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Song and Ballad Of The Month - how they work


I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
Bristol, UK
The Cafe has a "Song Of The Month" and a "Ballad Of The Month". The purpose of this message is to explain what they are and how they work.

Each month, a Café member chooses a tune for the Song Of The Month (SOTM), and another Café member chooses the Ballad Of The Month (BOTM). These tunes are often jazz standards but they need not be. The only criterion is that they should be good to play on the saxophone. At the start of the month the host publishes links to a backing track and notes (both Bb and Eb) for the melody. Members can then play along with the backing track and can record themselves and post their recordings.

You do not have to be a "good" or even "intermediate" player to post an SOTM or BOTM recording. There are some very capable professional musicians in the forum, but anyone can make a posting. If you want to, you can ask for constructive criticism, and you will get some from the experts, but the aim is to encourage players to record themselves and share the results. I am not in any sense a good player, but I try to make a recording each month, and usually in the process I discover something that I need to work on. So this is about learning, not showing off. (Though you are very welcome to show off if you want to!)

You do not have to use the supplied backing track for your recording - there are lost of alternative places to find backing tracks - the more the merrier. We often include Band In A Box files so that users can generate their own backing tracks. And we often include MuseScore or Sibelius files for the notes, so that you can transpose them into another key or modify them.

Typically the backing track will repeat the melody one or more times, and some players like to improvise after the first time. This provides an opportunity to try out some improvisation among friends. But don't feel you have to. Playing the melody alone is fine. And just playing once through is fine.

I would like to encourage all Café members to post their recordings. Don't be shy! Or you can just download the backing track and play along with it for your own enjoyment.

There are lists of previous Songs and Ballads here:
Song Of The Month - Index
Ballads Of The Month - Index

The threads stay open, so feel free to add your contributions after the end of the month. And if you are looking for the notes for "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" you may find them here.

If any Café member would like to propose a Song or Ballad and act as host, then please send me a Private Message. You don't need to be able to create the notes or the backing track - we can do that for you.



Playing alto 2 1/2 years
In addition to any lessons or work you may be doing, the challenge of learning songs that someone else decided on can be a great thing to work on. As Nigel says above, I have always learned things doing this. It's practice playing in different keys, different styles and different tempos. I often try several keys and styles, too. There's no judgement, everyone's tune gets a listen. Questions about the song are always welcome, too. Someone will reply with help.


Formerly SaxyNikki
Thanks for all this great information.
What a great diverse song selection.
I’m completely stoked about learning about this and can’t wait to try my first one.
Saxholder Pro

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