Saxophone Lessons IN BURR RIDGE

SAXOPHONE

woodwind instrument

Although most saxophones are made of brass, it is a member of the woodwind family because the sound is produced by an oscillating reed. The instrument was invented by Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax, who patented it in 1846. Saxophones have been produced in a variety of series distinguished by transpositions within instrument sets and tuning standards. The modern saxophones consist of instruments in the B-flat through E-flat series, with the widest use of the soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones. The soprano saxophone consists of a straight conical tube with a flared bell, contrasting with the lower-pitched alto, tenor and baritone saxophones which have the familiar curved shape in the throat of the bell directing it forward. Because all saxophones use the same key arrangement and fingering to produce a given notated pitch, it is not difficult for a competent player to switch among the various sizes when the music has been suitably transposed.

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In the 1840s and 1850s, the saxophone was used in small classical ensembles as well as in French and British military bands. The use of the instrument declined dramatically in the latter half of the 19th century in Europe just as it was gaining popularity in the United States thanks to the efforts of Patrick Gilmore, leader of the 22nd Regiment Band. After recruitment of Edward Lefebre to the band, it soon featured a soprano-alto-tenor-saxophone section which also performed as a quartet. The saxophone’s use in vaudeville and ragtime bands around the turn of the 20th century laid the foundation for the instrument’s prominence in dance halls and eventually jazz. The Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, formed in 1923, featured arrangements to back up improvisation, bringing the first elements of jazz to the large dance band format. Show bands with saxophone sections became a staple of television talk shows (such as the Tonight Show that featured bands led by Doc Severinsen and Branford Marsalis) and Las Vegas stage shows.

As Chicago style jazz evolved from New Orleans jazz in the 1920s, one of its defining features was the addition of saxophones to the ensemble. The small Chicago ensembles offered more improvisational freedom than did the New Orleans or large band formats, fostering the innovations of saxophonists Jimmy Dorsey (alto), Frankie Trumbauer (c-melody), Bud Freeman (tenor) and Stump Evans (baritone). Dorsey and Trumbauer became important influences on tenor saxophonist Lester Young, who in turn had great influence on later jazz saxophonists. But the greatest influence of the saxophone on jazz was to occur a few years later when alto saxophonist Charlie Parker became an icon of the bebop revolution. The small-group format of bebop and post-bebop jazz ensembles gained ascendancy in the 1940s as musicians used the harmonic and melodic freedom pioneered by Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Bud Powell in extended jazz solos. Saxophonists such as John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Sam Rivers, and Pharoah Sanders defined the forefront of creative exploration with the avant-garde movement of the 1960s. The saxophone remains prominent in jazz, soul, and funk bands today.

Saxophone Faculty

Heather bio photo

Heather Winters

Saxophone Teacher
Heather Winters is a professional oboe, English Horn, and flute player, performing all over the Chicago area in bands, orchestras, churches, and musicals in addition to adjudicating competitions for solos, large, and small ensembles. Mrs. Winters has taught private oboe and bassoon lessons and masterclasses for over 21 years and taught K-8 general music in the Chicago suburbs for over 13 years. Mrs. Winters received her Master’s degree in Oboe Performance from Illinois State University and her Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Tennessee Technological University.

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