How I came to play sax – redux


In Iowa you started band in fifth grade. The local band instrument salesman would come to town and layout the instruments for the parent and kids to look at. This was after each student tooted on a woodwind and brass mouthpiece.

I had my heart set on a trumpet. But my pre-test showed that I had a slight overbite so my teacher was recommending woodwinds. I was very unhappy when my mom told me that. But when I saw the saxophone, I forgot all about the trumpet. The sax was a ’50s Buescher ‘crat alto and used, but to me it was beautiful.

I saved my paper route money every year for band camp, usually at the University of Northern Iowa. I never took lessons until my senior year when I heard how hard it would be to get a position in the University of Minnesota band. When I auditioned in my Freshman year of college (with more alto saxophone players than I wished to count for one position) I heard someone say, “Man that guy can play. How do we stand a chance.”

I went in to the two professors and played my canned piece. Then they handed me some gnarly music to sight read. I totally blew it and didn’t make the band. They asked me to be a flag carrier and try again in the Summer after the Seniors graduated but decided that the Architecture criculum coursework at the university was more important and took to much time.

27 years later, in Fall 2002, I started playing again and never looked back. My first gig was an unaccompanied solo at the funeral for my instructor and friend who died suddenly of liver cancer.

I agonize over what sax to play. I’ve played bari, tenor, and alto sax for a number of bands. But I’m leaning towards making the tenor my main axe because there are more gigs for tenor and I really like that sound.

Last year I got my wife, a high school clarinetist, to join me. I bought her a superba Leblanc Paris and then Buffet R-13 Festival clarinet. She started playing the sax in July so I bought her a Kessler’s Custom with a Kessler’s New York mouthpiece.

She now plays with me in the jazz ensemble and I’ve started trying to learn how to play the clarinet. My goal is to put together a sax quartet consisting of my wife, son, grandson, and I in the near future.

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About Gandalfe

Just an itinerant saxophonist trying to find life between the changes. I have retired from the Corps of Engineers and Microsoft. I am an admin on the Woodwind Forum, run the Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra, and enjoy time with family and friends.
This entry was posted in Hobbies, My World, Saxophone. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How I came to play sax – redux

  1. AC says:

    Paragraph 3 says Univeristy of Washington… that’s not correct is it? Great story.

  2. JaAG says:

    Correct. You are the second person to notice. I didn’t think anyone read these thangs. It is fixed now.

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