Eric Daniel and Friends's Blog

"Brand new day baby, brand nu soul"

Find the best teacher for YOU!

Posted by ericdanielandfriends on March 24, 2009

Find the best teacher for you…

Having a great teacher from the very beginning of your experience with the saxophone is the best way to get started. An experienced teacher can save you months, or even years of frustration and wasted time.

Imagine all the time and frustration “unlearning” bad playing habits can take. Time that you could be spending getting down to business and learning how to play the saxophone in tune, cleanly and with a great sound….from the beginning!

How do you find a great teacher? That’s a very good question.

Most music stores that sell quality saxophones usually have teachers they recommend.
Ask all the music stores for names of sax teachers. Don’t stop at the first name that comes up; keep searching until you start getting multiple recommendations.
One name will usually begin to stand out from the others. Try calling that one first.
Take notes about any particular information that you are able to gather about the various
“teacher-nominees” For instance, some teachers are more classically oriented and perhaps
less familiar with improvisation. Others are working freelance musicians who tend to be
more well-rounded in their approach. Some teachers specialize in jazz improvisation exclusively.
Some don’t enjoy teaching very much…leave them out.

If you already have an idea of what kind of music you would like to eventually be able to play, you should direct your search toward that area.

Whatever direction you choose, the fundamentals of saxophone playing are the same and must be gotten under control before any specialization can begin. Once the basics of playing the saxophone have been absorbed, you can apply your imagination and technique in whatever direction you find interesting or fulfilling.

Another way of finding great teachers is by contacting your favorite players and asking for a lesson. This is advice especially good for more advanced players who are already playing but want to go into a more specific direction.

Often really busy musicians don’t have time to teach on a regular basis but it’s sometimes possible to get them to give you a single lesson. You may be able to attend a clinic or Master class to check out name players in their “teacher” mode. They may be able to steer you onto a lesser known but really great teacher.
A lot depends on where you live. Big cities offer more choice of teachers, and have the advantage of being musical “work centers”. If you study with a busy, working pro you will later find yourself in the position of having a friend in the business that may be able to help you get those all-important first “real” gigs.
In my opinion, the sacrifice of traveling a little farther so you can study with a great teacher is well worth the time and expense. If cost is a problem, take bi-weekly lessons instead of a weekly lesson if possible. Do whatever you have to do to get with a great teacher!
When you finally are with that teacher…trust him. Let him or her be your guide. Put yourself in his or her hands, try to assume their point of view. Be alert and follow his or her instructions. Make notes, prepare your lessons well, and be professional. Don’t waste your, or your teacher’s, time by not preparing well for lessons.

If you understand how to be a receptive student and trust your teacher, it will be easier for
you to receive what your teacher has to offer. If you become his best student, or one of his
best students, he may eventually recommend you to someone for a gig. (This is how I got

You may eventually become colleagues (as happened in my case), who knows? It’s up to you
to show him, or her, that you’re serious, capable, and reliable. You must demonstrate this
by preparing your lesson assignments to the best of your ability. Ask questions. Practice

Remember your goal!
Eric Daniel plays sax and flute and is the ringleader of Eric Daniel & Friends. Their CD “Old Sax Nu Soul” is on the Quatro Miglio Quality Music label and can be purchased online from iTunes Store and

His new book “The Saxophone Survival Kit, A Guide for Aspiring Professional Saxophonists…or just anyone!” can be ordered or downloaded here:

Follow Me on Twitter!

Foto by Valentina Cinelli

Foto by Valentina Cinelli


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