If I’m being perfectly honest, I haven’t played saxophone in over a year. Or at least, that was the case until a few weeks ago.
And when I finally picked up my saxophone again it felt so good. It felt so natural and comfortable. I was sure I was going to have so much trouble playing. I felt like I had forgotten everything I had ever learnt. And I had forgotten a lot of things, but given a bit of time, they started coming back to me in fits and starts. I actually wasn’t that bad, compared to where I had left off, although that may be saying more about how good I was to begin with rather than how bad I’ve become. After playing for a little while I found myself falling into a lot of my old fallacies, that I had worked so hard in the last year or so of my playing to try and erase, like my floundering of fingering and playing what I expect not what the sheet music actually says. But all in all, I think I’m really only a few months of solid practice from where I left off.
I was always complemented for my “beautiful” tone. The luscious depth of the tenor saxophone was always my favourite thing about it, and was why I was so happy that I was saddled with it as opposed to the more high-pitched, cheery and melodious (as in, they always get to play the melodies) alto saxophone. When people have asked me about choosing an instrument, I’ve always been sure to warn them of the fact that playing in a band, playing a deeper, bass instrument like tenor sax or trombone, you’re always going to end up the “um-pa-pa” to someone else’s “la-di-da”. But that’s okay. The worst part about that is that it’s really hard to practice an essentially band-based backing part on your own, which means, unless you’re dedicated, it’s hard to be motivated to practice.
But then there are those times that you live and play for. Those times where it all comes together. When you’re playing your part, and you find yourself engulfed in this sound that is so amazing and so much bigger than any individual sitting around you. You’re no longer a band of musicians (or amateurs), you’re a source of music. Because that’s the thing that you realise, playing in a band: What a group of people, working together, in sync, can produce is so much greater and more fulfilling (at least for me, anyway) than what one can achieve on their own. Every part is important, and with the right song, every player gets to shine through. You know the “um-pa-pa” is there because you hear it, and really, what would a “la-di-da” be without something to back it up and fill it out.
Playing my sax that little bit has made me crave the good-old days back in band so much. The reason I picked up my saxophone again, after so long away was a number of things, but primarily it was because my brother had just started learning trombone, and I wanted to join in. We had a great time, playing together, and I look forward to doing it again.
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