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clarinet flute and saxophone ?????? need help making a decision

Discussion in 'The Clarinet Family' started by mollydavies2000, Jun 8, 2014.

  1. hi

    I currently play the b flat clarinet and am doing my grade 6 (abrsm) at the moment and in the future I aim to go on all the way until I have passed my grade 8,
    I also play the flute as a second instrument which I have only been playing for a year and I am doing my grade 4. before starting to learn the flute as a second instrument I tried the saxophone but at this time my hands were very small (however I loved playing the instrument ). my parents say they cant afford for me to play 3 instruments and in the future I would like to go onto collage and university to study music and would like to be a music teacher, my parents say I can either give up flute and sell my flute and get a saxophone and start up saxophone again or carry on playing my flute ( along side my clarinet)

    my questions are

    if I was to give up flute and start sax again would it be wise to do up to grade 5 flute and then stop ?

    do you think I should give up flute and start sax ?

    I would like to be able to teach two instruments would it work well if I taught sax and clarinet ?

    do I need grade 8 in sax and clarinet to be able to get into university to study music and then go on to teach ??

    sorry its long (first post )
  2. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    You are sure to get lots of different opinions on this forum (from people you have never met). :) I would suggest that you work with a private teacher (tutor) to address these questions. That said, here is what I think as a music teacher with 32 years experience whose main instrument is saxophone and who plays clarinet and flute at about a high school level.

    I would go to grade 8 on clarinet, then grade 8 on the flute, and then pick up the saxophone.

    Answered above.

    You would be more versatile if you could teach both clarinet and flute at the same level. With that level of ability you could learn the saxophone very quickly with a good tutor.

    That is a question you should ask at the music department of the university you wish to go to.

    P.S. If you plan to go to college, I would suggest you work on your spelling and punctuation. Just like other teachers, music teachers need to have good communication skills.
  3. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    Also remember that a lot of folks that play sax are often asked to be in a jazz ensemble of some kind. It's sometimes expected for a sax player to also play flute and clarinet, when the music calls for it.

    FWIW, I started on clarinet, went to bass clarinet, then to baritone sax. I can't play the flute.

    Another thing is that there are generally tons of clarinet and flute players out there. You need to be exceptionally good to be accepted into very well-known music schools, like Eastman or Juilliard, and you need to be really, really good to even get into fairly well-known music schools. There generally aren't as many saxophone players because even large high school bands generally don't have much more than four alto players, a couple tenor players and one or two bari players.

    If you really want a career in music, it's also a good idea to get interested in vocals and piano. These skills are almost essential in the real world. You don't have to be a virtuoso at either, but you should be able to sing a part in your vocal range and play a four-part harmony on the piano.

    Yo, Jim and Helen. I feel an article coming on ....
  4. Helen

    Helen Content Expert Saxophones Staff Member Administrator

    I don't know how I missed this thread when it was first posted. :???:

    First of all mollydavies2000, welcome to the WF. I hope you enjoy your time here, and you get the answers you're seeking.

    First up, both JBT and Pete have already given you some really solid input on the value of being a multi-instrumentalist. +1 to what they've already said.

    I can give you my experience as a player who has played saxophone professionally since university (the 1980s). Although I've played many instruments to date in my life, my official "double" is clarinet, and the only one that I was anywhere near good enough to earn money with was bass clarinet. If I had picked up flute early on, or for that matter kept up and improved my bassoon skills, I would have been much better off professionally.

    Being a multi-instrumentalist is always better than being just able to play 1 instrument. Not only does this improve your employability, it also makes you a more rounded musician, who better understands the nuances of the variety of instruments. This is especially important if you are going to be a music teacher--and it becomes your job to pass knowledge on--and one of the reasons why would-be teachers spend a little bit of their time in university learning some of the the other types of instruments (brass, strings, percussion, etc.).

    Bottom line: learn as many instruments as you can. Get as proficient in as many as you can. That's one of the keys to success in working successfully as a professional woodwind player, as well as a teacher.

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    Although I don't understand all of the grading system talk (or, for that matter, the "abrsm" acronym), what I do know is that a multi-instrument background is critical to instrumental music teaching. Ideally, you should learn piano (and read bass and treble clef parts), play one horn family very well, and get up to average quality on at least one more.

    Flute is hard to learn, and even harder to hold, but you can get a flute for relatively little money, so if you have to let something go, it should be the flute. Clarinet is a "universal" instrument, getting you on track for saxophones as well as for bass clarinet. Bassoons are both pricy and hard to play, and spending a lot of time on oboe (as a second horn) will drive you nuts, since the reed issues are very much a part of playing a double reed horn.

    Oddly enough, an excellent double for anyone is playing string bass and/or tuba. That, paired with clarinet or saxophone skills will get you a long way.

    In commercial music, clarinet players are almost always expected to at least double on a saxophone. Alto and tenor are the most common, baritone much less so (due to the cost of the horn). Many who play clarinet and alto also double flute, Bass clarinet is usually paired with tenor or baritone, at least in Broadway stuff. Bassoon is also paired with baritone and bass clarinet (and is usually played on one or the other of the "easier" horns - doubling bassoon in a show is real work, just at getting it all ready to play, much less actually playing it).

    What sax are you playing, and what the hell does "abrsm" mean?
  6. Helen

    Helen Content Expert Saxophones Staff Member Administrator

    BTW, when I said to learn as many instruments as you can, I didn't mean right away. I'm not saying to rush out and get a sax, clarinet, flute, keys, drum kit, and so on. I'm just saying that you need to be open to learning the different instruments, and pick at least 2 that you're going to be equally good at.

    SOTSDO's comments about the keys are right on the mark. I meant to mention that in my post as well. If you don't have at least rudimentary piano skills when you go into education, most schools have you do at least 2 years of keyboard.

    I always tell my students that when they're in about grade 11, that they should get in touch with the various universities that they're interested in attending, to find out what exactly their entrance requirements are. This helps narrow the field of possible schools, and helps my students prepare for the entrance exams (if there are any--which in the case of performance degrees, there are). It also allows students to get a better sense of what the programs at the various schools look like in regards to courses, areas of study, etc. etc.

    Just as an aside, it's interesting how views have changed, 30 years ago woodwind players were told they shouldn't play brass instruments because it would ruin their woodwind embouchure. Now, not so much... Huh... Go figure... Maybe my sax embouchure is ruining my trombone embouchure, and that's why I sound like kaka on my P-Bone. :emoji_rage: ;-)
  7. Gandalfe

    Gandalfe Admin and all around good guy. Staff Member Administrator

    As a musician, I made the decision to not major in music early in my life because teaching didn't pay well. Now as a hobbyist with my own band, sax quartet, and subbing in many, many big bands I will note that a *lot* of clarinetists are picking up sax so that they get to play jazz. I wish I'd had someone like jbtsax to advise me when I was young because my clarinet chops are poor and my flute chops are terrible. Had I started at an earlier age, I think I could have better doubles. But I have so much work as a saxophonist that I am happy.

    I will say that developing the voicing for *so* many saxes (soprillo, sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, bari, bass and I even toyed with an F mezzo soprano for a couple of years) I never learned to do decent altissimo and overtones on all those instruments. I have had many instructors gently suggest I stick to one kind of sax until I get it where I wanted it to be. I pretty much ignored them. But as a result, I have a lot of sub opportunities.
  8. pete

    pete Brassica Oleracea Staff Member Administrator

    As another piece of advice, find a solo on the instrument you play the best and practice the heck out of it. Make it perfect.

    Most of my middle and high school music career was spent in New York. They had a music grading system of 1 to 6. You could say a "1" was "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and a "6" was a JS Bach cello suite -- as played on sax, at least. If I can remember my college days properly, I had to do the following for my audition:

    * High-grade solo. I don't remember what I played ....
    * Sight read and sight sing.
    * Arpeggios. I tend to think that this part was to test intonation and tone.

    I also was asked about what groups I had or did play in. I tend to think this was just to gauge how dedicated I was to playing.

    SOTSDO Old King Log Staff Member CE/Moderator

    I also think that it is easier to move from clarinet (after developing the embouchure for the clarinet) to saxophone, than the other way around. Easier to start out taut and go to loose, than the other way around.

    And, we still don't know what abrsm means...
  10. jbtsax

    jbtsax Distinguished Member Distinguished Member

    ABRSM I wasn't familiar with this until I started posting on the Cafe Saxophone. As a music educator, I was a bit skeptical at first, but as I learned more about the system I began to see the merit of such a program. I think it is especially useful in the UK where they do not have the public school music programs we do in the us. Students who want to learn to play instruments do so with tutors who help them to pass off each level or grade.
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