While you are worrying about your ligature or the strength of your reed, spare a thought for the Sax Widow (or Widower – we aren’t sexist here). The Sax Widow is a long-suffering creature. They must endure, sometimes for many months, the goose-like honks emitted by their new-found sax enthusiast.
They must make encouraging noises, and declare that they hear a definite improvement, when they would secretly love to stick a sock in the treasured instrument.
They must strain their ears (and their brains) in the desperate hope of recognising a newly learned tune so as not to dampen the enthusiasm of the student. They must listen patiently to the dreaded “long tones” emitting from the practice room, or else discreetly turn up the TV to drown it out.
The Sax Widow must be prepared to make space in their home for the ever-increasing array of paraphernalia apparently required – the slings, cases, stands, ligatures, reeds, reed-trimmers, etc etc – all vital, it seems, in the quest for sax perfection.
Their favourite CDs must make way for the latest sax wizard discovery. Indeed, they will become more familiar than they ever wished to be with that awesome solo, as their sax student painstakingly transcribes it, note by note. Conversations grind to a halt as the glazed expression and twitching fingers take over – the Sax Widow recognises these symptoms of “sax lick obsession” – there is no known cure.
Sometimes, the Sax Widow may be invited along to a gig, to see and hear a saxophone hero in the flesh. It’s a great evening, maybe there’s a meal and drinks before the show, the venue is buzzing, and the band are amazing. The Sax Widow turns to share this moment with their loved one – but where are they? They can be found creeping towards the stage, straining their neck at a hazardous angle, trying to identify the sax player’s “set-up”.
All the practice and dedication have paid off, and that horn is making beautiful music at last. The sax student has become a sax master, and they are in demand. The gigs are rolling in, and the Sax Widow has a new role – that of roadie.
Friday and Saturday nights can now be spent plugging along the motorways, squinting at the map or shouting at the sat nav as they try to find the venue in a strange town. As usual there’s no parking anywhere near, and all that “essential” equipment (spare reed, spare stand, spare ligature, spare sax) isn’t going to get to the stage door on its own!
Then it’s an hour or so sitting through the squeaks and hums of the sound check, and another indigestion-inducing rushed dinner before the gig.
The Sax Widow settles down in a corner of the venue with a drink, to wait for the kick-off. It feels a little awkward at first, sitting there alone, amidst all the noisy friends and smooching couples.
It’s show time. The audience hush and there’s a shiver of anticipation as the band come onto the stage. The Sax Widow can feel the nerves coming off the stage in waves – those butterflies are contagious.
But when the music starts, and that sax solo soars over the heads of the crowd, the Sax Widow can’t help but feel just a little bit proud.
About the author:
Clair Wright is a music lover and writer based in Yorkshire, England.