I was eleven years old when I first started playing the saxophone. Driving down the road to a basketball game, my father had the Brecker Brothers album, Back to Back on the car stereo. A little over three minutes into the song "Night Flight", I heard a flurry of notes from the very bottom of the saxophone all the way to the top.
It was at this exact moment that I knew I wanted to be able to play like that - with impeccable time, clarity, and sound.
Awestruck and inspired, I felt a burning desire to develop the technique to play like Brecker.
Unfortunately, I came to learn that inspiration alone wasn't enough. Instead of "tearing it up" like my new idol, I found myself running into walls of technical limitation, unable to move the metronome to that next click marking.
Tension Was the Culprit
Over those early years of struggling with my technique, I became more and more aware of how I was carrying tension, not only in my body, but also in my mind. I realized that to play fast, I had to lose the tension. But it was easier said than done.
My Personal Breakthrough
It was one thing to have an awareness of what was holding back my technical skills, but knowing what to do about it was quite another.
Enter my saxophone teacher, Larry Harms, who would forever change the way that I thought about technique. Larry showed me a new approach to quickly and gracefully moving around the horn. I immediately found that this way of practicing technique made sense, and most importantly, delivered results faster than I would have imagined.
All of this was extremely exciting
because I could
instantly see the long term benefits
for my technique
ability to improvise at any tempo.
The Feeling of Finally Hearing Those Blazing-Fast Lines Come Out of My Horn
Within weeks, I was playing with a new level of dexterity and clarity. The tension that was holding me back? Nearly dissolved.
Using both Larry's lessons, as well as the learnings from my own extensive trial-and-error, I've been able to find a level of technique that's given me the tools I need as a busy professional jazz saxophonist.