Dr. Fischer was a protégé of Eugene Rousseau, and, over the past 30 years at the University of Georgia, established himself as a major force in classical saxophone performance and teaching. His close associations with composers like the late Jindřich Feld fueled an influx of new compositions for the instrument. He was active and involved with the World Saxophone Congress and the North American Saxophone Alliance, and was making plans to host the latter’s 2010 conference.
Read the UGA Hugh Hodgson School of Music announcement here.
Here are a few things that I learned from Dr. Fischer.
Some things about saxophone playing:
- You shouldn’t have to strain for the altissimo notes. Relax and let them come.
- Every note is part of a larger musical gesture. Every note.
- There’s something to be said for keeping the fingers close to the keys and closing them with a feather touch, but it’s also worth exploring larger, more aggressive movements for fingering. Saxophone keys aren’t flute keys.
- Every sound is interesting and beautiful and musical. If the composer calls for key pops or multiphonics or flutter tonguing, commit to making those sounds really work musically. Practice them like you mean it.
- Sometimes, what you really need is to struggle with a piece that’s way over your head. Other times, what you really need is to play a piece that you can absolutely nail. Do some of each.
- A pleasing tone doesn’t mean much without good pitch and rhythm. Don’t just work on fundamentals, work on all the fundamentals.
- One of Dr. Fischer’s favorite things to say to a student after a recital was, “That was terrific! But next time, use a reed.” It was a joke. Or was it?
Some things not about saxophone playing:
- Relationships with other people are more important than anything, even music.
- Take time to talk to people. Hear their stories, and share yours. Everything else can wait.
- Every birthday deserves a celebration, complete with singing and cake.