Fran Lukas, saxophone
Teaching Artist Statement
I hope to help people enjoy the fun, illuminating, and deeply bonding experiences that come with playing music, especially with other people. The saxophone is unique in that it comes from a large family of instruments created by a single inventor in the relatively recent past. There are unique challenges and rewards that come with playing the saxophone. As professor Larry Teal remarks in the introduction of his book The Art of Saxophone Playing, “The saxophone has for many years been the victim of a popular misconception that it is 'easy to play'. This point of view might well be corrected with the addition of a single word—easy to play badly.”
I try to meet each student wherever he or she is starting from, whether beginner, or more experienced player. There are many technical considerations, many of which depend on what kind of music the student wants to play. A student who wants to play jazz needs a slightly different set of skills than someone who wants to play in a concert band or a quartet, and will likely encounter a different set of technical problems. No matter what kind of music a student wants to play, I encourage good tone, good technique, and always playing as musically as possible!
After teaching on my own for two years, I had the good fortune to arrive at Music Center of the Northwest in 1999, joining an established community of teachers, many of whom I have also had the privilege to occasionally play music with over the last eighteen years!
I studied music at Central Michigan University and Shoreline Community College, also studying with Johnnie Jessen, Doug Reed, and Jay Easton.
I have been lucky enough to perform with a tremendously diverse set of groups in the Northwest - one of the benefits of being a saxophonist! While most people associate the saxophone with jazz, it is an extremely versatile instrument. I have played with a few small jazz groups, a big band, several rock bands, two saxophone orchestras, a couple concert bands, several saxophone quintets, quartets, and trios, a soul and R&B band, an improvisational group playing John Zorn's COBRA, the Northwest Mahler Orchestra, and a marching band!
In about 1996, I recorded music for a promotional video about Pioneer Square with the Dudley Manlove Quartet which aired both on Diamond Vision and on television commercials during Mariners games. In 2007, I performed Duke Ellington's Harlem with the Northwest Mahler Orchestra at Benaroya Hall.
I currently perform with a 15-piece banda-style group called La Banda Gozona (as well as a quartet made up of our saxophone section, which draws from the same repertoire, but uses different arrangements). This group performs traditional music from the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. La Banda Gozona performs throughout the greater Seattle area, appearing at Folklife almost every year.