Say No To Saxophone Perfectionism
Let’s face it – if you were really and truly going to be a rock star sax legend, or a classical saxophonist, or a jazz saxophone maestro, then you would probably have achieved this goal already by now. And that’s ok !!
It’s alright to have possibly missed the opportunity to become rich and famous by playing music to thousands of adoring fans all over the world. It’s not a bad thing that you might be a little older in the tooth than perhaps some of the musicians you see on TV or on Youtube.
It’s not a crime to be old enough to be – or actually even be – someone’s mum or dad……perhaps even a legal adult’s mum or dad……
That does not mean that you can’t re-adjust your dreams. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun, play saxophone, be awesome and repeat.
Maybe you have a little bit more time and a few extra $$ up your sleeve now. Maybe you have a better attitude towards learning music now. Maybe you are more comfortable within yourself, with your identity and with who you are now.
And maybe, just maybe, you know what you want now – and you are prepared to make the effort to get it.
Learning anything new, and learning how to play the saxophone is certainly no exception, takes a bit of time and a bit of effort.
But that does not mean that you have to become a perfectionist.
Practice does make perfect. Perfection is a worthy goal.
“They” say that it takes ten thousand hours to become and expert at something.
If you are just wanting to play some good songs on your saxophone either by yourself of with some friends or a local band or group, however, you may not have a spare ten thousand hours to put in before making your triumphant musical debut.
Perhaps you’ve got a significant birthday coming up. Let’s say you and some friends want to form a quick and dirty once-off band to play a couple of songs at your birthday party as a fun way to celebrate the occasion.
You don’t need to get all worked up about “posture this” and “embouchure that”.
You don’t need to worry about playing each and every note absolutely perfectly.
Your party will not be ruined by the fact that the birthday boy/girl (or his/her band mates) did not put in months and months and years of practice before the gig.
Please do NOT let perfectionism consume you to the point of not enjoying you saxophone anymore.
Have fun. Play saxophone. Be awesome. Repeat.
Music should be fun. Playing saxophone should be relaxing and provide you with enjoyment.
You should WANT to play your sax, rather than it being a chore, or a source of tension.
I have student who has just turned 60. He has never played any musical instrument before, not even when he was at school over 40 years ago. He has been having one-on-one lessons with me for over a year and he is just loving it. He had always wanted to learn saxophone and decided last year that he would finally just do it.
He was worried that I, as the big bad saxophone teacher, would reprimand him and tell him to stop this technically incorrect saxophone playing habit.
Quite the opposite !!!
Knowing that he uses his saxophone as a relaxation tool as well as a musical tool, I encouraged him to do what is right for him.
He has realised that playing his saxophone in the way that is best for him is very rewarding. He is, therefore, awesome.
There is no such thing as a wrong note.
I have another one-on-one student who is a rather shy 16 year old young lady. She tends to get herself all worked up about “playing the wrong notes”. As a result she tenses her whole body up and can’t quite move her arms and hands enough to reach the side keys for the high notes, or the pinky keys for the low notes on her saxophone.
She has just received a brand new fancy saxophone from her parents. She was worried that she had to produce a magic tone and suddenly be a virtuoso because of the expensive new saxophone in her hands.
Knowing that she uses her saxophone as a deliberate confidence booster, I suggested to her to just relax and be at one with her new saxophone. Allowing herself to relax will allow her body and her arms to subtly twist and turn so that she can comfortably reach the high keys and the low keys.
She still plays the occasional wrong note – and don’t we all.
But, she is now more comfortable with her playing and doesn’t stress about her fingers getting into a tangle or a muddle any more.
She has realised that no-one will really notice if a technically wrong note is played, or not. She gives the various songs we are learning together a red hot go – and good on her ! Then, after a week or two, she makes the decision to either keep persisting or to simply move on to another song. She is, therefore, also awesome.
Learning how to play saxophone should be fun.
The goal with your saxophone should always be to have fun first and foremost.
From there, everything else is a bonus.
It does not matter if you play while slouching on the couch. It does not matter if you play a wrong note. It does not matter if you can’t quite get the hang of this song or that song. It does not matter if you don’t do any practice today.
It does not matter how you play, or what you play, or when or where you play, or who you play with.
Please don’t stress about the technicalities of how to play the saxophone.
Please don’t worry about “not playing it properly” or “not doing the right thing”.
Yes, there are a few things that you probably should do to be able to play the kind of music that you want to play on your saxophone. But you know this already.
All I’m suggesting is:
Say no to saxophone perfectionism.
First and foremost – just have fun when you play your saxophone.
At that point, you are, by definition, awesome.
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YES – I want to Have Fun, Play Sax, Be Awesome and Repeat !