Duncan Martin's Teaching Method and Philosophy
Having had four children of my own and having taught thousands of youngsters and adults, I am most interested in helping students develop strategies to internalize the vast amounts of information needed to learn to play the saxophone and play jazz. Providing a safe and supportive environment for students is my prime concern in helping them to enjoy the process and the rewards that come from playing music with others. The John Payne Music Center is a perfect venue for learning.
As soon as the beginner can play a major scale, I start the improvisational and ear training aspect of musical self-expression. In the case of saxophone students, that may begin as early as the 5th or 6th lesson. As we get to know each other, I begin to sense a student's strengths, i.e. left/right brain dominance or equality. While supporting the dominant (easier) strategy of the student, I encourage the development of the opposite (more difficult) strategy.
As students play a scale, I ask them to be aware of the following visuals:
While one or two of the above items will be stronger than the others, I encourage the awareness, on some level, of the other items. Jerry Bergonzi says in his excellent book, Vol. 1, Melodic Structures, “with the use of visualization, the mind actually teaches the body; the mind remembers what the body is more apt to forget.” He goes on to say that, “whatever you are able to visualize you will then be able to play.
With guidance and encouragement, students are able to express emotions through their improvisations. We live in a time when materials have been developed to facilitate the learning process in an enjoyable way.
The Jamey Aebersold play-a-long CD's and books, www.jazzbooks.com are a wonderful aid and I encourage their use. BAND-IN-A-BOX, by PG Music Inc.is a fairly inexpensive application that allows one to enter chords with excellent play-a-long accompaniments of many styles which can be set to any speed. www.pgmusic.com
Alto saxophonist Bobby Watson said in a clinic I observed, “Whatever you're playing, whether it's scales, chords or patterns, make it musical.” The bottom line is to play, play, play and enjoy the process.
Providing a safe and supportive environment for students is my prime concern in helping them to enjoy the process and the rewards that come from playing music with others.