Thursday, December 31, 2009


By this time tomorrow 2010 will be well underway. So I am going to make one and only one resolution.

I will work hard to find a good solid plan in the educational process for classical saxophone players, something that will lead to a positive future for this instrument that deserves a better place in the world of classical music.

This can not be done alone...join in!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Seeing What's Out There

I've been checking out various websites/blogs pertaining the classical saxophone, in an attempt to see if there is a consensus or not, regarding the future of the classical saxophone.
And I would have to say that there really doesn't seem to be any direction at all.
Of course there are many fine efforts by individuals, many teachers who would like to improve certain playing techniques and as always, the "answer" to the perfect mouthpiece. There are also a number of fine recordings, both solo efforts and quartets.
However, except for 2 and I mean 2 individuals that I read, no one seemed to be writing/talking about the reality of the classical saxophone in today's world of music. Oh, those 2 that had something to say, one person complained that the youtube orchestra had no saxophones in it, (good point), and the other comment worth noting was the fact that being a classical sax player is tough. You know that too.

So as the year ends and the new year begins, I would like to hear some noise!

It would be great to hear all the hard working college students out there who play their etudes and solos with musicality and confidence, ask some tough questions about their future. The questions I'm reading have more to do with the kind of reed and mouthpiece to play or this brand of saxophone is better than that one. That won't really help you get noticed or heard or get you a job.

Here's a place to start as the new year begins: make a point of asking your friends or colleagues, "have you ever heard a classical saxophone quartet?" Then ask, "did you know that the saxophone plays classical music?" Sounds easy enough.

Now, if you are a student try this question for your saxophone teacher, "if other instrumentalists become good players and eventually perform in orchestras and chamber groups, what can a saxophone player hope to do?" You know the answer. Or do you?

Try this suggestion on your teacher..."make the saxophone quartet a priority in the teaching process, not just an extra part of the pedagogy."
And you might add that, "being a member of quartet might just be my(our) future."

Keep thinking Critical Mass. That's what we need in the world of serious saxophone quartets.

Your thoughts and comments...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Catching Up

Obviously, I haven't written in quite a while. No real excuse and I will not try to make one. It is a commitment that I know I have to continue. And I certainly will as time as goes along.
So just to add a few thoughts now, the quartet (WSaxQ) has had a good year so far, as we near the half-way point of the season and we look forward to a good lineup of concerts in the second half ahead...check out our website for schedules at:
Also, we are looking forward to applying for grants and getting ideas since we have achieved our 501c3 status. We also have a new CD, which is selling pretty well.
As I think more about the blog and the purpose of sharing thoughts and ideas, the principle concern is the future of classical saxophone quartet playing. It is clear to me, and many others certainly, that the success lies in the saxophone quartet itself. The creation at the college level, the perpetuation of the group beyond that into the professional world. That is a fact. At least for the forseeible future, being a soloist or member of a regular large ensemble like an orchestra is not likely and some ways, just not possible. So it's quartet for classical players!
That will remain a main theme for this blog. Every aspect of that, from educating listeners and players, to finding an innovative way or ways to further the "cause." That will be the focus of my attention.
Some thoughts for now: creating a performance competition of some kind; giving composers more of an opportunity to be part of the success of quartet playing; and definitely creating a performance climate that will include saxophone quartets and not simply ignore their place in the world. I am fully aware that the saxophone quartet as an entity does not have critical mass at this point. Certainly not like string quartets. But looking back in history on the internet, many quartets have won major chamber music awards over the years. And then what happened? Is there a possible disconnect in the process?
That will be explored more!

More to come...your thoughts are always welcome.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Where to Start...

I am at the beginning of something new. I realize that the idea of blogging is nothing new to many, but for me, it's the deep end of the pool. we go.

I am a member of the Washington Saxophone Quartet, we've been together since 1976. It's a very good professional ensemble in the Washington, DC area. In fact, you may have heard us on All Things Considered on NPR. We're the saxophone quartet playing those little variations on the program theme. We call it anonymous fame. Andy Warhol was very generous with 15 minutes. We're delighted to get 60 seconds. At our concerts, audience members are often surprised to find out that they've been listening to a saxophone quartet on that program, and didn't know it. And that's one of the reasons for the blog.

The saxophone quartet is one of those non-traditional chamber music groups. A relatively new concept in the world of classical music. The saxophone is right at home in the jazz and pop world. And that's fine. But when it comes to more serious music, we are in uncharted territory. Classical saxophone quartets have really only been around since the 1930s, and that was mainly in France and Belgium. In the United States, as recently as the 1960s, saxophone was not taught in many colleges and often the teacher was a clarinetist, oboist, or bassoonist. Today you can study saxophone, but things really haven't changed that much, outside the in the real world. It's still a new and unfamiliar sound to many, many people.

We've come a long way, but we have a longer trip ahead...the success of that journey may hinge on the notion that saxophone quartets are accepted into the world of serious, classical, chamber music. So we'll see what thoughts on the subject are out there.

But that's it for now.