I began playing the saxophone at the age of fourteen. I originally started learning the violin in primary school, however, I became really drawn to the sound and the versatility that the saxophone offered. I began by getting a saxophone for my birthday, and I started to self-teach before starting some lessons a few months after.
In 2017 I entered the Woodwind class in the Manx Music Festival and won with a mark of 90. To my amazement I found out a few weeks later that I would be the recipient of the 125th anniversary Instrumental Scholarship. This scholarship allowed me to have my first lesson with John Harle down in Canterbury, John was very impressed with my playing and wanted to take me on as one of his very own students. We agreed to try for lessons in Canterbury about four or five times a year however, it soon became clear that it would be difficult for me to progress as quickly as I wanted having lessons so infrequently.
Josh with John Harle
This was when John suggested the Idea of me taking up more frequent lessons with Jess Gillam in Manchester. Jess is one of Johns students and she has become very well known in the past few years having reached the final of the BBC young Musician in 2016, playing at the last night of the proms in 2018 and performing at a long list of places across the UK and Europe.
I applied for funding from the IOM Arts Council to allow me to fly to Manchester on a much more regular basis to have lessons with her. IOM arts council agreed to fund my travel expenses to and from Manchester. With this in place I made a start arranging my first lesson in October of 2018.
Josh with Jess Gillam
On the morning of my first lesson I was quite nervous as I wasn’t sure what Jess would think of my playing. However, from the first second I met her I felt so much more relaxed, as she was just a lovely and charismatic as she comes across on the TV.
We began talking and getting to know each other and after that it was time for me to play for her. After I had played, we began making work on my technique and the way I should be approaching the music as a whole. I took lots of notes during the lesson to make sure I wouldn’t forget any of the suggestions she made when I came to practice on my own at home.
In the month following the lesson I made sure to put lots of work into my playing ready for the next one- which came around very quickly!
Josh with Jess Gillam
In the Lessons we discuss many things, including; technique (and how, as obvious it sounds, it can really improve my playing), interpreting the music to make it my own, performance tips, future plans and so much more!
All of my lessons have been equally exciting, rewarding and beneficial. I continue to have regular lessons with Jess and have occasional lessons with John in Canterbury.
I'm hoping to go into a professional career in saxophone in the future, I hope to do lots of concerts and go on to be the best saxophonist I can be. My style of playing on the saxophone is generally classical, although many people don’t really associate the saxophone with classical music, most people are aware of pop or jazz sax however, if you’ve never listened to any classical saxophone music before, I would recommend you listen to; Pequena Czarda by Itturalde, Villa-lobos Fantasia and Graham Fitkin Gate. These are some of the pieces I’ve been working on in the lessons with Jess.
Jess Gillam Performing at the BBC Proms in 2018
I am also hoping to enter the BBC young musician in 2020 and I don’t think I could have a better teacher for that than a past finalist! I will also be applying for music conservatoires this autumn which I am very excited for.
I can’t wait to continue lessons with Jess, and I'm eager to see what opportunities the next few years will hold for me.