How To Make Your Own Ugly Saxophone Christmas Sweater

The trend is not going out of style, and every year more ugly Christmas sweaters get shipped out and make their way into gift boxes; family holiday and party photos; as well as into the theme of holiday parties. Yes, the ugly Christmas sweater has become a cultural phenomena that has taken hold. But what about us sax players? Is there such a thing as an ugly saxophone Christmas sweater?

If you go to eBay or Amazon, you’ll find the occasional long-sleeved T or sweat shirt that tries to pass itself of as a sweater, or perhaps a lame vest with a saxophone that too tries to pass itself off as a sweater. No, if you’re a saxophone player looking for an ugly Christmas sweater to celebrate your instrument of choice, you’re seriously out of luck.

While Googling this cultural phenomena, I did find one ugly saxophone Christmas sweater on Pinterest. The sweater had originally been sold on Etsy, but sadly there seem to no more available. This was clearly a one-off.

ugly saxophone Christmas sweater


This sweater above, inspired me to put together the following How To for all you disappointed saxophone players out there, who really want an ugly Christmas sweater of your very own, but can’t find one.

How to make your very own ugly saxophone Christmas sweater in 12 easy steps

  1. Fire up eBay and enter saxophone Santa; or saxophone reindeer; or saxophone snowman; saxophone polar bear; or saxophone together with any other kind of Christmas-themed word you can think of.
  2. Pick out your favourite item that will serve as a centre-piece for your sweater and order it. (Hopefully it will arrive on time.)
  3. Go to your sweater drawer and pick out the ugliest sweater you own. You know, the one that a relative gave you that you never wear. Or perhaps one that you’ve had for 20 years that is hopelessly out of style.
  4. Don’t have an ugly sweater already? Go to a thrift shop near you, and buy one. The uglier the better. Then go home and WASH IT.
  5. Go to your local craft shop and buy some trim. The creator of the sweater above used garland for trim, but let your imagine go WILD and CRAZY! Use anything you want. The crazier and wilder the better. Foil anything is fabulous, and catches the festive party lights of season brilliantly.
  6. At the same craft store, or at a fabric store, buy a piece of red or green felt or other heavy fabric. (Christmas fabric with a holiday pattern works well, but again the fabric has to be heavy.) The piece has to be big enough to cover most of the front of sweater.
  7. Also buy some black felt. The piece has to be large enough that you can create a few musical notes with it.
  8. Cut the red/green/holiday fabric the right size and sew/glue (it has to be attached firmly) to the sweater.
  9. Attach the trim to the neckline, waist, and maybe wrists of the sweater.
  10. Once the saxophone-playing, plush toy arrives, and you know its size, outline some musical notes with chalk on the black felt, and cut them out.
  11. When it comes to attaching the saxophone-playing plush toy, this really should be attached with some stitching. Attach by using a strong thread, at multiple points, over the full length/wide of the plush toy. Stitching it like this allows you to remove it later, and reuse somewhere else when you get tired of your sweater, or when it becomes soiled.
  12. Finally, sew or glue the notes near the bell of the saxophone.

The above guide is a suggestion only. Use these steps to go CRAZY with your very own ugly saxophone Christmas sweater ideas.

I just have one request: If you do make your own ugly saxophone Christmas sweater, please upload a photo of it here in the comments section. I would love to see what people have created. Thanks!

…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!

Being A Professional Musician: Lesson Learned

Being a professional musician for decades doesn’t mean you’re immune to getting burned

A year ago I did a favour for my partner’s former colleague. Let’s call her Jane (not her real name). With under a week’s notice I reincarnated my Bassic Sax Jazz Ensemble, and performed a two-hour Christmas show for about 200 of Jane’s clients and fellow staff members.

I did give Jane a bit of a hard time after it was over, and told her if she had given me more than five days lead time, we would have had some more material for her. Jane agreed, and then told me to keep December 5, 2016 open, and that we’d do it again. I said OK, that’s certainly more than five days notice. ;)

Throughout the year I kept the date open, and by August I had made sure that I had the Bassic Sax Jazz Ensemble’s members lined-up for the Dec. 5 performance. What made it difficult was that it was a show that stretched from late morning into early afternoon, so availability was an issue. However, everyone made sure that they kept the date open, and come mid-November we were set to rehearse a few times to gel as a group.

The problem was, by early November I hadn’t heard from Jane, so I couldn’t tell my band members with 100% certainty that the show was still a go. I was 95% sure, since this was Jane I was dealing with, and she is dependable as all get-out. But still, I didn’t want to have people waste their time—especially at this time of the year when we’re all busy with rehearsals and Christmas shows in all the other bands we’re already involved in.

Over the course of a week I left phone messages for Jane at work and on her cell; I tried to find her at her group’s fundraiser; and I texted her as well. Just a mere 12 days before the actual date of the show, I finally heard back from Jane. She told me that my group won’t be doing the performance this year. Apparently there were funding issues, and the new entertainment sponsor insisted on providing their own entertainer.

contract, professional musician, professional musicians, WTF? Yes, the text was apologetic, but still: Really? I couldn’t have been told at the time it happened? Why was I the one who had to leave voicemail messages and texts to find out that my group was fired?

This is of course exactly why bands have contracts, and even take 50% deposits for upcoming shows.

Again, if it had been anyone other than Jane I would have done just that, but Jane and her organization have never treated me as anything other than the professional I am.

Needless to say, a professional does not take kindly to being treated like this. An amateur, who is just happy to be able to perform for the public, would likely just let this run like water off a duck’s back. A pro is not likely to be as forgiving however.

With this in mind, I’d like to offer my thoughts about professional musicians. This is for potential clients who require musicians for the events, but also for young musicians starting out.

What are professional musicians?

Professional musicians are just that: professionals, and as such we deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect as any other professional whether it be social worker; banker; nurse; teacher; or any one of the countless other trained professions that you care to list.

Professional musicians spend years, and countless hours honing their craft. Many (most) have attended post-secondary school and studied music, and/or have studied with private instructors on their particular instrument. Over the years these studies have cost a great deal of money.

Professional musicians also have a great deal of money tied up in professional gear. Besides instruments, they have all the accessories, and electronic gear that allows them to perform either with a band, or as a solo act.

Martin Committee III baritone sax, baritone saxophone keys, saxophone pads, resonators, saxophone piecesMaintaining all that gear takes money as well. For example, the average professional saxophone, used at shows, needs to be serviced at least once a year for a minimum of $200, and overhauled every 5 to 10 years for about $1,000. As for electronic equipment, it too needs to be repaired (rarely), or replaced as it gets damaged, and/or wears out.

Bottom line: being a professional musician is expensive, but as I wrote about last year, our wages haven’t gone up since the 1970s. As a matter of fact, when adjusted for inflation, we are actually making about 1/3 of the money that we did in the 1970s, and about ½ that we did in the 1980s. Pretty sad when you think about it.

Then there’s the time we put in. I’ve figured it out, but as a band leader, for every 1 hour of performance I put in about 3 hours of additional prep—beyond what a regular band member puts in. This is why, in part, leaders tend to pay band members less than they pay themselves

All this brings me back to my original point: When we as professional musicians get booked for a gig, we expect to be treated just like any other professional. For example, if you’re planning an event and book a caterer, do they not expect a deposit? If you cancel that caterer and choose to go with a different one, you forfeit your deposit. Why should musicians be treated any differently?

Concluding thought for young pros

For you young pros starting out, don’t sell yourselves short. Don’t get caught up in that race to the bottom. This is how we’ve ended up settling for that $100/night job that we have today, which anyone who has been around in the 70s and 80s will tell you, are not living wages.

…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!

Happy Thanksgiving 2016: American Style

Well it’s here again: You know, that time of year when you pack your bags and head off to see the family either by plane, train, or automobile. If you live in the United States, there’s a very good chance that you have the day off work today, and that you’ve already endured the ritualized hell that is the TSA line-up, on this, one of the busiest airline travel days in the US.

This year’s Thanksgiving cartoon is dedicated to all of you who are travelling by air both now, and this coming Christmas. Because let’s face it, anyone who has flown over the past few years feels like they have had the giblets handled—regardless what country you’re flying in. The TSA doesn’t have the market cornered on the pat down procedure. ;)

Thanksgiving turkey, Thanksgiving 2016, cartoon TSA agents patting down turkey

I wish my American friends and readers a very Happy Thanksgiving 2016! I hope you enjoy your time with the family, and if things go sideways, you can always take SNL’s advice, and have an Adele CD near by… ;)

…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!