As an adult beginner on saxophone, what can you achieve? Sax School student Sybille started learning on her daughter’s saxophone, and surprised herself.
Today I’m sharing a great example of what’s possible if you’ve got a real desire to learn and you really get stuck in – even as an adult beginner on saxophone.
In this video I’ll be sharing some snippets of an interview I did with Sax School student Sybille. Sybille is our Sax School Legend this month – that’s the award we give to students who have made outstanding progress in Sax School.
Sybille has made amazing progress on her saxophone. She’s doing many of the things that our Sax School students aspire to do, like playing in a community band, playing a show, and learning to improvise. Maybe these are your saxophone goals too?
Picking up Daughter’s Saxophone
Sybille has been playing sax for 5 years, and started out as an adult beginner on saxophone. I asked her how she got started with saxophone. It’s an interesting story.
When Sybille’s daughter upgraded her saxophone, her old one was left in a corner – till Sybille picked it up. “I discovered this old saxophone – which looked pretty groovy but was actually pretty crappy – and I hung it around my neck and put my fingers in the right places. I didn’t have high expectations. But I was so surprised that I could get a sound out of it!”
And it didn’t stop there. “Within 5 minutes I was playing “Three Blind Mice” and I thought it was so great that I could play a tune on this beautiful instrument!”
Sybille had always loved the saxophone. “I’ve always had such big admiration for the instrument and saxophone players – but I never thought it was something up my alley!”
Sybille soon realised that if her saxophone wasn’t good enough for her daughter, it probably wasn’t good enough for her either. She decided she wanted to play tenor sax but her daughter wouldn’t let her just go out and buy one. “She said to me, ‘Mum, you can have a tenor sax but first you have to prove yourself’. So she gave me her first saxophone book and said ‘if you can play through it, then we’ll buy you a tenor saxophone’… And that’s how I got a tenor sax for my birthday.”
Since speaking to Sybille I’ve discovered quite a few Sax School students who started out as an adult beginner on saxophone because their children were learning saxophone. I think that’s a lovely way to learn the joy of music with your family.
Sybille went on to develop her skills, and discovered Sax School, and everything we have to offer.
Playing in a Show
Along the way Sybille had the chance to join a community band and to play saxophone for a stage production. I wanted to know more about that experience.
“It was a musical – ‘Strictly Ballroom’ – and I plucked up the courage to contact the musical director (who I knew) to ask if I could play saxophone in the band,” explains Sybille. “I don’t think I could have passed an audition but he said yes! Come and play along.”
Sybille really enjoyed playing in the show band. “I loved it. It was really challenging, there was so much music to learn, and there were key changes and different types of music. Sometimes I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew – but I persevered and stuck with it.”
Sax School Accelerator
Sybille has now also joined our Accelerator programme in Sax School. That’s our high level coaching programme where we’ve got a bunch of students working with our tutor team. Our tutors are specialists in different fields such as Blues, commercial saxophone, or advanced jazz. We’ve got students in Accelerator who are an adult beginner on saxophone, through to really advanced players. Students work with their tutors on their own particular goals, it could be advanced jazz, learning repertoire for a band they have joined, a recording project or working for an exam.
Sybille’s Experience on Accelerator
Sybille is working with tutor Dean Hilson and she’s particularly focussed on beginner improvising skills and Blues. “I’ve had saxophone lessons in the past, before joining Sax School and the Accelerator programme. But I found it really hard. There was always a sax lesson after a full day at work. I wasn’t focussed and I wasn’t concentrating. I felt that I was under-performing in my lesson because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.”
For Sybille, the Accelerator Programme works really well. “I like the format of getting an instruction video that I can play 3 or 4 times if I want to. I can take all the little pearls from it bit by bit. Then I can practice and put something together that is presentable, and send it in to Dean. Then I can get some feedback on it – it works a treat for me.”
It’s great to hear this from Sybille because this is why we created the Accelerator programme – so that students can learn at their own pace.
I asked Sybille’s tutor Dean Hilson for his thoughts on how Sybille is progressing with Accelerator. “Sybille is caning it in Accelerator!” says Dean. “She’s learning heaps of tunes and lots of new techniques, and her improvisational skills are coming on in leaps and bounds. She’s even bought a soprano sax for when she goes travelling! As her tutor I couldn’t be happier.”
Sharing Videos in the Sax School Community
Sybille is really active in Sax School, sharing loads of videos, joining in our monthly challenges and getting involved with collaborations with other members.
“I’m not ready to take my saxophone and go busking on the street. So I really like the safe environment of Sax School where I know I’ll have a bunch of supportive saxophone learners to encourage me… and I love watching other people’s videos to see where they are up to,” says Sybille.
Getting the most from Sax School
I wanted to know how Sybille was finding all the resources in Sax School. “I really like the Masterclasses with Joel [Purnell] where he digs into jazz – it’s been such an eye opener for me, to understand what jazz is about,” says Sybille.
“And the same with Dean’s sessions on music theory,… and all of the other masterclasses where you get tricks of the trade…there’s such a wealth of resources in there.”
Sybille also enjoys our Spotlight Sessions where our tutor team comment on videos sent in by Sax School students. “I really learn a lot from that – even if I haven’t sent in a video myself,” says Sybille.
Sybille’s tips for new Sax School Members
- Getting personal feedback on your playing is really useful – and the tutors are really positive and constructive with their comments
- Do the basic beginner modules then send in a video to a Spotlight session to get some feedback from the tutors to help you get better. There’s so much to learn when you’re starting out.
- Share a video in the Sax School Community – it’s a great way to get feedback and a big step towards performing.
Congratulations to Sybille on being our March Sax School Legend.
If Sybille’s story has inspired you with what’s possible on your saxophone, come and find out what we are doing in Sax School. We’ve got a 14 day free trial available now.
We would love to help you make great progress on your saxophone too.