John didn’t start learning saxophone until he was in his fifties, but now he’s playing gigs on sax with a band. “I wish I’d done it twenty years ago,” he says.
John is our Student of the Week this week, so we wanted to know more about his saxophone journey.
Learning saxophone as an adult
John played clarinet at school, but he had always wanted to learn the saxophone. “I bought a cheap alto – I called it my ‘mid-life crisis!'” he explains. “I had a few lessons and bought a play-along book. Then after joining a local saxophone choir, I found out about Sax School.“
I bought a cheap alto – I called it my ‘mid-life crisis!’
Sax School’s online saxophone lessons worked for John. “It’s great to be able to learn in my own time,” he says. “I can spend as long as I need, and work at my own pace.”
Playing Gigs on Sax
John started playing duets with fellow Sax School member, Janet. “We meet once a week. We’ve got a really good set list now using the duets in Sax School, plus a few songs,” says John. “We’ve been joined by another friend who plays bass, and we are might expand with a drummer and a singer too.”
Through the band, John has fulfilled his dream of playing gigs on sax. “We’ve played a couple of times at local events,” he says. “We played at a gala – the weather was terrible but they’ve asked us to come back next year!”
The band are also planning to play at a local open mike night. “Every step really helps me gain confidence,” says John. “The first time I played solo sax at a gig I was terrified. But once you realise that the audience isn’t full of saxophone experts picking up every mistake, you soon relax!”
It’s what I’ve always wanted to do
John admits to being hooked on the buzz of playing live. “It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It becomes an addiction,” he says.
John enjoys playing with the sax choir and with a local big band too. “Playing in a group is great experience,” he says, “it’s a really good way of getting ready for playing in a smaller band where you are more exposed.”
Learning saxophone online with Sax School
John also enjoys the range of different tunes to choose from in Sax School. “I was working on music for exams for a while, but I found it boring,” he says. “With Sax School I can play the music that I enjoy. There’s so much material that I want to play, plus the backing tracks too.”
John loves the music of the fifties and sixties, in particular. “I always wanted to play songs by Fats Domino, Little Richard, and King Curtis,” he says. John is also a big fan of Clarence Clemons, whose “Jungleland” solo John played in his winning video. “I saw Clarence Clemons play with Bruce Springsteen back in the eighties,” he says. “His playing really inspired me. I loved the “Clarence Clemons Sound Formula” lessons in Sax School.”
When he was working away in Scotland, John had some lessons with Mark “Deke” McGee, who became a friend and mentor. “Deke taught me a lot about improvising and playing by ear,” says John. “I’ve carried on developing my improvising with the lessons in Sax School, and with Blues Mastery too.”
Goals for Learning Saxophone
For the future, John has got some clear goals to improve his playing. “I’m working on controlling my tuning on the high notes,” he says. “I also want to feel happy improvising over a 12 bar blues in any key, and I’m working on my ear training, so I can pick up a tune faster.”
With motivation like this for learning saxophone, and the excitement of live gigs with his band to spur him on, we know John’s playing will go from strength to strength! Congratulations John on being our Student of the Week!
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