Tag Archives: Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound

Master Lessons for the Creative Musician by Bruce Mishkit

Master Lessons for the Creative Musician by Bruce MishkitThis is a short review of the Bruce MishkitMaster Lessons For The Creative Musician (Published 2005). This book was originally published by Warner Bros. Publications in 1994, as Sax/Flute Lessons with the Greats. The book includes an audio CD with lesson examples.
As I remember, I read excerpts from this book back in the nineties in Saxophone Journal published by Dorn Pub., and I wished to buy it back then. Finally I bought it a couple of years ago directly from Bruce.

After a short foreword, the book is divided in seven chapters: Ernie Watts, Lenny Picket, Hubert Laws, Paquito D’Rivera, David Liebman, Joe Lovano and in the final chapter Bruce Mishkit shares some useful insights on jazz theory (scales/chords). Each chapter includes useful examples/exercises/fingering charts for altissimo, which are also recorded, so they can be listened to on the accompanying audio CD. In every lesson those six masters share their insights on technique, tone production, practicing, improvisation, pedagogy, doubling and their own thoughts on the music business. Every lesson is very special and individual. If I had to choose my favorite lessons from the book, those would be the one with Ernie Watts (insightful thoughts on life and business), Hubert Laws (great for flute players, saxophone players doubling on flute) and Dave Liebman, which I’m familiar with through his book Developing A Personal Saxophone Sound

I would highly recommend this book to every saxophone/flute or woodwind player, no matter if jazz or classical. The book is affordable ($32 – $36, depending on shipping location), and can be bought directly from Bruce’s website.
Keep on practicing! 😉

Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound by Dave Liebman

Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound by Dave LiebmanDeveloping A Personal Saxophone Sound by Dave Liebman is the book which changed my life regarding saxophone playing. I got this book in December 1996 and started reading thoroughly sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter. At that time I already had a degree in classical saxophone from the Zagreb Music Academy and played professionally for four years in the Croatian Army Wind Orchestra, Big Band and in some jazz combos and pop bands. My embouchure and approach were based on French school classical saxophone playing (heavily influenced by Claude Delangle) and when I played jazz I just tried to be more relaxed (now I see that really wasn’t possible). But I realized that this approach really did not work for me regarding sound and flexibility, and I constantly had a sore lower lip, so I couldn’t go on like this anymore and I had to change. I was kind of afraid to do it, but I decided to sound and feel comfortable when I play or I would abandon playing so I had to do it and I began to change my entire approach to the instrument based upon this book. I can’t say that everything was wrong: my tongue position, breathing and vibrato were more or less fine, but my embouchure was definitely wrong. Also I have to admit that studying classical helped me to understand sound focus, precise and clear execution needed for classical playing and musical thinking from the classical aesthetic point of view. Anyway, I will not go into details, but from the first day I felt like I released the car handbrake, although it took me a year to get rid of the bad habits and the evil spirits sometimes even reappeared years after. I had to do it on the move because I had to play in a band and had no time to take a break until it settled, but I made it.

Years later I was fortunate enough to spend an evening with Dave, during his visit to Zagreb, talking about all that stuff and music in general in a relaxed and pleasant conversation, and tell him how much his book helped me.

This book is based on the Joe Allard school of saxophone playing and I have tried to find useful information about this school whenever I have the chance and also from watching this video The Master Speaks – Joe AllardThe opinions other people have about the book read on SOTW forum. Another great book I use as a supplement is Sigurd Rascher’s Top-Tones for the Saxophone: Four-Octave Range.

In Croatia that French school of classical saxophone playing is kind of official approach to teaching saxophone in music schools, but there are a few of my colleagues and students who have become interested in the Joe Allard school, after having similar problems as I had.

Finally I have to say that with Joe Allard school I feel comfortable in classical, jazz or any other style, I just have to change the sound imagination and mouthpiece to facilitate this.