How can you make progress on saxophone when you travel for work?
Could learning saxophone online be the solution you are looking for?
Lloyd – our Student of the Month
Today I want to tell you a story about one of our Sax school members called Lloyd. He regular travels for work, but then found himself stuck abroad for 2 years because of COVID.
Lloyd is from South Africa, but he works abroad. For the last couple of years, he’s been stuck in his apartment in Penang. But Lloyd has used his spare time to practice saxophone and he’s made incredible progress learning saxophone online with Sax School. In fact, Lloyd is our student of the month for December and the videos and the recordings that he’s making are fantastic.
So I had to find out more about him. And in this article I want to share with you a couple of things about how Lloyd uses Sax School to really make amazing progress on saxophone.
Learning saxophone online
Lloyd’s got a little bit of background in music. He played a bit of piano when he was younger, and he had always wanted to learn saxophone. But then kids came along, and life got in the way.
So when he found himself stuck in Penang because of COVID, he decided to get back into the saxophone.
He found a Yamaha saxophone at a local music shop and got stuck in learning it. And thankfully he found Sax School and joined with a 14 day free trial. He started learning saxophone online with our resources.
And I wanted to know from him right out of the gate…
Nigel: What was the one thing that really made Sax School help him to make this amazing progress?
Lloyd: I don’t know whether it wasn’t an intelligent to a stupid thing, but I started on the 30 day Challenge in Sax School. When I got to the end of my 30 days, I just kept going! And you know, to this day, I have not dropped one day. I even played at Christmas! I play literally all the time. So I get in about three hours a day, and then on weekends, I play probably a lot more than that.
Takeaway #1: Consistent Practice
So there’s the first takeaway from this student success story. Lloyd is really focused on consistent regular practice. He’s taking things to an extreme here, but he’s actually practiced every single day since he joined Sax School 18 months ago. And he’s doing a lot, too – three hours a day – which is pretty amazing.
I wanted to ask Lloyd about the recordings that he’s been making and sharing inside our Member Area. I’ve been really impressed with Lloyd’s polished, well-rounded performances. He’s really digging into the technique and thinking about the musicality of the pieces, and he’s following through with everything we talk about in Sax School.
So I wanted to find out how he was approaching learning saxophone online, so that he could make really good detailed progress like these.
Lloyd: First of all, I try to choose things that are difficult, because I know that I’ll learn something from it. Although, I didn’t know what I was walking into when I picked up Lily was Here. I think lots of students do the same thing. They think it sounds good, so they grab it. But they when they get to page 2 and they think ‘Oh boy, what have I got myself into here?’
If you don’t know this solo, check out my demo of the section Lloyd’s talking about, in the video.
Lloyd: …and it was there that I learned that you could play something over and over and over again, and you’re just not making progress. And then I actually said to myself, “okay, what does a mad person do?” A mad person keeps doing the same thing continually and just doesn’t go anywhere with it.
So I made myself stop and think about what I was doing. And I just changed my articulation. And I also slowed it down on my DAW [Digital Audio Workstation]. And I found straight away, that was the answer.
“Night Train” was the same. I always play with Nigel or another artist in the background so I’ve got somebody to follow. Then once I’ve got it right, I drop it out of the DAW and then I played it by myself.
Takeaway #2: Be systematic
So there’s another great tip there. Lloyd is using his computer to record himself. Then he’s listening back to those recordings to help him understand what’s going on, and to help him to learn things more quickly, but it’s actually taking things a step further.
So inside Sax school, we’re always talking with our members about recording yourself, making videos, and making recordings. We’ve got a super-active community where our members are sharing recordings of themselves and getting loads of feedback. It’s such a great way to learn quickly.
Takeaway #3: Using Tools
But Lloyd is actually taking that a step further and he’s using a DAW – a Digital Audio Workstation Lloyd is on a PC, so he’s using Reaper, whereas on a Mac, you might use Logic Pro or GarageBand. These are pieces of software that you use to manipulate audio.
Lloyd is using Reaper on his PC to listen back to those recordings, but also to slow things down, or to speed things up.
And he’s got some other tips as well, check this out:
Lloyd: I use my DAW a lot as a visual reference, because you can also look at the wave forms and you can actually put markers in for the beat. It’s especially useful if you’re trying to do a jazz section where a lot of stuff is off-beat. So, I’ll stretch the wave form right out, and then I’ll drop markers in so that when I play it, I can always see what’s going on. I can actually play my computer better than I can play my sax!
I can play one or two bars over a hundred times. That repeat process that you have on any of the DAWs is so useful. You can highlight a section of what you want to play and you just put it on loop. When you’ve got it right, you start bringing the speed up, and you just keep playing until you get it to where you need it to be. Then once I’ve got it right then I want to start recording.
Takeaway #4 :The Accelerator Program
Lloyd is on our Accelerator Program – that’s our high level personal one-to-one coaching program that we offer at Sax School. With Accelerator, the students get to work one-on-one with one of our tutors. We’ve got students at all different levels, and they’re all working toward different goals. But I wanted to know how Lloyd was enjoying the Accelerator Program and how it was helping him. Check this out.
Nigel: So we should just say you’re on the Accelerator Program, and Chris is your tutor. How have you found that experience?
Lloyd: He’s excellent. I mean, he’s got the patience of Job! I’ve never come across anybody who can clap, sing, wiggle, do 101 things all at the same time to try and get his point across.
But it’s excellent. There’s no way I would’ve been able to make the progress that I’ve made by just going on my own.
Sax School is great and there is so much in there, but I think that’s also where I kind of got stuck. I was doing a lot of technical work for about four months before I actually wrote you to ask ‘What do I do next? What should I be practicing? When do I move on?’
So as soon as Accelerator came up, I joined it. And then from there, I literally just found what I was doing just accelerates. And it really did. I really, really went forward very quickly.
There’s a lot of other competitors out there that have so-called schools and tutors and things as well, but nobody has the individual tuition that Sax School offers now, that is a flexible way for learning saxophone online.
If we didn’t have this online video exchange process, I’d have one lesson a week and it would be in the middle of the night! So [Accelerator] works very well. It’s a very flexible program and it works very, very well.
Five Tips for your saxophone learning
There’s just so much good stuff in that conversation with Lloyd and he’s a really interesting guy and making amazing progress.
- Consistent practice. That is a big key. Now you don’t need to be as crazy as Lloyd and do three hours a day, but practicing regularly and having a clear schedule is so important for making good progress.
- Be systematic in the way that you’re practicing. So slowing things down, looking at the details and really digging deep as you’re learning a piece of music, helps to make your progress faster because you’re refining all the lumps in your playing.
- Using tools to help you with your practicing. So Lloyd talks about using a DAW, a digital audio workstation, but even just recording yourself on your iPhone and listening back, is so good for your progress.
- Accelerator program: For Lloyd, our one-to-one coaching aspect, really helped to accelerate his progress. And I think that’s a massive contributor toward the amazing progress he’s made in such a short period of time.
- Community. Our Sax School Community really helped with Lloyd. He talked a lot in that interview about how being connected with the other members inside of Sax school helped keep him on track. And also, the process of recording to then share in the community and get feedback was such a boost for him, and kept him on track, particularly when he’s learning saxophone online.
So even if you’re not a Sax School member, I hope that’s been helpful to you and you can apply some of those things into your practice today. It’s going to make a massive difference to you as well.
But of course, if you really want to dig in deep and get the sort of benefits that Lloyd has had, then you can come and check us out in Sax School too, and get involved with all the things we’re doing. Start today with Sax School!