Our March Legend is Gregory Sneed from Connecticut, USA.
Each month we celebrate a Sax School LEGEND who is inspiring others with their great saxophone progress and their contribution to our community.
Until seven years ago, Gregory had never played an instrument and couldn’t read music! But just 22 months after starting to play saxophone, Gregory was out playing in public.
Gregory admits he’s pretty driven, and it certainly shows. From the beginning he worked hard to master the saxophone. “My local music school told me to practice for 45 minutes every other day, explains Gregory. “But I knew I would never reach my goals if I did that. So from the start I practiced for 3 to 4 hours a day, plus an hour learning to read music.” This dedication paid off. and he made great progress on saxophone. Now, Gregory is out playing gigs with his saxophone every weekend.
It was during his first ever gig that Gregory got a lucky break, when he met local jazz legend Don DePalma. “On the first day I played out, I was opening for his band and Don DePalmer came in and sat down and listened to me play,’ explains Gregory. “Afterwards he came over, and he said ‘Hey Kid – you’re pretty good, do you want to come and play with my band?'”
Gregory was reluctant at first. But his wife persuaded him to say yes – and he’s so glad he did. It was the start of a great learning opportunity as Gregory sat in with experienced pro musicians, including Don’s saxophonist Kris Jensen. “The lessons that I got out of that year and a half of playing with them – who after 22 months gets the opportunity to play with someone like that?” This great experience really helped Gregory make fast progress on saxophone, and it was all down to getting out and playing gigs.
Although Gregory now performs most of the time as a solo artist, he still takes the opportunity to play with other musicians whenever he can.
There’s always something to learn
Learning with Sax School
Gregory has been a Sax School member for over a year and is also a member of Blues Mastery. Even as an experienced, gigging sax player, he still finds inspiration from the Sax School Community. “For me, the Sax School community is huge,” says Gregory. “I like to see what everyone is doing. Even the new members often bring something to the table that I don’t have. There’s always something to learn.”
The videos which Gregory shares in our Facebook community reflect his eclectic taste in music. He plays standards, RnB, country, and smooth jazz. “I like to play the songs I enjoy,” he says. “if I enjoy it, then hopefully most other people will like it too.”
For me, the Sax School community is huge
When in comes to the lessons in Sax School, Gregory is getting back to basics. “When I started out, I skipped a lot of that stuff, because I’m hot-headed!’ he says, “so I’m going back and learning it now. I love the Five Minute Workouts, for example.”
Like many sax players, Gregory is keen to develop his improvisation. “Because I jumped straight into playing with backing tracks, I didn’t have a lot of improv [learning]. Donny [DePalma] helped me, …but I’m still growing.”
Advice for new players
For saxophone learners who want to follow in Gregory’s footsteps and get out gigging, he has this advice. “Get the foundation right, then put your fears aside and get out and play…Record your playing, listen, watch the lessons, watch the videos in the community – they will help you grow.”
Watch Nigel chatting with Sax School Legend Gregory about making progress on saxophone and getting out gigging.