When our December Legend Derek started learning sax, he wanted to play commercial saxophone and pop songs. But finding the best way to go about this wasn’t easy.
“I tried 4 different teachers,” says Derek. The first teacher was more familiar with working with young children. “I said I wanted to play commercial saxophone, but he said “let’s play ‘Lightly Row…’ or ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!'” says Derek. It was a similar story with the other teachers he tried.
Derek turned to YouTube and that’s where he discovered Sax School.
Three years later, Derek is still a Sax School member and he’s making great progress learning to play the commercial music he loves. A big part of his learning is recording and sharing videos in our Sax School Community. “It forces me to play the song until I get it right,” explains Derek. “I try and get it the best I can before I share it.”
Commercial Saxophone Influences
Although he loves the music of big names Kenny G and Gerald Albright, Derek is also influenced by commercial saxophone players he discovers on YouTube. “I like players like Justin Ward… he’s a pretty solid player and I like the way he styles his music,” says Derek.
As well as working on the fundamentals such as reading music, Derek wants to develop his style of playing. “I’m working on getting better at embellishing songs through dynamics, using passing notes and grace notes, so I have a more professional sound,” he says.
Tips for New Sax Players
Getting your set-up right is key, says Derek. “When I started out …I sounded like a frog or a duck!” The answer lay with the reed Derek was using. Spending time getting this right will make learning saxophone much easier.
- Find the reed strength that works for you
- Use the right mouthpiece for that reed
- Work on finding the “sweet spot” position for the mouthpiece in your mouth.
Using Sax School
For new members of Sax School, Derek has this advice. “Start at the beginning, understand your notes, but ear training is really important. …if you learn to listen and trust your ears, you can learn to play the songs without the sheet music”.
We’re so pleased to have Derek as a Sax School member and we can’t wait to see his next video. Congratulations Derek – our December Legend!