Three Modern Woodwind Classics That’ll Take Your Breath Away

Woodwind instruments have some of the most intense depths of sound and tone of any type of instrument. There is a certain, haunting soul that you can capture on a saxophone or clarinet that is more di?cult to get on a piano. Despite this, woodwinds are criminally underused in many types of music, and very often, are confined to ‘traditional’ classical music.
But just listening to classical music can get boring after a while, and many woodwind musicians prefer to play a wide variety of musical styles and genres.

As such, we’ve compiled a list of three modern woodwind classics, featuring our favourite hits from jazz, rock, and pop.

1. John Coltrane – Blue Train (1958: Saxophone)

It’s impossible to compile a list of the greatest wind musicians without John Coltrane being somewhere near the top. Blue Train is one of the most talked about jazz albums of the past century, and deservedly so. It o?ers a glimpse into another era and another life: equal parts busy and minimal, chaotic, yet structured. Joyful, but with a hint of melancholy. A nostalgic trip into the past, but one which is so completely timeless that it will never get old or stale.

Perhaps it is no surprise that this particular album was written during Coltrane’s recovery from heroin addiction, just four months after getting clean. There is an air of freshness and wondrous observation about the piece; as if you can just imagine Coltrane composing the melody in a cafe while watching people emerge from the railway station.

There is a bustling rhythm to the music that is just so very human, as if you are seeing the life in front of you in a di?erent way. The way you might see it when starting a new life, as Coltrane himself did.

Coltrane’s saxophone is cool, understated, and minimal. Even when he plays the runs and trills, the simplicity of the backing makes the instrument shine. In several parts of the recording, you can hear the breathy, dull sound of the saxophone reed which helps to ground the piece and bring it back to earth.

2. Sidney Bechet – Petite Fleur/Stranger On The Shore (1952: Saxophone)

‘Bechet to me, was the very epitome of jazz.’ – Duke Ellington

Although a little more traditional in its style than Coltrane’s jazz, Bechet’s songwriting is classic and memorable, and o?set by touches of Latin American flair across the piece. Despite its subtlety, there is an inherent passion in Bechet’s playing, which can be heard throughout.

The classic melody, in keeping with popular musical values of memorability and simplicity, is o?set by more complex beats and jazz elements, which makes the piece fascinating to listen to while retaining its approachability.

This, along with the audible attitude and suaveness of the voice of the saxophone, creates a sense of wistfulness – with a hint of romantic and sexual longing, and the lonely simplicity of the instrument against a minimal background.

Bechet was a groundbreaking musician: in an era where racial (and therefore musical) segregation was the norm, he became the first important jazz artist on record, just a few months before Louis Armstrong rose to fame.

Bechet came from New Orleans, but found the jazz scene in the United States limited and decided to continue his career in France, where he joined La Revue Negre, a show starring popular Black music and talent of the time, including the singer and stage performer Josephine Baker. It was here, in his new home of France that Bechet wrote Petite Fleur.

3. Benny Goodman – In The Mood (Clarinet)

Known as The King Of Swing, Benny Goodman’s In The Mood was immediately popular among white Americans who may not have listened to jazz otherwise. Goodman’s concert at Carnegie Hall in NYC was described by critic Bruce Eder as “jazz’s coming out party to the world of respectable music”.

While this attitude towards Black music is a clear reflection of racial prejudices of the time, Eder does identify the unifying spirit of Goodman’s music. Goodman’s groups were some of the first truly racially integrated bands of the era, and he showed the same values in his personal life at the time, being vocally against any kind of racism throughout his musical career.

Benny Goodman’s orchestra went on to become one of the most popular bands of the Swing era, and their concert at Carnegie Hall was hailed as the ‘single most important concert in history’ for its influence on popular music at the time.

Teach Yourself How to Juggle

Did you know that juggling is a rewarding hobby? Studies indicate that people who juggle have more brain grey matter than those who don’t. To most people, juggling is a lofty goal. Only a few find it easy, but it’s possible when you learn the basics, work hard, and practice more.
If you’ve never juggled before and want to teach yourself how to do so, this article is for you. It will take you step-by-step on learning juggling as a beginner.

Let’s dive into it!

Step 1: Select Ideal Balls

You’ve probably seen a juggler pulling a stunt in the street or during a concert. The balls they toss are specific for juggling. You can find some on the market.

As a beginner, you need juggling balls made with softer materials. Such balls can hardly bounce from your hands. Since the balls also don’t roll away or bounce a lot when dropped, they pose less threat to people or things around. Also, when you chase balls that have bounced or rolled far away, you drain the energy that you could have utilized learning the art.

Professional jugglers can work with balls of the same color. But as a newbie, you should use juggling balls of different colors. It will be easier to identify them and easily coordinate the balls with your eyes and hands. Ball colors should be eye-popping for a flashy and fun experience.

Are you working on a tight budget? No problem. You can buy beanbags. They come at incredibly low prices and are excellent for beginners. If you love doing simple DIY home crafts, you can make one and save your hard-earned dollars.

Alternatively, you can make slip-free grip balls by filling a medium-sized round balloon with pennies or stuffing sand into old tennis balls.

Step 2: Make Your Hands Used to the Balls

As a first-time juggler, your hands haven’t gotten used to the balls. The first thing you need to do after acquiring the right juggling balls is to make your hands get used to them. It’s the first juggling touch experience.

Sounds fun? Yes, it is.

Begin by using one ball. Throw it from one of your hands to the other. Do so several times.

Does it seem silly to you? I think so. But it will help you to be comfortable when throwing and catching a juggling ball.

Then start practicing selfies. They entail throwing the ball up high and catching it with the throwing hand. Use each hand to practice and ensure they don’t move too much. Your elbows should stay at the same level as your hips.

Your non-dominant hand may find it challenging to throw the ball accurately to your dominant hand. Keep practicing until you’re comfortable throwing and catching the ball from and to each hand. Once you have grasped the ropes of this art, you can start practicing the next step.

Step3: Learn How To Scoop

Most juggling learners drop off at this stage. But when your hands have gotten used to the juggling balls, scooping is easy with practice and determination.

Scooping is the art of dipping your hand before you toss the ball. It makes juggling easy. The dip shouldn’t be so deep because it will interfere with the correct juggling scoop. To scoop correctly, try moving your hands in small circles.

The arc formed after scooping shouldn’t be above your eye level. With more practice, you can scoop smoothly while forming the right arc. At this point, proceed to learn the next step.

Step 4: Practice Tossing Two Balls

Begin by holding a juggling ball in each hand. Let’s assume the ball in your right hand is ball A and the left hand is ball B. Then toss ball A. When it reaches the optimal point of its arc, toss the other ball.

If you toss ball B when ball A hasn’t arrived at the top of its arc, it will interfere with the timing. You won’t have enough time to catch the balls. One may fall when catching the other. It also disrupts your next throw.

Continue practicing until you can juggle the two balls smoothly. Then move to the next step.

Step 5: Practice Tossing a Minimum of Three Balls

You must understand the ball’s trajectories and their intertwining art before tossing three or more of them at once. In the case of a three-ball juggle, one should be in the air while you hold the other two in each of your hands.

Seems complicated? No.

First, hold two juggling balls in your dominant hand and the other one in your non-dominant hand. Then throw one of the balls on your dominant hand towards your non-dominant hand. Scoop and form the right arc as you do so. When the ball reaches the optimal point of its arc, throw the ball from your non-dominant hand to your dominant hand.

Pass it under the first ball. And when it arrives at its highest point, catch the first ball you threw from your dominant hand as you throw the remaining ball in your dominant hand. Ensure you throw the third ball under the second ball.

When you catch the second ball, wait to catch the third ball, and that is all. Easy, right? Yes, with much practice. It’s also fun and breathtaking.

If you find it challenging, try practicing using lightweight, small scarves. You will understand better how the balls operate while in motion. Repeat as many times as you can until you do it effortlessly. Then proceed to the next step.

Step 6: Practice Scooping the Opposite Direction

You have learned how to scoop the balls under the one on its highest point, then catch it. This step will teach you how to scoop the ball over a ball while at its highest point. That’s why it’s called the over-the-top method.

When you grasp the art, you can add another ball or more. Juggling more than three balls is similar to a three-ball juggling, except that you need to move your hands faster.


As illustrated above, juggling is doable with much practice. Despite entertaining you, juggling also improves your hand-eye coordination. Also, a juggler concentrates more and has fantastic problem-solving and goal-setting skills.

You’ll find other skills easy to grasp when you learn to juggle because of your improved coordination and reflexes. Don’t wait anymore. Teach yourself with the above step-by-step guide and juggle like a pro!

If you want to go beyond being just a beginner at this or any other skill, and work toward developing a real mastery, then you are going to need a deeper and more powerful strategy. What you need is a way to hack your brain so you can develop a winning mindset.

A winning mindset is a state of mind that allows you to enter a flow state at will. You do this by programming your subconscious mind.

Believe it or not, most of what you do throughout an average day is NOT freely chosen by your normal waking consciousness even though it may seem that way. The truth is that most of what you do on a day-to-day basis is done on autopilot. An example of this would be when you’re driving your car and as you do so you get bored and begin daydreaming. Before you know it, you find yourself several miles further down the road with absolutely NO memory of having driven those last several miles.

So, who exactly was driving while your waking consciousness was in la-la land, and how exactly did you manage to avoid an accident? Your subconscious mind was in control. You already spent years programming your subconscious with how to deal with a broad range of possible driving scenarios and thus it had no trouble taking the wheel while your waking consciousness took a little break. In other words, you were able to take effective actions without having to THINK about them.

Beating Musician’s Block: Top Tips For Finding Inspiration

Even the most talented songwriters and composers sometimes hit a dry spell. This can be due to several factors; stress, boredom, and fatigue can all contribute to ‘musician’s block’, making it di?cult to summon the energy or inspiration to come up with something new and original.

Your ability to write music may also be hindered by events in your musical career, such as low self-esteem following a poor critique, or working on an album that you simply don’t enjoy.

Fortunately, we are blessed to live in a world which is full of inspiration, just waiting to be uncovered. Here are a few top techniques for overcoming musician’s block.

Stimulating With Self Care

If you’re not taking care of your body and mind, your brain will have a more di?cult time coming up with innovative ideas. Fatigue, hunger, and stress can have the e?ect of creating a ‘brain fog’ that makes it harder to focus.

Taking some time away from your instrument or computer can give your brain time to relax, which helps you to come back to your work with a fresh pair of eyes.


Have you eaten a healthy balanced diet today?
Have you drunk enough water?
Have you had between 8 and 10 hours of sleep?
Have you washed and dressed yourself today?
Is your environment a relaxing and clean place to work?
Have you taken regular breaks?

Spending Time In Nature

Nature is a great source of inspiration for many musicians and artists, and the natural world has inspired many of the greatest hits of all time, from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to Bob Thiele’s What A Wonderful World.

Taking the time to go outside and engage with nature also has many benefits for mental health, such as improved concentration and attention, lower stress levels, and increased endorphin and dopamine levels – all of which result in feelings of happiness and calmness.

You may also find inspiration from the sounds found in the natural world: Pink Floyd famously sampled a range of animal noises on their album Animals, while the Doors’ Riders On The Storm uses storm and rain samples to create a moody atmosphere. In modern pop, Lana Del Rey is also known for her use of ocean sounds in many of her tracks.

When you’re out for your next walk, why not record any sounds that spark your imagination? You can then use these samples in electronic tracks, or attempt to replicate them using instruments.

Play A Word Game

If you prefer to write your lyrics before the music, playing a word game such as Scrabble can be a great way to get over writer’s block. These kinds of games stimulate your brain and can help you to identify catchy words or phrases to use in your lyrics.

Investing in a set of word fridge magnets can be a great way to experiment with di?erent words and phrases for your songs. Every time you go to your fridge throughout the day, take a look at your magnet set. Which words go well together and why? How can you use these phrases to make an impression on your audience?

Use Your Experience

Experience is a powerful tool for creating emotional songs that your listeners can connect to. Many classic songs have been inspired by powerful events – both good and bad – that affected the artists or their loved ones.

You have likely had many experiences in your life that have made an impact on you; these experiences can be something that has happened to you directly, stories you have heard from others, or a combination of the two.

What experiences in your life stand out to you? How did you feel back then? And do you feel di?erently about them now?

Exercise: Identify one positive experience and one negative experience from your life that have made an impression on you. How can you communicate the feelings attached to these events through music and lyrics?

Do you want the music to match the lyrics in tone? Or is it more e?ective to communicate feelings of confusion by using contrast, such as happy lyrics with sad music, or vice versa?

Read A Book

Books are an excellent resource for musicians and can help artists to build a creative persona. Many popular songs have been based on books, including Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights, and Je?erson Airplane’s White Rabbit, which was inspired by Alice In Wonderland.

And if classical literature isn’t your cup of tea, A Perfect Circle wrote So Long And Thanks For All The Fish inspired by Douglas Adams’ successful sci-fi comedy The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

When writing about your favourite novel consider:

Which character(s) do you relate most to? How can you communicate their personality through music and lyrics?
What is the overarching storyline or theme of the book?
Are there any thematic elements you can use from the book to enhance your music, such as sounds or well-known quotes?

Whatever your writing style, there are countless sources of inspiration to draw on. So why not kick back and enjoy your favourite works of literature? You may find they inspire your own masterpiece.