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Where do I Go From Here - Which is the Way that's Clear


New Member
Hello, first attempt a blogging ever.

Two years ago I lost some of my sight. As a result, I can not read music.

I have been playing sax for 6 years (as a late bloomer - currently 59). As you probably guessed, this is my hobby not a source of income.

I am looking for suggestions on things to practice, things that I can committ to memory.

Currently I have the following pretty well down on the full horn (not counting altismo) and in all 12 keys;
Major Scales
Minor Scales
Major Triads
Major Triads with a flattened 7th
Major blues Scale
Minor blues scale

What should be next? I like rock, blues and am getting into jazz.



ex Landrover Nut
First a big welcome from me. Hope you'll enjoy yourself here.

What software are you using on the computer? Jaws?

You could usefully add chromatic scales to your repertoire. Maybe pentatonics as well.

But it sounds as if you want to be moving into playing tunes. Are you able to pick things out by ear, if not you could get someone to transcribe the music into a text version, which the pc could read back to you.

One thing I'm really enjoying a the moment is Pete's Midnight in the Naked city - There's a cd, and a separate playalong book and backing tracks. Not all the tracks on the CD are covered, but a second backing tracks/playalong book is in the pipeline.

I'm sure the others will be chipping in soon with a lot of useful suggestions.


Well-Known Member
Agree with everything Kev said, but if you want to play jazz it's also worth learning your 7th chords. Major, minor, dominant (ie major with flat 7 as you mentioned), half-diminished and diminished, in as many inversions and permutaions as you can find time for.

old git

Tremendous Bore
Welcome to the caff©, Rob.

The beauty of the saxophone is that all avenues are open, so you can go anywhere you choose,



Busking Oracle
Welcome to the cafe Rob, as Old Git said, the world is your lobster, something like that any way!
I'd start thinking about jamming along with some backing tracks. You can get the tracks very easily and for little money, by getting karaoke tracks from the likes of itunes. That way, you just play the melody over the top.
Our very own "Chris" has his own website producing some very good tracks for not a lot of cash, here's a link

Enjoy yourself and I look forward to reading about your progress.


Well-Known Member
Hi Rob!

Are you able to read the text on the forum? Is the music you read printed tpp small for you to read?
If you are interested in rock & blues then you should learn pentatonic scales - both major and minor.
Jimi hendrix used mostly pentatonic scales when improvising!

If you have something that can produce a drum beat - i have one on my cheap yamaha keyboard where i can play many different styles of beat and change the speed. Accordingly i can them improvise to my heart"s content.

I often then focus on a variety of actual tunes on the radio, cd, youtube etc. And try and work out which pentatonic scale fits, by ear. It can be great fun adding a sax part to a led zeppelin song, for example!

It might be an idea to investigate whether it is possible to get larger print music so you may be able to read certain tunes as well.

Kind regards & welcome!


New Member
Thanks to all who replied.

To clarify, I have macular degenration, which primarily effects the central part of your vision. At work I have a computer program (Zoom) which enlarges everything. Reading music is tricky becuase as I move my eyes to follow the notes the lines jump around and I would have trouble quickly knowing if the note was a B or a D. Also, I have to stand so close the music that the music stand and the sax often clash. Its awkward.

Anyway, there are some great suggestions given from the first blog. I do play along to various songs I have on the computer, and have found some good blues backing tracks on youtube, as well, I have been figuring out various tunes by ear. It was the blues backing tracks that prompted me to ask the orginal questions.

Until recently, I thought there was just one blues scale, which I now call a minor blues (i.e. C, D#, F, F#,G, A#). Then I found there was a major blues (i.e. C, D, D#, E, G, A). I started playing these over the same blues backing tracks and was excited to hear how well it worked.

I am going to try the penatonics. An example of a major penatonic would be C, D,E, G, A? Is a minor penatonic, the minor scale with the semi-tones taken out?

I will also start to learn 7the cords.

Thanks to all.Rob

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
Hi Rob, and welcome. I'm sure you are aware that some of the greatest musicians (and some composers) were blind. Hopefully where one door shuts another opens. Pushing to read and intellectualize in what are written and visual constructs could just be a frustration. The world of sound has no bounds. If you know what you want to play, with practice you should be able to at least copy that and hopefully progress to where your own ideas can come forward. Ear training is likely to get you to where you want to go lot faster than pushing to read. Part of ear training is to become a very intense listener and learn to recognize details and nuances. Likewise ear playing is about hearing in your head the notes and nuances of the music and being able to play these without requiring visual references. It's a long journey but one that's very worthwhile.

Wishing you all the best.

Pete C

Hi Rob

did you notice that the C "major" blues scale in your post is the same notes as an A "minor" blues scale? Each one is a mode of the other. For that reason I only think of there being 12 blues scales.


Nick Cook

"...Still looking for that blue jean, baby queen, prettiest girl I ever seen, see her shake on the movie screen, Jimmy Dean..."

Two Voices

Senior Member
Hi Rob,

Welcome to the Café! I have RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) which is degenerative and incurable eye condition. It is rather like Macular Degeneration. Apart from suffering from complete night blindness I have tunnel vision opposed to the loss of central vision like you.

There are several things you can do to make life easier for you as a blind musician. In the UK we have the RNIB which is a great resource and I’m certain you’ll have the equivalent where you live. Here’s a link to what I am referring to:

They even have a music forum :D

Talking Scores

Unfortunately Talking Scores isn’t any good for me as I’m deaf as well as blind. However, Talking Score basically describes the music bar by bar from an audio cassette, alternating with the soundtrack of the music. They are digitalising them slowly i.e. CD and MP3.

Modified Stave Notation

Basically this is an altered score which makes it easier for those who are visually impaired to read it easier. Believe me it works like a charm.

Large Print Music

Self-explanatory I think :D


SharpEye is a music scanning and recognition software package which can produce MIDI, NIFF and SharpEye's own output files. SharpEye 2 also exports MusicXML files which can be imported into other music notation editors for editing or translating into braille. Check it out:

Sibelius and Lime

Sibelius and Lime both work well in conjunction with widely used magnification packages. Try Dancing Dots and Sibelius 7.

Braille Music

Last but not least you could learn Braille. Not as hard as you think. Only six dots which are configurable. If you did learn you could have access to an abundance of scores, transcriptions and much more.

Also you can scan edit and print your own music.

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)

I have Cubase but the best for the blind is in fact Cakewalk Sonar as there are so many great plug-ins and add-ons for the blind!

You could also try learning to play by ear :D

If you have any questions or need any advice please ask!

Happy blowing,

Last edited by a moderator:


New Member
Thank you Paul.

I wrote a longer response yesterday, but for whatever reason, it did not make through.
Just wanted to let you know I appreciate your suggestions and the time you took to write it all out.


Two Voices

Senior Member
You're most welcome Rob. If you need anything else give me a shout!

BTW I believe that you time out when replying on the forum. If you need more time it'll probably be best to, write it in Words and Copy and Paste it over. That's what I do anyhow :D

Happy blowing,

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