…And All That Jazz!

I think I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to sound like a dry martini.

Paul Desmond
American jazz Saxophonist

Music has always been somewhat elusive to me, partly because I didn’t really grow up with it, but mostly because I don’t see myself as a particularly “musical” person. I decided to change that a few years ago.

There’s something so evocative about Jazz and the whole Jazz scene. For me, Jazz almost defies definition. There are many types and styles of Jazz and as we get further and further away from its beginnings, the many elements fuse together to simply add to the confusion. Jazz was more of a separate entity years ago, but now we have Jazz Fusion, Latin Jazz, Acid Jazz among many others.

Perhaps the most important and most difficult element to master is improvisation - the ability to compose, edit, revise and perform on the spot. This ability to improvise is an incredibly complex procedure that encompasses every element of music. It is what makes Jazz, Jazz. Whilst Jazz is not alone in using improvisation, it does employ it to a far greater extent than any other style of music. Through improvisation, the individual player expresses himself/herself at that very moment.

I guess that’s why I decided to learn to play the saxophone. Not only is it cool, but it’s also really difficult to master. However, not just anyone can play the saxophone. First, you'll have to actually buy one. Having done so, you'll need to correctly determine which end to blow into. Then you'll need to fit your dog with better ear defenders. You might also find you need to shop for a replacement family after a few weeks. So short of being expensive, potentially embarrassing and not for the faint of heart, the saxophone is definitely an acquired taste.

I took up the saxophone in early February 2012, with no prior experience of music at all. I was fortunate to come across an extremely talented teacher, Rusne Mikiskaite. I’m as enthusiastic about my teacher and her teaching ability as I am about my saxophone. Somehow, Rusne makes musical vocabulary and obscure words such as “minim”, “crotchet” and “quavers” make sense in my non-musical mind. Rusne was intuitive enough to understand that after four weeks of playing Frère Jacques and Jingle Bells, I was highly unlikely to remain committed unless she taught me some cool, contemporary tunes. I can’t recommend her enough. You can find more information on her website.

Playing the saxophone or any musical instrument in fact, requires a lot of discipline. This is remains an on-going experiment for me. In the next year, I hope to be to perform solo, without looking at a music sheet. Eventually, I'd like to perform live with a band, but my ultimate goal is to be able to improvise.

I love the saxophone because the sound, look and feel of it really captures my imagination; that alone makes me feel so happy!