Did you know that one of the greatest ways to build your skills as a performer on saxophone is to go out and start doing solo saxophone gigs?
I’m going to share my tips for the best solo sax performing setup. And it’s simpler than you think.
I know what you’re thinking. It sounds kind of terrifying.
And if you’ve never done it before, it can seem like a really difficult thing to even start.
But let me break it down for you because it’s quite simple. So many of our Sax School members are doing this all the time, and they’re loving it and seeing great progress.
So what do you need to get started?
- your saxophone
- a speaker to play your backing tracks through
- something to play your backing tracks from (e.g. an iPad or smartphone).
Your solo sax performing setup could be as simple as that.
In fact, today I’m going to share a story with you today. I’m I’m talking with Sax School member Andi – and she started with something even simpler than this. And she’s having so much fun with it. You’ll be amazed at the place where she was playing these gigs.
Free solo sax performing setup guide
To make this even easier for you, I’ve created a PDF, which goes through the entire process of preparing to go out and play solo live gigs. It’s a comprehensive guide which breaks down all the gear that you need. It covers different scenarios, from a simple setup to a more complicated setup. There’s loads of tips on how you can make your performances even better.
It’s completely free so if you’re thinking of performing solo sax gigs in the future, you’ll want to get this guide. I know it’ll help you. click the button to get yours.
What Andi’s doing is inspiring. She’s not been learning that long, but she’s having so much fun going out and playing for people.
Enjoy the story. I’ll catch you at the end.
Andi’s solo sax performing set up is super-simple, as she explains.
“I have a CloudVocal Lite which is a little mic, and then there’s an iSolo receiver, which has four settings on it. It easily attaches to a Bose S1 speaker, which is a sizeable speaker,” says Andi.
As well as being simple, Andi’s setup is flexible.
“[The speaker] doesn’t need to be plugged into the mains. You can plug it in or its battery powered,” says Andi.
So whether you’re busking, playing on the beach, or you just can’t reach the plug socket, this setup will work perfectly.
“The only thing that needs to be plugged into the mains is the receiver itself…. and connects to the microphone by Bluetooth. So, it’s totally simple,” says Andi.
The CloudVocal microphone clips onto Andi’s saxophone. The receiver connects to the speaker using a jack plug.
“There are two holes in the CloudVocal [receiver],” says Andi, “One goes to the speaker and the other one goes to the plug socket. It’s dead easy, otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to do it!”
Playing backing tracks
Andi simply uses her iPhone to play her backing tracks.
So I put the backing tracks under ‘files’, and I practice them in that order before I go out,” explains Andi. ” And the only things I need to remember to do is to turn up the volume, and switch on “do not disturb” mode in case someone phones you in the middle of it!”
Andi’s phone connects to her speaker by Bluetooth, so the only cable needed is for the microphone receiver.
“So if I wanted to move around, I could,” says Andi, “but I’m not that confident yet. I need the music still!”
Andi’s solo sax gigs
Andi has been using this setup to perform in an unusual setting!
“So I was asked by my spin instructor – she had seen a couple of the videos that I’ve made for Sax School,” says Andi. “And she asked if I come and play in her class to make it more interesting. Even though I was very nervous, I decided, okay, I’ll do one song”.
Andi started out with no setup at all. She just had her sax, with no microphone, and no speaker.”I was able to play the backing track just over the spin studio music system, but I just had to play the saxophone – like – naked!”
Despite her nerves, Andi was pleased she had done it. And three months later she was asked back, this time, playing 2 songs. And this time she had her solo sax performing setup ready to go. This really helped Andi with performance.
“Suddenly I was more confident as well. I didn’t need to blow that hard. I wasn’t worrying about projecting. And I could add a little bit of reverb on as well…so it went a lot better.”
With each performance Andi’s confidence grew. She played at another exercise class, and at a celebration event, all at her gym.
“You have to take any offer you get at my stage, when you’re starting… to get the experience,”says Andi,” because Chris (Andi’s Sax School ACCELERATOR tutor) is always saying- get experience”.
Andi is doing a great job of taking the opportunities which come her way, following up the gym class sessions with a Casino night where she played a 20 minute set of 6 songs. “I felt it was like my first proper gig,” says Andi. “I went down a storm. They were up dancing and everything in the end!”
Andi chooses her set-list according to her audience and the setting – a great tip if you’re planning to start gigging solo. “For the spin classes, I’ve been doing more like upbeat tracks like Lady Gaga, and Mr Saxobeat. But on the casino night, I did jazz, like Etta James, ‘Hit The Road Jack’. I did Ska too – ‘One Step Beyond‘. I did One Step Beyond in the spin class too. They loved it!”
Andi’s future plans
Andi’s solo sax performing setup is perfect for the gigs she’s doing and she doesn’t have any plans to make any big changes. “I’d like to eventually get a better saxophone because I’m still playing the student Yamaha 280,” says Andi.
Andi’s simple setup suits her fine for now. It’s easy to manage and she can focus on her playing. “I just need to get my playing more confident and get used to doing it. So I don’t think I would add any equipment at this stage. I just need to keep on with my lessons with Chris and just keep adding to the setlist,” she says.
The more solo gigs Andi does, the more she’s learning and growing in confidence. “the more I do, the less mistakes I make. At at the start, I was fumbling with the music stands, taking them up and down. I forgot to put lights on and the room went dark!”
And Andi’s performances are also leading to more gig opportunities. “I’ve been asked to play at a birthday party now. And Someone in the spin class asked me to play at their daughter’s wedding,” she says.
All of these opportunities came from Andi saying yes to playing at a spin class in her gym!
Starting solo sax gigs: Andi’s tips
If you want to start playing solo gigs on your sax, Andi has this advice. “Just say yes! Take the opportunity if it’s offered to you. and even though you’re terrified, it’s best to give it a go.”
Even playing for friends and family is a great learning experience. “The first time I ever played was in front of my family at Christmas, and it went wrong, but it made me realize what I have to do to try and put it together,” Andi explains. “So…you just need to seize the opportunity and deal with the consequences after, because …nobody’s going to die if you get it wrong!”
There are so many great points to take away from Andi’s story today.
Most importantly though, I love the fact that Andi just got stuck in and did it. She didn’t overthink it, she just went for it. And look how much she’s learned.
So many more opportunities have sprung from making that first important decision.
I hope that inspires you to get stuck in and have a go at playing solo saxophone too.
And you can kickstart your journey with my free PDF guide to playing solo saxophone gigs. Grab it from the link down below.