Saxophone Forum


by Bibimbop
(53 posts)
10 years ago

Saxophone Methods

I'm curious what method books other people use when teaching beginner students. I tend to use the Teal method books as well as Londeix's "Playing the Saxophone" with my students, but I'm curious what other methods are out there that people have had success with.

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  1. by wesmiller
    (55 posts)

    10 years ago

    Re: Saxophone Methods

    Guess I'm a traditionalist and a minimalist as well. I simply use the Rubank Beginner Book. If you start a beginner out with that book and don't even touch the the band method used in the band class it will work out really well. I use the metronome as a "clock" have the student start out at whatever speed the exercise can be played correctly and slowly increase the speed (for ex. 2-5 clicks). I usually have the student use quarter at 120 as the goal. Just for fun plop that little book down in front of a high school sax player, turn on a metronome at 120 and watch what happens. 9 times out of 10 times they crash and burn. Its not pretty. For whats its worth thats how I start beginners. I like the methods you use but I usually apply them much later. Just my thoughts.


    1. by spottspidermunki
      (55 posts)

      10 years ago

      Re: Saxophone Methods

      amen to the rubank beginner book. granted i'm in HS, but the lack of teachers in the area has given me a few opprutunities to teach. the one thing i hate is for me to teach them out of the band's method book, and the student say "My band director told me to do it like...." and show me something that may help uniformity of sound, but not make the player better. the students i teach cannot grasp "do it like ur director wants in class, but do it my way here" the rubank book helps b/c i can tell them how to properly do things w/out interferance from the directors. don't get me wrong. i value the director's opinion. its just that around here, they learned the "by the book" way to teach sax. its viewed as an obligatory instrument, so not much attention is given to it. plus if the parents want their kid to be taught solely by the director, they'd ask him for lessons. me being in HS isn't quite so bad tho, cuz i'm a current senior, and i'm teaching absolute middle school beginners. so theres nothing advanced in what i'm teaching them. sorry about the long post, i just don't want to offend any directors or teachers or anything. Joel


      1. by wesmiller
        (55 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Saxophone Methods

        Joel: For one so young to be teaching you said a lot of very wise things. Number one YOU ARE TEACHING SAXOPHONE. You are not there to provide a backup service to the band director. Private lessons are for individual, intense focus on the instrument, band class is for a group experience taught in a group setting. Sounds like you are on track. As for offending people. Nothing you said was offensive; it was factual. Too many posts on this site seeth with emotion and that makes them personal, that makes them useless to the reader. Stick to the facts and you will never "offend". You may spark debate; but not anger. Look at some of the posts and you'll see what I mean. BTW one of the services that my company offers is instrumental music classes to schools that can no longer afford to pay for and band director. I am a band director occassionally. I read your post and was impressed. So you never know.


        1. by spottspidermunki
          (55 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Saxophone Methods

          thanks for the compliments. they're much appreciated. i don't mind sparking debate, i was jus afraid of offending people who have degrees or tons of experience in teaching, and here I am giving input. i guess i've just been to too many boards where people are eager to jump on ur back for things said or not said, jus b/c they feel that ur not on their "level". well thanks again for the comments and such Joel


        2. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Saxophone Methods

          Sometime, Grahs-hah-pa, the teacha learn from the student...


        3. by wesmiller
          (55 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Saxophone Methods

          Right on the nosey.


      2. by sax_maniac
        (984 posts)

        10 years ago

        Re: Saxophone Methods

        Hey Bib! How's things on the banks of the Red Cedar? Ditto on the blue books. The intermediate books and advanced I & II are fantastic, with lesson plans in all books. The books are cheap, too. To this day, I continue to use my blue books. You'd have to be a pretty hot shit "PhD in performance" to not be challenged by the Advanced books. Gotta get both I & II, though. And then there's Rubank's Selected Studies, which are great for intermediate/advanced students - it's like Bach's Well Tempered Klavier for saxophone. Two pieces in every key - major and minor. They are not simple articulation exercises - actually they are quite lyrical and of festival solo quality in many regards. There are even phrases that could be extracted for beginners in some circumstances. As soon as they tell you that the blue books are boring, whip out the Selected Studies book. It'll shut 'em up and keep 'em up at night practicing. Also, a student can help themselves along with the lesson plan in case you have to skip a lesson here or there. These books are good practice for both teacher and student.


        1. by Bibimbop
          (53 posts)

          10 years ago

          Re: Saxophone Methods

          I do use the selected studies as etudes for my students, and I find them to be helpful. I always keep the students challenged but not to the point were they're clawing their eyes out because it's too difficult. Funny story... I was teaching a band camp at a smaller school at which kids never had private lessons before. Well we offered a free lesson sign up for one evening that kids could come and get a free lesson. Well, this one girl came into the lesson and I gave her a piece to sightread. So I put the metronome at 60 and she says to me, "Oh... I don't need that. I'm an ADVANCED student" Needless to say, I feel the metronome is very important for students. Anyway... There's a great book by John Harle of short transcribtions called the "Classical Album" (Mozart, Brahms, etc.). I use these as etudes for middle schoolers, and they also come with piano accompaniment. The problem I tend to run into with alot of method books is that they do not supplement their lessons with musical examples from good music. That's why I like books like the classical album. Saxophone students need to play more music like Brahms and Mozart, especially at the beginning age, so they develop a greater sense of musicality... because they won't get it from playing alot of the methods that are out there. Also, what kind of repertoire to you think is good for beginning and middle school age students?


          1. by wesmiller
            (55 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Saxophone Methods

            I hate to sound like a broken record but here goes. I stick with those Rubank Methods. You can easily add duets from any number of sources to supplement the lessons. Kids and adults LOVE duets. I have yet to meet the student that will turn down a duet. Those Rubank Methods are old school: they focus on rhythm, time, reading, counting etc. Admittedly, they are not prettied up; but I stand by my guns and keep the student and the parent on track with where the lessons are headed. Another way to view what I am saying is don't focus on the present, focus on the future. Where is each student going. Develop a plan, even for the 4th and 5th graders, so that they understand why you are having them go through these exercises and scales. when they understand they will respond and the books become a challenge to be overcome and not a weekly nightmare. It is important to supplement . As I said before I use duets. And as the students progress solos. This is just my approach, and a little of my philosophy. My retention rate is very high; it is not unusual for a student to start with me in 5th grade and go to 12 th grade. This approach may not work for everyone. Interested to see what the rest of you have to say and to offer me in the way of advice.


          2. by Bibimbop
            (53 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Saxophone Methods

            I've used the Rubank Methods, and have found them to be successful. I've just felt the need to supplement them with other sources so that the lessons they learn in the Rubank book can be put into context. I haven't been teaching long, but I have maintained a high retention rate so far. I think that has to do more with the teachers personality. I just wanted to see what else that's out there that has worked for other people. I have had a few students that do not respond well to the Rubank books and other methods have worked better for them, and on the other hand I've had students respond very well to them. I completely agree with the planned approach, and to set goals even for beginner students. I am always looking for new etudes and methods because every student has different needs and I want them to have a successful experience with the saxophone.


          3. by saxmaniac
            (19 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Saxophone Methods

            I'm surprised no one has mentioned the DeVille book Universal Method, it's like the sax bible. It's liek 300 pages and goes from how to make a reed/hold the horn all the way the famous concertos. It's got everything students need (and isnt watered down like these books today) like finger excersises, scales, duets, solos, all kinds of stuff. Check it out, it's an awesome book.


          4. by wesmiller
            (55 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Saxophone Methods

            I've used the the Deville more as a resource than an ongoing method. The reason being is that it is simply too long. As you pointed out it is like a sax bible. The bible is very long and highly detailed. From the standpoint of the student it seems an eternity to make progress in that book. One way to acccomplish a lot of the Deville goals, at least from a technical position is to use the Klose Method. He seeminlgy "lifted" exercies from the Deville anyway, and the Klose is much shorter. However, you can have the student spend as long as necessary on each page. Its a mind game we (teachers) play with the student. The book (Klose) looks short therefore it can be completed quickly; not always true. The Deville looks huge because it is huge. From the stand point of the student there is no foreseeable "light at the end of the tunnel".


          5. by wesmiller
            (55 posts)

            10 years ago

            Re: Saxophone Methods

            Function over form will always win. Thats how some teachers with abrasive personalities become very succesful and highly sought after. We can all come up with at least 5 names of high profile teachers in the US that fit that profile. I guess that for me those methods are it and you can supplement all you want. But they serve the function.