Jack White is our Student of the Week! Jack wowed us with his great video of ‘One Step Beyond’, performed with his Madness tribute band ‘Special Kinda Madness’. It was the first video he had shared!
Starting with Saxophone
Jack has been playing saxophone for over ten years. “I started out as a drummer,” he explains. “I played with a couple of bands, but I got fed up with hauling the drum kit around – the rest of the band would pack up and leave, and I would still have a full kit to pack away!”
Jack had always wanted to play sax, so he decided to give it a try. “I bought a second-hand alto from a shop in London,” he says. “Once I was able to get a few notes out of it, I bought a tenor.”
Finding Sax School
Jack tried saxophone lessons with a teacher but found it didn’t suit him. “I tried a few different teachers online, but then I discovered Sax School,” he says. “I found Nigel’s teaching really easy to follow, and I progressed much more quickly. When people ask my advice, I always direct them to Sax School – it’s such a great source of lessons.”
Jack learned to play by ear to begin with. “One of the reasons I liked Sax School was that I didn’t have to read the music,” he explains. “Nigel always sings the notes as well as telling you what the notes are, so I was able to pick it up. I’ve learned to read music by looking at the sheet music as I play.”
“I find it easier to play in front of 10,000 people than for my wife and daughter!”
Jack has been playing with bands for many years, initially on drums. “The band allowed me to switch to sax and join the horn section, once I was good enough,” he says. “When that band folded, I auditioned for another with my sax. I’ve played with a few function bands, and then I joined a reggae band, called ‘The Bighead’. I played with them for about five years, and recorded a few albums with them too.”
Jack auditioned for ‘Special Kinda Madness’ about five years ago. “I was lucky that ‘One Step Beyond’ was the song they asked me to play in the audition, because I had learned it with Sax School! We play gigs two or three times a week and tour the UK and abroad,” explains Jack.”
Jack fits in all this playing on top of his day job. “I’m self-employed and my job is mainly at a computer, so I can fit it around my gigs,” he says. “We’ve played in some fantastic venues, though it’s not as glamorous as it sounds!”
Following the Dream
Jack has always wanted to perform. “It was always my dream,” he says. “I find it easier to play in front of 10,000 people than for my wife and daughter! It’s great when everyone is singing back, enjoying themselves and getting involved.”
“If I hadn’t joined Sax School, I wouldn’t be doing it,” Jack says. “I wouldn’t have had the confidence on the saxophone. It’s changed my life completely.”
“Go to lots of jam sessions, and play with people who are better and more experienced than you. It’s the best way to learn.”
Jack admits that sometimes he simply got lucky with the opportunities that came his way. “Sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time,” he says.
Jack has some useful advice for sax players who want to get into playing gigs. “Go to lots of jam sessions, and play with people who are better and more experienced than you,” he says. “It’s the best way to learn.”
Jam sessions are also a good place to meet other musicians, says Jack. “That’s where you go if you don’t have a band!” he explains. “People remember you, then when someone is looking for a sax player, they’ll send them to you!”
He also looks on specialist websites for audition opportunities. “Band Mix and Party Sounds are both good places to look for bands that want musicians,” he says.
Jack enjoys playing music in lots of different styles. “I play what people want to hear,” he says. “I would like to be able to play jazz, and I love swing and be-bop. It’s those lessons I tend to dip into in Sax School.”
It’s not surprising then that Jack really enjoys improvising. “With the Madness band, we play the lines that people know,” he says, “but with the reggae band it was all improvised. That’s probably my strongest area of playing, – perhaps because I started out playing by ear.”
Jack’s long-term aim is to start a swing or blues band. “I might go back to the alto, or even start baritone,” he says.
We can’t wait to hear what you do next, Jack! Congratulations!
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