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Fraser's Silly Rules

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    ONLINE LESSONS > Fraser's Silly Rules

This Online Lesson is (c) , Ryan Fraser. All right reserved. NO COMMERCIAL DISTRIBUTION.

What good would life be without rules? As my students have discovered over the years, there are a few simple rules by which to live:

Rule #1: Don't be a weenie!

For most students, especially beginners, the tendancy is to try and play as quietly as possible....after all, you don't want anybody else to hear your mistakes, right? Wrong! Always play out! Most people learn to play quietly by not having very much air support. Always fill up your lungs as much as possible. (You already read the lesson on breathing, right?)

Poor air support gives you poor tuning, poor tone, and even makes your technique sound bad. Besides, who wants to look at a person on stage who looks really scared to be heard? Trust me. Don't be a weenie. PLAY OUT!

Rule #2: Be Lazy!

That's right...be lazy! Most music teachers shudder whenever I mention this in a workshop. (On the other hand, most students start to look really, really happy!) Now, before you leap to any drastic conclusions, here is what I mean: Don't waste any more energy than necessary to play the saxophone. Let me repeat this more emphatically:

Don't waste any more energy than necessary to play the saxophone!
Why, you ask? Well, for starters, if you want to do nothing but spend your entire day playing the saxophone, raise your hand. Uh-huh. I thought so. Those of you who were silly enough to raise your hands...you will destroy your muscles and your mind if all you do is play saxophone non-stop. More on that in another lesson. LEARN TO BE EFFICIENT You need to have a highly effective & productive practise session EVERY TIME. Don't make your life more difficult than it needs to be.

On another level, being lazy also applies to you physically - let's take your posture, for example. Slouch, and tilt your head to the side, and take a big, big breath through your mouth. Now, sit up straight with your best possible posture, just like your Mom always bugged you to. (If your mom didn't, I'm sure mine would be happy to help!) Notice something? It should be much easier to breathe with good posture. Now, try holding your slouching position for any long length of time. Notice something else? It takes a heck of a lot more work to sit or stand with bad posture than it does with good posture. So if you can breathe better, and spend less effort doing it, why waste the energy to slouch and have bad posture? This rule applies to a whole bundle of situations, more than I have space to talk about here. Look for them to creep into other lessons!

Rule #3: You have to really, really, really suck at something before you can become very, very, very good.

Guess what? Most of us like to be perfect. Well, get over it. . . you ain't perfect. Yet.

Developing skill at anything, including your saxophone takes time, sweat, and practise. I want you to take a second, and think of one thing that you are really, really good at. Now, think about how good you were at it the very first time you tried it. Can't remember? Most of us block out that first day from our minds as soon as we can. Odds are, it wasn't a very pretty scene. Think back to the time that you first learned to ride a bicycle. Most of us still have a scar somewhere on our body to remind us of that first attempt.

Playing saxophone is going to be maddening, frustrating, annoying, and down right revolting (but mainly to your neighbours!) for the first little while. But then its going to get rapidly better and better, until, believe it or not (!!) it might even be really fun and rewarding and enjoyable. But it takes time. You just need the patience to stick through all of the other stuff. Don't worry, it will get better if you spend the time on it. But don't go around kicking yourself for being a failure until you've been at it a while. Think in terms of months and years, not days and weeks. Better than that, record yourself once a month, and go back a year later and listen to yourself. You'll hear the improvement - and you'll be amazed!

Rule #0: I can't teach you anything! Neither can anybody else!

Oh no! Why is there a rule number zero? Call it my tribute to Issac Asimov. (If you haven't a clue as to why, go read Asimov. Lots and lots of Asimov.) More importantly, rule number zero is the most important rule of all. And, probably the wierdest.

You see, my theory is that all that your teacher can do is give you all of the right tools to learn. It's up to you to try and make use of them. You must become your own teacher. We can give you the resources, but it is totally up to you to make the most of them. Besides, if all your teacher does is spoon-feed you information, you won't ever become better than they are. And then the quality of saxophone playing in the world will never, ever improve. Good teachers will start off by giving you lots of information, and expect and demand you to put it to use. Eventually, every teacher's responsibility should be to become completely irrelevant to your life. Your teacher should become just one more resource for you to use to become a better person, or a better player. Even a better teacher. If you can't teach yourself, you can't help anybody else, can you?!

    ONLINE LESSONS > Fraser's Silly Rules

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