Be honest – has your saxophone has been stuck in the cupboard for a little while? Maybe a month, or even a year. What about 20 years? What would happen if you picked up your sax today?
Today I want to share a story of a student who’s playing festivals on sax – after just 2 years with Sax School.
Paul’s been walking past his saxophone for 20 years until finally, just 2 years ago, he pulled it out of the cupboard, joined Sax School and got started. Now he’s playing festivals on sax. In fact, he’s just finished headlining at a charity Ska Festival with his own band. Wherever you’re at in your saxophone journey, I think this story will inspire you.
About Paul’s Story
What’s amazing about Paul’s story is that he’s managed to achieve what thousands of our Sax School students – and maybe you as well – dream of doing. In a very short period Paul has gone from not playing saxophone at all, and not being confident, to playing festivals on sax with his own band. He’s got a full diary of gigs for the next 12 months. But also, Paul’s just loving that feeling of being on stage, playing to hundreds of people in the audience, playing the music that he loves. And he’s enjoying having the support of his friends and family with his music. It’s wonderful.
So I’ve got some clips for you today from an interview that I filmed with Paul. He’s our Student of the Month in Sax school at the moment. So in our conversation, we talk about how Paul got started and how that journey happened so quickly for him.
Getting back to saxophone
Paul: Yeah. I played on and off but never took it seriously. I never took time to practice. And I had lessons, but I didn’t practice in between. With family work or commitments, it was never a priority – until Lockdown.
Nigel: Oh yeah. I forgot to mention that it was during Lockdown that Paul got stuck in with his saxophone. But what I also think is cool, is that Paul got a chance to dig into the style of music that he was interested in. Because as saxophone learners, there are so many different styles we can get into, right from jazz to pop, to rock, to blues to classical. But Ska is really what lit Paul up. That was the thing he loved the most.
Right. Let’s get back to the story.
Paul: I discovered your YouTube video on One Step Beyond by Madness.I took up the 14-day free membership and joined Sax School after about 4 days, because the resources were just phenomenal. I started with the 30-day Challenge and it just cemented my love for the saxophone, which for the previous 20 years, had become an ornament. I’d hardly touched it in that time. But because of that, and Sax School, I picked it up and played it daily.
Nigel: You’ve always been a fan of Ska, then?
Paul: Yeah, from when I was 9 years old when I first saw Lee Thompson swinging through the air playing tenor sax on Baggy Trousers. That’s all I’ve wanted to play since. But I just never took it seriously, I never talk about steps to commit fully to it, and I never had a goal with it either.
By joining Sax School, my ability increased and I thought, why don’t I join a band? Maybe it was hitting the “Big 5-0” – I thought if I don’t do it now, I never will! But I just started to increase my skill level, increased my practicing, and increased my knowledge. And then I started looking for a band – and I found one.
How did Paul look for a Band?
I love this next part of the story. Because we all dream of joining a band and playing the music that we love, but the journey toward getting in that band and doing those gigs isn’t always straightforward. And it wasn’t straightforward for Paul, either. Check out his story.
Nigel: I want to find out about this. So, were you looking just in your local area,? How did you find a band?
Paul: I looked on the internet, on Facebook, and Google searches. I was just nosying more than anything! And then I came across a Ska band. It was about 20 miles away, and they were looking for a saxophone player. So I got in contact and the position was filled. But, I kept in touch with the bass player during the partial lockdown. I got on well with them and kept in touch.
Then, the band folded. But we still kept in touch, sending messages, sending songs, sending potential songs to learn. And then the bass player said, “me and you need to do something”. So we did!
Nigel: So you set up your own band – called Skafull.
Paul: Yeah, we’ve done 10 gigs so far. I have to thank another Sax School member for inspiring me to start a band. He’s called Charles Benoit and I saw a video of him playing with his band -called Some Ska Band – on a Sax School Masterclass. And that inspired me to go out and join a band.
Nigel: Are you feeling more confident with the process of going out and performing now?
Paul: Yeah. it’s strange. Even at the first gig, I wasn’t nervous. To see the stage from that perspective – I never thought I’d do that! But I just can’t recommend it enough and I would encourage anyone that has any inkling, to go and do it. It’s fantastic to see people dancing away all night to music that you’ve involved with – it’s just a wonderful, wonderful feeling.
Nigel: I think that’s the cool thing about the Ska scene. For about 10 years, I ran a band in the UK. We were a jump jive group. And although it’s different to Ska, the people are kind of the same. People are really into a Ska, and people are really into jump jive, rock & roll, or swing. And it’s lovely because the music is fun. So the musicians that you’re playing with are all really into it, but the audience is really into it too. So it’s a nice environment. It’s completely different from doing a pop covers gig in a bar where people are watching the football on TV.
Paul: They’ve come for the love of the music and they’ve come to see it performed live.
Playing Festivals on Sax
Nigel: You posted something in the Sax School community about headlining for a charity concert. Tell us a bit about that.
Paul: Every March Teenage Cancer Trust have a program of events called March Of The Mods, and it’s all Ska, Mod, 2-Tone related. They asked us to headline a 10 band event. It was great. The place was full of hardcore skinheads and mods and punks. And they absolutely loved it.
What’s next for Paul
Nigel: Sounds to me like you’ve pretty much ticked off all the things that were on your list! You wanted to get going with your saxophone. You wanted to join a band. Then you want to start gigging. You’ve done all that. You’ve even done some big gigs now. So what’s the next thing you’re working toward on your saxophone?
Paul: We have a Ska festival booked for the 3rd of June. It’s with one of my daughter’s favourite bands, so that’s given me massive street cred with my daughters! They are probably our biggest fans, and they come to most of the gigs – and my wife too. We’re playing a large music hall as well. Then I think it’s, we’re going to focus on some original songs.
Nigel: There you go! So bigger gigs, original music, recordings. Good for you Paul. That is great. What you’re doing is so inspiring.
Paul’s Tips for new Sax School Members
Nigel: I wonder if you’ve got any advice, Paul, for new members who are just joining Sax School? You said that you used the 30-day Challenge and that helped you. What other things would you suggest that new people coming to Sax School should take advantage of?
Paul: The main thing is you need to have is a goal. Then you can use the tools within Sax School to stick to that goal, and keep on track.The masterclasses are phenomenal, and so is the Community. The Community within Sax School is phenomenal. For resources, for help, for advice, and guidance. I would like to say thank you to so many members within Sax School – for all their help. I couldn’t have got here and in this timeframe without them, and without Sax School.
And if someone has said two years ago, you will be playing gigs regularly and have 20 booked this year, I would never believed it. I still have to pinch myself, because it’s wonderful. And people are loving it and my family’s loving it, and my friends are loving it. It’s just great.
Nigel: And You’re loving it, Paul! That’s the best thing. Well, congratulations. And I can’t wait to keep seeing your videos and watch what you’re going to do next, because I think you’ve got an exciting next five years or ten years ahead of you! Who knows? Congratulations Paul.
Paul is living his saxophone dream, playing festivals on the sax. If you want to find out how Sax School could help you achieve your dreams, Get started with Sax School!