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Last weekend my piano teacher had her annual summer BBQ. These are always great nights. Although I call her my piano teacher, to many people she is the saxophone teacher. It would actually be incorrect to describe it as a piano night, as more than half of the pupils that played were actually sax players. All of them were middle-aged men. Some people buy a sports car, others trade in their wife for a younger girlfriend, but it seems that there is a sizable number of men who decide that they will deal with their mid-life crisis by learning the saxophone. I guess the saxophonist is seen as a quite a ‘sexy’ figure. It’s certainly much more portable than a piano and it is a versatile instrument, however it was interesting that it was an all male affair (with the exception of my teacher).

I didn’t know much about it as an instrument, apart from the fact that it is named after an actual person. Its inventor Adolphe Sax was a Belgian who lived in the 19th Century. He developed the instrument and took it to France, where he won a contract to supply the french military bands. Needless to say he upset the local french instrument makers and found himself in court on numerous occasions. If you want to look into his history I’d recommend the book The Cambridge Companion to the Saxophone by the British composer Richard Ingham.

Played badly, the sax can sound like a foghorn, but fortunately all the pupils are now pretty competent now, so it was really enjoyable to hear all the guys riffing and jamming. And I guess it is a much better way of healing pain of a midlife crisis that many people encounter, compared to running off with someone half your age.

How about you? Have you had your mid-life crisis yet? If so what did you do? If not what do you plan on? I’m planning on having mine next year….. I’m sure I won’t be picking up a sax.

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