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10 Things Only Saxophone Players Would Understand

10 Things Only Saxophone Players Would Understand

This article is dedicated to my fellow musicians who play saxophone, and more specifically to those who view it as their life. The reasons why we started playing saxophone are endless, ranging from because we loved the sound that it created, to just because we admired how shiny it was. Whether you started playing saxophone 50 years ago or yesterday, you are a part of this exclusive group.

Here are ten common things that saxophone players can relate to:

1. You Have Attempted To Play ‘Careless Whisper’

This song is most commonly recognized more by its tune than its title. Every single one of us has either tried to play it or has listened to the song and thought to ourselves that that is what we sound like when we play. We are used to people asking us to play it for them. We are also used to people asking us if we have watched the Sexy Sax Man play ‘Careless Whisper’ as a prank on YouTube. The answer is: yes, and I never want to watch that video again.

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2. You Have a Hard Time Standing Still While Playing

When I play saxophone for performances, I never sit. Standing is more professional-looking, but it also gives me the freedom to really get into my music. Saxophone players never stand still while playing. We move from side to side, and sometimes bend forward if it’s a really high note or we want to emphasize a note. We are entranced by the music we play, and our passion for those moments shine through when we perform.

3. You Have Nightmares About Playing Six Flats

Saxophone players don’t play flats very often. I mean, we mostly never play flats unless we are playing in F major or B flat major keys. We are most comfortable playing sharps. Since we don’t have much experience playing in those wasteland keys, when we look at a key signature and spot more than two flats, we get a most uneasy feeling in our gut. But since we usually don’t play flats, most commonly that scenario only occurs during a nightmare.

4. You Need Space

When I played the baritone sax, I had a story to tell for every dent I had punctured in that thing. Although I tell the stories in a humorous light, every time I have bumped my saxophone on something I have died a little inside. For those of you who play the smaller saxophones (soprano and alto), you understand that when I say you need space, I mean that you need space so that nothing ever touches a key on your precious saxophone. But for those of you who play the beast saxophones (tenor and specifically baritone) you understand that as meaning, “If I don’t have space, I can’t move.” Fellow band members who don’t take you seriously when you say this, will probably take you seriously after you have died a little inside.

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5. You Have a Large Lung Capacity

Depending on how high of a number your reed is, the air that you blow into your saxophone varies. Even if you are still on a Rico two and a half, you are still going to have to give it a generous amount of your carbon dioxide. To make it through a song, musicians learn how to breathe from their diaphragm. Although that helps, the song ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ is going to be the death of me (the saxophone holds tied whole notes for the majority of the song)!

6. Your Cork Grease Gets Mistaken for Chap Stick

Does this scenario sound familiar? You say, “Mom, I need chap stick.” Mom says, “I just saw some in your room.” You reply saying, “Uh, that’s cork grease.” Or how about when you reach your hand back behind you for your chap stick during band practice, and accidentally grab the cork grease and carelessly rub it all over your lips. It’s OK; they look a lot alike.

7. Your Reed Defines Your Day

Having a reed crack ruins your day. Reeds are expensive, plus it takes time to break another one in. The taste of a new reed is not appealing either. To be honest, reeds are the main reason I have trust issues. When a reed squeaks, that means it basically just gave me permission to hate it. Also, saying, “No, I don’t have any reeds left,” to a reed-less saxophone player is the biggest lie ever.

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8. Your Relationship Status With Your Neck Strap Is Complicated

Your neck strap doesn’t always have your back. We all have been punched in the chin while adjusting our neck strap. Plus your next strap really does leave a mark on you. After playing, we all feel self-conscious about how red our neck looks- not to mention that neck strap tan line from marching band practice. But at the end of the day, your neck strap sometimes manages to stay with you. Like when you put your saxophone away and realize that you never took the neck strap off. If you don’t admit to doing that, you are lying.

9. You Are Louder Than Everyone Else

Your band director is always reminding you to play quieter so everyone can hear the clarinets. That doesn’t make any sense to us, because we always claim that we have the melody. Since high numbered reeds take more air, it is really difficult to balance your air input and volume. Maybe the reason why saxophones cannot participate in orchestras is because playing soft is not our forte.

10. Your Own Spit Drips on You

Walking out of the bathroom with toilet paper attached to your shoe may actually not be as embarrassing as walking around school with a wet spot on your pants. Although usually the spit drains out of the bell of the saxophone (spit valve for baritone sax), unfortunately it sometimes manages to leak through the lower key buttons. This phenomenon happens unexpectedly, and cannot be prevented.

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Featured photo credit: Flickr (Creative Commons) zoetnet via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 17, 2019

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

Listen carefully:

We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

1. Pray Daily

You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

3. Smile Often

Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

4. Organize Your Working Desk

A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

How do you do that? This is my formula:

First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

8. Go Exercise

Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

The Bottom Line

It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

More Resources About Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

Reference

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