As I sit here in a state of zen after my first sax bandits session in far too long, I want to share a few musings about the remarkable effect that attending these sessions has on my mental wellbeing.
Like many band members, I was very involved in music at school but did little at university and 18 years later, my poor old sax was very neglected. I noticed an advert in a coffee shop for sax bandits, loved the idea and joined around a year ago. I remember feeling an amazing mental focus and energy after the first session that lasted for days or even weeks. I kept on attending sessions and the same thing kept happening. Wow! My life is pretty busy at the moment with lots of distractions (aka young children) so this felt like unlocking some new magic wand to manage it all.
I remember feeling an amazing mental focus and energy after the first session that lasted for days or even weeks.
However, like most humans, I’m not very good at prioritising what I know is good for me. So when Covid-19 came along, I somehow didn’t pick up my sax for a good six months and declared that I was “too busy” to get involved in the online tutorials and playalong tracks.
Now that some sense of normality is returning, I jumped at the chance to book a place in the first socially distanced sax bandits session. I had a great “back to school feeling” printing off the music and dusting off the neglected instrument but was a little apprehensive that the reduced numbers would make my extremely rusty playing obvious to all! Little did I need to worry as once we started, I was so “in the moment” counting bars, working out tricky rhythms and bopping along that the rustiness really didn’t matter. The total concentration required, together with the strong rhythms really seems to make my brain happy and again, I leave with a renewed sense of energy and focus. (I must order some softer reeds though…my embouchure is pretty tired after not playing for far too long!)
Music-making in a band feels like a very human activity. We all come as individuals whose paths don’t otherwise cross and together we make something better than the sum of our parts. This aspect of civilised society had been removed from us by Covid-19 restrictions and it felt great to be able to do this again!