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How To Play Saxophone (Alto, Tenor): Best Ultimate Guide 2023

How To Play Saxophone (Alto, Tenor) Best Ultimate Guide 2023

If you want to learn how to play saxophone, this article will show you the basics of how to get started. You’ll learn how to hold the saxophone, how to produce sound, and how to play some basic notes.

Learn How To Play A Saxophone

How to Play Alto Saxophone

Taking Up Position

Step 1: Get used to playing while seated.

Sit in a chair with a straight back to place both feet on the ground. Slide over to the right side of the seat, allowing your right leg to hang over the edge slightly. This will enable you to use that side of your body to hold the saxophone instead of slamming it against the chair.

Although you can play the saxophone while standing, beginners find it simpler to master the instrument when seated.

Avoid comfortable chairs with armrests, such as recliners, because they make maintaining proper posture harder. Choose a more durable chair, such as a foldable chair or a kitchen chair.

Step 2: Relax your neck and shoulders by sitting up straight.

You can play comfortably and avoid injury with good posture. With your back straight and shoulders relaxed, sit tall. It might be more comfortable to slide up to the front of the seat rather than sitting back. Maintain a level head and avoid slanting it to the right or left.

Avoid hunching your shoulders, tightening your neck, and slouching in your chair.

Step 3: Adjust the length of the neck strap by pulling it over your head.

Pick up your saxophone and pull the neck strap over your head after you’re comfortable in your chair. Place the sax on the right side of your lap softly. Pull the plastic adjuster to tighten the strap until there is no slack.

The strap should be taut when you have the instrument in your lap.

Step 4: With both hands, form a “C” shape.

Place your four fingers together and curl your thumbs in both hands to make the letter “C.” (your right hand will form a backward “C”). Your “C” hands should be big enough to wrap around your saxophone’s neck and base.

Depending on the size of your instrument, you may need to change the width of your hand position.

Step 5: Place your right thumb beneath the bottom thumb rest.

The lower thumb rest is the curving piece of brass on the rear of the instrument, just below the neck strap. Place your right thumb beneath the lower thumb rest with your right hand in the “C” position and the saxophone in your lap. Wrap your fingers around the instrument lightly and place your right hand on the bottom three keys.

The lower thumb rest allows you to manipulate the saxophone while playing while keeping it firmly in place.

Step 6: Place your left thumb on the upper thumb rest.

You can find a little key halfway up the backside of the saxophone’s neck. Place your left thumb against the key in the “C” position with your left hand. Wrap your fingers around the saxophone’s neck and place them on the three keys on the upper neck.

The instrument is stabilized by the upper thumb rest, which leaves your fingers free to hit the keys.

Step 7: Place the saxophone against your right leg on your right side.

Allow the saxophone to hang gently from the neck strap with your thumbs firmly on the thumb rests. Place the section of the bell (the curved bottom of the instrument) that doesn’t have any keys against your right leg.

Step 8: Place the mouthpiece against your teeth.

To bring the mouthpiece up to your lips, use your right hand to push the saxophone’s body up and slightly forward. The mouthpiece should come up squarely in front of your mouth if your neck strap is properly positioned.

Your neck strap is too long if the mouthpiece does not come up to your mouth. As needed, make changes.

Step 9: With your lips, make an EW sound.

Close your mouth over the mouthpiece and press your lips together to form an airtight seal. Gently press your top teeth against the mouthpiece.

Bite down with your bottom teeth, not your top ones! Keep them at ease.

This is the correct mouth position for saxophone playing. An “embouchure” is the term for this position.

Taking Up Position

Playing Basic Notes

Step 1: Without pushing any keys, blow air into the mouthpiece.

As you blow into the mouthpiece, your goal is to make a clear, consistent sound. Avoid inflating your cheeks while blowing. It establishes unhealthy habits and makes maintaining a consistent tone and quality more challenging. Bring the corners of your lips closer to the mouthpiece if the instrument produces flat, airy sounds.

You hear a flat sound if it sounds weak and unfinished. If you hear a faint, unclear sound, put more of the mouthpiece into your mouth. You should only have about three-quarters of an inch of the mouthpiece in your mouth at any given time.

Make any necessary adjustments to your positioning until you can produce a clear, consistent tone with the instrument.

You’ll know your embouchure is proper when you hear that clean tone.

Blow air into the mouthpiece.

Step 2: To play a B note, place your left index finger on the second key.

Find the first key down from the top of the saxophone’s neck. Gently press down on this key with your left index finger. Inhale deeply through the mouthpiece. The B note is what you’re hearing.

Step 3: To play the A note, place your left middle finger on the third key.

Maintain a firm grip on the “B” key with your left index finger. Place your left middle finger on the key immediately below it, the third key from the top. Press the third key with your left middle finger while holding down the “B” key. Inhale deeply through the mouthpiece. The A note is the sound you hear.

Step 4: With your left ring finger, press down the fourth key to play a G.

Please press down the fourth key with your left ring finger while maintaining your left index finger on the B key and your middle finger on the A key and holding them both down. Inhale deeply through the mouthpiece. The G note is the one you’re looking for.

The top three keys are B, A, and G, which are played with your left hand.

Step 5: Play the notes F, E, and D with your right hand.

These notes are made by pressing the bottom three keys with your right hand. To make them, keep your left fingertips pressed against the top three keys while blowing into the mouthpiece. Maintain a good embouchure while blowing, and keep your cheeks tucked in. [13]

Press the first bottom key with your right index finger for an F.

To make an E, push the second key with your right middle finger while pressing down on the F key.

For a D, press down the third key with your correct ring finger while firmly down the other keys (top and bottom).

Mastering Advanced Techniques

To add advanced notes to your repertoire, learn significant scales. Each of the basic notes you’ve just learned has a major scale corresponding to it. Major scales are formed by holding down a note and alternating between it and a sequence of other keys in a precise order.

Find a beginner’s alto saxophone book online and practice the most frequent scales until you can play through them with a clear, clean, and consistent sound.

Start with the G Major scale, which is considered the most basic.

The most frequent introductory scales are major scales, which allow you to play notes in order.

To learn more difficult progressions, minor practice scales. Minor scales, like major scales, are generated by playing a series of keys. On the other hand, minor scales sound significantly lower and are often more challenging to play. Minor scale progression key charts can be found online or in a beginner’s book. Practice minor scales until you’re confident in playing each note with a constant pitch and feel comfortable with the progressions.

Minor scales can be found in many alto saxophone songs, including a lot of jazz melodies.

If you want to perform in a jazz band, knowing minor scales will help you improvise later on.

Learn how to play your favorite alto saxophone tunes. Find sheet music for your favorite songs at a local music store or online. Look for fingering charts to help you if you don’t know how to read sheet music. You can write your songs or start improvising with other artists once you’ve become familiar with your favorite music.

You can start with beginning tunes and work your way up to your favorite music.

How To Play Tenor Saxophone

How To Play Tenor Saxophone

Step 1: Go to your local music store and borrow a saxophone. You can buy one secondhand, but it must be in decent condition. Purchase the following items as well:

The mouthpiece is separate from the instrument. For your learning, choose a non-professional one. You should get a mouthpiece made of plastic or rubber.

  • Metal ligature is acceptable. However, a leather one is preferable, but it will cost you more.
  • Reed: Get the one with the name on it. Choose the option that requires the least effort and produces the best result.
  • Neck strap: Get the cheapest one that won’t hurt your neck.

Step 2: The next step is to connect the neck to the instrument’s body. Attach the ligature to the mouthpiece using a screw. The hook should be attached to the neck strap and then filed with the instrument.

Step 3: The next step entails correctly grasping the instrument.

Place your left hand on top and your right hand on the bottom, with your right thumb under the curved thumb and your left thumb on the circular piece. Your right hand’s index, middle, and ring fingers should be on the mother of pearl keys. The index finger should be on the second key, while the middle and ring fingers should be on the fourth and fifth keys.

Step 4: Curl your lower lip and slightly conceal your bottom teeth with it while making the embouchure.

Then, with your mouthpiece between your top teeth, bite down. After that, you must change the placement.

Step 5: Blow into the saxophone without covering or putting holes or keys in the instrument. A concert B will be heard.

If not, you should consider changing your embouchure, which will help you improve your tone. This may cause damage to your upper teeth, necessitating the purchase of a mouth pad.

Step 6: Uncover all of the keys and press the second key down where your middle finger has been placed.

Then, using the left index, press the first key. This yields a C and a B, respectively. Then press the first and second keys together to form an A. Continue to fill in the gaps.

Lower notes can be challenging to master, but with practice, this can be overcome. To get the same notes, use the metal or octave key.

Step 7: Then, to improve your skill, purchase a music sheet and practice it as often as you can.

Six Tips for How To Play The Saxophone

Six Tips for How To Play The Saxophone

Breathe deeply and slowly

Playing the saxophone necessitates more breath than most instruments, but it also necessitates a steady flow of breath. Unfortunately, for most people, this isn’t a natural process. You’ll need to “teach” your neck and diaphragm to control air passage.

The throat should always be open; if it doesn’t feel as it does when you yawn, try again until it does. The next item on your checklist is to make sure you’re breathing via your diaphragm. The lungs are expanded downward during diaphragmatic breathing.

Because it’s a muscle you can’t see, most saxophonists focus on the muscles in the front, which are the same muscles that tense up when you’re about to get hit in the stomach. The simplest technique to learn to breathe correctly is to tense these muscles while pushing the abdomen out.

Consistently practice (and Often)

It is critical to play regularly to build and maintain your embouchure. Try to practice every day if at all possible. Some experts recommend leaving your sax out of the case, set up, and ready to play to encourage you to do so. This way, you’ll have a visual reminder that you need to practice as you come and go throughout the day.

If you opt to use this method, keep your saxophone in a secure location where it won’t be destroyed accidentally. When you’re practicing, make sure your music is at eye level in front of you. Placing music on a table flat will lead to incorrect posture, and bad habits are difficult to break. Music stands are reasonably priced, so get one as soon as feasible.

Maintain Your Position

Depending on your music teacher’s preference, you were probably taught to hold your instrument between your legs or to the right side of your legs. Each strategy has advantages and disadvantages, but once you choose one, stick with it.

It will hurt your ability to play if you switch back and forth between the two positions. What is the explanation for this? The angles shift when you change positions. And this variation in angles, no matter how minor, has a significant impact.

You’ll be more concerned with how to attain difficult fingering through a different hand position than you’re used to rather than perfect vibrato or tone.

Don’t Forget to Consider the Factors

Music is a means of expression, and if you’re not using dynamics, you’re probably not expressing yourself very well. Dynamics are a terrific method to add drama and storytelling to your performance, and you should use them as much as possible (and whenever noted in your sheet music.)

You’re missing out on an excellent opportunity to take your listeners on a journey if you’re blindly playing through a song at the same volume. Playing music in a delicate, light manner, for example, can put your listeners in a pleasant dreamy state, but music performed at higher volumes will wake them up or thrill them.

Although there is no right or wrong in dynamics, listeners choose music that makes them feel better. Consider whether you’re playing at a loudness that’s comfortable for you or whether you’re expressing yourself through dynamics.

Pick Reeds With Care

Higher-quality reeds are advantageous for a couple of reasons: they increase the sound of your saxophone, but they’re also less likely to splinter in your mouth, which is uncomfortable and leaves a terrible taste in your mouth.

While using saxophone reeds made of cane or other natural materials is desirable, choosing the right hardness is also essential. Make sure you buy the reed with the strength that best matches your own.

If you’ve been away from your instrument for a long time, this produces the best tone and simplifies playing. Use a softer reed or work on strengthening the muscles in your mouth that govern your embouchure if you’re pushing too hard.

Keep an eye on your saxophone.

Treat your instrument with the same tender loving care as you would give a puppy or cat. They may appear invincible, but they can become unplayable if you bang your saxophone in the wrong place. Cleaning and maintaining your saxophone regularly is the most effective approach to keeping it in good shape.

After each playing session, remove any moisture and dry it thoroughly with a lint-free cloth. On occasion, you may need to add a little amount of oil to the pivots. Sticky keys and leaks are unavoidable, and experience will teach you which repairs should be left to the pros.

Take it to a certified repair specialist if you’re unsure. Remove no pieces from your saxophone unless you’re completely confident in your abilities.


FAQs About How To Play A Saxaphone

How Hard Is It To Learn Saxophone

Like many other instruments, the saxophone is simple to learn yet challenging to master. Many people believe that making a sound on the saxophone is simple, but making a decent sound is more complicated. Self-control and a few additional pointers, on the other hand, can make all the difference and have you playing like a pro in no time!

When It Comes To Learning The Saxophone, How Long Does It Take?

This depends on your level of experience and the amount of time you spend playing.

Some pupils become frustrated after the first month or two because they don’t sound professional. These high expectations can lead to disappointment for a pupil. Remember that even if you’ve been playing the saxophone for eight years, you still have a lot to learn!

Is Playing The Saxophone Beneficial To Your Lungs?

That saxophonist can play the blues like nobody’s business, but his instrument may be turning green. According to a study published today in Chest magazine, brass musicians may unwittingly inhale mold and germs from their instruments, contributing to the development of hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP).

Is It Simpler To Play The Saxophone Or The Trumpet?

For most people, the saxophone is probably easier in the short term. The trumpet is more painful and causes more embouchure disruption. It is, however, far from comfortable for saxophone players.


“Is the saxophone difficult to learn?” we can now respond. We hope you’re feeling inspired now that Fidlar has given you some pointers on how to get started with this fascinating instrument.

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