Age is just a number, says saxophonist

(From left) The mother-daughter duo, Biggie and Nema Vinkeloe, performed in the city recently.

Biggie Vinkeloe, one of the few accomplished women saxophone players in the world, was in Bengaluru recently along with her multicultural troupe. The event was a part of The Bangalore School of Music’s 17th East West Music and Dance Encounter, at Alliance Française de Bangalore, Vasanth Nagar.

In conversation with Rakshitha M N, Biggie shared her thoughts on the rarity of women saxophone players and more.

What made you choose the saxophone? Is women playing this instrument still a rarity?
When I started playing the saxophone, there were not many women practising it. There were times when I felt lonely on stage among all the other male musicians. But times have changed now. More and more women are picking up typical male instruments like trumpet, drums and saxophone. The credit goes to elder musicians who have worked hard to promote it.

What breathing techniques do you employ? Do you practice any Indian yoga techniques?
Meditation helps a lot. The process of taking deep breaths helps in controlling the breath, which in turn helps in controlling the sounds. I also practice techniques like ‘Tai chi’ and ‘Qigong’. Though I haven’t taken to any Indian yogic techniques, I am sure it helps in ways I can’t imagine. I have also learnt a lot of other techniques from the musicians I play with.

How old were you when you took to the saxophone?
I bought a saxophone when I was 22 years old, although I have been into music from the age of five. I liked the sound and the possibilities of the instrument.
People say one cannot learn a new thing once they reach a certain age, which is wrong. I started at 22 and I am a professional musician now. Age is just a number.

Do you prefer playing solo or in groups?
For me, music is all about communication. There is a social exchange and interaction when we play together. You are just presenting your works when you perform alone but a lot of different perspectives come into play when we perform in groups. I do not deny solo performances but I enjoy playing in
groups.

Do you like listening to Indian music?
I have been listening to Indian music from past 30 years. Having played the flute earlier, I am looking for someone to help me gain some more knowledge about the instrument.

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Age is just a number, says saxophonist

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