Why I Quit Saxophone (Not Cuz I Suck)

There was something a little different at our church the other day: a saxophone player. We don’t get horns very often, but this time, it was only the sax. The worship pastor let him do a lilting little solo during the bridge of one song and otherwise he just played along and y’all…can I just tell you about how I was transported?

I love me a good saxophone. Soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, any and all of the above, thank you. It’s crimson velvet in my ears, smooth and sexy. Like raspberries and rich chocolate. Like a candlelit night with tuxes and red dresses.

And at times like this, I wonder why I ever quit the saxophone. It’s true, I played for a very short time. I was in 5th grade band for one quarter, but my schedule was so darn tight that I had to quit something and so band took that hit. In retrospect, I’m glad I quit band. I heard our band teacher was crazy and I’ve heard “This one time at band camp” enough times to know I should steer clear.

But oh, mama mia, I wish I had kept playing. My dad plays saxophone and he said that for what little I played, I was actually pretty good. Apparently, I had a natural talent with the instrument and had I kept it up, I could have gone a good ways. I tried in high school to practice on my own again, but it never worked out. I admit, it was partially because I was lazy.  But there was one more reason, which still keeps me away from the saxophone.

Saxophone was amazing, wonderful, and exotic…but still not good enough.

I remember at one point in my life, I sat down and made a list of all my passions and the things I would love to do. These included God, family, writing, saxophone, reading, acting, dancing, singing, violin, piano, comedy, most all forms of entertainment, and a lot of stuff I’ve probably forgotten. So why didn’t I do these things? The answer is simple:

Ain't nobody

At some point, we have to sift the things we love through the “couldn’t-live-without” filter. I would still love to do any and all of these things, but time dictates that I pick only a few. I know, Sophie’s choice, right? But if you try to do too many things well, you’ll only do them all moderately.

So I prioritized. Being a Christian, God comes first. Then my wife. Period. When I have children, they will take third. Then I need to work. Then I need to minister in some area, such as helping with the church or some group/charity/etc.

This doesn’t leave a lot of time, and this is where life gets unfair. The reason I quit saxophone in 5th grade was because it was either that or chorus, and I liked singing better. I still do. I can sing anytime, anywhere for free with no equipment.

So while I’d love to play saxophone, as well as many other instruments, my greater passions take precedent. Picking and choosing hurts because you have to abandon a dream. But you should never say “no” without a “yes” to accompany it.  You can’t just give something up without something else to replace it. You toss one dream so that you can fulfill another.

For me, it’s writing. Writing takes up a whole lot of my time and doesn’t leave room for many of my other passions, but that’s okay. I’d like to work out and be super-fit, but I’d rather be a fat writer than a model who never wrote a page. I’d like to act, but not so much that I’m willing to replace writing time. And saxophone would take too much time for me to be very good at writing anymore.

See, we could all do a lot of things, but if we don’t actually pick a few, we’ll never do any of them all that well.

What have you ever had to give up so that your dream could thrive? What might you need to give up now?

4 thoughts on “Why I Quit Saxophone (Not Cuz I Suck)

  1. Well said 🙂 for me, it’s the cello. But I still hope one day (when my kids are a little bigger), I can take it up and get good enough to add some velvety cello sounds to our worship team.


    1. Hey, there is always time. When you finish one dream, it’s always good to start another. My eighty-plus-year-old grandfather-in-law taught himself 8 different stringed instruments over the course of his life, some more recently, so I think we got time!


  2. For me, my kids were a priority. Then, they grew up and didn’t need me as much. That’s when I went back to school. When we say we don’t have time, we mean, that’s not where I want to invest my time. But that’s okay.


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