Steven Jordheim, Professor of Saxophone

I imagine that nearly all saxophonists at some point have wished that they could see what is happening inside the mouth and throat when playing the saxophone.  When learning techniques such as double tonguing or slap tonguing, students often comment that they would find it so much easier to understand the elements involved if they could see what the anatomical structures inside the mouth and throat actually do in producing these techniques.

My long-standing interest in understanding the involvement of the vocal tract in saxophone performance led to “The Saxophonist’s Anatomy” – a project in which I used fiberoptic endoscopic cameras to view and record the movements of the structures inside the mouth and throat during performance of nearly all the standard and extended techniques of saxophone performance.  This studio project included current members, faculty, and alumni of the Lawrence Saxophone Studio; each was recorded endoscopically at an ear, nose, and throat clinic at a local hospital while playing an extensive list of saxophone techniques.

I have created a website – The Saxophonist’s Anatomy – to present video clips with accompanying explanations of all the techniques recorded in this project.  My hope is that the insights you gain through viewing these video clips will help you to make more rapid progress in mastering the techniques of saxophone performance.


Watch:  Jesse Dochnahl LU'05, Steven Jordheim, Sara Kind LU'05, and Sumner Truax LU'13 perform Elliott Carter's Canonic Suite for 4 Alto Saxophones

José Encarnación, Instructor of Jazz Saxophone

Throughout the years, my concept of improvisation has been in constant change and full of experimentation. Many kinds of music involve improvisation. For many years I have spent a big deal of time on ear training and listening to and transcribing what improvisers have done in the past. Also, I have explored and analyzed improvisational concepts present in performance of varied repertoire in order to understand what it takes to create music right on the spot. This is something I do continuously.

My interest focuses not only on jazz improvisation — which involves the study of African influences in North America, work songs, spirituals, ragtime, blues, bebop, avant-garde, etc. — but on the study of other oral traditions and cultures.

Some examples of my research include:

Polyphonic practices that included improvisatory harmonization during the 14th and 15th centuries
Improvisation of variations on themes during the baroque and classical periods
Improvisations of Bach, Handel, Mozart and Beethoven on the organ and piano
Improvisations of cadenzas in concertos during the romantic period, utilizing development of thematic material from the concerto
Aleatoric music (music made by chance or indeterminacy)
Gamelon music of Java and Bali, which involves very sophisticated improvisation
Carnatic music from South India and Hindustani music from North India
Mbira music from Africa
Yoruba People music from West Africa that influenced Cuban music
Seis and Bomba Music from Puerto Rico
My goal is to understand and apply different improvisational concepts from many oral traditions and cultures in both my performance and teaching.  As I impart this knowledge and demonstrate the application of various approaches to improvisation in my teaching, my students become better equipped to create music spontaneously in the course of a performance.

Watch: José Encarnacion plays This Thing with the Lawrence Faculty Jazz Quartet

Sara Kind, Instructor of Saxophone


Some of the musical activities I find most rewarding include performing chamber music and collaborating with composers on new works.  One of my recent projects combines both - a commission for a new saxophone duo with electronics.  It was a meaningful undertaking on many levels as it allowed me to work with former Lawrence classmate Jesse Dochnahl (LU, class of '05), and colleague Asha Srinivasan (LU Assistant Professor of Music Theory, Composition, and Electronic Music). 

Asha Srinivasan completed the duo, entitled "Keerthanata," in 2012, at which time it was premiered at the 2012 Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States conference.  Like much of Asha Srinivasan's music, "Keerthanata" combines elements of both Western and South Indian classical music. The saxophone parts are highly interactive, featuring a heterophonic texture and melodic elements based on an Indian raga.  The electronic accompaniment combines electronic and acoustic sounds and includes sounds produced by the saxophone such as slap tongue and key clicks.

Asha Srinivasan comments on the piece:

"Keerthanata" is a play on words combining the names for a standard form in South Indian classical music, keerthanam, with the Western musical term sonata.  The melodic structure of Indian music known as raga often has a different ascending and descending form, often with zig-zags in the scalar pattern.  The mode I invented for this piece models these aspects using all twelve pitches and employing complementary sets that lead to a wide array of characteristic chromatic gestures...Much of Indian classical music is highly emotional and serious, and this is also true of most of my music, but here I wanted to share the light, energetic aspect of Indian music and thereby infuse my own music with some frivolity!"

Listen:  Sara Kind and Jesse Dochnahl (LU'05) perform "Keerthanata"

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