We do a lot of lesson videos on this channel to help saxophone players get better, but one of the most valuable things in anybody’s musical journey is access to great mentors and top saxophone players.
Recently, I went out to a bunch of concerts across 3 different countries, and asked some of my favorite saxophonists how they got to where they are today.
What I found out is that there is one key thing they all did and still do, and it’s something everyone here can also do today.
Listen & Learn
The first concert was at the Blue Note in Milan, Italy which is about a 4 hour drive from where I live.
But, it was totally worth the trip to see Bob Reynolds and his band though. We had a great conversation about how important going to concerts was to his development.
But this isn’t the first time we’ve talked like this, you can learn more from Bob Reynolds during this carpool, and in this one about what he learned at Berklee.
Next concert for me was in New York at Dizzy’s Club.
There I heard a band called the Heavy Hitters, which is led by Mike Ledonne. It also includes two more of my favorite saxophone players: Vincent Herring and Eric Alexander. Eric, is also an amazing collaborator with BetterSax, creating several masterful courses for you all.
A few days later I went down to the Village Vanguard to hear the great Ben Wendel and his band. Ben is another good friend of mine, who has tons of great advice on Alitissimo in this video here.
It’s worth noting that these concerts were pretty much all sold out.
Steve Kortyka was also there, he’s another great saxophone player, friend, and teacher in the BetterSax Studio who came along.
New York is a unique city when it comes to music, and after the first set at the Vanguard, Steve and I headed down to the Django in the Roxy Hotel to hear Eric Alexander play.
Study & Practice
Now, while going out to hear live music is definitely one of the best things you can do to improve your musicianship you also have to do a lot of study and practice.
Which is why you’ll want to check out the courses we have available for all levels of saxophone players.
And as I already mentioned, Steve Kortyka and Eric Alexander have both created fantastic courses with BetterSax, so learning from masters is right at your fingertips.
Just by watching, subscribing and liking the videos on the YouTube channel you’re supporting us, but the folks who purchase the courses really make the difference in allowing us to continue to make videos like this one on a regular basis, so thank you very much.
The amount of live music you can go hear in New York in a week is astounding.
On the last day of my trip, my favorite band, the California Honeydrops was playing at Sony Hall – and they even invited me to play a tune with them on stage.
Networking & Connecting
Personally, I have done a lot of studying of music in schools and lessons and from books and recordings. And while I have gained a lot of knowledge from those sources, the thing I have learned the most from is playing live with other musicians. And the gateway to each and every playing experience has always been going to hear live music.
Every band I’ve ever played with, every musical connection I’ve made in my network started with me going out to a show.
All of the most influential moments in time for me musically were at concerts. Sometimes I was playing, but a lot of the time I was just listening.
The moral of the story is that an essential and defining part of being a musician is going to concerts. No matter what kind of music you want to play, the pivotal events in your journey will happen at live shows.
We don’t have epiphanies in the practice room.
Right now, go take a look at what artists you’d like to hear that are playing in your area and buy tickets.
The last concert I went to in this run was by one of the most influential saxophonists of my generation who just happened to be playing in my neighborhood at the Monte Carlo Jazz Festival. He was already mentioned as a huge influence twice in this video. I’m talking about Joshua Redman.
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