Senior reaching high notes with jazz saxophone

Check out episode one of the Hi-Line Online to see senior William Sims and the rest of the jazz band at Artapalooza.

William Sims has grown up around music his whole life. His musical journey started at age seven when his parents started him and his older siblings on the piano because of the importance of musical learning. The ritual playing of Kenny G.’s Christmas albums (famous saxophone player) during the holiday season created an interest in playing the saxophone in Sims. The now senior started playing the saxophone in fifth grade and stuck with it ever since. Sims practices multiple hours each day on both instruments in hope to make it into jazz band at Brigham Young University. 

What instruments do you play? For saxophone, mainly alto saxophone, but also soprano saxophone. My other main instrument is piano. 

When and why did you start playing? I started playing piano when I was about seven or eight because my parents recognized the value of musical learning, so me and my four older siblings were all started in piano lessons. We all started about that age, and I have continued, most of them didn’t continue. I started saxophone in fifth grade, as many people do, but I wanted to play it as long as I could remember. We always had Kenny G. Christmas albums playing at our house during Christmas, and I just loved hearing the saxophone, and that’s the main reasoning I can remember for why I picked the saxophone. 

What is your inspiration for playing? I think the goals and the reasons I keep going and keep developing are because I think one of the purposes in life is to develop and learn, and for musicians that’s a big part of our and a big part of my life to keep learning about music, and the end goal is to serve other people and bring joy to them. Piano, I use in church and stuff. Performing brings joy to others, and I think bringing joy to people in that way is the most important. 

What has been your biggest accomplishment regarding your music? For saxophone, it would definitely have to be All-State, and last year, I was the featured soloist. 

Do you plan on continuing music in college? I don’t plan to major in music after college, but I plan to minor so then I can still have a lot of time invested in it and working on ensembles and such. I definitely plan on continuing music for the rest of my life, and out of college play it as a hobby. 

Tell me your best memory that you have playing your music for others? I think it has to be All-State last year, when I was featured with the choir because playing my saxophone with 600 voices behind me was a pretty magical experience. Then getting to do that at All- State, which had been my goal for years since I started playing the saxophone is the biggest memory I think. Getting to participate in that and the surprise of being selected for that honor. 

What is your practice schedule like? I practice every day, except for Sunday. I take a rest on Sunday for church and stuff. All the rest of the days, I do my very best to get to practice. Sometimes homework makes that difficult, but I try to practice an hour for each discipline is my goal. So an hour classical saxophone, an hour at least for jazz. It usually takes more time, though. And preferably an hour for piano. That’s like the ideal. I almost always get an hour of musical practice a day. Now with senior year, I don’t have many classes, so I have multiple releases, so I usually spend those in the band hall practicing. 

Do you ever consider picking up another instrument? This is something I should have been doing for the last three years, is picking up the clarinet because in jazz band a lot of the time a saxophonist will have to “double” as they say. On clarinet there is a lot of jazz music. I have a clarinet, but I don’t practice as much as I should. Flute is the same. I don’t have a flute, but I’d like to learn it. It’s kind of a bad thing because I always find another one, and I’m like, “Oh, I want to play that,” but I never pursue it fully, but the main next one would be actually be good at playing the clarinet. 

What is your biggest struggle regarding music? I think dealing with nerves and expectations. My freshman year I tried out for All-State on alto saxophone. Things were going really well, preparation wise. I was playing all my stuff really well. Then, like, I went to my audition, horribly nervous, and I just lost it. It was a disaster. I really struggled with that. I was really angry at myself, so learning to get over that and getting over failure helps deal with nerves and helps me to progress. Because if you get bogged down by things you don’t achieve, then you’re never going to make any progress.

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