Since Godfrey retired to Spain, playing the saxophone has been a big part of his new life.
Godfrey is better known to Sax School members as “Pedro Espania”! This alter ego came about after Godfrey’s relocation from Scotland with his wife Susan to sunny Spain.
A new life in Spain
It’s four years since Godfrey started playing the saxophone, but ill health caused him to take a break last year. “When we moved to Spain we had both had treatment for cancer,” explains Godfrey. ” I couldn’t play my alto saxophone for several months – I didn’t have enough breath.”
Godfrey was determined to get back to playing saxophone as soon as he could. In fact, he bought a tenor sax as an incentive to get better. “I hadn’t played tenor before my surgery,” he explains, ” and it was several months before I could pick it up – it’s much heavier than my alto.”
Getting started on tenor sax
After finally managing to make a start with his tenor sax in June, Godfrey found it quite a challenge. “It sounded awful,” he says, “but I persevered. I set myself a goal of playing for five minutes each time, and then I extended to ten or twenty minutes. Now I’m really pleased with my mellow, tenor sound, and I hardly play my alto at home!”
However, Godfrey is playing his alto sax regularly with a community band, which he joined in June. “I’m the only English member,” he says, “there is a Dutch lady who translates for me, but everyone else is Spanish!”
Making friends through music
The language barrier hasn’t got in the way of the music, though, and Godfrey has found a warm welcome with the band. “It’s quite traditional, Spanish music,” he explains, “mainly marches, and paso dobles. There are some great players.” The band is a real musical community, with a junior band for younger players. The band own instruments which learners can borrow, and also provides lessons.
Godfrey’s wife Susan also enjoys watching the band and they’ve made lots of friends.
As well as settling into life in Spain, Godfrey is enjoying being part of Sax School. He joined three years ago, and has never looked back. “I love the community – we learn from each other and there are some amazing players,” he says. “And there’s so much material in Sax School – lessons, sheet music and backing tracks – it would take years to play all of it!”
There’s so much material in Sax School
Godfrey played cornet whilst at school, competing in contests with a brass band. He gave up the cornet after leaving school, but decided to learn the sax four years ago, as a hobby. “It’s sexier than the cornet!” he says, “and not as loud for the neighbours!”
His early musical training was a bonus when he started out playing the saxophone, but it Godfrey found it could also hold him back. “In brass bands, I was trained to follow the music really accurately,” he explains, “so playing saxophone more freely, for jazz, has been a real challenge.”
I believe anyone can learn to play jazz
Despite this, Godfrey is now enjoying improvising. “I believe anyone can learn to play jazz,” he says, “some people have a natural talent for it, but anyone can learn.”
Back in Scotland, Godfrey regularly visited local retirement homes to play saxophone for the residents. “They really enjoyed hearing the old standards, and that’s the music I love to play too!” says Godfrey. Now he’s hoping to do the same in his local area in Spain, using backing tracks. “I’ll have to write the names of the tunes in Spanish!” he says.
It’s great to see Godfrey enjoying his new life in the sunshine – and we loved this video of “White Christmas”.
Congratulations to Godfrey, AKA Pedro, on being our Student of the Week!
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