Breakdown Breakthrough by Mark Blickley and Jana Hunterova
Photograph by Jana Hunterova
Text by Mark Blickley
So what if my instrument doesn’t have a reed? It’s just a thin piece of cane attached to the mouthpiece, the sound producing agent for the instrument. Why does it matter that all an audience can hear when I’m on stage is the clicking of the keys against the pads, and the sound of me inhaling and exhaling? When I would blow into that sax, it was like the Lord breathing life into Adam. God, I loved my silent saxophone!
Professor Bindt was no con man. He didn’t steal my music lesson money. With his guidance, I always entered a trance-like state whenever my lips touched the empty mouthpiece. I can’t describe the joy I got from playing my sax. My eyes would automatically close and I’d just drift.
Not only could I hear this rich music, but I’d see such incredible colors and visions. And the smells! Oh, the smells. It was beyond joy. Sometimes I’d capture this penetrating sorrow, but that, too, was exquisite and always left me refreshed.
I had tapped that special place Professor Bindt assured me I’d find. I know it sounds strange but the vibrations inside my instrument shook spirit and released these . . . these . . .
Gershwin once said he had more tunes in his head than he could put down on paper in a hundred years. With Professor Bindt’s revolutionary approach, a musician didn’t need a hundred years to complete his vision. Music isn’t marks on paper or grooves on a CD or streaming soundwaves. It’s here. Inside your head.
My mute saxophone supplied a structure. It channeled my musical energies. I may have played without a reed, but Professor Bindt taught me all the fingering and breathing techniques any saxophonist needs to be accomplished on the instrument.
Look, anyone can play an instrument. Only a select few can compose, can create art. The Professor’s teachings didn’t limit me to the sounds a saxophone could make. When my saxophone took off, it wasn’t an instrument, but instrumental in producing a music no single woodwind, or even orchestra, could reproduce. It was energy and love and anger and trust.