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Saxophone Studio

2023-24 Saxophone Studio Group - Marching Band

Welcome Message from Dr. James Romain - Professor of Saxophone:

Drake saxophone students may pursue any one of four different music majors here at Drake. We also offer a minor in music, concentration in jazz studies, and have quite a few students involve in the department as non-major participants. We have scholarship assistance available for all majors, minors, and non-major participants, at amounts that correlate to each level.

The saxophone studio is very busy. The top quartet (Tiberius Quartet) won the state MTNA chamber music competition in 2014 & 2015, was named alternate at the division competition in January 2015, and competed at the regional level once again in 2016. In 2014, the quartet won the Drake Concerto Competition, and performed William Bolcom's Concerto Gross(recorded by the Prism Quartet) with the Drake Symphony Orchestra in the spring. They again won the state MTNA chamber music competition in 2017, and more recently competed at the regional level.

We typically have 8-10 music majors in the studio - pursuing the Bachelor of Music Education (Instrumental Emphasis), Bachelor of Music with Elective Studies in Business, Bachelor of Music in Performance, or the Bachelor of Arts in Music degrees. In addition to these majors, there are approximately eight additional saxophonists who participate in ensembles and lessons as minors and non-major participants - they study with Katelyn Stessman, our excellent adjunct saxophone Teaching Artist.

We ask a lot of our students - large ensemble (band), saxophone quartet, and most play in jazz ensemble, with several also in a jazz combo. If you are serious and dedicated, the sky is the limit - you will have opportunities to perform solo, chamber, and large ensemble music, as well as jazz, with outstanding student musicians in a wide array of ensembles. We have weekly saxophone studio class, in addition to lessons, which provides an opportunity for ongoing performance and peer feedback. There are two concert bands - the top group (Wind Symphony) tours regionally, and records a full CD every other year. A few years ago, we recorded Mark Engebretson's Duo Concertante, which I performed for the composer's wife, Sue Fancher. In addition to the concert bands, there is also marching band (the first month of the fall concert band season) and athletic band (Bulldog Brass).

My professional activities reflect one of my great interests - collaborating with composers in commissioning new works for saxophone. I also emphasize versatility in my studio, and I encourage students to pursue both classical and jazz study, as well as to take lessons on flute and clarinet. My recordings (In FriendshipOasis Quartet, and Howl) are available on the Centaur and Innova labels through iTunes, Amazon, and may be streamed on all major streaming devices, along with my work with The New Stream Quartet. Here's a sample from In Friendship - this is the first movement of Robert Muczynski's Sonata, Op. 29:

In addition to collaborating with composers through commissioning and recording projects, I am also the principal first-call saxophonist for the Minnesota Orchestra, so I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with them to Cuba in May of 2015 and to London for the BBC Proms in 2010. I spent two weeks with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in January of 2018, including a week-long tour to California. Most recently, I toured internationally in 2023 with the Chicago Symphony for two weeks for concerts in AZ, CA, OK, IA, and Toronto, Canada. Locally, I perform with the Des Moines Symphony, the Des Moines Big Band, Des Moines Metro Opera, and play Reed I (piccolo, flute, clarinet, saxophone) for touring Broadway shows at the Des Moines Civic Center.

I'm telling you about my activities because, as you consider colleges, look for a teacher who is active within NASA (, and is active professionally as a recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral saxophonist - as well as in the jazz area. Students tend to reflect the interests and emphases of their teachers.

Please contact me at if you would like more information about exciting opportunities for saxophonists at Drake University, or to arrange for a sample lesson with me.

Warm regards,

Dr. James Romain

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