Interview with Timothy McAllister, Part 1 — “Empowering Students for ‘Their’ Path”

Timothy McAllister, a globally recognized saxophonist and professor of Saxophone at the University of Michigan, discusses his perspective on natural talent in music in this interview. According to McAllister, although some individuals possess an innate ability for music, the greatest success stories arise from those who comprehend the importance of a strong work ethic. He debunks the notion of natural talent by highlighting the extensive practice and hard work that even the most gifted musicians put in to achieve success. McAllister also shares his own early accomplishments, which he attributes to a system of stringent competitions and contests in Texas. He encourages his students to listen to diverse music genres, including jazz, popular, and classical music, to develop a comprehensive outlook and integrate novel concepts into their playing. He further emphasizes the significance of producing organic and completely integrated music instead of a mechanical one. McAllister cites John Coltrane as an inspiration, despite his own music being predominantly classical. He criticizes the teaching approach of some classical saxophonists like Marcel Mule, who taught students to emulate him, thus limiting their exploration of the saxophone’s possibilities. Instead, McAllister urges saxophonists to be pioneers and consider the broader influence of their work. This is the first part of Tim’s interview.

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