Taylor Barbay Assad



Beyond World Premieres: What Makes a Piece "Stick"?

In our materialistic culture of always having the newest, most up-and-coming thing we often forget that there is merit in what we already have.

As a musician and saxophonist, I feel drawn to promote new music for the saxophone through world premiere performances but also perform works that are well written for the instrument and may not already be an established part of the repertoire.

What makes people play pieces again and again? Is it the use of extended techniques, newly integrated technology, or flashy technical passages? Is it because it is written by a specific composer? Was the recording played so convincingly by the world premiere performer? As a community, why are saxophonists drawn to certain pieces over others?

Personally, I look for some sort of distinct repetition and/or form. I also am drawn to moments of intensity, an underlying story, and more contemporary compositional processes.

How do saxophonists go about selecting works to perform more than once, and how do they eventually become a "standard" in our canon? What makes a new piece stick?

7 Ways to Grow Your Private Studio


Here are some strategies to build a private studio from scratch or to increase the number of students that you currently teach!


1. Masterclasses/Teaching Demonstrations – Reach out to local band directors and offer masterclasses. Perform a flashy piece and engage with the students. Ask the band director if you can hand out business cards and/or flyers directly to students or if they will hang a couple of flyers around the band room at the beginning of the school year. I use Vistaprint for business cards and Canva for creating free marketing materials. You can also ask them to include your information in their band handbook or emails to parents. 

2. School Lessons – Teach lessons at a school. Most directors at middle schools and high schools have their own policies about part time instructors, so ask them directly. Even though a set rate may already be established for lessons, the strength here is in the numbers. You are also reaching out to students who may not have the ability or time to travel to your studio location after school.

3. Word of Mouth – Referrals are  truly the best way to go. Lean on your musical network from school and develop relationships with area band directors and music store owners in your community. Become the go-to person in your area. When students ask their band directors about lessons, you want to be the first person they think of. Also, your own students can advocate for you. If your lessons are engaging, chances are your students will talk about their lessons with their friends in their band programs. Some of the most dedicated students I have taught were introduced to me through referrals.

4. Online Presence – If you don’t already have a website, create one using platforms such as Wordpress, Wix, Blogger, or Squarespace. Outline your marketing strategy and how you will specifically go about increasing your online presence using tools such as Facebook Pages, Instagram, Twitter, and targeted marketing on Facebook and Instagram.

5. Networking with Other Saxophonists – Connect with other musicians in your area and ask for overflow students. You can also offer to teach their students if they are out of town for a prolonged period of time. Contact your current or former saxophone teacher and let them know you are interested in teaching private lessons if their studio is full or if they know someone who is looking for lessons but cannot afford your teacher's rate. 

6. Local Music Stores – Teach and/or advertise at a local music store. Most stores will take a percentage of your lesson fees or charge a flat rental fee. However, some stores will let you put business cards out even if you don’t teach at their store. Store owners want to be able to quickly refer their customers to a reputable private instructor. You can also present a short recital and teaching demo at a music store. After I moved back home from graduate school, this was an easy way for me to find new students.  

7. Offer Lessons Online – Expand your teaching skills and potential market by offering online lessons through takelessons.com, Skype, or Facetime. Takelessons.com does take a portion of your fees, but they provide the platform, help with marketing, and deal with customer service issues as they arise.