter Gordan, and, of course, Lester Young.
I’ve attended four Jamey Abersold jazz camps and two jazz camps at Webster University in St Louis. I hang out in the St Louis jazz scene and I have become friends with, and follow, many local jazz pros. I’m planning to turn pro within two years and look forward to Neal’s expert instruction taking me to that level.
Neal January 31, 2013 at 7:45 pm
Some great musicians in that list.
Sounded pretty good in the first recording I heard. Will definitely have some things to keep you moving forward.
KT March 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm
Think I saw you on you tube playing with a vocalist. That was you, correct?
Scot Anderson January 31, 2013 at 7:42 pm
My name is Scot Anderson. I’ve been playing the alto sax for eight months, and love it completely. I have rented an old horn and am working with it.
I am fascinated by the work of Sigurd Rascher and look forward to exploring the full four octaves of the alto sax. I enjoy Coltrane, Smith and the old jazz/blues greats. I practice diligently and love making music.
My background is basically from the world of what some call extreme sports although I don’t think of myself that way. My living is generally made from working in the computer industry, something I do more to eat than for love. Music is and always has been my first love.
Pete L February 3, 2013 at 10:24 pm
Took up tenor at 65. Go to weekly 1/2 hour lesson. 5 years on progress has slowed considerably as my practice time has slipped badly and lacks discipline. Need to get back on track and hoping Neal’s approach will help.
Biggest problem is that of the elderly learner-retention.
For example I learn a song and if i come back to it after a few weeks I can’t play it without stumbling somewhere. Or a scale i haven’t practiced for a while is gone!
So here goes on this new journey – wish me luck!
Neal February 3, 2013 at 10:29 pm
How much are you practicing these days?
Learner-retention….. that affects all of us I think. Sometimes you need to spend a bit longer on something to really get it. You might need to play a single measure 15 times.
For scales, do you know the 12 major scales (and what else)? I would get the 12 major scales in a very solid way early on. That will establish a harmonic foundation.
Pete L February 5, 2013 at 1:10 pm
I spent an hour yesterday trying to record my piece for you. The results were not good so i abandoned this and got on to the lindeman excercise. This is goingb to be very useful and showed me how” wild” my fingers are at present!
Am going to try to record a track in my iphone tomorrow.
Scales. I have about four major scales that i can play by sight reading and a couple that i can play by ear. Some pentatonics and four blues scales by ear.
But do keep getting lost in them.
Am trying to play a minimum of 30 mins a day since enrolling.
Luc March 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm
Hi I am Luc,
I am French but I live in Portugal.
I am 50 years old and I have been playing saxophone for 4 years. I have started improvisation some months ago and I am looking forward to get some tips to improve my playing.
Neal March 4, 2013 at 1:35 pm
Send me a recording and I’ll listen. And try the steps outlined here. Thanks
Luc March 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm
How do you correct a post, because I meant I live in Portugal, as I am not leaving yet lol !
I’ll try to record something tomorrow and I’ll send it to you.
Neal March 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm
Just changed that, will check out the recording.
KT March 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm
I have errors in several. Stupid auto correct is not like spell check. It just changes words. I hope SaxTribe members figure it out.
Rachel W March 7, 2013 at 9:31 am
I am coming off a nine year hiatus from playing sax. Picked it up again last November and forgot HOW MUCH I LOVE PLAYING!
I started playing when I was in Grade 6 and played throughout my high school career along with band and honor band. We had an amazing ensemble and played yearly at festivals. I miss that! LOL
I then went on to University to study science but auditioned to play with the Music Programs chamber ensemble for two years. After that, I put the instrument away for 9 years until recently….I am playing now with the city band and LOVING IT!!
However, I am looking to improve my sound and abilities as I would like to be playing more and with a higher level.
My goal is to play the piece Scaramouche by Darius Milhaud. I almost have the second movement down (but doesnt sound pretty! LOL)
Working on third now! It is a beautiful sax piece!
I look forward to conversing with fellow sax players and learning some new things!
Thanks and Have a great day!
Neal March 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm
Glad you picked it up again and are having fun with the city band.
What sort of science did you study?
I’ll check out your recording of Scaramouche.
Rachel W March 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm
I have a Natural Science Biology undergrad and Bachelor of Education (Specializing in Aboriginal Education). So…..I am an Aboriginal Science Teacher!! LOL
Jason W (Jay) March 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm
My name is Jason W, or Jay, from Victoria Australia.
I have been playing the alto for around a year, but am not getting everything i can out of it.
I love Blues and Jazz (more jazz), and really enjoy sitting with a glass of single malt scotch and listening to Charlie the bird Parker… What a tragic end.
With a little luck and some great lessons i am sure i will be flying high with all of you soon.
Neal March 8, 2013 at 6:11 pm
Building a foundation on technique will allow you to play how you want to really play. Technique can hold us back a lot of times. Let me know what questions you have.
Shane G March 10, 2013 at 1:13 am
Hi my name is Shane i live in Victoria Australia this is my last bucket wish in which i have time to study and play the saxophone being learning it and loving it for 7 months now looking forward to the hurdles ,frustration,in the journey we are about to go on with you neal cheers.
Neal March 10, 2013 at 12:47 pm
Welcome! Hopefully not too much frustration, there will be some work. You’ll get to know about Lindeman.
Javier Sosa April 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm
Hi Neal, and hi to everyone.
I played alto sax at school band for eight years. Got to be first chair, but was NEVER to good on improvisation or ear.
When I graduated from highschool, went to college, and never played or even touch the sax. I was a drummer too (before sax), and I kept playing drums.
Now, after 20 long years, I suddendly felt the necessity to re-take my sax, and I feel passionate like never before.
I wish that now, being more mature, I could achieve what I didn’t in my teen years.
With the drums, I could get anywhere where my friends were playing, and I would just naturally sit on the drums and play a set, even without practice.
Will I ever be able to do that with the alto?
I bought an early Selmer Paris Mark VII, that was my band teacher’s alto sax (he is a famous baritone sax player here in PR ). So, that’s how passionate I feel at this moment in my life to get where I didn’t before with the sax.
Neal April 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm
You probably had the technical facility to be able to improvise, you just didn’t jump into it and held yourself back if that makes sense.
That’s cool you played some drums, certainly will only help with the music.
In terms of feeling comfortable on the sax, you can get there, but it will take some work.
What’s the name of your band teacher?
Javier Sosa April 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm
Hi Neal, thanks for replying, and not an automatic, pre-done answer. Just for that, I am convinced that I am in the right place.!
My teacher’s name is Santiago (Chago) Martínez. Good friend now! Excellent musician and teacher. He is a Berckley Alumni.
Neal April 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm
Any clips of him on youtube?
Also, send me a recording of yourself when you get a chance, let me know if you need help figuring out how to do that.
Charles B April 16, 2013 at 9:56 am
I have been trying to play for the past 6 years. My time has been limited for practice so I have not progressed as I would like to have done. I am 67 years old and play alto. I played in high school and the first year of college in the ROTC band. Improving quality of play, playing by ear (I must be tone deaf), and improvising is where I want to go.
Neal April 16, 2013 at 1:20 pm
Welcome! How many days of the week do you practice?
You’re almost definitely not tone deaf if you play music, it just takes practice.
Charles B April 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm
I practice from 1 to 3 days per week for 25-30 minutes
Neal April 16, 2013 at 6:44 pm
Do you think you could shift towards practicing 15 minutes a day 4 or 5 days a week? Or would that be difficult?
Gil April 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm
Hi Neal, I was checking to see if you received my payment for April, I had lost a card and got a new one, also it was $9.99 its now $20 is that correct, thanks Gil
Neal April 17, 2013 at 3:55 pm
Yes, that’s correct. Thanks
Gil April 17, 2013 at 8:21 pm
KT, Im also having a problem with challenge 3, with just one note, I started out with 4 quarter notes then 2nd measure 2 half notes and 2 quarter notes, and then I hit a brick wall, I see what your saying Neal about articulation, phrasing, and the other things you put down, but Im struggling and Im sure this is simple???
Neal April 17, 2013 at 11:30 pm
Sounds like you’re being very cerebral about this one. I would recommend a different approach.
Either play along with a recording, or imagine a rhythm section in the background.
Gil April 19, 2013 at 5:38 pm
OK, will try, thanks.
Bill Allen April 19, 2013 at 6:30 pm
I am currently 58 and I did not start playing the saxophone until I was 51. I always wanted to play so when my kids “left the nest” I decided to take it up. I took weekly lessons from a local instructor and began playing in my church orchestra after about 2 years of lessons. I have since moved and do not have a local instructor nor a regular place to play so I have not been playing/praticing lately. Found that I really miss playing and want to get better. Online lessons seem to be my best option. Love to learn to play classic Rock-n-Roll music!
Neal April 19, 2013 at 6:44 pm
That’s an interesting point about finding a place to practice, definitely have needed to spend a little time finding a good spot in different places before. Is it more your schedule or location which makes it difficult?
And what a few rock tunes you would like to play?
James Farrelly April 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm
Hello, I am returning to saxophone after a 25 year gap in playing. Just purchased a second hand Tenor Sax. Slowly re-learning a few things, but definitely have a very long way to go. Looking forward to getting some structure into practice.
Neal April 30, 2013 at 1:43 am
Welcome! Check out the steps I have laid out, let me know what questions you have.
Chad Gibbs May 5, 2013 at 11:03 am
My name is Chad. I played the alto sax while in middle school and high school. I am now 38 years old, so it’s been a few years since I have played on a regular basis.
After high school, I went on to college, married, and 4 kids later, I long to really take my saxophone to another level.
I was ok in high school playing either first or second chair, but I don’t recall most of the scales by memory any more.
My goals are to maybe play in church by ear longer term, and short term play a contemporary r&b song and a gospel song.
Neal May 5, 2013 at 11:38 am
Can definitely help you take it to another level.
How much have you learned by ear so far?
And what R&B song would you like to learn?
Chad Gibbs May 5, 2013 at 11:43 am
I am an absolute novice by ear, I saw your happy birthday video, and I will try that…however to be honest that looks a bit intimidating. Time will tell
I am working on frank ocean’s – ” thinking about you”
Terry S. May 12, 2013 at 9:13 am
My name is Terry, I am completely new to the Sax.
Learning to play Sax has been a bucket list item of mine and since I am now 52′ it is time I started.
I have a new Alto Sax , which I have been fumbling around in the dark with for about 2 months. I am interested in learning to read and play the Sax and your website has been the most intriguing. As I am unable to commit to regularly scheduled lessons due to my travel, the best alternative appears to be Saxaphone Tribe.
I like all kinds of music, but find myself leaning towards Jazz.
Neal May 12, 2013 at 10:40 am
Glad you started to play, I think you’ll have fun with it.
What have you been playing in the first two months?
And who are some of your favorite jazz saxophonists?
Terry S. May 13, 2013 at 2:28 am
Well I have been trying to play Ain’t No Sunshine.
I would like to learn to play set fire to the rain by Adele.
As far as Jazz sax players I like, I would have to say, John Coltrane, Gover Washington and of course Chalie Parker.
Russell Moreira June 3, 2013 at 6:09 am
Hi I’m Russell, just like many of you out there, we have an interest in playing the saxophone. Be it a soprano, alto, tenor, or baritone. We want to play music. I have an alto and a tenor. Most of my family members are musically gifted. I would very much enjoy playing the saxophone with other family members and friends.
I first listened to soloist from youtube. One particular musician who caught my attention was Brian Landau. Very talented. Then I heard Vincent Ingala. He plays awesome jazz. I’m finding more artist as I move along in my long time passionate direction. I love to hear form others on which artist has inspired you to play the saxophone. I’ll start building up my collection sax plays. Have a great day to all!
Neal June 3, 2013 at 11:10 am
How would you define ‘talent’?
Russell June 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm
An “action” (playing the saxophone) that is acceptable or appreciated by most people you know or who finds you enjoyable to be around and heard.
Neal June 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm
You can get there too, just takes some work and patience. I’ll check out Vincent Ingala, not familiar with him. I have spoken with Brian before though.
Eleni June 14, 2013 at 5:53 pm
Hi Neal and Tribe Members – I’ve never played a musical instrument before, and I really love Music. I’ve gone from Soul to Rock and Now Smooth Jazz, Sirius XM keeps me happy. Sax being my favorite. Grover Washington to Richard Elliott David Sanborn and the List goes on and on. I love the Jazz groups with excellent keyboards like Bob James, and Guitarist like Larry Carlton. All interwoven with that SAX Machine. I am so looking forward to playing my Tenor and I feel I’ve come to the right place. Neal you really make me feel comfortable and positive Thank You!
Neal June 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm
That’s pretty cool you saw Grove Washington Jr!
Eleni June 17, 2013 at 10:36 am
Right, Thanks Neal
Zig June 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm
Hi Saxy peep, I am a disabled vet about 3 yrs ago my dr. sais to find a hobby and I tried piano and I listen to my teacher at the time said she loved the piano and did not share that same passion. I am a die hard jazz fan and the instrument that makes my soul move is the sopranos sax but I have a crippled left pinky and I could not play the straight soprano.
I tried the alto sax and it worked out great. I take lessons for that instrument from a great school Dallas School of Music online.
I was just cruising on the web for soprano sax don’t laff but I did not know they made curvy soprano sax well I purchase a cheapo to learn it on this site. As I am speaking it is in the shop getting tweaked and the repair lady played it omg it sound great.
I seen Neal on Ytube and he has awesome vids and sound. he comes of trustworthy. I am never to old to learn all my teachers said I am improving and is proud of my. That feeds my soul I have met some tremendous pros and it has sparked so much.
I am on Ytube my page is Ziggysway. Post critiques positive one only. I do have a music studio don’t ask me why but learning the sax has snowballed to many great great habits.
LOL much success to you all and I feel welcomed and I do put in the time as time permits. LOL
Neal June 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm
Checked out one of your videos where you’re playing alto, looks like you’re having a lot of fun!
Let me know how you like the curved soprano.
Explore the site a bit, also try the steps I have outlined. They will help your technique, which is how you play the saxophone.
That’s cool you have a studio.
Have you listened to any Maceo Parker?
zig June 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm
I thank you for the lesson Neal. I am on it. I know I have bad habits and that I was told and purchased a dvd of Coltrane I see how his fingers never left the keys. I try it front of mirror at times but. I have printed the sheet. I have heard and seen Maceo I love his music too. I appreciate the comments on YT. I am having fun and will work hard on my techniques to get my mechanics together. I am working on my tonguing speed with a metronom.
Have a good Evening.
Neal June 19, 2013 at 8:51 pm
The Lindeman will help train your fingers to move like Coltrane, Charlie Parker, most of the great players actually.
Have you heard ‘roots revisited’? That’s one of my favorites by him, a little more on the jazz side than a lot of things he has played.
Brooks Butler June 29, 2013 at 5:19 pm
I started lessons on the alto in 1949 as did another senior here older than me. It has been 56 years since I played. I bought used horns this month (some folks are impressed with their $300 Chinese horns). I can still read notes and brushed up on fingerings. My goals are modest as I only intend to play for myself. One of my concerns is that I have been a talk radio guy, mostly listening to Rush, Hannity and Levin. I don’t have music rolling around in my head like some claim. I am not at all sure that I can improvise or play by ear. We will give it a shot.
Neal June 29, 2013 at 5:51 pm
Thanks for introducing yourself.
Follow the other steps I have outlined.
You can definitely play by ear and improvise if you would like to.
R C July 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm
I have been playing about 4-5 years and I enjoy music very much. I took up the sax later in my life as a hobby and I am having lots of fun learning and growing. I play with sax friends and bands at open mics around town but I mostly enjoy practicing alone wherever and whenever I can giving kids work and life. Looking forward to what SaxTribe has to offer!
Have a musical day!
Neal July 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm
Send me a recording an I’ll check it out!
Mary July 2, 2013 at 3:55 pm
Fell in love with sax at the age of 18 Pink Floyd.
Now at age 56 self taught, I am learning on my Yamaha Pro Tenor Sax . Having started from scratch (no music knowledge whatsoever) played off and on for years first with an Alto just messing around. Discovered my Alto was a dud and this put me off for years. In a nutshell, I am all over the place with learning my sax.
Learning from A tune a day Book 1 and haven’t even finished this. practice scales but do not know any off by heart. Stopped playing long tones as found never had enough time to play songs, scales and these as well and also boring.
I hope to learn to play some songs well.
My biggest problem is my memory isn’t very good. I have played some songs over and over forever and a day and cannot remember them without reading the music.
I love Most Music especially Jazz Rock.
I am hoping by joining Sax Tribe I can learn a better way of playing.
Neal July 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm
Sounds like you have a horn that will play well now.
I think you should add a little more focus into your practice. Work on one song and you will be able to remember it. Work on 50 songs….. and you probably won’t remember any.
What’s a song you would really like to play?
Mary July 3, 2013 at 9:17 pm
I would love to play Adele songs,
Rolling in the Deep, Someone Like you and Skyfall (noticed you have this) on your site.
Neal July 3, 2013 at 9:46 pm
Try working on Skyfall, that is the one of those three that I have played a little. Could help you with it if you would like.
Mary July 4, 2013 at 3:36 am
Casey July 7, 2013 at 9:06 pm
I taught myself how to play alto saxophone at high school because the flute wasn’t loud enough 🙂
I got given a tenor saxophone for Christmas and am now practicing some licks and solos for a couple of covers bands to play in pubs (on alto first).
I’ve had lessons for flute but never for sax so I’m really keen to become confident enough to play strongly alongside the professionals.
Looking forward to the lessons!
Neal July 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm
You’ll find there are many similarities between the fingering systems for sax and flute. A few small differences. One being you don’t keep your right pinky down most of the time, only for a few notes. I play just a little flute, did more clarinet early – continued to play clarinet for some years as I also played saxophone.
Check out the steps and I’ll give you some feedback and ideas for things to work on.
Larry July 8, 2013 at 8:41 am
Hi Played Clarinet when I was 10. Parents refused to buy me a Sax until I learned Clarinet. Quit Clarinet lessons but still own Clarinet…Bought a Sax in April. Caught on rather fast but my teacher is a guitar player!!! He has no patience… He’s frustrated. I’m at an impasse. I practice daily, getting better, have good sound, can read music, know all the notes and keys but I get bored practicing the same 12 major scales.Please help
Neal July 8, 2013 at 11:14 am
Learning a clarinet first can be a good idea. The band director at school had me do the same thing. Then I started saxophone later that first year.
Interesting that you’re learning from a guitar player.
What kind of music are you playing? And are you learning some music by ear as well?
Larry July 9, 2013 at 9:52 am
I have books and practice scales. Typically I pick out a scale and practice it using sheet music. Once I get started (using music) I can play by ear. I like all kinds of music. Thus far I get pointers here and there. I don’t like my teacher; too impatient. I’m done with him. Decided I like it better on my own and with your help.
Renuka July 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm
Hello, my name is Renuka. I live in New York City.
I love to listen to saxophone instrumental music.
I have an alto sax and been playing just earlier this year.
I know nothing about reading music but I am passionate about the sax and I am willing to learn.
Neal July 9, 2013 at 4:55 pm
Check out the steps, which include sending me a recording.
What sorts of things are you playing?
Luke Bong July 10, 2013 at 8:09 pm
I’m Luke Bong from Malaysia. I play the alto sax. I started off playing by ear and am now only learning to read music. I’ve never had any formal music lessons before. Here in Malaysia, we have very limited resources for the saxophone so we make do with what we can get. I love mellow jazz ballads. My favourite saxophonists are Paul Desmond, Stan Getz and Cannonball Adderley. I look forward to learn from everybody in the Tribe!
Neal July 10, 2013 at 9:42 pm
Good to have you in the group, should be able to help you sound a lot better pretty quickly.
The three sax players you listed are a few of my favorites too.
Since you listed Paul Desmond first, have you tried playing ‘Take Five’?
Luke Bong July 10, 2013 at 11:15 pm
I love ‘Take Five’ but don’t think I’m up to the challenge yet. It’s too fast for me at the moment. I’m working on Autumn Leaves now. I normally listen to the song several times and try to figure out the melody by ear as I don’t read music much until after I started on your wonderful Saxophone Foundation Course. So, ‘Take Five’ is too fast for me to pin down. Haha!
Michele Pippen August 21, 2013 at 4:37 am
Hi Luke – I just joined the Tribe – I live in Malaysia too! Here’s to learning and improving for us over here! Thanks to Neal offering this great opportunity online.
Luke Bong August 21, 2013 at 11:11 pm
Great to have you here. Which state are you in? I’m in Sarawak.
Michele Pippen August 22, 2013 at 12:01 am
Hey thanks – in Kedah! Love Sarawak ! Of course for nature but also wonderful friendly people and great food – best Laksa for me is Sarawak Laksa – Kucing favourite place!
Edward McDonald August 15, 2013 at 4:06 pm
I started playing the saxophone after hearing Kenny G for the first time and I started emulating his tone, but now I want to make my own instead of mimicing others. I went into it head strong purchasing all three saxophones and a EWI. I’ve gotten pretty good with the EWI, alto and soprano but the tenor is another beast. Maybe its the mouthpiece, I don’t know but the tone is not that pleasant to me. I want to be able to improvise more when it comes to soloing. I can pretty much play the lead in a song especially if I have the sheet music or just pick away at each tone until I have it memorize by ear. I taught myself to play the saxophone and read sheet music and have on occasions played by ear. I started playing the saxophone in 1995 and thought I would be better by now but after reading everyone else’s comments it seems I’m not alone. So I welcome all the help and advice that can be given in this forum as it will be my first over the internet.
Michele Pippen August 21, 2013 at 4:34 am
Hi, Just fresh here in the Tribe! Just picking up the sax, alto, again after a long long break.
Mainly prefer and stick to jazz standards and some latin jazz (Jobin).
Self-taught, I like ‘jamming’ to pieces of music, try to work out the ‘key’ by ear, and making up my ‘own stuff”, but I often lose the plot or start getting very bored with my ‘ideas’, or simply get lost. Enjoy listening to other sax players and try and ‘answer’ their impros as a practice challenge.
Can sight read just ok, as long as tempo is slow enough! but not always great at getting the exact ‘timing’ as is written, so looking forward to the taking it slow approach, not trying to play at full tempo, and I also hear in my head my own ideas and phrasing,
Having trouble getting low registers straight up, I usually have to work my way down to them. high registers pretty to very weak for the most.
My embouchure is obviously not great after such long break, so needing to spend time with long notes, and I get a bit bored with it but know I just gotta!
I just love trying to make music, have a strum/pick on guitar too just to entertain myself, sing along, (not jazz, as I’m just a basic chords player and much of the jazz has too complicated chords for me on guitar) –
when I”m trying to think of music, notes, scales etc, work out progressions, I tend to picture in my head the piano keys to work out what notes I want/need to play. Like I Work out major scales by formula based on C major. (eg. Root, whole tone, whole tone, half tone, whole, whole, whole and half tone.)
If I know a tune well, it’s of course easier to read the music and stick to the original better… I just like playing. Truly, really want to be at least a ‘good’ player and become a much better player – would like to feel confident to ‘jam’ occasionally with friends. To Be able to play a few tunes well.
I live on a small island in Malaysia, so other musicians are not easy to come by. I’m a bit alone with my jazz love, so guess i should learn a few old rock and roll riffs, pop music, so can fit into more jam sessions that happen from time to time.
Practicing/playing – I Have good days and bad playing days, with less frequent great days – play ok at home, then think I’d like to do a little join in but get too shy/nervous and that’s it, I wince out of it, and don’t take my sax to an invite.
So, I got a long way to go and I believe my heart’s in the right place – learn and learn and looking to share experiences with other ‘students’ here with the Tribe and learn from Neal’s wealth of experience and great teaching skills.
Live +8 hrs GMT/UTC.
Thanks for reading my rave and I look forward to moving on the improvement road with you all!
Neal August 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm
Should be able to help you with some things.
Ernie Burton September 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm
Hi My name is Ernie Burton
Just started playing sax 9 mth ago, played clarinet years ago and can read music fairly well, have learned a few songs by ear, trying to get better to the point that I can play with other small Jazz and Blues bands.
Joe September 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm
I have been trying to learn the tenor sax for around three years now, think its time to put more of an effort into it. My biggest problem is learning by ear, I simply can’t do it.
Neal September 8, 2013 at 12:36 pm
What have you tried to learn by ear?
antuan September 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm
Hello all, my name is Antuan Aaron from Dallas, TX (Go Cowboys!) I just joined the Tribe and looking forward to learning the Alto over again. I played back in HS and Middle School for but dropped it after going to college. But never lost the love for the sax and want to put 10 times more effort in it this time around. Very open to constructive criticism because this is something i really want to be successful in.
Neal September 19, 2013 at 11:47 pm
Listened to your recordings, seems like you’re doing pretty well for being away from it for a while.
Have some things to work on and challenge you though!
David P October 14, 2013 at 5:24 pm
Hello, I’ve been playing tenor sax for about 13 months.
I have gone through sax for dummies, diff instruction books and numerous play -a-long books/cd’s.
hopefully with instruction and guidance i will progress at a faster pace towards the sax player I desire to be.
Kelly Dacey October 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm
Hi Neal my name is Kelly Dacey. I’ve played sax years back about 13 years ago when I took lessons.
I never really advanced in it since I quit playing due to personal issues in my life at that time.
Now about a year ago I decided to buy an alto sax and attempt to learn how to play again. Surprisingly I was able to hit some notes. Then I stopped playing again and became very unmotivated.
Finally this year recently I took the horn out of my closet and began to play again. I’m glad I did. And I’m glad I’m able to learn again.
Neal October 20, 2013 at 12:14 am
Should be able to help you learn some things and sound better.
Check out the steps I have outlined and let me know if you have questions.
jeff patin November 4, 2013 at 1:13 pm
hi Neal, and all. I love music all different types.
I started playing my sax about 2 yrs ago. I met a trumbone player at work. we started practicing together. He use to play professenaly years ago.He knows a lot more than me about music. He is gone , so I ve been rubanking myself .
I practise every day about 2 hours. I would like to play with a band or somthing, just play without looking at the sheet music. and play good for people to like my sound.
I have a lot of sax music and lisson al the time , go to see bone james ,kenny g, kirk whaleum, david sanborn, dig his sound! and the new kid vincent ingala
Neal November 5, 2013 at 1:22 pm
How are things going with the Rubank?
I saw Dave Sanborn in September, was a pretty cool show.
Will have to check out Vinvent Ingala, not too familiar with him.
Hiram N. November 5, 2013 at 7:48 am
Hello to all, I have been playing the Alto for over 10 years on and off.
I was not able to afford the high cost of lessons and trained my self to study songs. I can play a few songs but realized that I missed the basics and that’s why I’m here. Looking forward to learning and enjoying this site.
Neal November 5, 2013 at 1:23 pm
Will check out the recordings you sent me.
Henry November 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm
Hi Sax Tribe
My name is Henry, at present I’m living in Bristol, England. I have been learning to play my Tenor Saxophone now for about 16 mths.
I had been taking lessons but found them a little pricey, at £27 per hour so for 10 lesson becomes £270, I am 62 next birthday and work full time with a very demanding job which takes up a lot of energy and time.
My first Saxophone that I bought was a Trevor James Classic which I was told was a good Sax to start off with, it is quite easy to play, but last Summer I ventured into London and went to The Sax Shop in Soho, and saw them unwrapping the new Trevor James Custom Signature Raw sx, that sounds amazing but also quite a lot more expensive so I am enjoying playing both at the moment (but not at the same time), also obtained an Otto Link 6* mouth piece which sound really sick.
My father who lives in Australia still plays regularly his Double Bass, he is 86 and I have never played music together with him, so my intention is to learn a few Jazz Standards so that I can say I have Jammed with my dad when I return for a 6 weeks holiday in March 2014. The music I heard when I was growing up was a lot of Jazz, Blues, BeBop and those wonderful Ballads so the music is in my head I just want to be able to play some of them.
My playing has improved somewhat my neighbours have now started to open their windows and the Dogs have stopped Howling so I guess it must be improving.
My wife passed away 3 years ago and so I decided I needed to do something for me, I had wanted to do for a long time, it was either a Motorbike or learn to play Tenor Sax, well enough to play with other folk.
I look forward to your lessons and wanting to start ASAP
Neal November 15, 2013 at 3:24 pm
Interesting story you’ve got!
Check out the next steps, including the Lindeman and sending me a recording. I’ll listen.
Michele Pippen December 6, 2013 at 9:18 pm
Yeah Henry! Welcome to the Tribe.
Really look forward to your report after your visit to Australia with your dad next March. I’m Australian. I live in SE Asia. Play alto – or attempt it anyway. Don’t have a quality instrument – it’s ok – I manage. Welcome again!
Henry January 7, 2014 at 1:14 pm
I was just wondering when i do go back home to Aus for a holiday, I was just wondering whats it like playing in hot humid conditions with reeds an stuff.
Here in UK the saxophone is always cold , damp and it takes a lot of huffs to get going and warmed up must be much worse in a lot colder climates, dont know how you guys in East Coast US are copeing with the cold I bet the Reed freeze up ha.
Donny Piela December 19, 2013 at 10:40 am
Hi Neal, I’ve been playing the tenor sax since 2000, the year I retired. I played clarinet for six years and tenor sax for one year when I was young.
I’ve played in Big Swing Bands and Jazz combos both in CA and MO. I enjoy playing and soloing. I’ve attended four Jamie Aerbosold Jazz Camps in Louisville, KY and two Webster University Jazz Camps here in MO. I’ve taken jazz theory classes directly with Jerry Coker, Dan Haerle and David Baker. I’ve participated in numerous Master Classes with top professionals including Eric Alexander, Bob Mintzer, James Carter and James Moody. I’ve studied with Kent Cohea (Joe Henderson protege) and Greg Fishman.
I play a Selmer Paris Reference 36 horn with a 7* Ambika Theo Wanne metal mouthpiece. I also use a custom Phil Barone 6* hard rubber mouthpiece when the mood strikes me.
I subscribe to the Joe Allard method of embouchure development and Dave Liebman method of tone production. I have a good knowledge of jazz theory but my issue has been not applying myself and spending the time practicing my horn to achieve a level of playing ability commensurate with my knowledge of theory.
Recently, I’ve decided two things: Beginning in Jan 2014, I will make daily practicing a high priority in my life and, I will follow Neal’s instruction religiously. I really like Neal’s approach to saxophone instruction and I feel great things can be accomplished by learning from him.
Neal December 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm
Thanks for the back story.
The Jamey Abersold camp sounds like fun. If you’re interested in another class, you might check out the music and nature camp with Victor Wooten in Nashville.
Thanks for what you said about my methods, working on things like the Lindeman should really change how you play for the better. It definitely helped me a lot.
Claudio March 8, 2014 at 3:14 pm
I used to study sax when I was young. Now after 20 years without sax, I bought one again and I am very excited about that. I am from Argentina, and I am 48 years old.
Neal March 8, 2014 at 5:26 pm
How’s it going with ‘Cry Me a River’?
There’s a piece of that melody that’s cool to put into solos as well.
Guy B April 6, 2014 at 10:32 am
My name is Guy, Ilive and work in Nottingham England
Am aged 56, never played any instrument, save arecorder @ junior school, until just under 3 years ago when I purchased an alto from a pawnbrokers, it wasn’t much better than me….
Now onto my 3rd alto and have learnt on alto. Bought a Tenor late last year and now trying to play both.
Love playing jazz r&b, usually over backing tracks. Very much want to kick on and become comfortable @ improvising. Am trying to move away from just relying on sheet music but playing by ear is hard,
Looking forward to improving with practice and age
Neal April 24, 2014 at 11:37 pm
Welcome to Saxophone Tribe!
You’re making progress with the saxophone, keep it up.
How have you approached learning music by ear?
Michael SHORTLAND April 28, 2014 at 7:45 pm
Hello fellow Saxtribers. I have taken early retirement and now live part of the year in Thailand and part of the year in France. I tool up the alto a little over two years ago, and have most taught myself.
In France I have come across a wonderful player and teacher and so make as much use of him as possible. My dream is to be able to improvise to jazz tunes I like and to get a rich, melodic sound. Getz, Pepper, Webster, Desmond are those whose sounds I love.
I am also a great fan of fusion jazz, e.g. Henri Texier.
As a self-taught player, I have a bagful of questions and imagine that I have probably acquired many bad playing habits. I hope that Neal (and perhaps Saxtribers) will help. Thanks all, Mike
Neal April 29, 2014 at 5:25 pm
Welcome to Saxophone Tribe!
Sounds like you live in some cool places. Let me know what questions you have.
Ron W. June 16, 2014 at 9:42 pm
Hello Saxophone tribe, I started playing alto sax as a hobby about 5 years ago. I have a dream to be proficient enough to play jazz in a small ensemble or community band. I’ve had a few career challenges the past 6 months so the sax has taken a back seat.
I hope to get back into a practice routine with the help of this group. One of my biggest challenges is to overcome my fear of playing in public.
I also tend to be too hard on myself because I want to be a better player. I’m glad to be connected with others who have a passion for learning and playing music.
I live and work in San Diego.
Neal June 17, 2014 at 3:20 pm
Check out the next steps that are outlined.
I think you’ll be able to play in a band like you’ve described before too long if you put in some practice.