The first instrument that I learned to play was the piano. I practiced 30 min every day no matter what for years. My first piano teacher taught me to play by ear. I can remember those early years when I would put a record on my parents record player in the living room and try to play along. I can remember being sent home with a tape of some basic music and being assigned to be able to play it when I returned. It was awesome training. My first music teacher also taught me to read music. I was only the second kid in my class at school that knew how to read music.
In 5th grade I picked up the saxophone. My teacher was the middle school band teacher Mr. Morton. He took tons of time with me. I may have only practiced the piano for 30 min a day, but I spent hours a day playing the saxophone. I honestly don’t know how my parents were able to take the sounds. My parents only had to put up with the sounds coming out of my saxophone for a short time each day. I practiced at the middle school from the time school let out until my Grandmother picked me up after school.
The saxophone got me really involved in music. I was in the middle school band starting in 6th grade. I was the only 6th grader that got to be in the Jazz band which was reserved for 8th graders. Mr. Morton turned me on to Jazz, I started listening to all of the Jazz greats. I also was involved in every solo and ensemble competition that I was able to do.
In 7th grade I was able to get one of my best friends to join the band with me. We used to stay up late at his house on nights before competitions and practice our solos. I’m sure his parents were quite pleased with us, but they never said a word.
The summer before 8th grade I got to trade in my beginner saxophone on the one in the picture. It was a huge improvement. Beginner horns just do not allow you to have the tone that you can get with a professional horn. The action is quicker, and they are just set up to be way more playable. I have played this horn for 15 years. It was one of the best investments that my parents ever made in me.
I played saxophone all the way though high school. I played in marching band for all four years of high school. I was the only freshman that got to play 1st Alto Sax in the marching band. Then I was the only freshman in years that got to sit 1st Alto Sax in concert band. The next year I was lucky enough to move up to symphonic band, where I again made 1st chair Alto Sax. In high school in addition to playing in the marching band, concert band, and symphonic band, I also played in jazz band, and the basketball pep band.
In high school I also picked up playing guitar. My first guitar was a Fender American Strat. I played that thing till my fingers bled. It is an awesome guitar. For high school graduation my parents bought me a Martin HD-28. This is my favorite guitar.
In college I stopped playing the saxophone for the most part. I played saxophone in a ska band for a little while, but really did not click with the guys. I also tried playing saxophone in the basketball pep band, but I had a class when they met for rehersals. So I kind of stopped playing saxophone for awhile. My Martin HD-28 was my instrument of choice though college.
College was an amazing time. I was a political science and history major, but the majority of my time was spent with a few music majors that I met during orientation. I played my guitar in their dorm rooms and really did not study much…
These days I play a lot of saxophone, piano, guitar, and uke for my daughter. She loves listening to me play music. We also listen to a lot of music. As a parent I feel that I have to teach her as much as possible about music. I am trying to expose her to a broad array of music ranging from classical, jazz, blues, rock, country etc. I hope that she will be able to find the joy though music that I have been able to find. I fear that my daughter will never get the formal music education in public schools that I did because of budget cuts. Music is always one of the first things that goes in schools.