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Beginner Very serious question ...


Senior Member
Shetland Islands

I am sure I cannot be the only newbie who has come across this most serious issue and that is ...

... how does one deal with the sniggers and comments from husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends, etc., (whatever is applicable) when one is attempting to practise and get to grips with the lurvely saxophone. Examples include "No, I'm not laughing, honest", "You ain't got a clue really, have you?", along with the old chestnut "Is your gob meant to be that shape?"; last but not least "So that's a note then is it?"

Which of the following would apply:-

1. Purchase a second-hand saxophone off e-bay that needs repairing and shove it under their pillow;

2. Replace their lipsyl with your cork grease;

3. Ignore their comments completely;

4. Burst into tears and consult a Solicitor with the aim of filing for divorce;

5. Shove your reeds up their nostrils when they are asleep (having superglued them in place, naturally); or

6. Your suggestion.

All comments welcome!;}
Find a new place to practise. I have played in lay bys, a British Rail car park and other car parks or anywhere where you are away from critics (anyone who's not completely deaf). When you are out in the car, don't drive too slowly in some inner city areas as it could be misconstrued, scout for likely spots - under bridges is good as great acoustics and keeps the rain off. There are lots of places but you will have to go and find them. The very small car I use is a VW Lupo which has a lift up tailgate and the parcel shelf makes an ideal perch for my PC and doubles as a sheet music stand. I can play the alto in the back seat as the front seat tilts forward, but not the tenor as its too big. There ought to be open spaces where you are in the Shetlands. Borrow a boat and find an empty island or go to the mainland and annoy people there.

Are you being a bit over sensitive as they play bagpipes up there and they can sound pretty horrible? Find a piper and ask where he/she practises and use it alternately or try to make music together!

There you go. The answer is get the critics out of earshot and then blow your socks off. Enjoy.
Good answer TSman.

Be realistic and try to find a time when they're not that many around. You also need to ask yourself, have you ever had a laugh at other people's beginner efforts? It was funny wasn't it and if you enjoyed their discomfiture, why shouldn't they enjoy yours? I've been guilty in the past, so didn't complain when they took their revenge, as it was, well still is, a row. Can get away with murder on keyboard and flute but a sax is loud.

They are not purposely being unpleasant, so try to take it the right way and the present attitude will soon wear off when they've cracked the same gag a number of times.
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Don't go thinking it's just people who criticise - when I started playing last night, my dog decided to take exception and bark his head off (pretty blooming loudly, I can tell you - he's a male Akita with a big gob!) for the first fifteen minutes of my practice session, until he realised it was getting him nowhere and took himself off to his bed. :)))

I tend to only practice when there's no-one else in the house to be honest. But then again, I don't practice even half as much as I should, so maybe don't take my advice! :D

Come to think of it, my last dog hated my sax too... Maybe they're trying to tell me something...
I have two little Shih Tzus and one of them Teddy howls when i play my tenor... Mind you it's like getting your own back when he wakes me up cos he wants a pee!!
Your answer is to play so loud that you can't hear the comments.
Also bear in mind most people are in awe of Sax players cos
1) the sax just looks so cool
2) we look so cool
3) the sax looks sooooo complicated
4) and they are all just so jealous.
Nuff said? :cool:
Having not long been through this (3 years ago) I do know how you must feel... the comment from a pal that 'I think I recognise that' with a sneer still bugs me to this day!

I try to limit noise by closing all windows & doors, playing in the box room furthest away, and just concentrate on trying to improve!

Could be worse tell 'em; you could take up the violin!

(& I still fancy bagpipes..)
I used to hand the sax to the offending "moaning git" and say you have a try and see if you can play quietly and nicely!

they always said "fair one" or walked away with theur tail between their legs.
My family are all learning instruments. So they know what'll happen if there's any nastiness about my 'playing'. So we all try to help each other with encouragement and hints.

But I really like Griff's suggestion!
6. Your suggestion.

My suggestion is that your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend etc also take up a life enhancing hobby.

Belly dancing, off road crochet, cheese training, underwater skateboarding, burlesque, cold case forensics, banking...
I think if your significant other realises how passionate you are about doing it, they will lay off. My hubby is supportive, sometimes he tells me I sound good. He only really takes the **** when I do something horrendously bad like catch an unintended key and make a squeak. TBH I try and get home before him so I can practise alone, means he can't moan about not spending time with me :)
And what Pete said... that way, you never have to see your S.O. again, which is the key to a happy relationship
My suggestion is that your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend etc also take up a life enhancing hobby.

Belly dancing, off road crochet, cheese training, underwater skateboarding, burlesque, cold case forensics, banking...

Love that Pete….. ‘off road crochet’…. Hahaha.:)))
I rarely get any comments these days, good or bad. I don't play anything my wife likes except the odd rendition of Summertime and as soon as I start improvising I'm well out of favour.

On the other hand, she doesn't moan about how much I play and often suggests I 'go for a blow' if I've had a stressful day at work even if that means delaying dinner.

So my advice would be find somewhere as far away from your family as you can and stick to it. I'm upstairs in the box room, they are all downstairs in the Living Room - all doors shut in between! They'll give up before you do.
Ta for all your comments. I must admit, I did write the posting somewhat "tongue in cheek" (if you pardon the pun although it actually near me bottom goofers).

Hubby works shifts and so for the majority of the time, he isn't here. The dogs, on the other hand (Kia and Buff, two Shar Pei) are here. Buff, naturally the brave male out of the two (but young and stupid) will run a mile, come back in the room and then growl at the sax (he wouldn't dare growl at me - I bite pretty hard) whereas Kia gives a look of total disdain, walks up and has a sniff of sax and then goes back on her bed.

The neighbour upstairs can be hear commenting "What the * was that?" but then I have to suffer hearing him at 3am when he's fallen asleep drunk having left the 20 all best xmas hits cd on repeat (one can only take so much Kylie, you know).

As my car is still at the garage and I collect it tomorrow, finding somewhere else to practise is out of the question. I haven't come across any bridges yet in Shetland so that rules that one out. We have no train stations so ace, no BR car parks. I might, however, get done by the RSPCB if I go down to Sumburgh Head and scare the puffins away next year. I don't fancy walking 1/2hr to Quendale Beach as I've no idea what the salt water would do to the sax and besides, those male seals look quite huge!

Thank you for your messages of support and I'll let you know Pete if I've found an offroad crochet group for hubby to join. In the meantime, I hope my suggestions amused you.

Progress report - I did rubbish yesterday and just couldn't seem to get mouthpiece at the right angle/sax at right height on the strap.
Easy... agree to go to Salsa classes with them if they agree to leave you alone!!
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Just grow a thicker skin, practise like hell and make them eat their words (heckling) when you really can blow them away. There's nothing like the self satisfaction of achieving a personal goal to quieten the doubters.
Also a bit of give and take in terms of practise times can help.
We tend to do the painful stuff during practise and save the good for performance.
I lived in Japan for a few years and there all horn players go to parks to play at nights. Yoyogi park in Tokyo after 9pm has got as many horn players as trees (good for sound reflection). I wonder if locals and the police would be as supportive here?
I tried one of those sax mutes the other day - you know the type that looks like a hard moulded case that you put the sax inside. I have to say that it was very effective at reducing the noise and it wasn't too cumbersome (alto). But they are several hundred pounds - a lot to invest in something that you're not really sure about.
Just go for it and make all the noise you can >:)
Tell them you are considering changing to the 5 string banjo. My dad is learning this and wow, it's painful at times.
I bin 'playin' now for 2-1/2 years and still get comments like that! Maybe it's time to admit defeat and call it a day. Or maybe Jocks revenge, take up the bagpipes:)))
when beginning the saxophone, one must be careful for small animals, i. e. pets, and friends and relatives until some control is achieved.


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