I was delighted to be asked to entertain at Jack Barclay Bentley for the launch of the new Bentley Supercar at their showrooms in Berkeley Square, Mayfair, London. The sounds of Chilled Ibiza worked perfectly, allowing everyone to talk but still get the atmosphere of modern upmarket saxophone.
Author: steve turner
Online lessons – the benefits and the pitfalls!
With Covid still about i am offering online lessons if you don’t want face to face lessons (my studio is covid safe and i take every precaution to keep myself and my students safe), I have made a video showing the benefits of taking online lessons or zoom lessons https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rFMKeK89MY and I hope it is maybe something you can consider. This is not about teachers boosting turnover, it is about the damage that a lack of inspiration may cause and it may have been a while since you last had a lesson. Would be awful for you to give up after all the effort and time you have invested!
You may of course still be playing and practicing lots on your own, in which case, carry on and keep up the good work.
It’s all about practice which means Long Tones and Scales. See my teaching page https://www.steveturner.info/saxophone-tuition/
Steve takes 15 students into the studio with a live band.
This was the 4th time Steve Turner teaching has taken students to a studio to ‘Jam’ with a live band. 15 students were invited to progress their tuition to the next level by playing with a real band at this Student sax jamming session (next stage up from backing tracks). The first half covered classic Soul Songs such as ‘In The Midnight Hour’, ‘I Feel Good’ and ‘Knock on Wood’. The second half consisted of Blues, Swing and Rock and Roll songs with the students improvising along with the band. These Student sax jamming session are available to all current students on a quarterly basis. Video here
Skype sax lessons from the comfort of your own home
I have been approached many times by students seeking lessons from all over the country, so I have now started taking Skype sax lessons. This means you can have private one on one lessons with me from anywhere in the world. If you are busy, have a lunchtime lesson!
Payment is via paypal or bank transfer and no need to leave the comfort of your house.
I have high definition cameras and professional microphones so its almost like being in the room with me.
email email@example.com for more details.
I have been attending lessons with Steve for about a year after previously studying a ‘classic’ portfolio which, whilst beneficial, wasn’t taking me in the direction I wanted to go. It’s probably fair to say that if I hadn’t met Steve I would have given up the sax.
Steve is very knowledgeable both in practice and theory and brings a phenomenal amount of experience to each lesson.
He is very generous with his time, incredibly patient and encouraging – my family say they have noticed a vast improvement in my playing / confidence since working with him.
He has a great sense of humour which I find very appealing.
In my opinion he is more than a tutor; he’s a great musical friend.
I hadn’t played my saxophone for (at least) 18 years when I, nervously, arrived for my first lesson with Steve Turner. He put me instantly at ease and had me laughing within minutes!
His knowledge, enthusiasm and passion for music is impressive and his teaching style is so exciting and uplifting, that I came away absolutely buzzing.
I enjoy my lessons immensely! He is endlessly patient and encouraging and my confidence is growing steadily under his instruction.
Steve is not your average teacher, he is something truly special…he even makes learning scales enjoyable!
Skype sax lessons with Steve Turner
Japan Tour 2015
Japan Solo Tour 2015
I was approached by a lovely agent in Southampton and asked if I would be interested in a 30+ gig tour in Japan – well that’s a big yes then! Last time I was in Japan was 2006 with Madness and whilst it was amazing fun, I did not get to see much of Japan as it was a whistle-stop tour.
I arrived in Tokyo after a 12 hour flight and was driven 4 hours into the centre of Japan to the Barakura English Garden which is near Suwa but in the middle of the country up in the mountains.
When I arrived late in the evening, all the staff had waited after work to welcome me and I felt honoured as they all came to greet me like I was royalty 🙂
My gigs were usually in a huge Marque in the gardens and generally fully attended by approx. 150 Japanese tourists consisting of what seemed like many sax players (one guy came back 5 times on the trot to watch me play). After every gig I signed autographs and posed for photos for at least 30 mins, made me feel very honoured.
Only 2 people I met spoke any English and all the signs and menus were in Japanese so I have no idea what I ate generally but all the food was amazing. I was treated to a traditional Japanese dinner where I was the guest of honour at a delicious 12 course meal.
I also played in the gardens during candlelight suppers, a strange experience playing acapella with loads of spotlights on me.
During my 2 week stay I played 33 solo gigs to packed audiences, had dinner with the Ambassador and made many good friends. I have been invited back for 2016 and hopefully can go with my son Mike who plays piano.
The Japanese know how to promote gigs properly, there were posters of me everywhere.
looking forward to next year 🙂
Things You Do For Love
A surprise for the Bride
9 months ago I had a new student Kev arrive for his first ever lesson. His reason for wanting to play was that he was getting married and wanted to play a song for his wife at the wedding. Well it just goes to show what Love, hard work and dedication can achieve. Yesterday Mrs Pierce and the hundred or so guests at their wedding were treated to Kev’s first performance of A Thousand Years by Cristina Perri. Amazing that you can learn to play from memory in such a short time, under such pressure and play beautifully too.
It was quite amusing teaching Kev as on many occasions his fiancée Lucy would phone him during a lesson and I had to keep quiet whilst he made excuses for where he was. They went shopping for suitcases for the honeymoon and couldn’t fit them into the boot of the car because his sax was there – when asked what it was Kev replied that it was a diagnostic tool for his work!
Quite amazingly I had another student start lessons the same week as Kev with the same reason behind it but he hasn’t set the date yet.
We can achieve anything we want if we set our minds to it.
Inspiring Sax Lessons
As a pro musician and teacher, I often come across demoralised students who would love to learn an instrument, but are put off by traditional and boring teachers. I always try to offer inspiring sax lessons and make music fun for adults and children alike and so i was thrilled to recieve this message from a student who lacked the confidence to perform
“Hi there Steve – Had to email you!
So after I went home from our lesson – I had to stop by my parent’s house to collect stuff from the weekend. When I got there they asked me to play a tune for them as I had my sax with me. As you know normally I would be dead against this – But was on a high from my lesson (utterly blaming you for this whole thing) and so I indulged them with a rendition of Moon River, while they were in the garden.
Played it all through with no problems (squeak free) and can you believe it – as soon as I finished there was this massive roar of applause! Unbeknownst to me all the neighbours in the street were out in their gardens and heard the whole thing!! They were cheering and whooping! Well blow me down!
Mum said that she couldn’t believe how much I have improved – they thought it was amazing!”
This is some homework sent to me from my students mother – he is 11 years old
Lessons available for keen students click here for Teaching Page
Best Sax Teacher About – frankiesax
As a beginner i wasted the first 8 months with other teachers before meeting Steve Turner. In the last 16 months with Steves encouragement and guidance (and a lot of hard work) I am now playing on stage with proper musicians. Likeable and modest about his achievements in the sax world, he has a wealth of experience to pass on. I would recommend new students to make use of his live performance experience as well as the technical side. Despite playing on the big stage with world famous artists like Madness, Steve was humble enough to give up a Saturday morning to take a bunch of his students busking in Brighton, just for the fun of it . Highly recommended.
Excellent Teacher – SteveDunk
“As with most of my generation, I grew up with Madness and have remained a fan to this day. It was therefore with some trepidation that I decided to book some lessons with Steve. They always say you should never meet your idols, let alone stand up in front of them and make embarrassing noises on a saxophone! However, Steve could not have been more welcoming and easy-going. I’d played Sax on and off for a few years and, being self-taught, had loads of bad habits and enormous gaps in my knowledge. Steve has patiently worked through these and the difference he has made to my playing – after only a few lessons – is amazing. As well as the technical aspects, I really needed someone to inspire and enthuse me – to make me want to practice. This he has done perfectly, and the Saxophone is becoming an ever bigger part of my life. Whenever you are learning a new instrument, you need a balance between the discipline of practicing the building blocks and the pure enjoyment of just playing for fun. Many teachers get this balance wrong and their students end up either bored or learning nothing. Steve is one of the very few who let you progress at your own pace, in whatever musical direction is most natural to you, so that learning is easy and practicing never becomes a chore. In addition to his teaching ability and approach, Steve’s obvious love for the instrument, his depth of musical knowledge and breadth of experience across many genres, means I have no hesitation in thoroughly recommending him whatever your age, previous experience or musical taste.”
Inspiring Sax Lessons available for keen students see Teaching Page
What a fantastic Glastonbury 2014.
Having previously played twice before I must say that the Glastonbury Experience is superb.
I left an LP6 gig at Windsor races on Saturday playing to about 4000 people
and drove straight to my brothers who lives walking distance to the festival.
Walked in and got my passes sorted and had a well deserved cider! Then i bumped into my Brother (amazing considering how many people at the festival) and went to the Pyramid Stage to catch some of Metallicas set. I wasnt sure if they were right for the Saturday headline, but oh yes – they were amazing.
Walked home through all the mud tired but happy. Sunday comes and off we go back to the festival for an amazing contrast watching the English National Ballet performing their new piece ‘Dust’ written specially for Glastonbury 2014. It was all about WW1 and was very moving. The crowd swelled up well and everyone was transfixed. Then stayed to watch Caro Emerald who was a superb and got everyone dancing.
We then worked our way to The Park Stage where The Thunderbirds Orchestra was performing. It was an excellent set of 60’s Thunderbird style TV tunes (had a cider too)
Time to return to the West Holt stage to get ready for my gig. We started at 17:30 to a somewhat reduced crowd (thanks Dolly Parton) but by halfway through our show it was getting packed.
Dawn Penn came and sang Bangarang and No No No with us and we steamed home to finish at 18:30. changed and legged it as fast as poss to miss the mad rush to beat the traffic.
our set list was as follows…
EASTERN STANDARD TIME
SIT & WONDER
FU MAN CHU
NO NO NO
SOON YOU’LL BE CRY TO ME MIDNIGHT RIDER
The mud was brilliant, the legs tired and the weekend was superb! bring on next year.
If you look to playing blues – here are some guidelines to get you going. Some obvious, some not.
The saxophone (especially the tenor sax) is a superb blues instrument as you can actually sing with the sax and the dulcet tones of the tenor sax fits the Blues perfectly.
Anyway, here are a few guidelines to prevent boredom for those who do love the blues and want to play it but are not sure how.
1) Get a good rhythm section, a GOOD one. Without a solid bass player and drummer you don’t stand a chance.
2) Learn to play a variety of blues styles. There are several (Chicago, swing, jump, Texas, New Orleans, etc) styles and rhythmic types. No need to limit it to ‘shuffles in G or E.’
3) Learn variations on the standard I-IV-V progression: 8-bar, 16 bar, 24 bar, blues with a bridge, ii-V7 instead of IV-V (jump blues especially), iii-VI-ii-V turnarounds, and minor blues. Minor blues progressions can sound very different than the standard ‘major’ blues.
4) Use intros and head arrangements to bring in the vocals. Louis Jordon did this all the time (for ex., Caldonia, Good Times Roll). As a sax player, in some cases you can double up with the guitar on these, which can be very effective. Also devise and vary the endings. One huge difference between a amateur ‘jam’ band and a ‘pro’ band are polished intros and endings (very important!).
5) There is a lot of room for improvisation and solos in the blues, so you can take advantage of that and get creative, especially if the band plays some substitute changes and different forms.
6) Play some instrumentals. Learn some ‘soul jazz,’ blues jazz type of tunes that may still be danceable, and some funk tunes to play for variety. A few instrumentals actually help support and make the vocal tunes stand out, and vice versa. I personally prefer all instrumental blues.
7) Keep the volume under control; most real blues fans (believe it or not there are more of them than jazz fans, although there’s plenty of overlap) don’t want their eardrums blown out and the ‘real’ blues are not meant to be played at ear-splitting volume. Try playing acoustically – you don’t need a PA system if there is no singer!
8) As a sax player, learn as many backing riffs, horn lines, and horn arrangements as possible. One of the fun aspects of playing blues on the sax is to step in with the rhythm section and play backing lines. But don’t overdo it. Lay out on some verses, and never play over the singer (if you have one). There are some great blues books and 100 Blues Riffs by Andrew Gordon is one of them.
Ok, that’s enough. I could think of lots more, but if you apply some of the above, and you get good musicians to play with (very important), I don’t think you’ll be bored playing the blues, nor will your audience! But of course if you don’t even like the blues, then play something else.
My Best Gig Ever – Fuji Rock Festival
My Best Gig Ever!
Fuji Rock Festival – Japan
28 July 2006 – Madness
I’d just returned from a tour of The West Coast of America and didn’t even leave Heathrow before boarding the plane to Osaka. We arrived early morning and went straight to the hotel to rest before gigging that evening and then the following day on to Tokyo for a late afternoon/early evening gig in a theatre. I was ready for my day off when it came in Tokyo. It is an amazing place to explore and I took the opportunity to sample some proper Sushi before boarding the Bullet Train to Honshu Island, Mount Fuji (which I could write a whole blog about – fantastic experience!).
I must mention Toilets – One of the best things in Japan was its toilets, amazing – you will know what I mean if you have been and if not, you must go… more high tech than you would believe!
I left the hotel with the band for the Fuji Rock Festival site in a coach and we drove all the way up the mountain to the site, with the most stunning views over the surrounding countryside. I couldn’t believe how lush and green the fields around us were.
We line checked and ate (and had a beer or two) and got ready for showtime. The crowd was huge, 70,000 people and they were so ready for some Madness. Usual ‘One Step Beyond’ to start and we even played ‘In The City’ as this was used on a Japanese TV advert so they all knew it (better than we did probably). Rico Rodrigues (the Specials trombonist) joined us onstage for ‘Ironshirt’ and ‘Nightboat to Cairo’ and Franz Ferdinand and The Zutons danced for the whole gig on the side of the stage! I went on to play with Franz Ferdinand at the Forum in London later that year. The gig went very well as most Madness gigs do but I nearly came a cropper during ‘Shut Up’; I span round and round whilst playing (as you do) and normally can hold off the dizziness, but not this time. I luckily ran backwards into the bass amp and not forwards off the front of the stage – it gave the crew a good laugh and me a few bruises and another happy memory.
After the gig we joined all the other acts for a drink or two and made a few friends. The journey down the mountain was hysterical with all of us singing and making silly masks and hats out of the sick bags in the coach… how old are we?
Life is about the moments you share and the connections you make and that night I connected with 70,000 people and made a memory that will last me a lifetime, may even have the video evidence somewhere!!!
Invented by Adolphe Sax in 1846 – The saxophone is considered a relatively new instrument
Nestled in his Paris workshop, Adolphe Sax manufactured standard instruments, gradually introducing improvements along the way. In 1845, Sax patented a family of brass instruments he called saxhorns, and in 1846, the saxophone family made its first appearance ranging from bass to sopranino.
Today the usual saxophone family consists of Soprano in Bb, Alto in Eb, Tenor in Bb and Baritone in Eb. You can get hold of sopraninos, melody C saxes and Bass saxes too but these are much rarer.
A student model tenor saxophone will cost around £300-500 rising to several thousand for a pro instrument. The legendary Selmer Mk V1 is considered to be the best Tenor sax ever made.
Have a look at how a sax is made on this You Tube clip
Unlike other classical instruments, not much orchestral music has been written for the saxophone. This is partly due to the fact its still a relatively new instrument and partly due to the individual tone each player can produce on it, making it hard for a composer to get what he wants. Most saxes are used for jazz and more modern music.
Drones and long notes
It doesn’t matter how well you play and how many songs you know – its all about your tone!
A necessary and very essential part of any saxophonists schedule must be sustained long note practice. This is one of the best ways to improve your tone alongside Overtones.
Start very relaxed and use a tuner if you can throught this exercise. Remember you have 2 ears and 1 mouth so listen harder than you blow.
Exhale first to expel the old air in the lungs (the average person has a third of their lungs full of 24 hour old air) then breathe in, filling the lungs with air from the bottom up until full. This is quite achievable and means you use your full lung capacity (most people only use a third of their lungs and shallow breathe). Play a long note listening hard for continuous tone without ‘wobble’ or variation of pitch. I use the full Deluxe version of ‘Petersons Strobosoft’ tuner which has a pitch graph built in to show the note as you’re playing it – very useful but expensive. see petersontuners.com.
Start at octave A and work up in semitones. Most players tone is fuller below A and therefore your time is better spent working on thinner notes. Play each note quietly, moderately and then loudly for about 20 seconds each before moving up a semitone. Play up to high F and your mouth will know all about it. Don’t rush this exercise and ‘perform’ don’t just play every note.
*Take care not to overdo this practice as you can strain your embouchure and hurt your lower lip (you shouldn’t be biting hard though)*
Another option is to play long notes alongside Drones.
These are available to download in all keys. I have attached one in concert Eb here (C for alto – F for tenor)
Use this to feel how your tuning works – notice how the dominant notes – 1, 3, 5’s and 7’s sound best.
Have fun with this – much more fun than playing without.