Why No Sax??

Why no Sax?
Many people will notice that there is no offering for sax in the Vista Heights Beginning Bands.  While this may seem to be an omission, it is actually by design.  The reasons Mr. Lemen does not offer sax in the beginning band program are many, and are varied from purely musical to making sure kids have the most possible opportunities.
Simply put, sax has become a very popular instrument for young students.  Therefore, it very frequently requested.  Unfortunately, when trying to make a band sound good, an abundance of saxes is the last thing we need.  Lets just say that we have a nice, large band of around 80 students.  That band will need approximately 20 or so clarinets to sound good.  If the band has any more than 2-3 alto saxes, they will completely overbalance the band and will not sound good at all.  If all of the students that wanted to play sax actually started on sax, most would never have the opportunity to be in the top band.  In fact, less than 20% would have that opportunity.  By playing clarinet, they at least have the chance to play clarinet in the top band (where they would have a much better chance of making the band) and sax in the jazz band (where a large sax section is not only acceptable, but also encouraged).
Secondly, starting on clarinet gives the future sax player some skills that are going to help them to become a stronger sax player.  The clarinet embouchure (the muscles that hold the mouthpiece) requires a bit more firmness than teh sax embouchure to get a sound.  Developing this on the clarinet will greatly enhance the ability of the player once the move to sax is made.  Of course, there are exceptions, but the majority of the time, the best payers I have had on sax over the past 15 years of teaching have all started on the clarinet.  The students who start on sax with no clarinet background tend to struggle more often than not and, unless they study privately, end up getting behind.
I realize that this may be asking you to play an instrument other than your first choice.  However ,the end benefits will be well worth it.  If you have any further questions, please feel free to email me or to contact me by telephone (email is best).
Mr. Lemen

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