When Atsuya joined Sax School, he didn’t even own a saxophone! Two years on, he’s playing duets with his daughter and we loved their video of ‘A Whole New World.’
“I discovered Nigel’s lessons through YouTube,” explains Atsuya. “I found a video of Nigel playing ‘Tears in Heaven’ and it was so beautiful. I have a recording of Joshua Redman playing this track, but Nigel’s version was quite different, but I really liked it.”
From there, Atsuya subscribed to Nigel’s YouTube channel, and then discovered Sax School.
“I was looking for a good quality second-hand instrument, so when I first joined I didn’t have a saxophone,” says Atsuya. “I learned a lot about what I would need to do once I bought one!”
So two years ago, Atsuya bought a second-hand alto and two mouthpieces – one for him, and one for his daughter Maya, who is now nine years old. “Maya started learning sax through a music program at her primary school,” he explains. “Maya has been learning piano for around three years so she could already read music. I learned recorder at primary school which helped with reading music and with the fingering on saxophone.”
Two months ago Atsuya got a second-hand tenor, so now they can play together. “I bought a book of duets at the same time,” says Atsuya. “Maya learns twice as fast as me though, she can play ‘A Whole New World’ by heart while I am still reading the music!”
“I mainly listened to rock and blues, but gradually I got into jazz – artists like Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis.”
Atsuya was introduced to jazz by a friend after finishing high school. “He played in a jazz band and had a lot of albums,” he explains. “Until then I mainly listened to rock and blues, but gradually I got into jazz – artists like Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis.”
It wasn’t till much later that Atsuya thought of learning to play himself. “I never imagined I would play saxophone,” he says. It was through his son’s band that he became interested in the sax. “My son plays drums and one of his school friends plays sax,” he says. “I was shocked at how good it sounded live!”
Progress with Sax School
Atsuya is very disciplined with his saxophone learning, spending a lot of practice time on technique. “Sax School is great because it gave me a plan and a way to focus my practice,” he says. “Nigel talks about accuracy being more important than speed, so I work on that, and on getting a nice sound through practicing long tones and scales.”
Maya enjoys Sax School too! “We watch Nigel’s videos together,” says Atsuya. “They are more useful for children than learning from a book. Maya likes learning pop songs, like ‘Uptown Funk’.
Atsuya gets a lot of help and support from our Facebook Community too. “Everyone is so nice and there are a lot of experienced players in there who give me great tips,” he says.
“Sax School is great because it gave me a plan and a way to focus my practice”
Atsuya has made great progress in just two years. “I’m still not totally happy with my sound, but I’m working on it,” he says, “and I’m okay with improvising blues using a blues scale, but jazz is more complicated – so I’m working on that too!”
Atsuya recently joined in with a local band who play regularly in a rooftop bar. “I go to see them play often, and I got talking to the sax player – he’s been playing for around thirty years. He suggested I bring along my sax.” Atsuya practiced “Watermelon Man” at home and then went along a few weeks later. “Playing with more experienced people was really good, and it was great motivation to practice!”
We reckon that Maya will keep you practicing too! Congratulations again to Atsuya, and Maya, for being our Student of the Week!