Reduce Risk Of Dementia, Play Sax

old man playing sax, busker, reduce risk of dementia by playing a musical instrument

Photography by Ian Press Photography, Source: Flickr. This man has been performing for years with his Weltklang tenor in Prague. It doesn’t seem to matter what the season is, tourists snap his photo year round. I suspect his musicianship will reduce his risk of dementia.

Anyone who has seen the crippling effects of dementia in a loved one such as a grand parent or parent, knows first hand that aging can be a bitch. It doesn’t need to be however, because over the years researchers have found a number of things that people can do that can lead to healthier brain-aging, and yes, saxophone playing is one them.

OK, so it’s not as simple as it sounds, because according to an article just published on, it’s not just learning to play the saxophone, but playing for years that keeps your brain fit:

Whether it’s the saxophone, the piano, or a ukulele, researchers found that playing an instrument for 10 or more years was correlated with better memory in advanced age compared to those who played music for less than 10 years (or not at all).

Where are they getting this from? It’s from a 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which was authored by Joe Verghese, M.D. et al.

Since that landmark study researchers have found quite a few other things to reduce a person’s risk of developing dementia. They include:

  • Eating a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables;
  • Participating in regular exercise and walking regimes;
  • Dancing;
  • Listening to music (baroque is especially good for improve the brain’s plasticity);
  • Speaking two or more languages;
  • Playing board and card games.

Something to avoid: multitasking, because it over-taxes the frontal lobe, which:

…regulates decision-making, problem-solving, and other aspects of learning that are critical to maintaining brain health. Research has shown that doing one thing at a time strengthens higher-order reasoning, or the ability to learn, understand, and apply new information.


So there you have, just in case you needed another reason to keep practicing your saxophone, reducing your risk of developing dementia is yet another good one…. Not to mention, Buescher assured us that we’ll be the life of the party. ;)  …

Life Of The Party 1925 ws

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

No Horns

Saxophone signage used to convey: No horns in this neighbourhood!

A number of years ago I started collecting samples of saxophone signage from around the world. Given our instruments are arguably the most iconic of all the musical instruments, it’s not surprising that saxophones pop up in so many signs all around the world.

Perhaps also not surprising, is the fact that saxophone imagery is used to convey “No” for a great many things: no horn blowing; no noise; no music; no busking; no playing of musical instruments, etc.

This morning I came across another one of these “No” signs. Unfortunately the photographer doesn’t identify where in the world this photo was taken, but the message is clear—or is it?

Does this sign mean I can’t play my saxophone in the street? Or does it mean I can’t use my car horn? Or maybe it means that I can’t put a brass mouthpiece on my sax because it offends the sensibilities of the residents.  :tongueincheek:

No Horns

no horns, saxophone signage,
Photography by: fups  Source: Flickr

Whichever the case, I’m guessing that the residents of this neighbourhood like their peace and quiet. I can’t say that I blame them. All you have to do is spend a couple of days in the busy streets of any urban centre, and the last thing you want to hear when you’re in your home at night is the blaring, screeching, and honking of any kind of horn.

I’ve got a new neighbour who lives behind me who drives a Harley—or some other kind of throaty bike. He starts it up; lets it idle for a bit; then revs it for a few minutes before finally driving away. The whole process from start to finish can’t be more than 3 or so minutes, but it seems more like an hour. The vibration this bike causes in our house is crazy, and the frequency at which it revs literally hurts my head. (My neuro problem again.)

Sadly the No Horn sign wouldn’t apply in this case. However, a No Revving Your Hog sign is looking mighty appealing right now.  :twisted:

no revving of hogs

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

Sax ‘n Drums + Creativity & Talent = Moon Hooch

Sax ‘n Drums

About 13 years ago, on a cold and sunny winter’s day in New Brunswick, we left Fredericton and drove 40 minutes through the snowy countryside to visit my partner’s colleague. I took my tenor with me on the trip, because I was going to jam with the woman’s husband. He was a rock drummer, and used to play with a touring band. His kit nearly took up an entire room of their farmhouse in rural NB.

I had never jammed with a drummer like that before, and I must admit, I was rather overwhelmed by the size and volume of this fellow’s kit. (Despite the fact that he did try to play on the quiet side of the spectrum.)

The two hours we played together was incredibly interesting, and I learned a lot during our 120 minute jam session. Perhaps the biggest-single lesson I learned was that we’d need another instrument to pull off something that other people might want to listen to.

Sax ‘n Drums + Creativity & Talent = Moon Hooch

Moon Hooch,  sax 'n drums, baritone sax, tenor sax, drum set, rave music, Cave Music,

American band Moon Hooch at RIBCO, Rock Island, IL 11/7/14 “Moon Hooch, RIBCO, November 2014″ by Roberta. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –,_RIBCO,_November_2014.jpg#/media/File:Moon_Hooch,_RIBCO,_November_2014.jpg

Source: wikipedia. org

Fast forward to yesterday, when I happened across a young group from New York City called Moon Hooch.

Moon Hooch is a trio comprised of drums and two sax players. (Sometimes one or the other of the saxes gets switched out for a contrabass clarinet or an EWI.) The group got its start by busking on some of NY’s subway platforms. The result: impromptu raves, which resulted in the NYPD banning the group from performing there.

As a musician you gotta’ admit that’s pretty impressive. How many of us can say that our music caused such a fan reaction to have the police prevent us from performing in any venue? I would hazard a guess and say that has happened to very few of us. :bow:

How the three met gives us a hint of the talent that one will hear behind the obvious. Horn players Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen, as well as drummer James Muschler, met while students at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC.

Moon Hooch describes the music they play as Cave Music:

[Cave Music] refers to the term Moon Hooch coined to describe their unique sound: like house music, but more primitive and jagged and raw. Horn players Mike Wilbur and Wenzl McGowen do this by utilizing unique tonguing methods, or adding objects — cardboard or PVC tubes, traffic cones, whatever’s handy — to the bells of their horns to alter their sound. Not to be outdone, drummer James Muschler gets swelling, shimmering sounds from his cymbals, and covers the head of his snare with a stack of splash cymbals to emulate the sound of a Roland TR-808 drum machine’s clap.

Source: The Band: Moon Hooch

There are videos all over YouTube of what this sax ‘n drums trio sounds like, but here are a couple of my favourites. The first an NPR Tiny Desk Concert. Even if you don’t like the style of music that they’re playing, listen to the skill level of players. What they are doing in relation to each other is really interesting.

I’m always been accused of “chicken choking” whenever I make sounds like this in our house. I always thought that having another player to bounce ideas like this off of would be freakin’ awesome!

The second video I really liked is actually the official video for “EWI”, which is from the Moon Hooch’s second album titled, This Is Cave Music.

According to the band:

This Is Cave Music takes their cave music hybrid further into electronic and pop music realms with synthesizers, post-production work, and even singing added to the mix. “We aren’t trying to do it for the sake of reaching a wider audience,” McGowen points out. “We are doing it because it’s where our passion has evolved to. This album is a culmination of that.”

Source: Music: Moon Hooch

Yah, “EWI” might ruffle the sensibilities of some, but art has been known to be edgy.

Oh, and of course the vintage horn lover in me can’t help but notice that this sax n’ drums trio uses vintage saxophones. I also can’t say that I’m surprised by their choice of horns.

The 10M I have is among the most malleable in its tone, and allows for some of the greatest tonal alterations of any of my tenors. I do believe that in this case their horns aid them in playing outside the normal saxophone tonal envelope.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!