Hi guys! Eizaz here with a new tale for all of you - this was definitely one of the more interesting stories I have to tell throughout my teaching career. As a teacher, I encounter students from all walks of life; from the race car driver and stuntman, to factory workers, doctors and the vice CEO of a bank - and today I have one such interesting story to share! I taught the Malaysian Minister of Youth & Sports, Dato' Sri Shabery Cheek to play the saxophone, along with some photos. Together with this is a tutorial for beginner players and is basically how I start off every student. Due to the honorable Minister's extremely busy schedule I was only able to run through a one-hour crash course with him and somehow he caught up as you will see at the end of this article!
Next I will usually go cover the topic of breathing and breath support by having the student play just the neck and mouthpiece with the reed attached. This allows me to correct any improper positions in embouchure as well as to get the student blowing smoothly and in a consistent manner. I will also go through basic breathing exercises to induce the use of the diaphragm muscle which must be trained to support the lungs in order to attain a consistent flow of air.
Once the student gets the hang of blowing the neck and mouthpiece, I will introduce the entire instrument and proper finger positioning. Neck strap position is of great importance and the student must be able to let the horn's weight rest completely on the strap instead of supporting it with the thumb.
Getting closer to the end of the crash course; playing the first few notes and a scale on the saxophone. I will introduce the notes B, A and G as well as the proper finger positioning for the keys. In the rare case the student learns quickly I proceed to the D major scale and introduction of the octave key.
Once the student is comfortable with the weight and position of the saxophone, he/she can then freely move around and look cool while at it! It is important to be able to move without feeling restricted and treat the instrument as an extension of your body. Smile and look good!
This is the end result of our crash course! Dato' Sri Shabery Cheek was able to play a scale and proved himself to be a very quick learner and student of the instrument - trust me, to pick up a new instrument isn't easy even for seasoned musicians. We hope that the Minister of Youth & Sports will serve as an inspiration for the younger generation and that if he can do it, they can too!