26 Nov Learning to Play Saxophone
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT BY JAMES CASEY, SAX PLAYER FOR TREY ANASTASIO BAND
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PLAYING SAX?
I started playing alto sax in 5th grade. I was 9 and I remember it being so heavy that I had to switch hands every few minutes while I was on my on my way to the bus.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO LEARN TO PLAY THE SAXOPHONE?
Hmmmm…That’s kind of a loaded question. I guess it took me about 5 years to be truly comfortable playing, then another 4 years to get comfortable improvising….and then after that it’s all music.
WHICH SAXOPHONE IS THE BEST FOR BEGINNERS?
Alto. It’s the easiest to play, the lightest and the quickest to sound not terrible on.
WHICH SAXOPHONE IS THE HARDEST TO PLAY?
Once you learn the alto, the fingerings don’t change for the rest of them. The difficulty comes from embouchure (mouth positions) which change drastically between horns. The most difficult for me is soprano; the mouthpiece is so small that I have to work very hard to keep it in tune.
WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON SAXOPHONE PLAYED?
In school? Alto. In practice/performance? Tenor.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE TRYING LEARN HOW TO PLAY THE SAXOPHONE?
Keep practicing. The difficult part about wind instruments (brass included) is that our lip muscles atrophy extremely quickly, so you need to keep practicing. However, the best part is that the notes and how you play the instrument never changes, so keep practicing!
James Casey is an NY/LA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer, producer and composer.
Born in Washington DC to a musical family, and raised in Phoenix, AZ, he pursued a Music Business degree at Berklee College of Music. After leaving Boston, James moved to New York to continue to develop his passion for making music. Over the years, James has become one of the most in-demand Saxophonists in New York and Los Angeles and has toured the world many times with many different artists. When not on the road, James has found a niche in the studio, producing and performing for many different acts, including his own: Animus Rexx.
James is also Co-founder and owner of Aux Chord, an online live-streaming venue. You can find more information at www.AuxChord.live.
A current member of Trey Anastasio Band, James has had the opportunity to perform, record, produce and write with many of the world’s leading and most influential artists. Credits include: The Roots, Phish, Meghan Trainor, Anderson .Paak, The Jonas Brothers, Maceo Parker, Carly Rae Jepsen, J.Cole, Leslie Odom Jr., Dave Matthews Band, Sabrina Claudio, Chaka Khan, Wu-Tang, John Legend, Roy Hargrove, Soulive, Lettuce, Shawn Mendes, 5th Harmony, and many more.