Every now and then it’s a great idea to review what you have achieved over your year on saxophone.
What things can you be super-proud of that you’ve accomplished on your saxophone in this past year?
Time to review your progress on sax
December is a great time to look back at the past year and think about what you’ve accomplished. And that’s something that I want to share with you today.
So I’m going to tell you a little bit about my personal wins, the things that I’ve worked on in my playing that I’m quite proud of, and also what we’ve done inside Sax School. But also, I want to find out from you what things you’re really proud of, that you’ve achieved on your playing over this past year.
Whether you’ve just started playing saxophone recently or whether you’ve been at it for years, I want you to reflect on what you’ve achieved in the last 12 months.
Why review your year on saxophone?
So why do we even go through this process of looking back at what we’ve done in the past year? Well, I think there are two really important reasons.
The first reason is that most of us musicians don’t ever take the time to pat ourselves on the back and think, “Hey, actually, we did something really, really good.” Often, we’re focusing on, “Oh, I can’t yet do this, or I can’t do that, or I don’t like this in my playing.” So it’s really important to spend a few minutes just to think about the things you have actually achieved and to feel good about it. It helps to keep you motivated.
And the second reason why it’s important to review the progress that you’ve made, is because it gives you a chance to think about the goals that you’ve been working toward this year. It gives you the opportunity to think about whether they’re the right sort of goals to get you to endpoint that you’re aiming for, in your playing.
Setting goals for your saxophone
Lots of us set really big goals that aren’t really realistic or achievable in a short timeframe. It’s great to have really big goals like “I want to make a number one album” or “I want to get a gig with Sting,” or “I want to play at the O2 or Carnegie Hall “. It’s great to have those big goals, but what will get you help you to make the best progress is to set smaller, realistic goals.
And if I think back on my professional career and my development as a player, and also the success of my thousands of Sax School students, its setting small sequential goals and then achieving those goals, that really makes a difference. And that’s what helps you to propel your playing along faster.
So on that note, it’s really important to organize your goals in the right way. And I’ll tell you a little bit more about how you can do that bit later on.
So I want to tell you a little bit about the things that I’ve been really proud of in my playing and in Sax School this year.
But just before I start that, I want you to have a think about your big wins. What are the things that you’re really proud of in your saxophone playing over this past year?
Now it could be a small win. It could be a big win. It doesn’t really matter. As long as it’s something that you’re really proud of.
It could be learning a new tune. Or, it could be making a recording and sharing it somewhere. Maybe it’s joining a band. Or it could be just sticking to a practice schedule.
Our Year in Sax School
So, what have we been up to in Sax School this year?
Well, it’s been pretty crazy actually. We’ve got so much done. There have been so many great things that have been happening inside the Members’ Area. But the thing we’re most proud of is our members.
We’re really lucky to have a wonderful group of members learning with us. There are thousands of students in Sax School, who are all at different stages in their journeys – from beginners to people that are doing really advanced playing. We’ve even got teachers who are learning with us, so there’s a real range.
Seeing the progress that our students have been making over this last year has just been incredible.
Our Sax School Legends
And one of the things that we do inside Sax School is our Student of the Month. We call it our Sax School Legend, and it’s been wonderful to see all of our Sax School Legends over this past 12 months.
These are members who are making amazing progress, but are also really inspiring our other members in our community. They are inspiring in the way that they are developing, and the way that they’re sharing their progress, and the way that they’re interacting with the other members, too.
And to be honest with you, it inspires me and the tutor team as well. All of us who work here at Sax School, love the progress that our Legends have been making.
What’s really interesting is we’ve had Legends who are surrounded by musicians and doing community bands and gigging.
And we’ve had other Legends who are learning remotely. They’re stuck somewhere where they’re away from any other musicians. They’re only learning online, and getting the support of the resources inside Sax School.
Equally, we’ve got some people that have been playing for years and some people that are just getting started. So people are making amazing progress at whatever part of the journey. And it’s been wonderful to see that inside Sax School.
Guest Masterclasses with Pro Players
Something we really love to do in Sax School is guest masterclasses. This is where we bring in world-class saxophone players to do exclusive sessions just for our members.
I love it because I get to talk to people who are my idols. And we get to hear directly from them about the stuff that’s important to them in their playing, what they’re practicing. We learn how they think about sound, and improvising, – plus our members get to ask questions.
So this year, we’ve been joined by Grammy winner, Tom Scott – he’s a saxophone icon. He came and talked with us about how to create a character in your sound. If you don’t know who Tom Scott is, Google him and you’ve been listening to him on albums your whole life. He’s an amazing guy.
We also had commercial stars Everette Harp come and talk to us. He’s played on countless records and he’s an amazing player, who shared some great tips with us.
This year we really dug into it jazz improvising. Jim Corry from the Leeds Conservatoire here in the UK – he’s one of the top jazz educators – joined us to talk about modes, and approaches for improvising.
We had Roxy Coss who teaches at Julliard. Roxy came and shared her four-step improvising technique.
We’ve also had the BBC’s Young Jazz Artist of the Year, Alex Bone. Alex came to share his tactics and approaches for soloing on his latest album with Nile Rogers. That was an amazing session. And actually, Alex is coming up to do a whole bunch more sessions with us next year.
Saxophone repair expert Steve Crow came and shared maintenance and repair techniques – such as springs, corks, and emergency repairs.
We also had Jody Espina from Jody Jazz, come and talk to us about mouthpieces, so our members could learn more about how to choose the right mouthpiece. That was another really interesting session.
All of these sessions are amazing and the lovely thing is for members that all the recordings are available inside the Member’s Area. So our members can go back and watch them over and over again.
And talking about things in the lesson library, this year, I actually counted up and we’ve got over a thousand recordings of masterclasses and step-by-step lessons inside the lesson library. It’s immense now. And we’ve done some very clever things with the way that it’s organized and that’s something I’m super proud of as well.
Sax School LITE
So we’ve got a brand new program now called Sax School LITE, which is a 9-step learning system. It is very compact and step-by-step because some students like to learn that way. They can start at grade one, work through to grade nine. We’ve got a bunch of people using Sax School LITE and the results are really incredible.
Sax School PRO
We now call our main learning area Sax School PRO Inside there is Sax School LITE, plus our whole library of over a thousand lessons that I mentioned before. There’s all the masterclass replays, plus our other courses like Blues Mastery for Saxophone which is an amazing course that has transformed so many players.
There’s also our Horn Section Workout, which is another quite advanced course – it’s amazing for people really wanting to dig into the rhythm and learn those sort of band playing skills.
So all of that’s inside Sax School PRO. And it’s really easy now for members to find their way around because all the lessons are organized into courses, and learning pathways.
I’m really proud of the Monthly Challenges we’ve set throughout the year. In fact, we’ve done one every month. They are really great because it’s a challenge for me and the other tutors. I’m writing a new song every month that our students are learning.
The Monthly Challenges have been a big win for our students too because they are learning something new every month. They are going through the process of learning something that might be outside of their comfort zone. And it gives them a goal to work toward for performing – because to complete the challenge you need to learn the song and you need to make a video and share it in our Community.
And so going through that process, students are exploring lots of different styles, different techniques and then they’ve got some performances at the end of each month that they’re really proud of and they can have as their wins. So that’s been a really amazing process over this past year, and we’ve covered a whole bunch of different styles.
The Sax School Tutor Team
I talk a lot in Sax school about our tutor team. It’s a huge part of what Sax School is because there’s not just me – there’s a whole bunch of us. And we’re really excited to be adding a new member to our tutor team this year.
So in the tutor team, there’s me, there’s Chris, and there’s Fred, who’s been out on tour with Average White Band this year, but still really busy helping us in Sax School.
And we’ve also welcomed Dean Hilson from Australia to our tutor team. Dean is a mega blues player. He’s also one of the really important guys behind the Melbourne Ska Orchestra. Dean is also a great educator and it’s been wonderful seeing him, helping our students to really dig into the blues, to dig into jazz techniques, and improvising, and obviously things like Ska as well.
So that’s been loads of fun and we’ve got some more exciting new additions coming up in 2022 with our tutor team, which I’ll tell you about down the track too.
So I promised I’d tell you about my wins on saxophone this year. Because in the background, I’m also busy working on my own playing, and practicing too. So here’s a few big things for me this year.
Firstly, this room has been something that I’ve been wanting to do for my whole life. I’ve been playing for 40 years and I ‘ve always wanted to have a music room. So this year I was very fortunate and I was able to build this studio in my garden. I do everything in here – all my practice, all my writing, and I love it. I make your videos in here too. It’s fantastic. So that’s a big thing for me.
Also, I’ve been really digging into my soprano playing this year, making some good progress, and doing loads of bari sax playing. I just got my bari serviced the other day and it’s playing sweet! so I’m enjoying that.
The other big thing for me this year is I’ve been spending quite a lot of time writing music and it’s something that I really enjoy doing. I’m writing music for Sax school. I’m also writing for my own personal development. So that’s been a big plus too. So I’ve been really creative doing lots of practicing.
One other thing that I’ve really enjoyed this year is I’ve been digging into the Jody Jazz DV mouthpiece on the tenor sax. And I’m really enjoying it.
Your goals for your year on saxophone
So those are my wins for this year, but what about yours?
I promised I would give you some tips on how you can make better progress with your playing, and maybe make better decisions about what goals you’re working on when you’re looking at those small goals.
I think it’s super important to have three elements in your learning. It’s something that’s really helped me, and it’s something that helps our thousands of learners in Sax School too.
Success element 1: Resources
You need to have great resources. You need world-class resources that are really well thought out, well structured and give you the information that you need, to help you move ahead quickly.
Success element 2: Support
You need to get some support from a tutor. Now in Sax School, that’s why we have our tutor team. It’s also why we have our high-level program called our Accelerator Program, where you work one-on-one with a tutor. It might be finding a local teacher. But you need to have somebody that you can ask questions of so that you know that you’re on track.
Success Element 3: Community
You need to have musicians around you. Now, that could be local musicians or community bands. It could be part of a group, getting together with other saxophone players or other musicians. In Sax School we have our online Member Community.
It’s a huge part of your learning. Your community helps to keep you on track. It keeps you motivated and it makes the whole process of learning saxophone so much more fun.
Your Recipe for Saxophone Success
In Sax School, we cover all three of those elements by having amazing resources, by having tutor support and by having community.
Now, whether you want to come and get that from Sax School or whether you want to find that yourself, it’s really important that you have all three of those elements. I just urge you to find a way to make that happen for you, so in this coming year, you can make even better progress.
And if you do want to find out about what we’re doing in Sax School, then Get started with Sax School! We’d love to help you in Sax School to get on track and really start to make progress.