Légère Artist Feature | Benjamin Harrison
Why did you choose the saxophone over other reed instruments?
My dad had a diverse collection of jazz music that I listened to growing up and he would often play Brecker Brothers albums in the car. As one of the first saxophonist ‘titans’ that I was ever exposed to, I really fell in love with Michael’s playing and the way he made the saxophone sound – so I would have to say that he was the biggest influencing factor for me in choosing to play the saxophone over other reed instruments.
What keeps you motivated to practice and play?
I’m always motivated by listening to other artists – there’s always something new to hear that inspires me to continue working on my craft. As a multi-instrumentalist, one of the biggest challenges for me is being able to actively focus on practicing one instrument for a period of time to not only just maintain technical facility/embouchure/etc. but also to work on further developing my own playing skills and style without getting too complacent practicing “comfortable material” and then getting stuck in a rut/plateau. To prevent that, I’m always looking for new material to work on that keeps practice sessions fresh and provides me with new challenges.
What advice would you give to intermediate musicians taking the leap to the advanced/professional tier?
A favorite quote of mine is “Talent is universal; opportunity is not.” (Rye Barcott). It’s rare, especially at the beginning of your musical career, that professional-tier opportunities will present themselves (although, of course, sometimes it does happen!). To that end, while focused practice and setting regular goals is a large component of maintaining and developing your technical playing facility to get prepared for such opportunities when they do arise, the ability to market yourself well and develop business skills is also crucially important and will help progress your career as a professional musician. Whether it be building a following on social media to promote your playing/recordings, applying for grants/scholarships or developing the confidence and sales skills to be able to book your own tour/gigs (and make money doing it!) it will absolutely help in the end.
How has your musical life changed since you started playing Légère reeds?
With Légère reeds, being able to take a brand-new reed out of the pack, put it straight on the mouthpiece, and knowing it will perform immediately is such a relief. As I’ve been playing a lot in arenas and performance spaces with vastly fluctuating temperatures on a day-to-day basis, I’m thankful that I don’t have to worry about preparing or playing sub-standard cane reeds or having them fail mid-performance. Actually, I’ve been playing Légère reeds on saxophone and clarinet for so many years now that I can’t even imagine going back to working with cane reeds and their inherent inconsistencies!
What’s next for you in your musical career?
Good question! My musical career is in a constant state of development. I’ve been touring around the world with several different Cirque du Soleil shows since 2010 and I’m currently performing in one of their latest big top touring shows VOLTA which keeps me busy. I’m also putting the finishing touches on a new album which I’ll be releasing next year – it’s been a challenging project to put together and features many amazing musicians from all around the world. I’m also always composing and producing new material and I keep a fairly active posting schedule on my YouTube channel, so I’ve always got something on the go!