We’re halfway through the year so it’s a brilliant time to have a recap where you’re up to with your saxophone progress.
How have you been getting on learning sax in 2022 so far? To help you recap on your saxophone progress, I’m sharing a bit about what we’ve been doing inside Sax School with our members over the past six months. It’s been a pretty busy year so far.
So we kicked off January 2022 with a Practice Challenge. Loads of our students were digging into our 30-Day Challenge and revisiting that habit of practicing every single day. It made a real difference. And to supplement it, we had some fantastic masterclasses as well.
I did a session for our members where we dug into how to structure your practice. And I think that’s an important skill that so many of us overlook when we go into learning sax.
We had a bunch of other cool things that happened in January too. Fred Vigdor from our tutor team did a session for members on how to boost your tone. I love Fred’s sound. He’s been touring with Average White Band for over 20 years. He’s got a massive sound and he shared advice on how he gets that sound, for our members.
We kicked off a brand new series in January from Joel Purnell. He’s one of our Sax school tutors here. Joel’s a great jazz educator. He teaches at the Leeds Conservatoire of Music, and he started a new series called How Jazz Works. We started right at the basics with the fundamental skills and things you need to understand about jazz.
Also, we heard a great story from one of our members, Sue. Sue’s been learning sax with Sax School for a while. She lives in Northern France. She started learning saxophone later on in life. But the big problem for her was that there were absolutely no teachers near her. So it was great to see the progress that she’s made in just a couple of years, by learning with Sax School and getting involved with our Community.
We had a great month in February with our members, because we were digging into DJ Sax. And to help us with that, we had a special guest masterclass with a Fabulous DJ Sax artist called Jason Whitmore. He’s based in Southern California. You want to check him out on YouTube. He’s amazing. And he came in and described to our members in this long masterclass, how he approaches DJ Sax, how he prepares for performing, and how he works on a new tune. It was amazing.
We also started a new series of masterclasses with our members in February from Dean Hilson. He’s one of our Sax School tutors based in Australia. Now Dean’s a great Blues and Ska sax player, but he’s also a great educator in music theory. And so he started a new series called Practical Music Theory for Sax Players. And the first part of that was out in February.
Now, one of the student stories that stuck out for me in February was our student David Kresl. He’s been learning the sax school for a little while. David’s a pretty interesting guy because he is a great player. He’s got proper, Stan Getz sound and he’s playing jazz standards and recording them, and sharing them in our community.
I mean, it’s astounding. He’s a great player. But what’s interesting about David is he was playing at a high level in high school and even into university, but then he took a left turn and did a completely different career. 56 years later, he’s come back to Sax School and he’s brushing up his skills and learning even more. He’s getting back into playing and sharing those videos in our community. It’s just great to see how he’s enjoying using the resources in Sax School, even at a high level. And he’s inspiring our other members too – amazing.
We had a packed month in March, when ee were focusing on Classic Jazz. So we had an amazing masterclass with a legendary player Scott Hamilton. Scott talked about his approach to soloing, chords, and melodies when he is improvising. It was a fantastic session packed with information, and very inspirational for our members too.
But lots of other things were happening in March for our members. We had another instalment from Joel Purnell in his How Jazz Works series. And this time he was sharing some jazz harmony secrets, so I think it really unlocked the possibilities for lots of our members.
Dean Hilson did another theory masterclass too, and that was all about scales this time. Dean was breaking down the structure of scales, and helping people to understand how to think about your scale. So then, you can practice them better and you can apply them better into your playing as well.
Also in March was the second instalment in a series of masterclasses from an amazing young British sax player called Alex Bone. I mean, he’s an award-winning guy. His latest album is amazing – it’s all over the radio.
The series that he’s been doing for us in Sax School is about songwriting for saxophone players, because I love the songs that Alex wrote for his latest album. And so he was breaking down that process in a series of masterclasses for us here at Sax School. In the second instalment, he was talking about how to structure your songs and how to create interest in that structure – really interesting.
We shared an amazing story from one of our students in March called Sybille. She’s in Australia. The cool thing about Sybille, is she started learning sax by borrowing her daughter’s saxophone.
So her daughter had been learning sax at school, and Sybille borrowed her daughter’s saxophone, joined Sax School and started learning with us. Sybille’s doing great. And as a mom, she is enjoying connecting with the other moms in our Community as well.
I can’t believe all of that is only January, February, and March. April, we had even more going on.
In April, we dug into Rock ‘n’ Roll Saxophone. We had a, a really fun challenge song for our members called King Twist that the members were digging into and we were exploring that style of King Curtis – that classic, down ‘n’ dirty, gutsy rock ‘n’ roll sax sound. It was cool.
We had some masterclasses to help with that too. Fred Vigdor did a great masterclass all about how to Create Your Backing Tracks.
We had Alex Bone back for another instalment on his Songwriting for Sax. And then Joel did the fourth instalment of his How Jazz Works series. You really want to check that out.
I love the student story that was shared in April. It was about a student called Paul. And Paul’s living his dream. Because a couple of years ago, his dream was to learn how to play saxophone, join a ska band, and to play at a music festival. And guess what? In two years, he’s done all of that. It all happened during lockdown for him and this year he’s played few ska festivals with a ska band that he’s helped put together. He’s really into ska music.
Just to hear Paul tell his story and be so enthusiastic about the progress that he’s made on his saxophone, is amazing.
So you might be getting the idea that there’s quite a lot that goes on inside Sax School every single month. It is pretty amazing!
What’s your big win on saxophone this year? What are you proud of?
So in May 2022, we dug into pop songs on saxophone. And to help us out with that, we had a special masterclass with a fantastic pop sax player. He’s a YouTuber who’s based in South Africa. He’s called Brendan Ross.
I love Brendan’s playing and you really want to go check out his channel. Brendan did a fantastic masterclass with us, where he broke down the whole process of how he creates pop song videos for saxophone. So he talked about taking the melody, transferring it onto saxophone, bringing it to life, and creating character and interest in the way you’re playing it. It’s a great masterclass and got all of our members digging into that style.
Now, of course, there are a bunch of other masterclasses that happened that month too. But one thing that stood out to me was the story of one of our members, called Jon. He’s a farmer. He lives in rural Wales. There were no teachers anywhere nearby, but he was desperate to learn saxophone.
So Jon joined Sax School and over the last two years, it’s amazing. He’s not interested in playing community bands, or playing on stage. What he wants to do is to play music for his family and himself. And the beautiful thing is, with Sax School, just learning inside our Community, inside our Member Area, he’s been able to do that – even though he lives in a remote area. It’s a great story. If you want check that out, that’s on our blog.
So that brings us up to June and there’s been another packed month in June. We’ve been focusing on the Hit Song Saxophone this month and the members have been learning a really fun challenge song called Heartbreaker.
We’ve also had a fantastic masterclass with a legendary guest. Charlie DeChant is the sax player with Hall & Oates. He’s been touring with them and recording with them for 40 years. But it was brilliant to hear from him about his whole career, and his whole experience of playing at that top level.
Back in the eighties, he was probably one of the most famous pop sax players on the planet, because they were such a popular band. So it was great to hear about his approach to playing and performing at that high level.
Alex Bone joined us again for his final part in that Songwriting for Sax series. And this month he dug into how to take your finished arrangement, and to add some pro tips in there to twist it and make it even more interesting.
Dean was back with another instalment in his Theory for Saxophone Players course. And this time he was looking at how to create two-part horn arrangements – a really practical thing that loads of our members are doing.
We shared a fantastic story of one of our members called Larry this month. And Larry is another guy that’s just doing incredible things with his playing. He was playing at a high level too in high school. And in university was even considering becoming a pro musician. And then he took a left turn and went into law. A few decades on he’s coming back to saxophone and he’s using the more advanced lessons in Sax School to dig into his improvising and to also connect with other members of the community, and do collaborative videos. So he’s been sharing some amazing videos where he is recording with other musicians in Australia, and in New Zealand. It’s cool.
Learning sax: The next 6 months
Now, when I write all that down, it looks like quite a lot of stuff. It’s been a busy six months, but we’ve got a really exciting rest of the year coming up too. We’re digging into Gospel Saxophone. And we’re digging into Classical Saxophone. We’re digging into Big Band Saxophone. There are some great masterclasses coming up too.
I hope you enjoy that little peek behind the scenes at what we’ve been up to inside Sax School. But do let me know what you’ve been working on in your playing too.
And the most important thing though, I want to show you is that Sax School is helping so many people, because we do so many different things inside the Member Area. We look at lots of different styles. And we look at lots of different levels.
So if you are looking for a way to get more excited about your playing, to get inspiration, and to get support, not only from the tutors but also from the community of other learners, around you, then check out what we’re doing in Sax School. Try it, and see if it’s right for you. There’s no obligation – but you might love it.
And I’d love to share the story of your success over the next six months, the next year, or the next five years – inside our Community too.