When Helen couldn’t see her face to face sax teacher because of lockdown, she needed a way to still make progress on saxophone. Helen is our February Legend – read her story here.
Searching for classic sax solo ‘Baker Street,’ Helen found Sax School. “‘Baker Street’ got me hooked,” says Helen. After joining up, Helen found Sax School had loads of resources to keep her playing. “I took advantage of Sax School to learn some really iconic pieces, access some backing tracks and music that I really trust. Plus, the tuition in bitesized chunks really suited me,” Helen explains.
Back to music
Like many Sax School students, Helen played a lot of music in school. “I started playing clarinet when I was 8 and got my grades quite early,” she explains.
At a young age, Helen was an accomplished musician, playing in county orchestras and concert bands and even winning a scholarship to the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. But then when she reached her twenties, work and life got in the way.
Two years ago, Helen decided she needed to get back to music. “I’d always wanted to start saxophone, and to pick up my clarinet again as well,” she says. Helen’s husband bought her a saxophone for Christmas, and she started face to face lessons. But the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to stop Helen’s progress – until she found Sax School in June 2020.
Sharing a sax solo
For Helen, the Sax School Community has played a big part in her progress. Helen has shared some great sax solo videos, including Hazel O’Connor’s ‘Will You’. “I really wanted to learn this iconic sax solo,” says Helen, “and it’s taken 2 years to get to this point.” As she improved, Helen found she was able to play more and more of the song.
Once she could play the notes, she worked on her performance. “I know the piece really well – so it was about really listening to it and getting underneath so you’re really comfortable with it. It’s always better when you know something so you can just close your eyes… so you can let yourself come through.”
As well as sharing great sax solo videos, Helen has got involved in some amazing collaborations with other Sax School members. “For me, playing music, you need to play with others,” says Helen. “So collaborating online is a great thing to try out. It’s a bit scary but you just get on and do it and I’ve loved it. It’s a fantastic way of making music at a time of huge difficulty when we can’t get together.”
Making music virtually has also meant Helen has developed new skills. “I never thought in a million years I would be buying microphones, interfaces for recording into my computer, or using Garageband – and your tutorial on that has been great,” she says.
Helen is keen to develop her playing on both saxophone and clarinet. “It would great to be versatile – so to be wanted for my sax playing but also to play a bit of clarinet, in a local band,” she says. “Playing by ear and improvising are my weak spots… I’m feeling more confident but I need to let myself go a little bit.”
Advice for New Sax School Starters
Helen has these tips for getting the most out of Sax School:
- Use the Pathways – Pick a Pathway and stick to it
- Get involved in the Community – it’s really supportive and a great way to get advice and be inspired
- Share videos of your own – you’ll get lots of feedback and encouragement.
Thank you to Helen for being a great contributor to our Sax School Community. We can’t wait to see your next video!
Find out how Sax School can support, encourage and inspire you to make great progress on your saxophone here.