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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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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