Ashur Square - Rob Deemer

Ashur Square (2010) – Rob Deemer (b. 1970)

Rob Deemer teaches composition at SUNY – Fredonia and the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp. He has composed for all varieties of performance forces including music for theatre, dance, and film. He credits Dan Welcher, Donald Grantham, and Jan Bach as his primary teachers. He has written columns for the New York Times, New Music Box, and Sequenza 21/.

A Personal Technique Curriculum

Every musician wakes up in the morning and says, “I can’t wait to play my scales!”… If only it were that easy. Scales and their associated exercises often fill musicians with dread, yet they are essential to mastering the saxophone. One can always push for further development and refinement in technical mastery. A few musicians find this hopeless and depressing, but I look at technical development as an exciting challenge. The musician must find the drive from within to practice technical exercises and this is most easily accomplished by designing your own personal technical curriculum.

Voicing and the Saxophone

Voicing will be referred to differently depending on the saxophonist you ask. Many wholly embrace voicing and a few will refute it. Nonetheless, we all voice, no matter what we happen to call it. Voicing is an essential element of saxophone technique. Playing through the entire range, the saxophonist should not have to alter his embouchure, but instead compensate with the oral cavity to produce an even and consistent tone. Building this skill takes a lot of persistent practice. Some exercises may be mastered in hours and other may take several weeks.

Balancing Music

One of the biggest challenges as a musician is maintaining a balanced life. Balance is vital to maintain happiness, and maintain success in the practice room and on stage. We have all experienced burnout, and weeks with no free time, but a little break will go a long way.


Memorization creates vulnerability for the performer, but it also empowers the musician. Woodwind universally acknowledge that performance by memory is preferable, but for many years it was an uncommon practice outside of concertos. I’m in a little bit of an unusual position due to my extensive background in piano.  All through elementary, middle, and high school I would perform piano music by memory. The memorization process is not new for me. I have found saxophone music to be more difficult to memorize than piano music.

Attending Live Performances

Any musician will tell you that every student must practice to find success. Beyond practicing, many musicians will prescribe various other habits. Attending live performances has contributed the most to my musical development, after practicing. I’m disheartened by many of my peers who do not make an effort to attend performances. They miss out on an opportunity to enrich themselves and support fellow musicians.


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