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Beginner I was doing well until I had my first lesson

BigT

Member
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136
Locality
England
I learnt to read music @ 12 years old playing Euphonium in a Silver Band for 7 years. so 54 years later, having not played anything since then, I started the sax, during lockdown. It was instinctive for me to read music and learn the associated fingerings on the instrument. Soon I was able to play loads of tunes probably not to well but household comments said I was improving rapidly, After 6 months I thought it would be a good idea to have a professional one to one lesson to check out my playing, the instrument and get some help with playing to backing tracks which I found really hard. And that’s where it all went wrong. The teacher I was recommended to by several folk, although friendly enough, told me that although I had a good sound, tone and timing, my method was all wrong. He said that playing the sax by reading music the way I did was just too difficult, took too much of my brain power, would prevent me from playing to backing tracks and improvising. He insisted that I started to learn a different way of reading notes by letters so instead of dots the sheet would be transcribed in to the letters of the notes like A#, C7, etc. You get the idea. Also until I “owned” all the scales written in such a way progress would be stifled if not stopped altogether. He then went on to recommend an app called Session Band that would help me with this new system. I duly bought the app and set to learning the new way, for about 4 weeks, but I don’t have a great memory anymore and none of it would stick. Plus I really didn’t get to grips with the app, it’s not intuitive to me. So I then I just lost motivation and sadly I haven’t picked up the sax for 3 months. Sort of what’s the point, if I can’t get to grips with this method I’ll never succeed. Plus i know that as I haven’t been playing it will be double difficult if I do. Wish I had never gone for that lesson!
 

Halfers

Finger Flapper
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Hampshire
Ditch your Teacher. They are clearly trying to force you to learn the way they want to teach you. Life's too short. If you're progressing on your own and with your previous experience, if you're enjoying this and the lesson is taking away this enjoyment, move on.

It's reasonable advice for a newbie to be encouraged to find a Teacher. But not all Teachers are good Teachers and even good Teachers don't always suit a students preferred learning style. You're in control.

Enjoy your instrument :)
 

mizmar

Senior Member
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Trondheim, Norway
The thing that strikes me as odd is that more often than not the advice is to move to learning / playing by ear, rather than dots. Useful for all kinds of reasons, not least of all improvising

IMHO your teach has one way to do stuff. That may be fine for kids, but grownups are more diverse...
 

Jeanette

Organizress
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Cheshire UK
Ditch the teacher, I learnt to play by reading the notes without writing them in. In fact my teacher expressly forbid it :)

Not writing them in certainly won't stop you playing to backing tracks and will help if you join a band.

Find another teacher.

Edit hadn't thought about chord tones, still if it doesn't suit you find another teacher.

Jx
 
Last edited:

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
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2,513
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New Zealand and Australia
Sounds like the wrong teacher for you. The teacher you had was trying to teach you to "improvise" in an academic manner which is about playing cord tones from the chords written (your C7 you mention is such a chord). It's OK if that's what you want. Sounds like you're happy just reading music, which is fine. This is about having fun, not trying to be a star at our age (I'm even older!). There are lots of backing tracks that don't have the melody, or even Karaoke which can suffice. Improvisation, if you're so inclined can be as simple as playing variations on the melody. it doesn't have to be anything jazzy or fancy.

Pick back up your horn and have fun.
 

Vetinari

Senior Member
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If you can read dots then why learn a different system. If you can play by ear, great, but the dots are great for learning unkown tunes, as an aid to memory and for playing music with others where playing the exact part is neccessary, i.e. an ensemble
 

Jimmymack

Member
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867
Locality
London
Was he teaching you to read letters instead of notes, which is very odd especially as you can already read, or was he suggesting you play from chords? A# is, possibly, a note but could be a triad, C7 is a chord. If he was trying to get you to play from chords that makes a bit of sense but there seems to have been a communication problem in that case. As already said, take out the horn and enjoy playing it, think about a teacher later.
 

BigT

Member
Messages
136
Locality
England
Was he teaching you to read letters instead of notes, which is very odd especially as you can already read, or was he suggesting you play from chords? A# is, possibly, a note but could be a triad, C7 is a chord. If he was trying to get you to play from chords that makes a bit of sense but there seems to have been a communication problem in that case. As already said, take out the horn and enjoy playing it, think about a teacher later.
As far as I remember he told me that when he performs a tune he sits down an re writes the notes as a series of letters so I would see G,A,B as say quavers on a stave he would have a series of lines and columns with the letters for the notes and numbers for the beats. He showed me his sheet for a Beatles tune and to me it looked more like an Algebraic or logarithmic equation. He did then go on to playing from chords but by then I had lost the plot.
 

BigT

Member
Messages
136
Locality
England
Ditch your Teacher. They are clearly trying to force you to learn the way they want to teach you. Life's too short. If you're progressing on your own and with your previous experience, if you're enjoying this and the lesson is taking away this enjoyment, move on.

It's reasonable advice for a newbie to be encouraged to find a Teacher. But not all Teachers are good Teachers and even good Teachers don't always suit a students preferred learning style. You're in control.

Enjoy your instrument :)
I agree but he has obviously taken away the enjoyment
 

Sue

One prosecco, two prosecco, three prosecco - floor
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The Millenium Falcon
Lots of good advice has already been given. It would be a great pity if this teacher has destroyed your desire to play the sax. There are many great teachers out there and should you choose to have another face-to-face lesson somebody on this forum may be able to offer a suggestion for a local or online teacher. There are also some good resources online such as Better Sax, Sax School, and Saxophone Academy. I hope you get your va-va-voom back and find some joy in your saxophone.
 

BigT

Member
Messages
136
Locality
England
Sounds like the wrong teacher for you. The teacher you had was trying to teach you to "improvise" in an academic manner which is about playing cord tones from the chords written (your C7 you mention is such a chord). It's OK if that's what you want. Sounds like you're happy just reading music, which is fine. This is about having fun, not trying to be a star at our age (I'm even older!). There are lots of backing tracks that don't have the melody, or even Karaoke which can suffice. Improvisation, if you're so inclined can be as simple as playing variations on the melody. it doesn't have to be anything jazzy or fancy.

Pick back up your horn and have fun.
I essentially wanted help in playing with backing tracks. I have never had to do this solo. In the Silver Band I always had a man upfront with a baton, we rehearsed as sections and then as a whole band and if you did get lost during a performance there was always the guy next to you to get you back on track. We where National Youth Band Champions for 3 consecutive years so it was really dinted into my noggin at a young age.
 

Halfers

Finger Flapper
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2,424
Locality
Hampshire
I agree but he has obviously taken away the enjoyment
Please dont let him. No doubt he was trying to do his job. Just not a very good one for your needs, unfortunately. Move on, have fun. Learn how you want to learn. :):)
 

Pete Thomas

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Commercial Supporter
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St. Mary's
Bit of a derogatory comment TBF...Kindly explain..
I don't think it was derogatory: at some stage I think you mentioned using the note names filled in on the sheet music. There is nothing actually wrong with that if it works for you.

In this case I think what people are saying is worng with that method, is when you already know how to read music using conventional notation.

  • Reading music conventionaly
  • Using note names
  • Playing "by ear"

Are all valid depending on context and whether they do what is the best for the individiual at the time.
 

eb424

Senior Member
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1,554
Locality
london
It does sound like the teacher wasnt suited to your needs. What kind of backing tracks do you want to play...
 

eb424

Senior Member
Messages
1,554
Locality
london
I don't think it was derogatory: at some stage I think you mentioned using the note names filled in on the sheet music. There is nothing actually wrong with that if it works for you.

In this case I think what people are saying is worng with that method, is when you already know how to read music using conventional notation.

  • Reading music conventionaly
  • Using note names
  • Playing "by ear"

Are all valid depending on context and whether they do what is the best for the individiual at the time.
but you have to be able to read music for this system @petethomas....

The comment seemed to imply that Ihad no interest in reading faster...which is what I have always said...I can read just not fast enough...


Further I think the exclamation mark at the end of the comment implied something; so I asked @mizmar for an explanation...

either way I dont think bringing me into someone elses thread (derogatory comment or not) is wholly appropriate particularly when it seemed like a bit of a dig, or I am not known to the OP.. Just saying...
 

Veggie Dave

Sax Worker
Messages
3,425
Locality
Citizen of Nowhere
As far as I remember he told me that when he performs a tune he sits down an re writes the notes as a series of letters so I would see G,A,B as say quavers on a stave he would have a series of lines and columns with the letters for the notes and numbers for the beats. He showed me his sheet for a Beatles tune and to me it looked more like an Algebraic or logarithmic equation. He did then go on to playing from chords but by then I had lost the plot.

What the..?

As you already have 'good sound, tone and timing' you don't need this person.

The only reason for writing lettered notes would be to remind you of the chord tones, which is only relevant if you're learning to improvise. As for writing where the beats are, I've personally never had to do this even when working on improvising. The only time I imagine having to do this would be if I was asked to play a new piece of written music that had some seriously complicated timing.

I should say that my reading isn't brilliant, so I'm talking as someone who isn't a great sight-reading player. And yet, the approach your teacher is taking still makes no sense to me.

When, or if, you start to explore the world of improvising then you'll naturally start to explore chord tones - except you'll be doing in a context that makes sense. As for the timing, if you already have good timing then what's the point of writing timing on a score? Perhaps if you get into soloing over unusual time signatures or reading complex passages that contain things like nested tuplets (something I'd never heard of until very recently when I was asked to play some Zappa) then it might come in useful. Until then...

Pick up your horn and have some fun. If you can win the National Youth Band Championship three times in a row, you know what you need to do at this point in time. When you need to play something and don't know how, you'll know it's time to explore a new technique.
 

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