Well, gee whiz, you've already stated "Given all other things equal". Clearly if all other things are equal a teacher who can actually play the instrument is going to have an advantage.
The only way it would make any sense at all to for a teacher who can't play the actual instrument to be "better", would be if that teacher had some other qualities that compensated for that. But that can't very well be the case if you're starting out with the premise that all other things are equal.
I would think that would depend on both you and your teacher. And that may change over time depending on your needs.
The most important advice I would suggest to anyone who is seeking a teacher it to try a few different teachers "if possible" and then pick the one that you like the best. There's really no reason to need to make a long-term commitment to the very first teacher you run into. Try other people until you find what you like. Otherwise you'll never know what you might be missing out on.
He/she must play the sax, other instruments are a bonus.
What's just as important is if you and the teacher click. If you don't, you'll get nowhere near as much out of the lessons. A practice lesson will help you check this.
Frequency - less important. I prefer a longer lesson, less often. Gives me more time between lessons to fit in the practice and to work on a tricky piece. And in a longer lesson, more time to work on things once you've warmed up. Being nervous at the start of a short lesson will easily waste most of it... And it's not as if you're a kid that needs a boot from your father every day to get you to practice.... Finding time to practice is a difficult for me. Kids and work eat into my time too much, and later in the evenings I'm too tired to do anything useful, not to mention the noise...
One of my colleagues who plays the sax recommended me to hunt down a teacher that plays the saxophone as his primary instrument, and that he plays the kind of music I like/hope to play. That's how I found my teacher. And yes, definitely see if you can work with the teacher. Mine is more a guide more than a "do step 1 2 3" kind of person - really enjoy my lessons. My teacher also plays professionally and teaches as well.
Frequency wise, I can only put in 5hrs (thereabouts) a week on practice, and my frequency of about 3 weeks between classes seems to work for me, though I wish I could put in more time - I don't always get where I want to musically in 3 weeks.
I'm with everyone else...definitely a teacher who plays the instrument and one who will listen to what you want to play. Initially I let myself be guided by my teacher, now I take pieces along and say "I'd like to play this..." or ask for advice on a specific technique.
As for frequency, I have a 30 min lesson every week, but put in 3x1hr practice a day. Sometimes the 30 min lesson whizzes by and I am beginning to thing a 60 min lesson (possibly fortnightly) would be a better option.
For me it must be sax player who also likes the music that you want to play. I started on 30 mins a week, went swiftly to 1 hr a week, then on to 90 mins per fortnight & finally to 60 mins per fortnight. Timing, frequency and length have to fit in with your own experience as far as possible, but teacher availability does come into it too.
Definitely a sax player. If it is for learning the instrument. If you are an advanced player and you want to look into certain aspects of improvisation and/or like the style of a particular piano or trumpet or whatever player, it makes sense to have a lesson with a non-sax player. I also agree it helps if the teacher teaches the style you are into. Having said that, when I did a music degree at the university, my saxophone teacher was a classical player and he quite frankly told me that he can't teach me jazz. So I played classical music on my soprano for three years and it turned out a really valuable time because of the sound and intonation and attention to detail.
Frequency-wise, like others said, it depends how much time you can spend to practise. For a less advanced player it would be better to have frequent lessons (to spot and correct any bad habits quickly )
You always need a teacher at any level of playing. If you can already read music and/or play the piano then this will save a great deal of time .Producing a consistent sound is your goal. Try to avoid getting into bad habits at the start. Without a good technique based on scales and long notes will cause problems further down the line.Dont bend notes until you can play them straight.
To be honest in my experience most jazz sax teachers don't deal with playing as much as chord progressions,harmony,theory, learning tunes and patterning etc (Pete Thomas' book is excellent for this).
Also remember Jazz Phrasing,Latin Phrasing and Rock Phrasing are meant to be much more of a guide than written classical music.
Anyone who has heard a classical choir try to sing Gershwin will know what I mean.
All the Cuban players Paquito DRivera and Arturo Sandoval et al had a period of strict classical playing(5 years I believe) in Prague and were not allowed to play jazz until they went home. Consequently they have an awesome technique and fluency which underpins their jazz. Britain had Dudley Moore and Tony Coe to name but a few.
I had teacher for my first two lessons. I liked him, personality wise, but was doubtful that he was the best choice for me. I asked him to play a track and he told me he couldn't because of a burnt lip. ??? I subscribed to Smart Music and have been using that for about 10 weeks. I really liked it at first, because its assesment scores told me how close I was coming playing the proper notes. But I was having trouble with getting the duration of the notes. It uses a piano to sound your part, and the duration of the piano note didn't give me the length of the note in sound.
I went back to the Progressive Beginner Saxophone book and started playing along with the Saxophone tracks and it made a fantastic difference. I could hear the duration of the Sax notes. Now I can hear in my mind the length of a note. I am finally beginning to hear a little improvement in my practice. I have now been practicing for about 3 months.
But I know I need a teacher to help me with many new things as they occur.
I kind of felt that a teacher who played the Sax was what I needed but I wanted to get the advice from all of you before I made my choice. I will look for a teacher that plays a Sax. Thanks for all of your comments.
I prefer someone who does at least some professional playing and better still if they are still 'learning' themself (i.e. commissioning new works, developing new ensembles and projects and so on). That isn't to say all great players are good teachers (they certainly aren't!). If you don't get on with a teacher, change to someone else! I would also prefer someone who has had conservatoire training on saxophone because otherwise there will possibly come a time when a lack of technique will prove a barrier - best get it right at the beginning. Generic woodwind teachers or sax doublers can get you started and certainly help with general musicianship and reading but a good specialist sax teacher is probably better if you can get one. Another good approach is to go on a summer school like the ones Rob Buckland runs at Woldingham and Harrogate. I first ran into him about 10 years ago and he revolutionised my playing and meanwhile put me in touch with a great teacher who has helped both myself and my daughter immensely. These days, there are plenty of graduates coming out from the various music colleges around the UK and they have all been through the mill with the likes of Rob Buckland, Christian Forshaw, Kyle Horch or Gerry McChrystal and they know their stuff. As an adult learner, I found about 1 hour fortnightly worked for me as I could usually get in enough practice over that period. The other important thing is to find other people to play with - anything, a concert band, sax choir, big band etc.
I must be very lucky (makes a change). My sax teacher plays sax, clarinet, French horn (a bit), and sight-reads any piano music put in front of her. She shares a house with a woman who plays all the sax variants plus clarinet and cello (a bit). I have an hour lesson, for which I pay £17, every other week and on the alternate weeks I go there and play sax in a quartet with those two and another lady who plays bass clarinet. I tend to have clarinet lessons now rather than sax as I am as good as I am going to get on the sax apart from practicing what I already know. I play in an Indie band anyway so I get my rocks off blowing hard for them.
All things being equal, almost any teacher is better than none. At the very least you need someone to tell you if you are not playing well and that doesn't necessarily require a teacher, just an honest opinion that you value.
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