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Saxophone Lessons Learned ::
I Play ALL Wrong

Used by permission from Greg Vail .com :: Written by Greg Vail

I Play All Wrong – Should I just Quit?

I had friends that went from High School, straight into Long Beach State. When I was looking to transfer to LBSU, I called these guys and asked what music I should get ready for auditions. I got the name of one song that the best Tenor Player last year used as his really hard piece for his Senior Recital. I took that Classical Solo and practiced 8 hours a day for months before the auditions. Of course, I got in without a hitch.

When I arranged my first lesson with the Sax Teacher, I took the first available because I was eager to make my mark and impress.

Leo Potts is a great teacher and Human Being. I got into my first lesson with Leo and things went very strange very fast. Leo gave me some music to play and kept stopping me within a note or two, scratching his head. He asked me to play a G, over and over again. He then asked if I was tonguing. I was not really sure but thought I was.

Over the next few minutes Leo realized I had never learned to tongue and practicing soooo much, I had developed an amazing set of weird techniques to cover for the fact I did not use my tongue right at all.

Leo then said, “How did you even get into this program?”

I was devastated; had shown up thinking I was going to impress my teacher and he is now deciding what to do with his mistake.

Leo gave me 1 chance to stay in the program. He told me to practice starting notes with my tongue. Told me to play middle B, A and G; over and over again. Then told me to start on a G and slur to A, back and forth; told me the same for A and B.

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He then told me I would be kicked out of the Department if he walked by my practice room and heard anything else coming out of my sax. I went totally crazy trying to limit the sax and play 3 notes, only, or collegiate death.

Leo saw what he needed to and basically rebuilt me from the bottom up.

Thanks Leo for taking the time. Sorry I was such a pain in the butt.

(c) Copyright 2004 Greg Vail Music

Greg Vail is an active recording and performing Saxophonist in the Jazz and Gospel Music genres, out spoken writer and webmaster providing help and support to the Saxophone Community.

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    UPDATE :: APRIL 26, 2005

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