Phoenix Sax learn from the master


Members of Market Harborough’s Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra were recently treated to an online masterclass from their Patron Gerard McChrystal.

The session covered practice techniques, use of relaxed curved fingers and a relaxed mindset for ease of playing, how the brain plays such a big part in what you think you can and can’t achieve, and valuable tips on arranging music for a saxophone orchestra.

Gerard, who is an internationally renowned saxophonist living in Leicester, said: “I just love the positive spirit of this group! We need music more than ever right now, and it was great to catch up with them. Music has a power to unite us, in such a unique and profound way, and I’m so pleased to be working with Phoenix to help keep that love of music, and the saxophone in particular, going strong.”

Jane Smith, who plays alto sax with the group, said: “This is the second session Gerard has run for us since he became our Patron in August last year. These sessions are a real inspiration for us, especially while we are still unable to meet and learn together in person. Gerard has given us a lot to think about, and the learnings from the session will certainly help hone our playing. He even showed us how to circular breathe, although it may be a while before we can all master that one!”

Phoenix Sax are currently keeping to their regular rehearsal schedule, meeting up every other Sunday to learn new music by Zoom. They are planning to get back to physical rehearsals as soon as the rules allow.  

About our Patron

Multi award winning saxophonist Gerard McChrystal is Professor of Saxophone at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and also teaches at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff. Born in Derry, Northern Ireland, Gerard has played with leading musicians and orchestras in more than 35 countries worldwide and has recorded 15 CDs. His main ambition is to develop collaborations and encourage composers to write for the saxophone. You can find out more on Gerard’s website at  

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Harborough Mail, 18 March 2021

Harborough Mail website, 15 March 2021