Charlie's Saxophone Story

**this has not been updated since inception, 1997

think i should update it?

The very beginning: In fifth grade, around the second week of classes, the students in my middle school were told to go see the band director if we were interested in playing an instrument. Well, I had it set in my mind that I would play the French Horn. I always loved the instrument- it had a beautiful tone, seemed fun to play, and it could be played in a brass quintet (I saw performance of a quintet in elementary school). So my buddy and I went down to the band room, and saw Mr. Petteys (Lewis Petteys). We got the basics out of the way, and he started to read off the list of instruments. He said trumpet, and my friend Chris said, "well, I know what I'm going to play!" When Mr. Petteys got to the saxophone, my face lit up. I thought, "Wow- the saxophone... That's the coolest instrument around by far!" So there it is. I've been playing since the age of 10, and have absolutely no intentions on stopping!!

Middle School: I took lessons from Mr. Petteys my 4 years at Central Park Middle School. He knew I loved the horn, and that I loved to play, even if I didn't practice nearly as much as he would have liked! Eventually, the number of people became smaller and smaller in the lessons, as kids dropped or switched instruments. By 8th grade, I had private lessons, which was great in itself, yet even better since Mr. Petteys is a saxophonist. :-) While at Central Park, I played tenor, baritone and alto saxophones in the band and in my lessons. Tenor, though, was always my favorite.

High School: When I got to high school, there was some competition waiting. Freshmen year, though, I made lead tenor in the "Stage Band" (jazz ensemble) at Mont Pleasant HS. However, by sophomore year, my high school started combining with the school across the city. It was quite fortunate for the band, who gained several really great players. However, it was unfortunate for me, since I was bumped to second tenor. That happened around the time my high school band director, "Boss" (Richard Hallenbeck) told me there was a clarinet/ saxophone teacher who had openings for private students. Well after I was edged out on tenor, there wasn't much question!! So, I studied with Conrad Kuchay from that point until about 1992. Throughout high school, I performed in the NYSSMA area all state concert bands, auditioning with pieces such as Vivaldi's Sonata No. 6 (transcribed by Rascher) Piece Breve (Bozza) and also a jazz solo. In my junior year, I purchased a King Super 20 tenor saxophone from the music store I started working for that year. Oh yeah, I got the first tenor chair back the very next year!!

College: Here's where it gets a bit hairy. Throughout my life, up until the Fall semester of 1990, I wanted to be an electrical engineer. I went to SUNY Morrisville right out of high school to study electrical engineering technology. However, I found the music department, and had a field day! John Humphrey or "Doc" (may he rest in peace) not only had me playing and singing in 4 ensembles that semester, but mixing sound for a college rock band and learning several instruments. I had started playing clarinet (even doubling for a concert) senior year of high school, but Doc had me playing it in woodwind ensemble and in a dixieland group (with a great instrumentation). Needless to say, I became proficient on clarinet! He also had me trying oboe (which I might pass for NYSSMA grade 4 on), flute, bassoon, and some variations of the woodwind family- bass clarinet, alto clarinet, soprano sax, bari sax... you name it! I started practicing (mainly tenor, some soprano) 4 hours daily. With the kind of commitment I started with the music, not much time was left for electronics- often including classes... While at Morisville, I also joined Alpha Delta Mu music fraternity. The fraternity and memories are all I have left from Morrisville...

More College: I started attending Schenectady County Community College (SCCC) in the Spring of 1992. They don't call it "Second Chance" for nothin'!!!! Anyway, I didn't know what I wanted to study, and I was pretty confused at that point, so I thought computer science might be the way to go. Eventually I realized there was a fairly substantial music department at the college. I was immediately drafted into the wind ensemble under John Aasmunstad playing third and (soon thereafter) second clarinet. I also joined the vocal chamber ensemble (select, mostly a capella) as a second bass. Well, the rest of that semester was spent playing and singing, and waiting for the following fall, when I would be changing my major to Music/ Business. Musically speaking, I was very active at SCCC. That fall came and I joined the Jazz Ensemble on lead tenor, the college chorus (not by choice), and the Saxophone Quartet playing soprano and baritone. So, again, I was performing in many (5) ensembles on different instruments (in fact, in wind ensemble I played anything but the saxophone: 1st clarinet, bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet- usually doubling and in one case tripling!) I studied with Dr. Aasmunstad for 1 year and the newly hired sax/ clarinet professor, Brett Wery.

     When I graduated from SCCC (May 1993), I found a full time job working at Schenectady Teachers FCU (Now First Teachers FCU). I worked on computer systems for 1 1/2 years. Although, the job was more interesting than it might seem, there's no reason to write about it here... While I worked there I researched colleges to transfer to yet practiced occasionally. For my playing it was not too good. For my future, it was great- I paid off some student loans, and found a direction for my life.

Even More College!!:  So here I am at Fredonia a Sound Recording Technology major, just as planned. In the Spring of 1995 I transferred in as a junior music business (interdisciplinary major) to avoid the entrance audition, and because the SRT sequence is such that you can only start in the fall. I worked on my chops- about 3 hours a day, mostly tenor. I took my formal audition in March, and Dr. Wyman said, "You're a shoe in!"
       After my sophomore year (yes, I went from junior to sophomore) I added a major, Applied Music (performance), to allow me to take private lessons with Laurence Wyman. At Fredonia, I have performed with the Fredonia Jazz Ensemble (Spring 1995) on lead tenor, the Fredonia Wind Symphony (including tours and a CD release) on baritone saxophone (Fall 1995) and first alto and soprano (1996-97), and the Fredonia Saxophone Ensemble- large ensembles on bass saxophone, and in quartets on alto and soprano. I have had the opportunity to play many major pieces for saxophone between my private study and ensembles. For that I am grateful to Dr. Wyman. Earlier this year, I also had a shot at the 1997 Fredonia School of Music Concerto Competition. I auditioned with the Muczynski Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra, and made it as far as finalist. As of late, I am working on my senior graduation recital for the applied major.

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