Steven Mauk

Professor Emeritus, Music Performance


Ithaca College has maintained a strong saxophone program for over 50 years. This began with Donald Sinta, who started as the first saxophone professor in the mid 1960s. Following Sinta was Elizabeth Zinn, Marshall Taylor, and Tim Timmons. These individuals stayed for a few years before moving on to their current positions. Dr. Steven Mauk has served as the professor of saxophone since 1975. Prior to that, he held teaching positions at the University of Michigan and at Eastern Michigan University. Mauk has built upon the strong foundation of Donald Sinta and has helped establish Ithaca College as one of the premiere centers for saxophone study in this country.

About 50 students audition every year for acceptance to the Ithaca College saxophone studio, with an average of 4 to 5 new students attending each fall. This year's saxophone studio is comprised of 18 students (17 undergraduate and 1 graduate student). Go to the Current Students section to view the list of students enrolled this year. To view the contact information for these students, go to the Directories section of the Ithaca College web site.

In addition to the regular studio activities, the students have formed the Ithaca College Saxophone Society. This is a student-run organization sponsored by the Student Government Association. Please see the ICCS web site for detailed information about this society.

There is a body of repertoire that most saxophonists study and perform. These pieces are considered "standard repertoire" by most professional teachers and performers around the world. Each teacher does have, of course, his or her own favorite compositions. Dr. Mauk has compiled a list of pieces that he considers the best of the classical repertoire for saxophone. To download his list of Selected Repertoire for the Saxophone, either click on the link above or go to the documents section of this web site.

All saxophone students take a weekly, hourly private lesson with Dr. Mauk. These lessons are taught in the classical style, focusing on the fundamentals of playing the saxophone (such as tone, breathing, articulation, vibrato, fingerings), scale materials (major, minor, chromatic and whole tone scales; triads; seventh chords; and major scales in thirds), etudes, as well as solo and duet repertoire. Students in the performance degrees are expected to practice the lesson material between 3 to 5 hours per day and those in non-performance degrees are expected to practice between 2.5 to 4 hours. These are averages, of course, as practice time may vary due to homework assignments, ensemble rehearsals, concerts, and physical limitations. Students are expected to bring a digital recorder (mini-disc, flashdrive recorder, iPod with microphone attachment, or digital voice recorder) to each lesson. They may then review the material presented during the lesson throughout the week and use this device in daily practicing sessions.

In addition to the private lesson, all students attend the Saxophone Performance and Pedagogy Class, which meets each Wednesday from 4:00-4:50 pm. The repertoire class is used for a variety of activities, including lectures by Dr. Mauk (on such topics as breathing, sight reading, articulation, reeds, and repertoire), guest artist appearances, and student presentations and performances. Each student is expected to perform at least twice each semester in the repertoire class. These can include solo, duet, and chamber music presentations. The performances are recorded for future review and either verbal or written comments are given to the performers by Dr. Mauk and the other students.

All music majors are required to participate in a major ensemble each semester. For saxophonists, that major ensemble could be the Wind Ensemble or Symphonic Band. Auditions for these bands take place during the first week of classes in the fall semester. Dr. Mauk and the band directors serve as the adjudicators and are situated behind a screen to assure the anonymity of those auditioning. Once the players are chosen for the Wind Ensemble, the others are assigned to the Symphonic band. This results in one top group and one second group, which assures the highest quality of performance in each ensemble.

Jazz majors participate in one of our four jazz ensembles as their major ensemble. Other saxophonists are highly encouraged to play in one of these fine ensembles, as well. Auditions for the jazz ensembles usually take place at the beginning of each semester.

Other ensembles open to saxophonists include the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Pit Orchestra and, on occasion, performances with the Symphony Orchestra. Many saxophonists chose to play in the Campus Band (designed for non-music majors) on one of their secondary instruments. This is an excellent way to keep up and improve your doubling abilities. Students are encouraged to get as much ensemble experience as possible during their study at Ithaca College.
One of the strengths of the School of Music is its chamber music program. For saxophonists this usually refers to saxophone quartets (SATB). Quartets are expected to rehearse a minimum of two hours per week and receive an hour coaching every other week. There are usually three to four saxophone quartets organized each semester. Students in the performance degrees are required to participate in the chamber music program for four semesters, although all students are welcomed. Each quartet prepares a program of music, to allow for performances in repertoire class, on chamber music recitals, and in concerts off campus.

Since Ithaca College offers an undergraduate degree in Jazz Studies, there an several jazz combos formed each semester. These might include performers on saxophone, trumpet or trombone, piano, bass, and drums. The jazz combos are coached by Professor Stephen Brown, Director of the Jazz Studies Program. Saxophonists are encourage to participate in one of these small jazz ensembles during their course of study. 

There are hundreds of concerts presented each year at the Ithaca College School of Music. A listing of the current concerts can be viewed on our concert calendar. Included in these are a wealth of saxophone performances. Dr. Mauk presents an annual solo recital and frequently plays on other faculty members' recitals and as a soloist with college ensembles. All students in the performance degrees are expected to present two recitals and non-performance students are encouraged to play at least one recital during their degree. The School of Music frequently hosts both classical and jazz guest saxophonists, most of whom present concerts and master classes as part of their visits.

The School of Music has a very good inventory of professional saxophones for use in bands, jazz ensembles, saxophone quartets, and for occasional use in private lessons. The collection includes professional brand instruments (primarily made by Selmer,) including sopranos, alto, tenors, baritones, and even a bass saxophone. These are available at no cost to the students, but must be signed out to guarantee coverage by the College insurance plan. Dr. Mauk has a selection of professional mouthpieces, ligatures, and mouthpiece caps for use with these instruments. The students are responsible only for purchasing reeds. In addition, the College provides repair services for the school instruments at no charge. Students who attend Ithaca College are expected to have their own professional saxophone in good repair for use in private lessons.  

There are saxophone materials available in one of three libraries on campus. The Ithaca College Library, attached to the Whalen Center for Music, houses saxophone reference materials, recordings, and solo repertoire. The Chamber Music Library, located in the music building, has our collection of saxophone chamber music. Dr. Mauk owns a wide variety of reference materials, recordings, and repertoire for use by his saxophone students. All students are expected to purchase materials used in lessons to help build their own personal library.