How To Play Saxophone
Lets start to learn how to play saxophone by learning our first note. The first note we are going to learn is 'B'.
This means you are now going to have to take some time to learn how to read music.
In musical notation 'B' is written as below. Don't worry about what the line sticking up from the note means, all you need to know for the moment is that 'B' is represented by an oval shape on the middle line of the bar.
What's the bar? The five horizontal lines with the two vertical lines at either end. Again don't worry about it or follow the link above to learn how to read music.
How To Play Saxophone. The Note 'B'
Free Saxophone Lessons. Learn To Play 'B'
On alto and tenor sax fingering charts 'B' is shown as the dark circle on the image. The dark circle indicates that this is the key to press.
So lets give it a go. Study the images to the right to ensure you have the correct finger on the correct key. Now remembering to form your embouchre correctly we shall play 'B'. Did you get a sound? If not remember that you can vary the amount of pressure on the reed and of the airflow through the mouthpiece until a sound comes out.
Do not worry if the sound is a bit flat or you have a squeak or even if it's more like a wail. The important thing is to get a sound. Once you have a sound then you've all the time in the world to practice it.
At this point it would probably be a good idea to tell you about Tonguing and Slurring. These are to methods of playing saxophone that you will develop as you go along.
If you look back at the musical notation of the 'B' it stands on it's own. This means the note should be tongued.
What this means is that you should start the note by taking your tongue off the reed and stop it by placing your tongue back on the reed.
Online Saxophone Lessons. Tonguing
Tonguing as it suggests involves use of the tongue when blowing. Before you blow you place the tip of the tongue onto the tip of the reed gently.
Put your finger on the 'B' key, prepare yourself to blow and when you are ready apply some pressure into your mouth and take your tongue off the reed for a second or so and then place it back on.
The sound should have started the moment you took your tongue off the reed and stopped when you placed it back on the reed. You also need to bear in mind pressure on the reed and air flow and pressure through the reed.
You may find yourself blowing too hard at first or putting too much pressure on the reed with your tongue. The latter may cause you to un-intentionally increase the pressure of your bottom lip on the reed. This is a simple technique you will need to practice. You should after a bit of perserverence be able to stop the reed with the gentlest of touches of your tongue.
Given more time you will be able to seperate notes without any little squeaks or stalling the reed completely. Tonguing is used to seperate the notes on a musical score. Something we will discuss later.More on Tonguing on the Sax Effects page.
Free Saxophone Lessons. Slurring
Slurring is very easy and has no more difficulty than continuing to blow when you change notes. So place your index finger on the 'B' key and blow. Whilst blowing put your middle finger on the fourth key down.
You just played 'B, A'. In the process you've also learned how to slur. It's as easy as that. Put simply you keep blowing whilst playing different notes. It does get a little more complicated but you now have the basics and can happily practice tonguing and slurring on your saxophone. All well written music sheets will indicate when to tongue and when to slur. I'll go into detail on that when I get the learn music page set up.More on Slurring on the Sax Effects page.
More PracticeNow you need to practice these notes on your saxophone for a little while. I want you to play them whilst sluring and tonguing and going up and down the notes. So you will play 'B, A, G, G, A, B' and repeat and so on.
I would also like you to repeat the note in your head when you play it. Playing a B? Then repeat B in your head. It's extremely good practice to do this all the time simply because you then start to relate finger positions to notes which makes it a whole lot easier as you progress.
This is a prime opportunity to work on your tone and playing clear notes. This will take time but the more you practice the more competent you will become.
Try to make each note of equal length and equally sharp. You will probably notice that as you go down the notes there will be a difference in note tone and quality. This is usual and the only way to compensate for this is to practice your breathing and support of the note. The lower the note the more support it will need.
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Famous PlayersListing some of the most famous players around.
Just who is the greatest? Is your favourite on there? If not let us know and we will add them
Sax EmbouchreFailing to get a sound? Horrible squeaks when you play. Can't hit the highs or the lows?
Take a look at our embouchre guide to see if it can help.
Sax SongsTake some time out from your quest to play saxophone and have a listen to some of the more well known sax songs around.
From smooth jazz to a little bit of scar there should be something to suit your taste.
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