20 years of Nexas Quartet 


20 years is definitely enough time to create a vast array of experiences and stories. Here are some fun tales of Nexas Quartet’s first 20 years featuring Ben Carey, Andrew Smith, Nathan Henshaw, Jay Byrnes, Nick Russoniello and Michael Duke. 

In 2002, four budding young saxophone students of the Sydney Conservatorium walked into a practice room under the request of then Head of Woodwind Mark Walton. There was some tension in the room, 2 of the students had been recent graduates of the Sydney Conservatorium High School and the other 2 from Newtown performing arts High School. These two schools were at the time considered two of the greatest music high schools in the state and had educated some of the finest musicians that New South Wales had ever heard, but also had an unwritten and unspoken rivalry. These four saxophonists had shared teachers from school and had stood nervously together in the hallways of the Conservatorium for their AMEB exams. To say there was some hesitation and strain is an understatement. 

Surrounded by saxophones (as who was to play what saxophone had yet been decided) they pulled up the Jean-Jean Quatuor which had been chosen for them. A tuning note was played and then the sight reading began. Within moments, all animosity was out the proverbial window (these rooms don’t have any natural light let alone windows.) The four guys had all realized almost instantaneously that this was going to be an exciting and fun project. 

Within a short few months David Miller, Chair of Chamber Music had seen great promise in the quartet and began to provide them with opportunities to perform not only in the Conservatorium setting but in regional areas of NSW. A friendship that would prove to last the test of time formed between the four of them and an unstoppable energy to make music together developed, to the point where the quartet had become the highest priority for each of them. 

A name was chosen, how? With very little deliberation. A flick through a dictionary and the discovery of the word Nexus was made. A link, a connection. This made perfect sense for the four. They had all come to that first rehearsal as very different people and the hours spent both in the practice room and at the local pub later, had created a bond between the four that was inseparable. As 19 year old’s, a play on words was seen as witty and clever. The spelling was changed to Nexas to reference the famous Xenakis work XAS which would not be approached by the quartet for a further 15 years. 

Some time later, but within that first year, Claude Delangle, Professor of Saxophone from the Paris Conservatoire came to Sydney to give classes. The quartet were nervous as hell to perform for the maestro, but knew that his knowledge and wisdom would strengthen them and lead them into a new and inspired direction. Some major lessons were learnt in the short time, including the positioning of each member into fixed roles and saxophones. 

2 years into the existence of Nexas, a performance opportunity west of the Blue Mountains presented itself. The quartet jumped at a chance for a road-trip and headed west from Sydney CBD in one of the members mother’s cars. Jokes and silliness prevailed, at one point the temperature must have been below 5 degrees, so Jay who was driving at the time wound down the windows in the back and locked them, so the two innocent members began to freeze. When the complaints began the windows were put up and the air con turned to 40 degrees until they were all sweating profusely. This banter went on until they found themselves a little lost. A time before google maps and sat nav existed, the quartet used paper maps and the street directory which were sprawled out around the car and handballed around, all trying to avoid the necessary responsibility. The directions seemed to point to a dirt track, but that road disappeared a short distance along on all the maps. Nexas ventured bravely and followed the road for what seemed an eternity. They were late and slightly panicked at arriving at this amazing opportunity too late to actually perform. The jokes had stopped, and the panic had started. Driving probably a little faster than would be advised they all saw a crest appear and thought very little of it, that was until at the peak of the crest the most stunning landscape could be seen from the cliff edge that had appeared as a result of the road veering off to the right. With some inherent skill and sheer luck Jay turned the car sharp right and managed to save what seemed like certain doom. The gig went well, even with the quartet’s adrenaline steamingly high. Only when they very slowly drove back down the dirt road heading home did they realise how close they had come to the end. The tyre marks were clear and only 3 of them could be seen near the edge drawing deep lines in the dirt at a sharp right angle. 

It definitely wasn’t the end of road trips for the group and every time they drove towards a crest in the future, there was always a joke or some banter made to release tension that was all under the skin of the boys. 

Gap France, a summer school in Europe was the next adventure, for some of the boys their first time overseas without family. They found themselves landing in Vietnam on Vietnamese airlines (cheapest flight, for a reason) for their stop over. As the boys walked out of the gangway into the airport an official looking man in a suit was standing at the gate with a sign saying ‘Henshaw, Carey, Smith, Byrnes’. How exciting! The quartet assumed that they had a limousine waiting for them, or at least some glorified transport. In fact an oversight in their travel preparations was the reason. No Visa! They were taken to a room where their passports were replaced with a pink piece of paper. Advised to hold onto the pink paper and not let it out of their sight. They would receive their passports when they returned to the airport in three days. That’s right, three days. They had failed to see the length of their stop over and now had an unplanned 72hrs in Hoe Chi Minh City. On arrival at the hotel the clerk asked for their passports, which was impossible. With sweat on their brows, unknown whether from the stress or the 100 percent humidity the quartet explained the story. ‘That’s no problem’ announced the clerk, stating this often happens and that all they had to do was hand over the pink form, the precious pink form they were told to hold on to. 30 minutes later walking down the bustling streets of old Saigon without a passport, the essential pink form or any ID to speak of the quartet were famished. Stumbling into the closest restaurant they simply ordered one of everything on the menu. A feast that would make any adventurous foodie quiver. 

Returning to the airport after several unpredictable experiences in Vietnam the quartet were confronted with a packed terminal and one small Vietnamese man who perhaps had just completed high school walking round with a pile of passports from waist to shoulder calling out names. 

The Summer School in France was a life changing event for the quartet with classes from 8 of the worlds best saxophone players and working side by side with Diastema Quartet and members of the Habanera Quartet. They were given the opportunity to perform many concerts with their Australian program, featuring works by Paul Stanhope, Margery Smith and Stuart Greenbaum. Most importantly they left the event with a list of works to challenge the group, and a friend network that now covered the globe. 

As musicians the members of the quartet were always searching for experiences and opportunities to improve themselves, change was a foot and as Jay completed his bachelor’s degree one year before the others, he was the first to venture overseas. Being part of such an amazing class at the Conservatorium, that was community inspiring and produced some of the finest saxophonists in the history of the class enabled an easy transition for good friend Nick Russoniello to step in and become a member of the group. Over the next 5 years various members of the quartet would travel and study abroad, however there were always four of the team in Sydney to perform and extend the experience of the ensemble. 

In preparation for an upcoming performance, Nexas undertook one of their intensive rehearsal days, a 6 hour long session to prepare not only the notes and rhythms but the deep meaning of the works. The longer rehearsals always enabled a thorough undertaking of not just rehearsal elements but also discussion into the music and their group interpretation. Of course, these times were always filled with jokes, stories and antics that can only be expected from 4 true friends. On this occasion, the rehearsal was held in Nick’s soundproof practice and teaching studio. A garage converted into a fantastic space where the quartet could play without concern of interrupting any neighbours. 4 hours into the session and it was time for some fresh air. To Jay’s horror (suffering from an often-crippling claustrophobia) the door jammed, in shear panic he wrenched the door with all his might and felt the hand pull towards him. Glee ensued until he realized that only the handle had pulled towards him, still dangling in his hand as the door remained jammed shut, now with no way of budging it. Calls to friends and family were made to no avail. It seemed on this day everyone had decided to put their phones on silent. An attempt to continue the rehearsal while waiting was pointless as Jay felt the walls slowly closing in. The final decision was made to make an emergency call, some 20 minutes later the 4 boys walked sheepishly out of the small room covered in sweat while 5 firemen watched in curiosity trying to understand what four adult men were doing in a soundproof room. 

There is always one sports fanatic in a group and it wasn’t long until this impacted Nexas. Andrew is an avid sportsman, always supporting his beloved Bulldogs with his Blue and White jacket, updating the others on the successes and trials of the Australian cricket team, and involving himself in local sports. The musicians indoor cricket team was formed and the obvious choice to captain the team was Smiddy! Unfortunately, early in the season a fast-flying ball smashed his wrist and halted the next few weeks of rehearsals and performances. Smiddy did power through and performed to his amazing capacity on a western tour with the quartet for the Sydney Conservatorium, the only issue being realized when he had to focus on his pain and couldn’t present at an infamous concert in Bathurst. Jay decided to introduce the works at this concert and managed to get the entire audience to erupt in embarrassed laughter with the slip of the tongue. 

Sometimes difficult decisions must be made, and people need to follow their hearts and ambitions. Benny had been a member of Nexas for 10 years, a founding member and a dear friend. The original quartet, now all back in Australia were keen to go bigger and better, to really build a platform for the group and to perform as much as possible. For Benny, this was a tough decision as he had begun to gain a huge reputation and passion for composition. We sat, each with a pint in front of us as Benny announced that he needed to follow his dreams. Since then he has become a world leader in his form of composition and is a well respected and loved Lecturer in composition at the Sydney Conservatorium. We miss Benny greatly in rehearsals, his musicality and skill, but are so happy for him that he had the courage to take that leap.  One choice for the quartet would have been to ask Nick to return to the group, however at this time Nick was very active playing in another quartet as well as building his solo career. Nexas, well the 3 that remained, decided they would approach Michael Duke, he is a phenomenal player and had become a close friend of the guys. If he wasn’t interested Nexas would close shop. To the great relief of the boys Michael was in! 

A new member, a new energy, and a thriving desire to perform more and more led to a fresh start for the group. Michael fitted in straight away and after one rehearsal of swapping saxophones the choice for Michael to play soprano and the others to remain in their roles was the obvious one. Friday afternoons were reserved for quartet, a three-hour rehearsal followed by end of week drinks became the model and the boys not only grew as a quartet but became even closer buddies. Concert opportunities opened up and soon Nexas was performing more than it ever had, at festivals around Australia, at major venues and recording cds. 

As teachers the boys had a huge group of young and not so young students that were eager to see them play. Nexas decided that they should begin their own concert series, a chance to play for their friends, family and students and to build a larger audience following, but to also program some themed concerts that they felt passionate about. Collaborations became a big part of this series and over the 5 years that it ran they performed with dozens of guest artists including Frank Celata, Mark Robinson, Gerard Willems, Matt Dempsey, Nickey Crayson, and David Theak. There were however, 2 different programs and collaborations that would later go on to shape several years of performances and recordings. 

Tango de Saxos originated in the Concert Series, originally starting out with Michael Kluger on accordion and Daniel Rojas on Piano. Stephen Cuttriss would soon come in on bandoneon and this adventure led to the recording of Nexas most recent album. 

Nathan had a saxophone student whose parents just happened to be famous Australian Opera Singers. Peter Coleman-Wright and Cheryl Barker. Peter had attended many of our concerts and an idea of a collaboration came about. The group performed alongside Peter at one their concert series performances and later recorded an album for ABC. The project, titled ‘Composers in Exile’ has led to amazing performances throughout Australia and also a number of in jokes and antics. Pronunciation classes with Peter were always a riot, simply ask Nathan and Andrew how to pronounce some of their German speeches and eyes will water, or Jay to say Dance Bands to a large audience. 

Making friends both in Australia and around the globe has been a joy for the quartet and sometimes these friendships end up bringing opportunity. Guy Ross had been a dear friend of Nexas for many years and when he needed a chamber group to perform at Uluru, Nexas jumped at the chance. The theme of the performance was around Opera music, so Nexas created the infamous ‘gig book’, an enormous book that weighs about 5kgs with hundreds of pieces including many opera classics (thank god for ipads these days). Arriving in Uluru, priority 1 was to check in to our rooms and unpack the performance clothes for the nights gig. Michael Duke, looking paler than normal (and that’s saying something) walked up to the boys and simply said ‘We have a problem’. Michael had packed everything, well almost everything, he had packed all you could ever need for trip to Uluru except his performance pants. That’s right they were 500kms away from the nearest town and Michael had forgotten his trousers. They contemplated doing the performance in shorts, or swimmers, or sarongs, but none of those seemed appropriate for a performance of Opera Classics. In true Nexas fortune, Michael found a sale bin filled with women’s black slacks at the IGA within the Uluru hotel resort. What were the chances, and whilst to get the length right the waist line was rather substantive, Michael managed to make the slacks work with safety pins, paper clips, pegs and a strong belt. 

While this is by no means a comprehensive list of the adventures of Nexas, I hope that it gives you some insight to the joys, laughs, and great times I have had over the past 20 years working and playing with my best friends. Many people ask what the magic formula is to have the longevity we are fortunate to have had. There is no one answer, but working alongside people that you love to hang out with definitely makes it easier. While the concept of 20 more years of work is daunting, I trust that itll be great fun alongside these guys. 

Thanks for reading.

Practice Part 1  

‘The actual application or use of an idea, belief or method, as opposed to theories related to it.’ 

Music is unlike many extra curricular activities, as it requires an understanding and dedication kin to that of other educational models such as mathematics and science as well as being an inherent artistic venture. On top of this, music is a discipline, requiring a responsibility of diligent focus and constant attention. Music is an applied study, where students are encouraged to practice daily. In Australia we have a very strong sporting culture, and this should be highly valued for its community building and health benefits. However, it is vastly different to playing music, which in contrast is a disciplinary field. (Dunstan2019) The main area of difference is when the release of ‘happiness’ is achieved. On the whole students achieve the sense of achievement and happiness from the journey in music, meaning delayed satisfaction. For the most part students will most likely approach sport as an extra curricular hobby where training and games are the only time spent learning the skills of sport, achieving instant satisfaction. This approach is less successful in music where constant dedication is required to achieve the delayed satisfaction. 

Music not only requires a focus on daily practice but also a deep understanding of musical listening, and education. 

This discussion is aimed at aiding pupils, their teachers and their home network to build an effective approach to their music making and instrument skill in an era where time is becoming more and more scarce. 


As parents the idea of assisting a student with their music can be a daunting prospect. Many of you out there may have little knowledge of how music works and this leads to questions such as: 

 How can I possibly help? 

Well, the most important way you can help is to be involved in this exciting undertaking that your child is taking on. Be proactive in their musical journey and assist them with routine building to enable them to succeed. Creating an understanding of the long-term gratification of music making will ensure they continue on this endeavour with passion. A routine is ideal for ensuring regular practice is achieved.

Parents, teacher and students must work together to insure the success in the study of the discipline of music and this always leads to the most positive outcome for all. 


'Music isn’t for everyone' is a comment heard often that has some standing; although not for the reasons you may think. As mentioned above unlike sport where happiness can be achieved simply from participation, for the most part music should be approached differently. Many schools have band programs and parents see this as an opportunity for fun music making akin to that of joining a rugby team. These programs should be looked at as an addition to the whole musical education and not the core of the experience. It’s no fun for anyone if the student is unable to achieve the goals required by the band. 

In an era of ‘Australia’s got Talent, The X Factor and The voice’ our current conception of music is that Talent is paramount. It is NOT true that talent is all you need, in fact talent is very far down on the priority list for someone wanting to learn music.  The misconception ‘I’m not good at this so I should quit’ is a dangerous arena, persistence is key to becoming a successful musician.  When we say ‘music isn’t for everyone’ what we truly mean is that if you do not have the ability/time/desire to devote attention and diligence to this art then it isn’t for you. 


People learn tasks if they value the activity or anticipate success. Value depends on a number of types of motivation. Research has shown that people who engage with music and practice use three external sources of motivation. 

Extrinsic (when tasks are carried out because of some external reward potential such as passing examinations) 

Social (to please or fit in with others) 

Achievement (for enhancement of the ego, to do better than others, to pass a hurdle) 

Once these three areas are in development then intrinsic (interest in the activity itself) values develop. 

These motivations are often misaligned, particularly by parents. Many expect that intrinsic  motivation should be at the top of the list. That their child should always have interest in the activity itself. However this is unrealistic. This is a motivation type that develops after extrinsic, social, and achievement models are introduced. 

Extrinsic motivation is not to be confused with the idea of rewarding pupils with gifts. While this can be a productive form of motivation in the beginning this ‘bribery’ of sorts does not instill a sense of dedication to the task at hand and development of the students skills.­­­ Interest in the activity itself rarely follows on after gift giving. 

The hardest thing about practicing is getting the instrument out of the case. I find this myself, once I’m blowing into my sax the time flies. As a student you should instill in yourself that you will at least set up the instrument every day. 


So how should we practice? This depends on time available and the concentration levels of the particular student. Therefore a very effective initial approach is to setup a timetable and within this a schedule. 

The timetable – how long should you be practicing for and for how often?  The simple answer is, the more you do the faster you will progress, however we need to be realistic. The more frequent the better even if this is only short amounts, but everyday. Try to think of your practice sessions as goal orientated, rather than time focused. Your teacher should be giving you appropriate and achievable goals each week that will dictate how long your practice session goes for. 

The schedule – I’m a firm believer in dividing practice sessions into 4 equal parts. 

  • Part 1 should be devoted to technical work. This will include warm up skills, technique exercises given by the teacher and scales (the building blocks of all music) 
  • Part 2 towards etudes. Etudes are musical works that are designed to increase a student’s ability in a particular area, be that technical or musical. If you are undertaking an AMEB exam your list A pieces fit in this category. When approaching etudes, it is essential to focus on the goal of that particular etude, keeping that in the forefront of the mind. 
  • Part 3 for repertoire. This is any pieces of music the student is learning for the teacher as well as band repertoire. 
  • Part 4. This is possibly the most important. Free time to play whatever the student wants to play. This can be their favourite song or more of something they have already practiced. Perhaps a scale that is frustrating them or running through a band piece they love. We have to instill the idea that we want to play. 

A practice journal is an essential tool to successful practice. This is not the book your teacher writes in to tell you what to do, but a book that you write down what you did in each practice session. This will give you motivation to practice and enable you to be effective with your time, informing you of what needs more work in your next session. 

What are we thinking about when we practice? Self analysis is the key to an effective practice session. Remember playing is not practice. Practice is focused on improvement. Try to keep in the front of your mind what you are trying to achieve at all times. This is easier with Technical work but should still be a focus in Repertoire. 


Music is an aural part of life, and far too often the aural faculty is the last to be used if at all. There are numerous professional musicians that still neglect this so obvious part of making music. It is so easy to become engrossed in the challenge of reading the music, putting the right notes at the right time and following all the details of the score that we begin to turn off our ears. While this formal practice can be very beneficial for the execution of the music, it limits us to the interpretation and often obvious musical shape. The concept of passive practicing (that of practicing away from the instrument), which involves improving and learning music by ear, enables the technical skills to develop alongside the musicality and understanding of musical language and structure. It also allows you to participate more effectively in group music making. 

At a time when so much music is at hand and the ability to record ones self is so easy, it is important to dedicate time to listening. ACTIVE LISTENING. This means to listen for a purpose and this should be done at least 3 times a week. Listen to many versions of the music you are playing, other works by the same composers and music of the time. Also listen intently to your favourite music, try to analyse it and understand it further. Work out why you like it, better yet listen to music you don't like and try to understand why you don't like it. 

Lastly, learn to enjoy your practice.



Dunstan. K 'Should my Child Have a Go'

2019 Summer School 

Im very excited that our company the Saxophone Academy Sydney will be hosting our 9th Annual Summer School next week, can you believe it!! The summer school has become an icon of saxophone education here in Australia and has provided  world class saxophone education and opportunities to over 300 students. Our guest tutors have included many amazing saxophonists from around the globe.

2011 - James Nightingale AUS

2012 - Christina Leonard AUS

2013 - Michael Duke AUS

2014 - Barry Cockcroft AUS

2015 - Niels Bijl NL

2016 - Fernando Ramos PT

2017 - Joan Marti Frasquier ESP

2018 - Australasian Saxophone Quartet AUS/NZ

2019 - Lachlan Davidson AUS

A veey special thanks must also be given to ur local heros whonhave regularly tutored at the summer school. Nathan Henshaw, Nick Russoniello, Andrew Smith, Ben Carey.


2019 is a very special year. It will be the first year we have a jazz specialist and composer as our featured artist, a phenomenal opportunity for the students to experience something truly special.

Exciting times.

Is your child 'set-up' for Success? Part 3. 



For a student to flourish with music making, enjoy the art-form and to excel at their instrument, the saxophone needs to be easy to play. A quality instrument in good working order will ensure ease of playability and lead to a far more enjoyable experience for all. It will also develop confidence and satisfaction within the student, encouraging them to persist with saxophone playing. 

At the very beginning stages, investment in a quality student model saxophone is strongly recommended. At the Saxophone Academy Sydney we only recommend Yamaha student model saxophones. A second hand YAS275 or new YAS280 or YAS26 are all excellent models that will produce a great sound, have an even response and accurate intonation. The Yamaha is a tried and tested brand that is made from quality materials and with an excellent design. Another brand that has some reputation are Jupiter saxophones. These saxophones are cheaper and use a lower grade brass that is much easier to ding and bend, however the design is very good and the instrument will be reliable for the student. 

Sometimes the financial outlay of a new or second-hand instrument is to great, in this case rental of a Yamaha saxophone is recommended. (This is available through the Saxophone Academy Sydney). In saying that, one of the greatest encouragements a student can receive is owning their own saxophone. 

Instruments of unknown brands purchased on ebay should be avoided at all costs, they are the best way to discourage a student from practicing. 


Once the student has been playing for 5yrs or achieved 5th Grade AMEB examination (whichever comes first), the student will be ready for a saxophone upgrade. There are many reasons for this. The beginner instruments are made of a very thin brass that results in a lightweight instrument ideal for smaller students, this thinner brass does not have the resonance and tonal complexity required for an advancing student. The keywork on student models is smaller and closer to the body of the instrument, ideal for small hands, but as the student grows these keys become more challenging to reach. The bore (width of the tube) on student model saxophone is smaller. This means that the student instrument requires less air, but will have a smaller sound with less projection. Finally, student instruments have less adjustable screws and mechanisms, this reduces weight and cost, however the instrument is harder to finely regulate and requires bending to make adjustments. 

Upgrade options at this stage are the intermediate and semi-professional instruments. At the Saxophone Academy Sydney we recommend sticking to the 3 most reputable and reliable brands: Yamaha, Yanagisawa and Selmer Paris. 

Their intermediate/semi-professional models are: 


YAS62 – The Australian standard for this level of upgrade. Excellent playability, tonal flexibility and secure intonation 

YAS480 – this instrument uses the same keywork as the student model but with the body of the YAS62 


AW-01 (A901) – A fantastic saxophone becoming one of the most popular upgrade saxophones. The highest quality brass available with excellent sturdy key-work. A more complex sound than the Yamaha. A favourite of mine. 

AW-02 (A902) – The same as a AW-01 but made of bronze rather than brass, this produces a more mellow tone. 

Selmer Paris 

Seles Axos – Selmer saxophones have been the industry standard for professionals since the turn of the century. Selmer in fact bought the original tools and machinery from Adolphe Sax. They have recently released their first ever ‘Intermediate’ model, The Seles Axos. A quality instrument with an excellent tone. In my opinion these instruments are expensive compared to the other options listed above and do not necessarily offer any additional quality or character. They are a good option for those particularly enthused with tradition. 


Is your child 'set-up' for Success? Part 2. 





The mouthpiece is an integral piece of equipment that will greatly effect the playability of the instrument. A quality mouthpiece will not only improve the tone of a student but will also ensure that the saxophone is reacting correctly to the use of air. A poor-quality mouthpiece will make the production of an even tone almost impossible for the student, leading to students being dissatisfied and at risk of discontinuing. 

At the Saxophone Academy Sydney we recommend all beginner students use a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece, no matter what brand of saxophone they are using. The Yamaha 4C is a plastic machine-made mouthpiece of high quality and good design. It enables a strong even tone with great response for clear and light articulation. This mouthpiece is ideal for students in the first series of AMEB examinations (up to grade 4).

Once the student has been playing a few years and has developed a stable and correct embouchure a mouthpiece upgrade is recommended. 

To achieve the quality of sound, response of articulation and flexibility of tone colour expected for AMEB grade 5 and above, and for the budding student, A handcrafted ebonite mouthpiece is highly recommended. There is a huge range of these mouthpieces available and the idea of upgrading the mouthpiece can be a daunting one. At this stage of development we at the Saxophone Academy Sydney recommend a traditional/classical style mouthpiece. Even if the student is interested in jazz. These mouthpieces are much easier to control and will allow the student the appropriate sound and consistency expected for any school ensemble, be it concert band or big band. 

The two mouthpiece brands we recommend at the Saxophone Academy Sydney are Selmer and Vandoren. These two brands (both French) have been the industry standard in this style of mouthpiece since the early 20th Century. They come in a variety of styles and designs and therefore guidance from your tutor or a Saxophone Academy Sydney staff member is recommend at this stage. Popular options in this category are 

Vandoren V5 range (A15, A20, A27, A28) 

The french standard. This mouthpiece enables for great tonal flexibility while still maintaining evenness of tone and great response 

Vandoren Optimum range (AL3, AL4, AL5) 

A darker tonal concept than the V5 mouthpiece but with  less tonal flexibility. Incredible ease of playing.

Selmer S80 range (C*, C**, D) 

The standard mouthpiece upgrade in Australia since the 1980s. Great tonal variation and sound emission, easy articulation 

Selmer S90 range (170, 180, 190) 

Very similar to the S80 range but with a slightly brighter and clearer tone. 

A mouthpiece that has become very popular over the past few years is the Selmer Concept mouthpiece. This mouthpiece is a laser made ebonite mouthpiece and has become very popular amongst professionals. We at the Saxophone Academy Sydney believe this mouthpiece is excellent for the professional player, but requires a great level of technique and flexibility to achieve great results from, therefore we do not recommend it for students. 

If a student is considering a jazz mouthpiece, they should be aware that they require a great deal of control and flexibility and should be practiced on daily to achieve good results. They are also not appropriate for AMEB examinations as they produce a different tonal concept. Students in jazz bands etc at school are encouraged to consult their tutor if a jazz mouthpiece is appropriate.


Is your child 'set-up' for Success? Part 1. 



The reed is the most integral piece of equipment for your saxophone and will have the greatest effect on the quality of sound and response of the instrument. Proper care and maintenance of the reed is essential to ensure that you are getting the best out of your saxophone. The reed should be removed from the mouthpiece after every playing and should be kept flat and dry. The best solution for this is a quality reed case such as the Daddario reed case or other available product. 


As a beginner, you will need a reed that will provide a quality sound and response yet will not be too expensive, as any reed that is cracked or chipped should be disposed of. 

At the Saxophone Academy Sydney we strongly recommend the Rico Royal reeds for this level. Strength 2 is the ideal reed to start on and once the student begins to play low C and notes above high C they should progress to 2.5 reeds. 

Once a student has been playing for a number of years and has completed the first series of AMEB exams (up to Grade 4) we recommend students progress to a higher quality reed which will enable them to produce a warmer richer tone and achieve a faster response. We suggest D’addario Reserve reeds. Vandoren blue box reeds are also a good alternative for this level. 

Jazz reeds such as D’addario Jazz Select, Plasticover, Vandoren Java and Vandoren V16 should be reserved for advanced players performing with jazz style mouthpieces. These reeds used on a classical or traditional mouthpieces will create a thin buzzy sound that will not be pleasing or appropriate for AMEB examinations or school bands.



2 concerts in two day. Exhausted 

I had an amazing last few days performing both with the North Shore Wind Symphony as Nexas shared a concert with them and performed the Barker Capriccio as well as a recital at the Sydney Conservatorium with the incredible Benjamin Kopp - A French Odyssey.


Performing with likeminded musicians is a true blessing.


Very excited and pumped to be recording 2 cd's next week!

Pumped to be recording with my great friend Niels Bijl next week. He's such an inspiring musician and it's a true honour to work on this incredible project with him.I also can't wait to work with Jayson McBride, recording engineer extraordinaire, we've been talking about working together for years and it's finally happening. 

Finally a huge thanks to the amazing Frank Madrid, for weaving his magic and facilitating the incredible venue at Fourwinds Bermagui. What a privilege to be able to record in such a stunning room and setting with great friends on a project so close to my heart. 

MUSIC SPANNING 300yrs including world premiere recordings of some incredible composers to be announced soon


Jumping into the Eugene Goosens Theatre at ABC studios to record a new album with Nexas Quartet and the amazing Peter Coleman-Wright.
'Composer's in Exile'.

Going to be grand fun.

November Launch with Nexas Quartet at Sydney Opera House. 

Well it's been an incredibly busy and exciting time.

One of the highlights of the past few months has been recording 'Current' Nexas Quartets debut album with my great mates Duke, Henshaw, and Smiddy. This album has now been recorded, edited, mixed and mastered, soon to be printed.

Its the culmination of years of hard work and dedication and is a reflection of our collaborations with leading Australian composers. Featuring music from national treasures Hindson, Kats-Chernin, Orlovich, Rojas and Skipworth. 

Im so excited to be launching 'Current' at the Sydney Opera House on the 29th November.
Book your tickets at

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