Ok, so this is a bit left of centre, but I had to share this amazing solo with you.
This track is from Mario Kart 8 – my son “made me listen to it” the other day – and it blew my mind!
Not only is this a cool piece of music but the saxophone playing is BRILLIANT. And, it got me thinking that we should try to learn something new on saxophone, regularly, that is outside of our comfort zone. Why? I have 3 great reasons for you in the video below.
I’ve also got the PDF for you if you want to learn it yourself – click the link below to get it.
I don’t know the name of the original saxophone player is on this Mario soundtrack, so if you know who it is, let me know – because he or she is an awesome sax player!
Three Reasons to learn something new on saxophone
So, why should we learn something new on saxophone that is outside of our comfort zone?
Reason 1: Learn New Skills
The very first reason is because when we try something that’s outside of our comfort zone, in forces us to learn new skills.
it doesn’t need to be something that’s technically difficult like this. It could be a different style, or a different genre. Or could even be copying something from a different instrument.
I learned some new skills by learning this solo – and that’s super-inspiring. It keeps you on your toes and it keeps your sax practice interesting.
So it could be a completely different style of music that you don’t usually listen to, like this track from a game soundtrack. Or, if you’re into straight-ahead jazz, you could go and learn a smooth jazz solo (before you poke fun at it!) and see if you can copy it, and get that style into your playing.
Or if you’re into smooth jazz, go check out a Dixieland player, or a contemporary progressive jazz player. If you’re a pop player, check out some jazz, or if you’re a jazz player, go check out some pop. Or listen to some gospel music or try learning a classical tune.
Inside Sax School, this is one of the things we do a lot. We cover all sorts of styles, and loads of our members are into ska or into blues or into pop or into commercial music or into classical. We have got all different types of lessons in Sax School, for exactly this reason. Every time we learn something new on saxophone, in a different style, we’re pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone and we have to learn new skills.
So what did I learn from looking at this solo today? Firstly, the lines are slightly different from the sort of things I would normally play. That was a challenge. Also, the player’s style is very different – he uses a different vibrato; he uses a different sort of bend. He uses different sorts of gracenotes to what I’m used to. Even his tone is different to the way I would normally play. It’s a real challenge for me to try and imitate that style and to get it onto my saxophone.
Reason 2: Learn how melodies are constructed
Now the second reason to learn something new on saxophone is super important. Every time that you learn a new solo or a new melody, and a new style, It helps you to understand the way melodies are constructed, or the way great solos are constructed. It helps to demystify the whole process.
Because I’ll bet that you’ll find that you do the same thing that I do. When you listen to something really complicated, your first reaction is “that is so difficult. I’ll never be able to do that.”
But actually, when you focus on learning it, most of the time you’ll find that a new style – something that sounds complicated – is actually really easy when you break it down to separate elements.
This solo is a great example. Students talk a lot about “enclosures.” And there’s a lot of people talking about this on the internet too. It’s something people get really confused with.
Enclosures is an important technique, and it’s something that’s really useful in more advanced improvising, with the way that you construct your melodies.
But the concept of an enclosure is really simple. Basically, instead of going from one note to the next note, you play a little pattern to get to that note. Maybe you play the note above, or the note below and you weave a little line. This solo is packed with them.
Weaving a line
For example, check out this amazing line from the solo. Listen as I play it and follow it on the transcription.
The first time you hear that, it sounds really complicated. But if you break it down, it’s nowhere near as complicated as you might think.
We’re over at D minor 9 chord here, so that is D, F, A, C, and an E at the top.
When you look at how this melody is constructed, you can see we’ve got loads of those anchor notes, or chord tones here. We’ve got the D, then the A. We’ve got the F and then we’ve got the D.
Now rather than just using a boring line with just those notes, we’re weaving a melodic line that goes around all of these notes.
This melody keeps using these enclosures to weave its way around those anchor notes to get to the end of the line.
So, by learning a new song, or solo, you discover all this amazing stuff. And those are the things that you can take back and use in whatever other types of playing you prefer to do.
Reason 3: Stay Motivated
If you are ever feeling stuck in your practicing; if you’re feeling like you’re at a dead-end, or you’re not quite sure what to practice, or you’re feeling unmotivated – then it’s time to learn something new.
Learning something new on saxophone is the best way to get back your motivation. You’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. You’re trying something new. You might not like that style, but you will learn some new skills and you’ll make some progress. And it’s going to get you excited about playing saxophone.
Plus, going through the process of learning a new tune, and learning how to play in a different style, is really going to boost your tone, your control, your finger technique, in fact everything! It’s a great way to stay motivated.
And that just by itself is a fantastic reason why you should always try to learn something new on saxophone.
I really do hope that this lesson helps you and don’t forget, there’s loads of other great resources on my YouTube channel and here on my blog to help you with things like improvising, tone control or practice techniques.
But if you really want to push yourself ahead, then go check out what’s going on inside Sax School. We’ve got thousands of students using our lessons every day and there are tutors on hand in there to help you too. It’s a great resource to get your playing on the track, keep you motivated, and also help you to try something new. You can get a 14 day FREE trial here:
Also, don’t forget, you can get the PDF for the solo we’ve been looking at today. Sign up for our Sax School Locker to get access to all of our free resources – that’s PDF downloads, backing tracks, and more.
Get the PDF for this lesson – plus all of our other free resources – sign up for Sax School LOCKER