Courses/Workshops Update on Online Saxophone Study

randulo

Playing saxophone 20 months - 2.3% of my life
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This has been discussed two or more years ago, but it's time for an update for 2019.

I'd love to hear everyone's experiences with online studies for the saxophone or other wind instrument. Strings etc. are very different, so I'd rather not discuss that despite my own extensive experience in that area.

I. Yes, in person lessons will always be preferable, so there's no need to argue that.
II. There are different types of study:
A. Youtube videos, free. There are thousands of these. Have you checked 'em out? How useful are they?
B. Skype live one-on-one video lessons.
C. Time-shifted video
1. ArtistWorks model, you submit an exercise, the teacher answer by video with their suggestions
2. Others?
D. Online resources like Taming the Saxophone
III. Like a diet, or gym, these usually last some period of time and then you drop it for various reasons.

I will post a comment right away, separate from this post.


What are your experiences, what have you used and how did it work out?
 
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randulo

randulo

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I have used ArtistWorks twice now, currently for the saxophone. It's a love hate relationship. I love the teachers, they're world class names. Eric Marienthal (tours with Chick Corea) teaches sax and the examples are mostly played by him on alto, although the lessons are for all saxes. He's the perfect teacher for me at this time. The hate part is the ArtistWorks site which sucks, is slow and the support is abominable. I'm guessing they're desperate for sax students, seeing as the promos are pretty cheap. It's a great model though. Their forum is not even 1/100th as useful as Café and pretty low on posts. That means not that many students. And the pro teachers are always touring so weeks can go by before you get a response to your submissions.

I've looked at hundreds of YouTube videos but only once did I subscribe to a school, and I can't remember if I paid or just used the free trial period. There was valuable info in those videos (McGill School). All in all a good intro to the instrument. I did that before taking in person lessons.

I currently have a teacher, a very accomplished working jazz player whose price is reasonable and he comes to my place. We work more on articulation than anything these days. ArtistWorks/Eric have about 50 exercises in video and sheet plus all student video submission and Eric's replies. Like I say, I find this to be a great model work useful work.
EDIT: I misstated the resources, there are tons of lessons at 3 levels, PLUS numbered exercises, PLUS "lick of the week" and the hundreds of student submissions with the critique of the teacher.
 
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Caz

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The thing with teachers is, that a lot of them don’t play in kind of professional capacity. So, you can’t really be sure about their skill level – For the most part you just must believe in that they can play and have something to offer until you realize after a few lessons (or more) that they don’t. I have had my fair share of bad teachers who would for the most part of a lesson just chatters away about off topic stuff. Or teach you a genre of playing that you aren’t interested in – but you go along anyway, because that’s how authority works.

30 euros/45 minutes * 4 times a month...

Eventually I gave up on – not only did I lose faith in that I could gain anything from a teacher, but I lost faith that I could ever play the instrument.

By the end of last year, I began online tutoring from a player I deeply respect both as a mentor and a player. What I get is 400+ video lessons, I can pause – rewind – and revisit whenever I want to - I also have a possibility to add messages and questions to each lesson. A message forum where fair and constructive critism are given in a supportive way. I feel that I get far more from this kind of tutoring than in-person, because it takes away all the small-talk stuff and all the time you set a side time to go to a lesson (which sometimes could take 45 minutes commuting), I also don’t have to deal with teachers who would rather be somewhere else or grumpy with the lack of progress. Also don’t have to deal with me being nervous or rather be somewhere else.

35 euros/month

For me there is no question which is better for me – But I think that maybe a mix of in-person and online tutoring might be the best of two worlds. At the end of the day it’s about which kind of tutoring that motivates you the most to put air through your horn in the most efficient way.
 

Halfers

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The thing with teachers is, that a lot of them don’t play in kind of professional capacity. So, you can’t really be sure about their skill level – For the most part you just must believe in that they can play and have something to offer until you realize after a few lessons (or more) that they don’t. I have had my fair share of bad teachers who would for the most part of a lesson just chatters away about off topic stuff. Or teach you a genre of playing that you aren’t interested in – but you go along anyway, because that’s how authority works.

30 euros/45 minutes * 4 times a month...
This, in my experience also.

I'm on the look out for online 'Schools' or some kind of online Teaching facility. I missed the recent opening for Bob Reynolds School, so I might hang on for the next opening, but can those using an online School they recommend, post details
 

saxyjt

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You'll probably soon hear from our dear @jbtsax and Smart Music. I have kept this on the side due to financials, but I'm now considering it for the near future. Only trouble for me is that it's not available on Android. But it's on Chromebook, so I might consider that option.

It's too bad they are not providing laptops with the ability to run a Chromebook session or a Windows session. My company laptop is highly protected, so it's not really usable privately and I hate the idea of taking more gear with me when I'll be on the road (a couple of weeks next month). I'll probably restrict myself to a soprano to fly light. :confused2:
 
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randulo

randulo

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Yes, it depends on the student's age as well. As I kid, I took clarinet lessons from a bored guy (teaching young kids is no picnic, either) who probably only played mediocre classical, but that was the basics, tone production, embouchure, reading, etc. If you're past a certain age, you can only take in person lessons from an accomplished musician, preferably working. Otherwise, online is good, too, but it all depends on resources and what you get out of the "relationship".
 

Frnic

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You'll probably soon hear from our dear @jbtsax and Smart Music. I have kept this on the side due to financials, but I'm now considering it for the near future. Only trouble for me is that it's not available on Android. But it's on Chromebook, so I might consider that option.

It's too bad they are not providing laptops with the ability to run a Chromebook session or a Windows session. My company laptop is highly protected, so it's not really usable privately and I hate the idea of taking more gear with me when I'll be on the road (a couple of weeks next month). I'll probably restrict myself to a soprano to fly light. :confused2:
I went to their site and the new SmartMusic seems to include Mac, Windows, iPad and Chrome book.

What I can't see mentioned anywhere is if you have to have a teacher to use the student subscription.
 

JayeNM

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The thing with teachers is, that a lot of them don’t play in kind of professional capacity. So, you can’t really be sure about their skill level – For the most part you just must believe in that they can play and have something to offer until you realize after a few lessons (or more) that they don’t. I have had my fair share of bad teachers who would for the most part of a lesson just chatters away about off topic stuff. Or teach you a genre of playing that you aren’t interested in – but you go along anyway, because that’s how authority works.
I am going to make a 100% reverse argument.

It doesn't matter if a Teacher plays professionally or not.

Many Pros are absolutely abysmal teachers.

"I had this teacher once and he gigged professionally in my town and up and down the entire coast. He has put out great recordings and was a sideman for Insert Famous Pop Artist here as well as Insert Famous Jazz Artist here.
But after a while I figured out he had developed no real lesson plan for ME. At times I felt like our lesson time together was just doing things which had popped into his head that given week. At other times it seemed he just wanted to impress me with name-dropping stories of his professional experiences.
I stuck with him because, well...that's how authority works...
....and I was actually taking lessons with HIM ! Right there in person. Which I thought must have been the right thing to do, you know ?"

Something like the above IMHO is just as likely a scenario as what you described.

In the arts, crafts, and various other disciplines...the teacher's success (or even desire) as a performer in the field is not necessarily directly related to his/her ability to be a very, very good teacher.

Ability to teach is not directly correlated to whether they have chosen a path to perform as a professional. Perhaps the individual gets satistfaction out of teaching and passing on knowledge; as opposed to performing in front of people or in the studio. It's not all that unusual.

Just saying. Sorry for digression, Randulo.
 
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randulo

randulo

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No digression, brother, it's all good! I agree with both sides. If someone is playing professionally AND you have a decent vibe with them as a teacher, that can work, but yes, some excellent players are terrible teachers. My own teacher plays professionally, but he also understood me and teaches me in a professional manner. The thing is, I hate disciplined exercises, and now I'm forced into them with the video thing, to show what I can do in that context. I also see, though, why you need to be able to play these, so I've had to completely change my organization of practice.

As for whether someone can play, you should be able to tell that from listening to them play short melodies. Jazz players will always play a few licks, and you should have some idea of whether they're saying something or not? I guess it depends on how much saxophone you're listened to.
 

Caz

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I am going to make a 100% reverse argument.
I am going to make a 100% reverse argument.
[...]
It doesn't matter if a Teacher plays professionally or not.
I don’t understand, did you have a bad experience with a professional player who couldn’t teach, or did you speculate there had to be many out there?
The only comment I'm going to give is, that whoever I pay my hard-earned dough and time better be well prepared to show that what he/she preaches has some practical application
Sure, if they throw cymbals at me while yelling “not my tempo” - or have no game plan what-so-ever, that’s just another situation – but entry level for teaching must be; “be able to play at a professional level” at least for me.
 
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randulo

randulo

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The way I see it, there's an infinite amount to learn. If you let a teacher impose a program, it'd better be a good one. Or, you can have a hand in structuring it which is what I did. It's true that if you take lessons, you want to know that it's leading to what you want. That's why I'm using a multiple approach.
 

jbtsax

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I went to their site and the new SmartMusic seems to include Mac, Windows, iPad and Chrome book.

What I can't see mentioned anywhere is if you have to have a teacher to use the student subscription.
No you don't need a teacher for this type of subscription to Smart Music. Click on "Student" which takes you to the "Classic Smart Music" page. From that page you can download Smart Music to try on a trial basis.

My view on teaching following a career of teaching in a classroom setting and teaching private lessons is this:

A teacher needs to be an accomplished player on the instrument a private student is taking lessons on. One can't teach what one does not know is the underlying principle. This does not necessarily mean the teacher plays professionally. At the point the student plays as well as the teacher on that particular instrument, lessons from accomplished musicians who play a different instrument can also be productive in further developing other aspects of musicianship and musical interpretation.

I have known excellent players who lacked the ability to communicate to students how to solve playing problems and fix bad habits, because everything came naturally and easily to those players as they were learning. They never had the opportunity to break each aspect of playing into its basic components to be able to correctly diagnose difficulties and prescribe practice exercises to overcome them. These are skills necessary to being a teacher of all students---not just the gifted ones.

I have sometimes been accused of being overly "pedantic" in my approach to teaching the saxophone. I earned this distinction by studying "saxophone pedagogy" from the beginning of my teaching career. If you need a definition of the term you can watch Eugene Rousseau's video series entitled "Steps to Excellence" or you can read and study "The Art of Saxophone Playing" by Larry Teal. Of course there are adaptations and variations to what is contained in these resources that work for some players, but that does not take away from the fact that these resources can provide a strong foundation for anyone wishing to learn to play the saxophone well.
 

saxyjt

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I can't see it on my phone, but I saw a warning that Classic Smart Music was gonna be turned off next year.

Also needs a specific mike. I'd like to give it a try, but I don't have the right mike... Catch 22 situation.
 

GCinCT

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I've been using Smart Music since September when @jbtsax recommended it after I joined the big band I'm in. It has been extremely helpful. My sight reading has significantly improved and I am now very comfortable playing in the band. So much so, that when our lead alto player left the band this semester, I was able to step into that role and I'm doing it pretty well.

I also make great use of other online resources such as Taming the Saxophone and many Youtube videos. And of course, the great advice I've gotten here at the Cafe has had a positive impact on my progress. I haven't subscribed to any online classes yet.

I am doing well and making steady progress, but it would be better if I had a teacher. I will probably try one of the online classes out there at some point.
 

JayeNM

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I don’t understand, did you have a bad experience with a professional player who couldn’t teach, or did you speculate there had to be many out there?
The only comment I'm going to give is, that whoever I pay my hard-earned dough and time better be well prepared to show that what he/she preaches has some practical application
Sure, if they throw cymbals at me while yelling “not my tempo” - or have no game plan what-so-ever, that’s just another situation – but entry level for teaching must be; “be able to play at a professional level” at least for me.
I actually read your reply twice to make sure you were writing seriously....and apparently you are.

You reply with a complete straw man scenario of throwing cymbals and yelling...??...I am perplexed because your vignette there has no connection whatsoever with my comment.

I think my point was quite clear, and judging from the likes I have received apparently some folks agree with my assertion.

To frame my assertion in a scenario of 'oh, he must have individually had a bad experience which colored his perception and now is expanding it to a generalization'....has little foundation.

I am 55 years old, I have been playing an instrument since I was 8. I have lived and played in 3 major US municipalities and one European one; I have met/known/played with well over 150 different musicians in my day. The situation I noted is NOT uncommon.
 
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JayeNM

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(cont'd) I have at this point lost count of the # of musicians who have at one time taken lessons from "pro" players...a significant # of those 'teachers' having been quite famous....who have shared their experiences of disappointment in the affair.

but entry level for teaching must be; “be able to play at a professional level” at least for me.
Then IMHO, you have a very interesting yardstick.

If I were a beginner, or if I were suggesting a teacher appropriate for a beginner....'plays professionally' would be quite low on my list of requirements for a teacher.

Much higher would be, for example: "does the teacher have a solid study plan/sequence which is realistically achievable for the new player ?"

....followed perhaps by...

"does the teacher have experience in dealing with individuals with diverse learning abilities or of diverse ages ? (this means does the teacher, while getting to know the pupil, possess the astuteness to recognize when the pace of the lessons, or the material being presented, etc...needs to be tweaked to some in order to best serve the pupil's abilities, goals, tastes and make the lessons a positive experience?)

...then, probably...

" does the teacher have the ability to flex his/her lesson plan somewhat in order to custom-fit it to the particular student ?"

The 'skill set' a teacher has developed over time can be far, far different than the skill set a professional performer may have developed over time.

The skill set of the latter in no way translates into being a successful teacher.

The skill set a good teacher possesses (which includes the ability to organize and communicate in a way which is comprehensible and logical to a learner) may well not translate into them being a successful professional performer.

I hope that clarifies things.
 
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GCinCT

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That escalated way out of what i had anticipated :oops:
Didn't want to step on anybody's feet - apparently i did, and for that i'm sorry.
A friendly disagreement. Just another day at the office here in our wonderful Cafe family! ;)

I understand both of your points. @Caz, you want a teacher with professional experience because at your level, you need someone who can pass that on to you. @JayeNM makes an excellent point about teaching being an entirely different skill set. Just because one can play does not mean one can teach. I also agree that a beginner doesn't need a teacher with professional skills as long as that teacher can guide the student through the basics. More advanced students would of course need teachers with more advanced skills. But, teachers who have the ability to teach.
 
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randulo

randulo

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Different students have different needs. But we are losing track of the key word, online. Not a problem, but I'd like to see more about that aspect.
 

GCinCT

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Different students have different needs. But we are losing track of the key word, online. Not a problem, but I'd like to see more about that aspect.
This is a great thread for that reason. Online is a whole new world of information that didn't exist for much of the lives of many of us. So much to explore. It has for me been largely a positive experience. You do have to be careful to weed out misinformation, but there is now access to experts on a multitude of topics related to the saxophone.
 
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