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Music and the player are always tied together: the musical story will be told and will be colored by the teller. Sometimes the balance is not completely right: the player is too busy with himself, for example, and too little with the musical story. His attention is focused too much on how good he will play the piece in place of focusing on the piece itself. As well it can be that: the story teller erases himself completely with the result that the story can become impersonal. You can notice this often in classical concerts. Making a connection with the public and with your fellow players is the best key to find a proper balance and to tell the most beautiful story!

In order to give us a fun insight into how we all play music in our own manner and to understand something about everyone’s differences, let’s look at a few characteristic musical types in amateur orchestras:


The Direct/ Straightforward type

This sort plays straightforwardly. He or she is not afraid to make mistakes. He or she gives a nice clear groove and is not afraid to play a solo. If he or she encounters a sensitive or soft part, then he or she must be reminded continually to play softer. Blending with the rest of the ensemble is most often not his or her strongest suit. This sort is best as a baritone sax player in an orchestra or big band or as a soloist on the sax in a band with a more hearty pop music style.

The Quiet type

This type is the opposite of the Direct/ Straightforward type. This type finds it difficult to make his or her voice heard, but still finds making music fun. This dual always occurs during rehearsals and concerts. It is often so that this sort is too self-conscious and insecure about his or her level of playing, especially technically. The Golden Mean seems to them to play and participate but not too loudly. The result is somewhat unclear and simplistic playing; yet there is so much musical emotion inside! When encouraged by the teacher or director, this sort can accomplish a lot and grow to appreciate very much what is told about the music. This sort is best in a second or third part in the orchestra, but secretly dreams of being a soloist.

The Show-off type

This happy type can play fast and also wants to play fast. He or she does not hear that some notes are broken up in their playing, or that the rhythm is not quite right, but being overwhelmed by so many notes the public does not always hear it as well. Often there is a lot of interest in types of saxophones, mouthpieces, various sorts of reeds and new ligatures. Like a swimmer in search of the least possible resistance, this player seeks always to achieve a faster, louder and suppler sound. It’s always good to have this type in the orchestra or big band, since they bring the Quiet types and somewhat slower Direct types along with good energy in the virtuoso passages.

The Feeling-musical type

This type lets his or her musicality be heard and plays with a lot of dynamics and color. Their solos are refreshing in comparison to the saber-rattling of the Show-off type, since he or she allows him- or herself to play very slowly and softly with unexpected melodic twists. However, there must be strict conducting when this type plays, since it can be rather difficult to play together with this type. They are in fact never precise about time, since a fixed beat can feel so very amusical to them. Also keeping it simple can be a problem. They prefer a lot of dynamics, rubato and so on. They honestly don’t know how to play simply and just let the music be, since their way of doing their best is to do more and not less. They make sure that the Direct types and the Show-off types are kept in line. They themselves don’t take well to correction, because they are already thinking about everything that’s going on.

The Conservatory type

In every orchestra there is one: he has never studied at the conservatory, but he could have or he has done a year of study there. Now she or he has a good career as a medical biologist or a programmer and plays the saxophone in an orchestra or band alongside her or his work. This sort doesn’t broadcast their ability from the housetops, but everyone knows that he or she is “good”. This sort is supportive in the tutti segments and when given a solo makes everyone understand what the music is really about! Sometimes his or her part may not be quite right technically or musically, but most of the time he or she knows how to cover these moments up very well. This type is often a good friend of the conductor and has beautiful personal stories about well known musicians with whom he or she has played.

Recognizable? Do you have a contribution? Leave a note!

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