Special Services

The members of the New York Saxophone Quartet are dedicated and experienced woodwind doublers. We offer programming that not only features the saxophone but the complete woodwind quartet as well. These collective skills enable us to offer an interesting variety and informative presentation to college and university audiences. Master classes and clinics are essential components in our educational outreach for students at all levels of proficiency.

We have studied with the most prominent instrumentalists in the country, and served as faculty in many colleges, universities and public schools. Our individual concepts about performing and teaching are never in conflict with the manner of instruction offered by faculty at any conservatory or university. We do not claim to have the one and only way to achieve a firm foundation in technical approaches or refined musicianship. What we do offer is decades of collective experience as playing professionals.

Our approach is quintessentially American. To quote Phil Woods: “One of the noticeable differences between this quartet and others is the improvisational skill displayed throughout the varied material. . . they play with a truly American pulse”. Therefore, jazz improvisation, knowledge of performance techniques pertaining to commercial music and how best to render it meaningfully are some of our signature capabilities. This does not detract from our skills as legitimate, classically trained instrumentalists. In the beginning of our training we studied and perfected our woodwinds as applied majors, concentrating on each as if it was our primary instrument. This intense study provided the mastery and versatility required to perform music from the Baroque period to contemporary works from the twenty first century. We are intuitive, flexible and sensitive to the specific problems of ensemble playing. For example, if a student is playing clarinet in a woodwind quintet and has studied clarinet and flute, then she is more likely to recognize intonation issues indicative to both instruments: hence, she knows where to place her pitch to match the colleague playing flute. In any collaborative effort there are always compromises. The ease with which an accomplished doubler can ameliorate ensemble problems is an invaluable asset.

One of the main reasons we stress the importance of doubling is that in order to become a desirable commodity in the music business versatility is key. When a musician is flexible and displays a command on all his instruments, he is more likely to be of value and more accessible to contractors who book shows, recording sessions and concert dates. Being available at a moment’s notice to cover an established colleague may reap rewards for future employment. The same holds true when applying for a teaching position. It makes sense that faculty search committees would welcome an individual who could teach all the woodwinds, thus satisfying budgetary constraints.

So, how can our talents in these areas benefit students and professionals seeking guidance within the freelance community---or, do they wish to pursue it at all? What do four established playing professionals have to offer? We surmise the answer is simple. Whatever is put in front of us, it is our job to make it sound right within the musical context presented. Sight-reading is of paramount importance. In the recording business composers and arrangers work within a tight budget and urgent time limitations. They expect immediate results, so studio musicians must play the part correctly, the first time. Therefore they don’t have the luxury of taking the part home to practice for a week. Chances are, they can be replaced if that liability exists. Does this sound like a high-pressured job description? An affirmative response will suffice.

Does this mean anyone pursuing a career as a professional will be offered studio, concert or recording work? No, but opportunities will always exist in areas that cultivate and reward excellence, whether it be working in a show, teaching, mentoring, or performing with smaller chamber ensembles, symphony orchestras and concert bands. Even with cut backs, minimums and economic considerations, New York City is still considered the Mecca of the music industry. With record-breaking attendance, the Broadway theater business continues to prosper. As professionals, we are called upon to rise to every occasion in our effort to make a living and maintain our reputation. We affirm that these attributes will without question motivate and inspire talented students to achieve their goals.

Music students are often curious about making a living as a musician. It is not an easy task to break into and sustain in this enormously competitive industry. However, there is always room for new talent, providing a commitment is made to strive, even in the face of disappointment and sacrifice. Building character and self-esteem are prime ingredients in most creative endeavors.

With dedication and high goal orientation, the sky’s the limit!

Master Classes
Four of New York City’s most renowned concert artists and recording musicians
draw aspiring students and professional saxophonists, adding special value to the
presentation of this versatile ensemble.

Objective: To present a practical and informed overview of problem solving, performance practice, technique and repertoire for the saxophone.

Master Class Format:

• Brief history of the saxophone as a concert and jazz instrument; development of the saxophone quartet as a viable chamber music ensemble

• Sound production: how to play- what to play; embouchure, the ‘overtones’, articulation

• Rehearsal techniques: sight reading, practice routines, rhythmical dexterity exercises

• Stylistic approach: What characterizes an American sound; demonstration by contrast

• Jazz phrasing and inflection: improvisation techniques, selected listening, preconceived melodic ideas and patterns

• What is doubling? how to develop skills as a multi-reed instrumentalist

• Repertoire sources: pieces from the existing ‘classical’ saxophone library and commissioning new works for the saxophone ensemble

• Stage presence: connecting with the audience

Question and Answer/Critique and Adjudication:

• Welcome student observation, questions and comments

• Encourage teacher- professor participation

• Stimulate interest if student quartet is present to perform with the NYSQ

• Collaborate with teacher/professor to implement improvement techniques

• Encourage students to take private lessons, seek out local expertise in the jazz field, stimulate interest in attending concerts, master classes, music competition festivals and recitals

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