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What Comes After the Rubank Elementary Method Saxophone Book?

You might not know who Nilo Hovey was, but as a reed musician, you have probably heard of his books. Hovey was the author of the most widely used beginner wind instrument books possibly ever written. Written in 1934, the Rubank Elementary Method Saxophone music book remarkably, is still in use today. The Rubank Inc. music publishing house of Chicago, founded in 1927, is now part of

the Hal Leonard Corporation. As far as I can tell, few books to this day have shown up as any competition to Hovey’s books for the “Beginner-Beginner” woodwind student.

During the course of his career as a sax player and educator, Hovey wrote over 40 instructional books for wind instruments. He directed bands in the public schools of Indiana and later became the Educational Director at the Selmer Corporation. Hovey continued to edit books, compose, and conduct bands and ensembles until his death in 1986.

Luckily for students just picking up the sax for the first time, Hovey’s legacy lives on. Yet, what happens when you or your students become more serious and are ready to move on to specialize and focus on their technique skills? You need a current and comprehensive saxophone music book system that will take you to the next phase of playing and beyond.

Enter Zinn and The Art Of Saxophone, A Course Of Technical Study For A Lifetime Of Improvement. Written in this century, for the modern player who really wants to improve and develop practice routines that stick, Zinn’s saxophone books are designed for soprano, alto, tenor, or baritone sax players.

Zinn outlines each book with his five pillars, Long Tones, Chromatics, Scales, Intervals, and Arpeggios. He adds Miscellaneous Exercises and offers his incredibly inspirational approach to practicing. This format has literally transformed his students into many of today’s professional players. While Jazz is his thing, Zinn’s books are applicable to the classical and pop player as well.

Zinn recommends that you start with Book One, the White Book because you can find relevance in it, no matter what your skill level, and then move through the levels. This regimen is not for the faint of heart. Zinn reminds the reader that there are no shortcuts to hard work and that playing an instrument at a high level takes desire, dedication, and determination. Mastery is an illusion, he says, and that it is imperative the student learn to relish the process of practicing, not just the end result of playing.

Here is what some of the experts have said:

When it comes to musical pedagogy, I’m certainly no expert; but, that being said, the six books of Zinn and the Art of Saxophone, when taken all together, just might be the most comprehensive collection on saxophone technique I have ever seen: wide-ranging in scope, meticulous in detail, logical in organization, intuitive in use, exhaustive, exacting, challenging, inspiring. Makes me want to practice - almost! - JOSHUA REDMAN

Dann Zinn’s Art of The Saxophone is a must have for all saxophonists out there, from beginners to the most advanced. The books are expertly organized, acknowledging all the challenges a saxophonist might encounter in today’s world. Highly Recommended. - MIGUEL ZENON

Zinn and the Art of Saxophone, is the most organized and comprehensive approach to approaching all levels of saxophone technique that I’ve ever seen. The pacing of the books brings you along in a way that encourages positive reinforcement and creativity at every turn and leaves no question unanswered. Amazing! - WALTER SMITH III

Dann Zinn’s Zinn and the Art of The Saxophone is one of the most thorough tools I have ever seen for developing every facet of a student’s technique. Using scales and patterns, these exercises take you through the basics and way beyond. It is clear, well-organized and thoughtfully and intuitively expressed. Any student who spends time with these books will benefit in countless ways. I will certainly recommend this curriculum to my students at Julliard. - TED NASH

Dann Zinn is a masterful musician/teacher who has put together a comprehensive and extremely thorough methodology for becoming an accomplished saxophonist. He covers all the bases and has thoughtful explanations as to why one would take this approach. I highly recommend these books for the serious student of saxophone playing. - BOB MINTZER

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