This past weekend, the first annual Warren Hill Saxophone Summit was held at the Double Tree Hotel in Santa Ana, California on March 23-24, 2013.

Warren Hill’s Saxophone Summit was a two-day event geared towards saxophonists and saxophone fans featuring a collection of fantastic performers and speakers as part of the summit. Each day was filled with a variety of clinics, workshops, performances, a Rising Star competition (sponsored by Yamaha) and each evening ended with a concert and jam session. In the words of Hill, the summit was an “environment where we all share our passion for this incredible instrument.”

I was unfortunately only able to attend part of the summit, but even during the time I was there, I had the opportunity to hear some great speakers and several amazing saxophonists play. All in all, I definitely hope to be able to attend more of the summit next year.

The summit featured presentations by a number of speakers and performers on everything from performance to setup to the mechanics of the saxophone. To get a better idea of the sessions held during the summit, here’s a list of the presenters and what they discussed.


  • Jeff Peterson of Yamaha – The Mechanics of the Sax
  • Michael Skinner of Vandoren – Reeds and Mouthpieces
  • Warren Hill – Starting a Song from Scratch
  • Michael Lington – The Art of Melody
  • Gordon Goodwin – The Best Sax Section… Ever
  • Eric Marienthal – How to Play in Any Situation
  • Eric Darius – High Energy Sax


  • Vernon Barbary, Michael Brotten and Brad Laughlin – I Know How to Play, Now What?
  • Katisse Buckingham – From Funk to Bebop
  • Marcus Anderson – Building a Career in the Internet Age
  • Elan Trotman – Sax from the Islands
  • Tom Braxton – Soul of the Sax
  • Jeff Kashiwa – From Sax to EWI
  • Euge Groove – Ultimate Sax Sound
  • Michael Paulo – Veteran of Contemporary Sax

I think the best part of the clinics was that you had the ability to interact with the speakers and ask them questions that you wouldn’t be able to ask in any other setting. It was fantastic being able to “pick the brains” of so many great performers and find out how they practice, what their advice is for different aspects of playing, what their paths to success where, what equipment they use when they record, where they get inspiration for their songs, how they actually go about writing their music and more.

Some great tips that came out of the event:

  • There is no right or wrong way to write a song.
  • Anytime you get an idea for a lick or a song, write it down or record it. Just get it down in some way.
  • Start your day and your practice sessions with scales and arpeggios.
  • To really lock down altissimo, play melodies.
  • Create a network of people, the more people you know, the more opportunities you’ll have.
  • For those thinking about attending the event next year, the Rising Star Competition was an excellent opportunity for up and coming saxophonists. The winner was not only awarded with a new Yamaha saxophone and Vandoren reed/mouthpiece setup, but with the opportunity to perform with Warren Hill during the Sunday show and a featured spot at the 2013 San Diego Jazz Festival. The first round was held on Saturday and the finalists performed again on Sunday.

There are a few things I think can be improved upon for next year’s summit, but overall the event was put together extremely well for its first year. I can’t wait to see what they do in 2014.

The event has special rates available for students.

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.