All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
SYOS

Featured Reviews

My Saxophone and Me

We frequently get requests to recommend study material, especially for beginners. Each time people say, very helpfully, what's worked and what hasn't worked. But that's usually as far as it goes. When this came in for review, I asked myself what are we really looking for, what is the book trying to achieve? My tutor has frequently told me he's always grateful for suggestions for new material - and in fact some of the works recommended here have become part of his teaching plan for other students (80 graded studies for instance). My Saxophone and Me aims to cover a different area from the normal forum recommendations for self teach playalongs.

So what are we really looking for in beginners' material? I guess a few things are obvious - clearly laid out/easy to read, progressive increases in difficulty, clear learning points from the pieces, and the opportunity to build up skills. But rarely do we consider fun/musicality and, frankly, many of the beginner books are based on pieces that can quickly become boring - or are unsuitable for the actual student. My tutor frequently praises some works because they combine musicality, musical interest, with development of playing skills.

My saxophone and me is first and foremost, supplemental material to be added to a student's repertoire alongside the usual tutorials/play alongs. It's aimed at students from absolute beginners moving on to the first grade or so. Eb and Bb versions are available, also a flute version. Just the accompaniment changes, the sax parts are identical, according to the author.

There are two books in pdf format, one for the tutor with keyboard scores and sax parts, the other is just the sax parts. The tutor/piano score has the transposed notes for the sax (not concert pitch), so the tutor can help verbally without needing to transpose while teaching. As it's in pdf format, the tutor can hand single pages to the student, or the whole book, which makes focussed learning much easier.

Even though she's been playing the cello for quite a few years (and is about grade 8), my daughter still often, just for fun, digs out a book like this from a few years back and plays pieces from it with my wife accompanying her on piano. (Cello sprinters, if anyone's got a similar need.) And it's great fun to be sitting in on one of their fun sessions. Hopefully this will do the same for sax students.

These books are well laid out, clear and easy to read. Extraneous markings are kept to a minimum and this makes it easy for both student and tutor. The sax parts are deliberately simple, repetitive and easy to play, but there's quite a bit more in the piano accompaniments, which will help maintain the student interest and enjoyment. There's nothing like a good backing track to lift a fairly simple melody.

Some of the pieces are in minor keys, which confused me at first as I thought from looking at the key sigs that there'd been a transposition error, but it was all me. Gussing that many beginners won't notice this, but I'm sure the astute tutors will point it out.

I bounced them off my tutor for a second opinion and will also get some feedback from my wife, who's a much better musician than me. Tutor's initial impression was very good, as I said, he's always looking for new material. And reading through he immediately said it would be very good for early in a student's career, something I'd second and that the books make clear is the intended audience.

The pieces are nice, interesting, without being over challenging or puerile like nursery rhymes. The accompaniments are more complex than the student's lead lines, making the each piece more interesting and pleasant to play. It was good to see a clear, rhythmic bass in the accompaniment, something for the student to anchor on to. The first piece in the book could be given to a student as soon as they have B,A,G under their fingers - and can start to work immediately on rhythm.

As the pieces progress, they become slightly more challenging, but the progression is quite mild - some students would, I'm sure, want to skip a piece here and there. What was also interesting was that some of the pieces have a couple of bars rest in the middle - good for the students to count, and also in later pieces the student has to come in on his/her own, good practice.

One thing that struck me was that it would be nice to have an alternative accompaniment of sax instead of piano. Although many can play both instruments, there are many sax teachers that can't play the piano well enough, including my tutor. I guess you could play the melodies as a duet, possibly with the teacher transposing/ornamenting as they play, but an alternative sax accompaniment would be a big bonus. Guess you could also put the piano part into something like BIAB, but this would destroy the fun of playing together.

To summarise, a new fun set of accompanied pieces for beginner students. Well put together and clearly type set/engraved. Recommended, as long as a piano playing accompanist is available.

Available by download:

Bb (Tenor/Sop): Download My Saxophone And Me (B Flat Version) Sheet Music By Colin Kirkpatrick - Sheet Music Plus

Eb (Alto/Bari): Download My Saxophone And Me (E Flat Version) Sheet Music By Colin Kirkpatrick - Sheet Music Plus




To be continued... I'll update later with more detailed comments from my wife and tutor.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,103
Excellent review. The collection seems to be based upon sound learning principles [pun intended]. I like the way that rhythmic reading and counting is expanded without the introduction of a lot of new notes. The only deficiency of the collection in my view is that it doesn't have an accompanying CD with the piano part for those who do not have access to an accompanist.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I discussed the review with the author. His intention was to include a CD, but wasn't practical under digital distribution. Maybe he'll find a way. The suggestion of a sax accompaniment score was taken well, may come in a future update.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,103
I discussed the review with the author. His intention was to include a CD, but wasn't practical under digital distribution. Maybe he'll find a way. The suggestion of a sax accompaniment score was taken well, may come in a future update.
An mp3 file would work.
 
Top Bottom