Well the phrase is a little wornout „Back to the roots“. But I realised that this sentence is -at least for me- very educational.

Each student, first of all the beginners, make me think about the basics of playing the horn and how important it is to work on those basics:

How am I holding my instrument?

How’s my posture?

How do I feel while playing the sax?

How’s my breathing?

What about my embouchure?

I’ve got a very vivid memory teaching my first beginner. He came into the room, we had a little talk, than I tod him to get his sax assembled. He open the case and seemed to wait for the holy ghost coming out of the case. No he didn’t wait for some ghost. He was waiting for me to tell him how to assemble the horn and show him how to get some sound out of it!

So I made up my mind again and again about thigs like: why is there a tone coming out of the horns or why’s there only hot air coming out? Why does it squeak sometimes?

About one year agi I started to practise things that seem to be quite easy for me. Topics that beginners or advanced beginners are practising:

  • technique: easy major scales, intervals

  • harmonic topics: songs & standards being played over and over again while studying Jazz. Songs I was just improvising on without being very creative because I played them that often. So I started playing the root of the chord, than the thirds, fifths and sevenths, after all that I play guide-tones…quite simple stuff. But that makes the whole tune and harmony more open. It gives me more space.

  • Try to play a very simple melody in an improvisation. Let your improvisation sound like a children’s song. That is really hard! Well, a real sax-workout!

While practising I do not try to be the fastest and most furious sax-player in the universe….okay sometimes I’m going crazy 😉

It’s all about playing music! It’s not about the olympics or some circus-stuff. Pracrtise and play with open ears and soak up each vibration you send out through your horn!

If you can’t play it slow, you can’t play it fast!