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Saxy Grit and Chasing your Passion with Drew Whiting

Saxy Grit and Chasing your Passion with Drew Whiting

In this episode of the Jonesin’ for Show I interview saxophone guru and professor at the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh, Dr. Drew Whiting. Drew loves contemporary electronic music for saxophone and shares how he and others can use grit to chase their passions. Because of his grit and perseverance Dr. Whiting recorded and just released a new album, “In Lights Starkly Different” on Inova recordings. Do yourself a favor and check out the his new and amazing music HERE.


Just like the majority of musicians Drew started playing the saxophone early in public school. Since his parents were teachers, he thought he would go into music education. He was accepted into Michigan state and was introduced to art music, another way of saying classical music. Drew discovered he loved teaching just the saxophone and not other instruments. So he kept up private lessons but switched his major to saxophone performance. After earning his bachelor's degree he went ahead and earned his masters. When he was earning his masters degree he worked in arts administration and enjoyed doing that but still felt like he was missing something. 

When Drew was earning his doctorate at the University of Illinois he found his passions in a few different areas of music including pedagogy and free improvisation. One of the classes he took was a class that included engineers, dancers, and musicians that worked together to create music and art through improvisation. This class really fired up his love of electronic music and composition. When he started at UW Oshkosh he befriended the composers on faculty and created a great friendship that resulted in some amazing pieces that can be found on his new album.


It is great to see how Drew was able to stay in his passion of saxophone and saxophone performance but pivot into the different niches within it. Many of us can get easily distracted, myself included, but if we want to achieve our goals, especially the big ones, we need to stick with it. Sticking with your passion for a long period Drew calls Grit. Grit is something you need to have if you want to achieve long term success. Drew read and highly suggests the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. (You can get your copy HERE) The book shares the science behind grit and what we need to achieve our big goals and dreams. Drew shares the following equation from the book. 

Talent is defined as the rate we learn something

Talent x Effort = Skill

Skill x Effort = Achievement

Drew points out how effort is in those equations twice. Which means that no matter how much talent or skill you have the amount of effort you put in determines how much you will achieve. He shares that one of his favorite things about the equation is that no matter who we are, we can all put in effort. We can overcome anything with enough effort. 

There will be times when you don’t feel like doing what you need to do to achieve your goals. When that happens or when things get tough in life and you get knocked down, use your reason why and be gritty. Keep putting in the effort to push on and gain more skill and use more effort to get achievement. Be gritty and keep pushing to reach your goals and dreams.

For those who are struggling, Drew suggests that you ask yourself the following questions if you love your passion and goal: Do you treat it like you love it? Do you give it the amount of time it needs? The respect it needs? Are you honest with it? Asking yourself these questions can help you realize if you truly love it and willing to do what it takes to make it reach its full potential.



Over the years of learning and teaching Drew is authentic and honest with himself. He is competitive but not against other people. Instead he is competitive with himself. He wants to be the best in his niche, new electronic music for the saxophone. I suggest that you do the same for yourself. Be the best that you can be in whatever passion you choose to chase.

In the vlog and podcast Drew shares specifics about the music on his album. Everything from how the sheet music looks, the computer program used, composers instructions, and the challenges he faced when performing the pieces. Do yourself a favor and step outside your comfort zone and listen to something starkly different. Purchase your copy of his new release “In Lights Starkly Different” at Inova recordings by clicking HERE. When you buy from Inova all the profits go right to the artists. You can also download it on Spotify or Apple Music. Learn more about Dr. Drew Whiting on his website www.drewsaxophone.com.