Stewart Wilson has been inspiring our Sax School Community with the great videos he’s been sharing. He’s our August Sax School Legend!
Although he’s an experienced gigging sax player, Stewart loves being a member of Sax School. In this video Stewart chats to Nigel about his saxophone journey and shares his top tips for becoming a saxophone legend.
Stewart is quite new to Sax School, but his saxophone career is much longer.
“My parents were into Count Basie and Duke Ellington,” Stewart explains. “They always told me that when I was 16 I’d get a sax. So on my 16th birthday I got a Selmer student model, and I later changed to a Selmer Mk VI. ”
At 12 Stewart had started out playing flute, so he could already read music when he got his saxophone. “I became obsessed with saxophone,” he says.
Gigging Sax Player
He soon got a great opportunity to feed this obsession. “Three days after getting my sax I went to buy music and I got chatting to a drummer who was in a band. So, within 10 days of getting my sax I was playing gigs in a dance band called “Funky Stuff”.
As well as completing his apprenticeship and working, Stewart performed with the band all over the country.
And it didn’t stop there. “I joined a covers band and we did a 9 year residency in a Miners’ club. We learned new songs every week as well as our own material, and even recorded a single in 1986… we almost got a record deal!”
This experience really helped Stewart to develop as a player. ” Even if there wasn’t a sax solo [in a song] I would beg them for a bridge or a verse or a chorus,” says Stewart. “My Dad always told me to think about Fats Domino…Play it a like a nursery rhyme and stick in the odd blues note. Play it from the heart.”
In 2000, Stewart quit his job and became a full time gigging sax player. “I played for 5-6 nights a week for 15 years…. I worked in Cyprus, Slovenia, Italy, and Spain,” says Stewart.
Sax School Community
Stewart has shared videos in a loads of different styles with our Sax School Community. During Lockdown Stewart recorded videos to entertain friends and family who had supported him when he lost all his saxophones in a break-in seven years ago. “My friends and students really helped me, lending me saxophones and raising money to help me replace them. Making these videos is my way of saying thank you.”
As well as inspiring others, Stewart found that making videos helped him make progress as a sax player. “Playing to a camera is similar to playing to a recording studio – you have to be switched on,” he says.
Stewart has really appreciated the support of our Sax School Community too. “It’s great to get loads of comments from Sax School members who have enjoyed my videos. It makes it worthwhile. It’s a brilliant community … it’s great to be part of it.”
For the future, Stewart would love to get back to playing in a band, and to play some original material – whether in real life or virtually. ” With the pandemic things have changed and people are putting music online. It doesn’t have to be in a theatre,” says Stewart.
Stewart’s Tips for new sax players
- Ask the Sax School community! “When I was a youngster I didn’t know any other sax players to speak to – so the community is great for new players.”
- Start sharing videos straight away.
- Get your saxophone checked by a technician so it’s playing well.
Watch the video for loads more insights into how Stewart practices his sax, and his experience as a gigging sax player.