Do you dream of playing saxophone in a band?
Sax School member Martyn recently shared his experience of joining a band, in our Facebook Community. We wanted to know more…
“I tried to learn sax about twenty-five years ago,” explains Martyn. “I had a couple of lessons with a teacher, but for various reasons that option didn’t really suit me.”
Martyn tried learning on his own. “So back then it was just a case of buying a book and having a go. I learned a couple of songs, but then I moved house and I didn’t want to disturb my neighbours! So I stopped playing.” Martyn kept his sax though. “I think maybe I always thought I might go back to it one day.”
Then, a year ago a relative asked Martyn if he still had his sax. “It made me think about trying again,” says Martyn. “I looked online, and found Sax School – and I loved it!”
Overcoming the Nerves
A year on, Martyn was thinking about getting out there with his sax. “I went along to an open mike night,” he explains, “but I didn’t play – I was too nervous! I really went to check out the standard.”
Performing isn’t something that comes naturally to Martyn but he didn’t let this stop him. “I’m not naturally a very confident person,” he says. “I felt I needed to push myself to play in public. I had only played for friends and family – I’d never taken my sax outside the house!”
Finding a Band
Martyn started to think about joining a band. “I looked online at websites where musicians can post if they are seeking a specific band member, or if they themselves want to join a band. I contacted one band but they had already found a sax player. So, I decided to put up an ad myself.” Martyn was up-front about his level of playing experience, and also included the type of music he liked to play.
I felt I needed to push myself to play in public…..I’d never taken my sax outside the house!
Martyn was contacted by a new party band which was just forming. ‘Three of the guys had played together in a band which had split up, so they were looking for musicians to join them,” says Martyn. “They sent through two songs for me to learn; they were ‘Simply the Best’, and ‘Dancing in the Street.’
Looking at the sheet music, Martyn realised straight away that this was going to be a new experience. “It’s not like playing the melody,” he explains. “It was mainly backing harmonies, with some sax solos of a few bars each. So I couldn’t rely on knowing the tune – I had to really read the music!”
After a week of practicing the two set pieces of music, Martyn met a few of the band members in a local village hall. “I was so nervous, I nearly bottled out!” he says. “We played through the songs I had learned and I was terrible! I kept getting lost or getting ahead. But the other guys were really friendly and encouraging.”
After chatting about saxophone keys, the band settled into a twelve bar blues jam. “I use twelve bar blues in my warm-ups when I practice at home,” says Martyn, “but I only knew Dm and Am blues scales. I fudged the other scale until I hit on the right notes.” Even so, Martyn soon started to relax and enjoy playing. “I wasn’t reading music so I turned around to face the band, took a couple of steps backwards and leaned back into my sax. This was it for me!”
Finding the Groove
The other band members clearly enjoyed seeing Martyn having fun. “I stopped playing a couple of times because I thought I was taking up too much of their time. Both times the keyboard guy nodded at me in encouragement and I ripped away again. That village hall was rocking on its foundations, or at least I thought so!”
I turned around to face the band, took a couple of steps backwards and leaned back into my sax. This was it for me!
Martyn loved the experience, but still didn’t feel the songs had gone well, so didn’t have high hopes. He was in for a surprise, however. “A couple of days later I got an email – ‘Welcome to the Band’. I couldn’t believe it.”
The band have even changed the key of a couple of songs to make it easier for Martyn. Now he’s looking forward to playing with the band at weddings and parties in his local area. “It’s taught me something about life – how other musicians are kind enough to encourage newbies like me. I’ve learned to just go for it – even if I think I might embarrass myself.”
That village hall was rocking on its foundations, or at least I thought so!
Martyn’s Tips For Joining a Band
- Tell yourself – this isn’t going to kill you!
- Embrace the new experience
- Take opportunities when they come up – or you might regret it later.
- Just go for it!
Resources to help you:
Here are just a few websites to try, if you fancy joining a band.
Want to learn how to play in a band like Martyn?
Sax School will help you get there fast! Find out how the huge library of lessons, Mini-Courses AND our supportive community will help you become the confident saxophone player you want to be!