At the beginning of 2019, I made the decision to take up the challenging hobby of learning to play the saxophone.

Learning to play the saxophone

I’ve never been the sort of person to simply do things half-heartedly, so I found a teacher and started formal lessons. What appeared to be a relatively easy, inexpensive hobby has turned out to be quite different!

I started listening to a variety of different music genres that included the saxophone and found that it has formed a part of some great modern bands – from jazz to pop, and also used extensively in classical music.

About six months into playing my son’s student saxophone, I realised I needed to make a choice – get serious about this and get my own saxophone, or give up. I’ve never been a quitter, so off I went to a great sax shop and bought myself a beautiful Yanigasawa WO 10 alto sax. Of course, this was way over the price I had planned on paying!

What a difference this has made to my life! At that stage I had built up my playing ability to about 30 minutes per session, but now was inspired by a great instrument, an inspirational teacher and a determination to succeed.

At times struggling with sadness and sorrow, I found that playing a musical instrument that requires total focus – breathing, tonguing (‘articulation’ I hear my teacher saying), fingering, reading, listening, timing and rhythm (‘use the metronome’) – only allowed time to focus on the present and future possibilities, not on the sadness of the past.

I have pretty much played every day since I bought my sax and often up to five hours per day on weekends and during holidays. At first, I was embarrassed at being so loud and untalented, until recently when I received a lovely compliment from someone walking her dog in the park over the road from my house – she though it was a YouTube clip!

I recently was awarded the great privilege by my sax teacher of moving from a beginner level player (AMEB Grades 1-4) to an intermediate level player (AMEB grades 5 – 8). A challenge indeed! Pieces I am currently working on include a classical piece by Eugene Bozza – Aria – composed for alto saxophone and absolutely beautiful. I am also playing some great jazz pieces – including my late husband’s favourite My Way and a country tune Always on my mind. My teacher tells me he would like me to perform this Aria. It’s a terrifying thought, but more focus will see it happen!

Just in case I may not find all of this challenging enough, I decided to go ahead and buy a tenor saxophone – the sound being so attuned to jazz and pop music. Next step, find some musicians to play along with in my spare time.

The possibilities are endless.

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