The Sax came out of the boot of the car about once a week, basically whenever I was on my own for an hour or so, but I still couldn’t get a proper sound out of it.
This wasn’t going according to plan; I had fully expected to just pick it up and start playing. I’m pretty musical, can play the piano yet never had a proper lesson; surely it should have been the same with the Sax. Yet no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get the hang of it!
I figured I had two options, either have lessons or get rid of it.
If I had lessons, it would be expensive, my wife didn’t even know I had the bloody thing, how was I going to get away with having lessons without her knowing? Impossible!
Only one thing to do, get rid of it!
I went down to a music shop in Ilford one Saturday morning and said I had a Selmer Mk V1 for sale. The shopkeeper was excited.
“A Selmer? Wow, have you got it with you?”
“Yeh it’s in the car, I’ll go get it”
I returned about ten minutes later with the magical Sax. The shopkeeper opened the case and his eyes lit up.
“How much do you want for it?”
“I decided to go for broke.
“That’s a bit steep even for a Selmer, how about £400?”
I couldn’t believe it; I’d only had it for a month and was going to make £150. I pretended to look disappointed.
“Ok then, I was hoping for a bit more but yep £400”
I walked out of the shop feeling really pleased with myself; I later found out that the shopkeeper sold it for £650 the following week!
I decided to put my passion for owning a Saxophone on the back burner for a while. But it re-emerged almost twenty years later.
I was approaching my fortieth birthday; my new wife had always known of my love of the Sax and decided to give me with a special present. I arrived home after work one evening a few days before my Birthday and she told me she had a surprise for me. I walked into the front room and saw the case on the sofa, I have to admit, I did shed a tear.
I opened the case and saw the most beautiful Tenor Saxophone laying there. It came with a training manual, a CD, a DVD in fact everything needed to be able to play. This time it would be different, I was not a kid anymore, this time I would take it seriously and learn to play it. In fact I made my mind up, I wouldn’t just play it, I would play it well, I would become a master of the instrument just like my heroes. I would go on tour, probably play the Albert Hall one day, people would come from all over the world to hear me play. Yes, this time would be different!
I didn’t touch it for a few days, then, when the house was quiet I decided to get going.
I put on the DVD and took the Sax from its case. The instructional DVD showed how to place the reed properly onto the mouthpiece, how to hold the instrument so that you didn’t have to lean over to play it and most importantly how to blow it so that you got a note out of it!
I put the mouthpiece to my lips as instructed; I rested it on my bottom lip, pressed down gently with my top lip and blew. This time it didn’t sound like a strangled cat, the problem was it also didn’t sound like a Saxophone, it sounded as though someone had just trodden on our dogs squeaky toy!
But I kept at it, day after day, so much so that my wife wished she had never given me the damn thing. I had a routine, as soon as Eastenders came on; I would go into the kitchen and practice for half an hour. After a few months I could play the scales, not well, but I could play them. Time to take it to the next level!
I found a Saxophone teacher in Rainham, I went to see him. He had an office in a derelict looking building just by Rainham marshes. It was well off the beaten track, the office block had about 200 rooms in it. Only six were occupied. It was a seven story building and the lift didn’t work and yes, you’ve guessed it, he was on the seventh floor!
He was a large scruffy looking man in his fifties. He said that he played in a jazz band and had played Sax since he was 12. He said he had an important question to ask me.
“What exactly do you want out of these lessons?”
“To learn to play the Sax of courses and to be able to play it well”
“Exactly how well?”
It was time to tell him my dreams.
“I am forty now, by the time I am fifty I want to be appearing at the Jazz Café playing Tenor Sax, that’s how well I want to play it!”
He looked rather puzzled.
“You must be of quite a high standard already then; I’ve been playing for forty years and haven’t got to that standard yet, Ok, let’s see what you can do!”
I think it was then that it suddenly dawned on me that I might not make my goal after all.
I took hold of the Sax and played the scales, badly!
The instructor sat back in his chair.
“We have a long way to go; I would suggest three lessons a week, its £20 per lesson!”
We shook hands and made arrangements for two evening lessons and one on Saturday mornings.
This was becoming rather expensive.