Lessons with me! Apprentus.com/ursula.c


Hello! Just filled with my information the site: www.apprentus.com

I start to share more about my lessons and how much joy you can share as a teacher, some basic technics I have posted also in my Youtube channel.

Do not hesitate to contact me on any saxophone questions! Please share your experience with me! i am greatful!

Preparing my little ones at H. Eller College of Music at Tartu, Estonia!

Fantastic Etude Book for every level – Alan Bullard

Fantastic book to study different styles and the music is just beautiful. This book has changed the pupils attitude to etude playing! They have so different characters, articulations, musical and they do start from the beginning. This is must have for every teacher!

I will soon download some videos and I would like to share the potential of impsovising the piano in your lessons with these etudes!

The fear-based teaching?


Teachers, students and everybody elses: listen humbly, integrate new or old information into different contexts and You can be sure that you can read in peoples eyes that they/you learn, progress very quickly, and they/you will not fail on putting into practice each information received.
 It is obvious that WE (I mean saxophone teachers, students etc) are all very motivated, passionate and involved by listening, but neverless, even for the most daring and shy person – you need to seek in music the ways where you DO NOT put yourselves forward. It is a beautiful lesson of humbleness and an additional motivation to deliver through music personal ideas, sharpness and subtleness.
But I must admit that lived in this way being a teacher or a student, it’s the music that comes out winner as well as your personality becomes greater.

MENTAL NOISE is the same element what blocks listening and playing. Merge with the beauty of nature, merge with the beauty of listening – then you become UPLIFTED, EXPANDED about knowledge/information you thought you would not have yet. This is called EXPERIENCE. Revelations like when we discover NOW the different music ideas combined together in one composer’s piece, YOU can be sure of one thing, IT WAS THERE BEFORE, but you did not listen it in opened conciousness. These insights were caused by YOUR immersion in the music.

How to tune Yourself to the music?

Is it a technical piece or slow piece, higher or lower grade of music? Or what kind of associations have you created in you mind? When you tune yourself to the different kind of music, your spiritual mind does not worry about the grades!!! Spiritual music (often slow movements) aim is to create and maintain the resonance of vibrations in your body, the aim is to create in a person “higher planes” and thereby cultivate that sense which raises vibrations untill upliftment of the soul! we usually speak about: “Your playing really touched me”, “the way you interpreted the piece overwhelmed me” etc…I hope it sounds familiar to you! People (player or audience) often TRY TO LISTEN in the concerts or competitions, but the trueth is, when You LET YOURSELF LISTENED – you have attained to peoples heart. So no matter, fast or slow movement, spiritually we have the same purpose in final process of learning – Do We Let Yourself Listen? Fearbased listening is trying to play with others while being preoccupied with yourself

Connection with true self

When I was playing in a group, I listened and responded through musical phrases, but I often found that I looked for meaningful/not empty/full of emotions etc phrases. Finally it continued and I was more and more not satisfied, I asked myself, what did I lost? I lost myself and let EGO to have more space. So how to find a solution, where I lost myself? Where I should be looking? I found myself enslaved by “satisfying needs” (those outside), that fear became predominant and I lost oneness. I was flashed by EGO illusion.

So my first step:

I was stucked in MY line of music and I stopped in a moment of solo, I STOPPED LISTENING OTHERS! Next process: I decided to have less and less space in my mind for the judge I called EGO! Judgements, estimations, expectations, reclamations, do people like my playing…etc. Sounds familiar?Judge created estimations and solos had no direction, because there were so much FEAR! Expectations exist therewhere is fear!

To refind and re-establish my true self, I started again from the patient practice process. Creation comes from inside, I trust myself in playing where is now fear and judgement. Practice started to have a new “look” – patience, because I had no burning desire to reach the goal (meaningful phrases, full of emotions)…all that finally stopped the inner improvisation flow – wanted to be liked by outside world! Again I repeated the phrase to myself, the beauty and creation comes from inside. I celebrated the saxophone playing, learning new ways of phrasing, learning new ways of enjoying and I did experience a NEW ENTIRE range of emotions that were not asked by Judge EGO.

Whatever improvisation/information came out, I was greatful, I was not attached to the result. So I discovered I liked my ideas again. Paradoxically, purpose and great result desire actions caused detachment.

But finally after some months: It all started to affect positively playing written music also, fearless expression where one note moves to the other without seeking any “rules/traditions”. The entire process of learning written music became a joyful game. WHY? I focused (on the fast or slow) on movement from note to note, I observed myself without attending result for anybody else. It is an illusion, I let myself listenend by myself, inner self.

In teaching saxophone and contemporary chamber music I started to notice changes the way I expected things should be done!!! I had less expectations from pupils/students, they started to be more free but at the same time more ENGAGED in music than ever before!

Fear-based teaching

I have a classical piano lessons study backround. When you enter to the school system, you enter into the (pre)programmed world. Fear pushes us to fulfill the programms! For teaching side it is a disaster when we talk about mastering musical and instrumental skills and HOW to achieve it through programmed systems. As a student you suffer: big pressure by programs and demotivation to continue. Very common problems for teachers and students in music field!

You know as a student that something is wrong and teacher may emphasis on the wrong things and be also in the dark! Frustrated teacher do confront one main problem: self-loathing and unfortunately it keeps growing over time. Also quite often teacher may fear students musical gifts and here teacher confronts EGO problems. Talented students find a way out – they change and find another teacher, OTHERS not! What happens in real life that many amongst OTHERS become teachers themselves!!!Their life continues in denial process, they continue to suffer all the same frustrations and they subconciously counseling and transmitting what they could not surpass in their student period.

So here we have two common existing dilemmas: students frustration and that of teachers. We need to help both of them!

First, it would be necessary to understand both sides and how they have arrived into this point? Teachers who need to change are in the same situation as their students. Better is, if it becomes a mutual journey, willingness to figure it out TOGETHER.

MUSIC IS ART OF THE SOUND, I believe, it is also the ART OF LISTENING. In school systems we learn quickly to compare eachothers abilities and programms require that we need to be THE SAME (in understandings, in different skills, etc) or at least at the same level with our surroundings! Sometimes hearing a wonderful and virtuos soloist can inspire us, it can and should reinforce our commitment on a choosed instrument. BUT quite common is a lack of visiting concerts and staying in OUR confort zone (EGO) to avoid awareness of great players, the envy and denial thinking is eating inside.

I like one story about two wolves. They are inside of us, GOOD WOLF and BAD WOLF. Good one says: you are beautiful, you can do it; you are at your best abilities; you have a lot of joy in your life; you live a full and valuable life; you contribute positively everywhere. Bad wolf says inside of you: you are not so beautiful; I told you cannot make it; I told you your abilities are still weak and not yet good; your life is miserable on every level, go today and have more rest, do not practice or go to some concert; tomorrow might be a good day for you but you never know!; the way you play your instrument does not give any pleasure to anyone ….etc, etc. SO HERE IS A QUESTION? WHICH WOLF YOU ARE FEEDING?

Yes, it is a constant work within ourselves, every day, every new piece, every new person you meet, every new challenge has fear inside. I tell myself and my students to take it as normality. Feeding sometimes in a difficult process the bad wolf is ok, BUT as soon as you notice it, change it RIGHT AWAY – that’s the tricky every day process!

When you listen yourself or somebody else, listen it with a feeling of love. Especially yourself, fear-based listening (feeding the bad wolf) or love-based listening (feeding the good wolf inside of you)! You can notice your body, when it is tense and twisted and breathing is in a upper part of lungs – you are experiencing fear-based listening. When you release (let go) the EGO, you do experience the joy in listening (and also in playing). You should listen the same way you play, listen, practice and teach: with love! WHY? You feel absorbed by the music, your playing has changed through a
process of gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas, it nourishes you without you are even knowing it! So I do recommend do go to concerts even if you do not have a passion for certain styles of music. “Inhale” a lot of concerts and it will “channeling” through you, expand your limits like this image of sunset.

Couche de soleil

To be continued….

Playing saxophone aside- tenor and bariton. How did I prevent back pains?

Quite often we have to play saxophones like tenor and bariton on our right side. I will share my experience and what have I done about it!

Turning the body to the right side has  a slight inconvenience: the body feels uncomfortable after a while (it means the body turns too much on the right side because of the harness or big saxophone or reason X) and therefore it also affects DIRECTLY on your back problems, especially if you play in long term  these (tenor/bariton) instruments. What are the solutions that I have found for me?
First I tried with Neotech harness, but I felt always uncomfortable when I was sitting. Also I didn’t like  being tightly held against my chest. It teared so tensely to the right side when I was sitting and it turned my body too much to the right, that it was “I realized NOT healthy to my back anyway” – so I needed STILL to go to see physiotherapist. He explained me, that shoulders and hips: they are like a box I need to keep straight and NOT TO TURN.
Every movement that is rotation to your back is bad for discs and makes a lot of tension on the nervs that are between! Which I have felt of course.  Trust me, you won’t gonna like it! All My back pain came from not respecting that simple advice – “keep the shoulders- hips straightforward, do not bend them”!. And I thank him until today, as I am teaching everybody how to prevent back pains while we play saxophone!

Next step I bought: review Freeneck Harness

I will never suggest to play tenor-bariton-bass saxophones to play with neck strap, this will cause long term problems that are invisible many many years!!!! This ends up putting quite a bit of lateral pressure on your neck, all you can do, is to find what changes your life  for a while.
From the front, the Free Neck looks just like a standard neck strap.

I have compared in this video different harnesses I have used, click here!

 freeneck is one of  the most expensive harness I’d seen,  it’s  close to €135 at Thomann Germany e-store.
The harness itself comes in 3 parts.  The main bit is a normal looking neck strap string and hook from which projects a pair of long metal rods which extend down your back.
The end of these then connect into a pocket on a separate belt which clips around your waist (picture on the right).
Pocket is behind.  

The back of the neck has a metal plate , in the middle you have screws you need to adjust (picture on the left).
They come  across the width of your column vertebral/back which runs down the length of your spine.
You wear a belt around your waist, more around your hips I should precise, it has a pocket that is  part of the harness and you put the bottom of the rods tuck into the pocket. The rod length is adjustable, as is the cord that the hook is on.
The HOOK  has a “spacer” on the chord, so rather than the cord coming straight to the hook, it goes through a spacer, which keeps the cords about 10cm apart and carries away also the heaviness of the saxophone, really good invention.
So you can place the sax anywhere you like, as you could with a normal sax neck strap – to the right, out in front, or between your legs.
I used it for a while only for bariton and tenor, well, also on bass saxophone and then I realized that I like to play also on alto and soprano.
The same thing happened to Jazzlab Saxholder, although I do feel more haight on my shoulders with that compare to freeneck! Go and try if you see someone has, ONLY TRYING  ON will tell you what is for you the best. Please you are welcome to share your experiences.
How did I prevent back pains while playing tenor, bariton or bass saxophones?
Two principles:
1. I do play a lot in sitting, BUT tenor I keep saxophone straight forward also in sitting, I just found the position if I push the right leg more aside, It suits for me and therefore I DO NOT CAUSE  any back pains while playing tenor. When I can, I stand up for a while and play, because it is huge gratitude to my back! In case of course baryton and basse I place them aside, but still keeping shoulders-hips as straight as possible.
2. Keep it balanced, sit and stand up regularly. Do some exercises and especially bendings for arms and shoulders and back!
Harnesses packing problems!!!
For tenor sax it was always difficult to take Freeneck separately with my sax case, then notes, stands etc, and therefore I started to use Vandoren Harness, which has exactly the same principles as Freeneck, but Vandoren Harness I can pack together so little, that it goes to the belly of sax easily.

Review Vandoren Harness

Freeneck goes easily to the baryton and bass sax belly. And is really good to play the heavy instruments. Good value for the money. With jazzlab saxholder I can pack well into the case that has not saxophone shape, but when travelling, I take Vandoren Harness with me.
Vandoren Saxophone Harness IS  a great option for those having neck issues from standard straps, and those looking for a better harness.

Every sax harness is designed with the same basic principal; remove weight and stress from the neck by shifting it to the shoulders or hips.I believe that anybody with neck or back issues would benefit from trying out this harness.

The Vandoren Harness  takes away the pressure of the chest area and centers  partial  weight to the hips and along the waste and on shoulder pads. Behind the back you have two telescopic support to adjust the length (lengthen or shorten as you like) you need for you and combines with the hooks on your shoulder pads. The chest is totally free from that bound feeling. The waist is familiar pants and belts in normal clothing, and there is no feeling of stress from the harness strap at the waste at all. I love the adjustment space around the waste. when you stop playing you can simlpy detache remaining elastic ribbon to the hook and you feel comfortable while not playing. The harness looks beautiful on you. Look up the video here!

Larger saxophones will never feel weightless because they are just big and heavy. But, to take  the weight shift away from the neck is always a great choice, and the shoulders are a much stronger area of the human body with less concern for damage than a neck might be, with the central nervous system/column vertebral running though it. Getting the harness into proper adjustment is important, and each player will find a combination that will work best for his or her shape. Setting it up for alto or tenor or bariton is easy, it takes a little more experimentation with the bariton because it is so much heavier.

I like the fact that it can be worn under a coat, and it looks jut like a standard sax strap at that point. Some clothes cover the harness to be completely invisible!

The vandoren harness works well, sitting or standing, it keeps straight even shoulders-hips position, because the V-shape strap shortens from one side and lengthen from the other side!!!!


vandoren harness is my favorite

while playing aside!

With a long  strap and flexible hook in front of you, you can comfortably use a playing position in front of the body, or off to the side. The backside braces are hard but flexible plastic and sitting with the harness on really comfortable than I first though it might be. This harness will encourage to have a  better posture, since the center of gravity seems to rest on the shoulder pads, holding them forward and fighting the traditional slouch so many sax players have.

Purchase Vandoren Harness here on Amazon

Purchase Neotech Harness here on Amazon

Purchase Neotech Super Harness here on Amazon

Purchase BG Harness for Boys here on Amazon

Purchase BG Harness for Girls here on Amazon

Purchase Jazzlab saxholder here on Amazon

Please, you are welcome to share your eperiences! Thank you!

review jazzlab saxholder, best harness available, best harness for saxophone tenor, best harness for saxophone alto

Jazzlab Saxholder – my absolute favorite since the beginning of 2017!

Why I choosed jazzlab saxholder?

First – the curiosity, because when you are teacher for some time (me 17 years), you need to have to be aware of ALL the neckstrap or harness materials available on the market.

I have faced myself neck problem, I’ve been playing with normal neck strap, that comes with a new saxophone. And it is so wrong to play with it , column vertebral is suffering so much and unfortunately it takes years to understand that the damage is done invisible way. Can you fix it? NO, no and no. Bones, nerves, discs of column vertebral are damaged forever. You can recover, but it is gonna cost you! And yet it is so easy to AVOID THAT PROBLEM in the future!

neck strapThe saxophonist Chris Condon just shared on Facebook his “bad surprise”, that he has been playing 20+ years with the neck strap and wakes up one day (now we are july 2018, so he posted on june 2018!!!) and he could not feel the fingers of one hand, neither hold up things! We should not damage the health because of saxophone! We can prevent it!

Read More

Why should I go to Summer Academy?

I have been thinking, why we are at first place against to go to Summer Camps or in music world in Summer Academies. Maybe the word camping or something else is somehow misused?
But the world goes more and more looking the screens and still the ACTUAL WORLD REMAINS OUTSIDE OF THE SCREENS. In Summer Academies we are all communicating through music and our souls are singing and those who are sitting in audience are sharing with us these intimate moments, like Paul McCartney song “Yesterday” in orchestral version and saxophone solo starts 2:15, for those who are interested to listen to!
Playing in wind orchestra or string orchestra is completely different experience, all those colours your ear is able to discover and distinguish, this is FEELING, nobody can explain intellectually what you feel, because it is the chemistry and it is wonderful to experience. So go for it!


The pieces you can play? For example Mozart, and his 25th symphony 1st part is like rockmusic frm 18th century!!! Listen and watch here!

Amazing Grace by Saxophone Ensemble, watch here!

Live and Let Die of L. and P. mcCartney, watch here!

And all kinds of little ensembles, like quartet, sextet “Amazing Grace“…..it s all about hierarchie in the music, solo versus chorus, tuning and the balance in the chords – in those tiny details are hidden necessary things to be able to perform big saxophone choir for exemple Alain Crepin “Nuits blanches/ White nights“. I do promote this wonderful piece, that exist also alto/tenorsax and piano version.

And hey…. video: Let’s twist again like we did last summer! See you beside the sea, like we performed on that video!

Traveling with saxophone(s)!

When we travel by car, we can take as much things as we want to with us, just make sure, that instrument case does not lie on the BOTTOM of the things and it does not MOVE too much, especially on the case of saxophone. Place it well amongst the things!

Traveling by plane is a challenge, but I can share what have I done.

Traveling with tenorsaxophone, I take the so called flightcase (Selmer, BAM, SKB has a good one, it is  soft material and also the hard flightcases), it has the shape of the saxophone and usually there has not been problems. But it is crucial to understand, that there are little planes versus big planes and that’s why YOU NEED TO KNOW before, which plane will be! Once, when I checked in at Paris airport, they start to interrogate, that mesures do not fit… etc and I was with soprano!!! So I told, I ve been traveling 15 years and I never had problems and as I have looked, that the airplane is big, so even for guitarplayer it should be ok…..it worked and actually it is true. Usually you have no problem with soprano, at least the case of straight soprano looks similar to violin case.

But the conciousness about musical instruments has not approved with the time!

When I was traveling tenorsaxophone with normal case, I mean not in a saxophone shape, airbaltic company charged me for special price 60 euros and I could carry it on the plane. So if you don’t have a saxophone shape flightcase, then you should count on for extra money (continue to read!).

Traveling with two saxophone,

I have wrapped alto in a hard cover suitcase between the clothes, nothing happened and theN tenor I took on the plane with  (F)lightcase – ON THE SHAPE OF SAXOPHONE!

Of course I did put all documents inside the saxophone, no other bag is taken to the plane!

ALWAYS take out for travel the screwdrivers and all stuff you need for reparation your saxophone, because in the security of the airport, they look at it as a suspicious stuff, so they just take it away!!!!!
ALWAYS close all open pads with cork material, do it just like you received a new saxophone, if you still remember, all open pads and even C# and G# were closed with cork material. Then you have no worries about pads regulation problems, if that had accured during the traveling!
ALWAYS control before leaving an airport, if you had to give away your saxophone down with other suitcases, so when you arrive to the destination airpot (and I presume you have done insurance also!) then YOU OPEN AND CONTOL IMMEDIATELY there the condition of your saxophone. If something has happened during the travel, you can complain and ask for to repair it. Do you imagine yourself looking for a saxophone reparation in a country you barely know? Maybe you will not have even time for that?

Traveling with bariton I had such experiences:

Either you ask a bariton from the destination you are traveling, somebody has to have a bariton? It has worked.
You can buy a ticket for your bari saxophone separately and on the plane you sit next to it!

Third option is to close all open pads with cork and sticker them with the tape if needed. Then buy a LOT OF “FRAGILE” stickers and put ALLOVER on your saxophone, Otherwise you know…..they will damage.

We musicians are aware of the different suitcases for instruments, but airport craft NEVER.
Just think forward everything. All them worked well with me!


Purchase SKB Flightcase for Alto saxophone here on Amazon

Purchase fantastic BAM alto saxophone Cabin Case here on Amazon

Purchase BAM NEW Trekking Alto saxophone case here on Amazon


Purchase fantastic BAM tenor saxophone Cabin Case LA DEFENSE  here on Amazon

Purchase fantastic BAM tenorsaxophone Cabin Case Standard here on Amazon

Purchase Softpack BAM tenorsaxophone case here on Amazon


Purchase SKB Flightcase for Bariton saxophone here on Amazon

Purchase fantastic quality BAM bariton case (France) here on Amazon

Hope my experiences had served you, and please comment and share yours also! Thank You!

How to clean well Your saxophone?

We often see in the shops various materials for cleaning woodwind instruments. But the trueth is, that all these instruments are very very different and what is suitable for flute, DO NOT suit for saxophone unfortunately. We can find swabs that are meant to be in multipurpose.
I have given some tips on this video, how to clean and what I have been using last 20+ years.

The right care taking of your saxophone hygiene is better for your health and for maintaining your saxophone in a good manner, to last it longer, to serve you and audience really well.
I point out some important things: wash your mouthpiece after every other playing if you don’ t want to do it every time. Also after that desinfect with the sterisol liquid specially made for mouthpieces. Keeps your immunitary system under the control!

Materials: brushes are not useful, because it doesn ‘t dry out the condence of salive that remains inside after we finish playing saxophone! I recommend only Yamaha cleaning swab and also Vandoren, Selmer, Buffet swabs. Yamaha swabs are easy to find in any shops, others harder to find. Why do I recommend this? Because first we need to dry out well inside of the saxophone and the tissue/material should not leave fibers inside of the saxophone body!!!!!!!

Maintenance of saxophone includes this: every year you change the oil (flasks, screws etc), Reparation “master” will wash ALL, that has left from salive and of course regulation of pads and cocks. After that your saxophone is fantastic to play, no noise around your playing. It is a real pleasure, like after the SPA care!

Hope you found it useful, please feel free to comment your experiences, i would be happy to know about.

Double tonguing

In music studies we are one moment THERE, where you have to study faster tonguing, because normal tonguing is never fast enough! And therefore we use effectively this technic.

After a “panic attack” we realize that we need a “quick course” in double tonguing. Unfortunately there are no “miracle” exercises, becuse new things take time to establish. And you can not learn to double tongue overnight! Focus every day a little bit of concentrated practice time and you will be impressing your friends and family with your ability to double tongue soon enough.

FIRST-It’s impossible to develop good double tonguing skills without stabilizing REGULAR SINGLE tonguing. The following simple exercises will improve single tongue accuracy and speed UP developing your double tonguing.

It is important to understand the different feeling on your throat-tongue movement with following syllabes: Dah-gah versus Tah-kah! the last syllabe is cutting more the sound and is not helping really!
These syllables are used in double tonguing. Most students prefer dah-gah, since it is smoother in different registers and duration of the notes sounds equal-which is the ULTIMATE GOAL! It is less “out pomping/cutting” (the sound flow) and easier to keep the steady air column of flowing with Dah-gah syllabes than with tah-kah. Tah-kah can be used better in accented style when needed. Usually you need to start with dah-gah and eventually we practice after Tah-Kah syllabes also. Very important is the STEADY AIR SUPPORT, otherwise you will have wholes between the notes.

Preliminary exercises: make exercises without instrument first, to get used to the FEELING on your throat. sAY the syllabes.

Whispering loudly “gaa or I do Guh” over and over , please notice where the postition of your tongue inside the mouth. Try to bring the point of tongue to contact with the roof of your mouth as far forward as possible. In woodwind instrument playing we often do notpay attention to the position of the tongue inside of the mouth, but I do assure, that once you start to analyse it, You will get tricks done quickly on your instrument!

Whisper “gaa or guh” into your instrument, or mouthpiece-neck and keep embouchure normally and support with air REALLY WELL Gah-syllabes. Eventually bite the lips together and let the sound to come. Do not worry about tone quality at first. This may take several attempts before you are comfortable and using the “gah” syllabe at the same time with Dah.
Say “I dug-a-hole” quickly several times. Then extend to “I dug-a-dug-a-hole,” and “I dug-a-dug-a-dug-a-hole”. Practice many times singing in good legato singing, especially not chopped singing way and start on a note G, A or B or C – combine different rhythm patterns and go on to improve the speed.

Gradually increase the speed and go as fast as you can. In order to reach a tempo that is necessary to achieve, you must constantly try to move forward on tempo. Practice this exercise at least several weeks.

I LOVE TO SAY THAT: It is crucial to practice the following exercises with a metronome.

Duh-Duh-Duh-Duh/Duh-Guh-Duh-Guh/the aim is not to change the sound of Duh and Guh, it must not be different!
First in one note these syllabes and in tempo 60, 68, 72 etc, keep rising the tempo. And then in to different notes, then in chronatic scale and in a piece where you need to use it.
Also use in triples: Duh-Guh-Duh, Duh-Guh-Duh and of course work together with metronome.
As the music is the art of sound, listen always please your sound and articulations carefully and record yourself. This is the best method to work and to improve.

And you need just download application: Mobile metronome and choose “high sound” click – electronic beat, it is best to hear over saxophone timber.

Here is a video!

After becoming familiar with the exercise on one note, move to 2 notes and go on. After increase the register and practice all major and minor scales double tongued with four notes per pitch, two notes per pitch, and then one note per pitch. Many books contain exercises and etudes for double tonguing. Triple tonguing is really just a variation of double tonguing.