Perceived as "ultra cool" by just about every elementary band student, for decades, the saxophone has long been the instrument of choice for students and bane of existence for music educators.
Once seen as the "go to" instrument for boys and girls alike, the sax has struggled as of late, and has seemingly fallen from it's lofty pedestal of popularity.
Adophe Sax would (rock and) roll over in his grave if he could see his beloved instrument as it is today.
According to a recent article in The Outline, from 2000-2010, our longstanding love affair with all things saxamaphonic (I invented that word) waned considerably. As evidence of that, The Outline magazine has discovered that during this decade, the Billboard Top 40 contained fewer hit records with a saxophone than any other time in it's history. This was shocking because for most of American pop music’s history, the saxophone was the backbone of making a song a hit.
Blame it on Bill Clinton. Blame it on Kenny G. Blame it on the Russians (my personal favorite!). Regardless of who you blame, it doesn't change the fact that during the formative years of many of our current students, the saxophone was going the way of the Eb alto horn, valve trombone, and the Omnichord. (I inserted links in service to those under the age of 30 who are unaware of these musical dinosaurs.)
Okay, the dinosaur comment may be a bit of a stretch, but you get the point.
The saxophone was invented by Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1840 and was to be used in European military marching bands. The concept was to create a woodwind instrument that could match the volume of the brass instruments, thus requiring fewer personnel to balance the sound of the band.
But fear not (or fear a great deal), the trend is reversing and the SAX IS BACK!
Yep, that's right! In recent years the sax has been making an appearance with some of the world's most prolific pop artists including Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, and even Lady Gaga.
These times, they are a changing. Geek is the new chic and computer coding has given way to social entrepreneurship. The tastes and preferences of today's teens are changing and so is their definition of cool!
Kids today want to be different. Their idea of fitting in is to stand out. They want to belong to a cause and feel that they are making an impact. They are searching for ways to lead but are also wanting to be led in meaningful endeavors. They see greed and consumption as more of an avarice than an aspiration and want their academic experience to be surmised by more than just a G.P.A.
Now, if we could just make the bassoon cool!