Jazz

So You Want to Learn The Saxophone?

About The Saxophone

The saxophone was originally created by a Belgian instrument maker by the name of Adolphe Sax in 1843. The sax was developed primarily to be played in military bands but has now become more synonymous with Jazz, Big Band, and many other styles of popular music today .

The saxophone, commonly known as the sax, is a woodwind instrument, although it is made of metal. It has a cool, sexy tone that is very distinctive. The sax is fairly easy to learn and is a good instrument for anyone above the age of 12 who wants to be able play a few simple tunes without requiring any great musical knowledge. It has a single vibrating reed fitted to one end of the horn via a mouthpiece which is narrow at the reed end and widens out into a wide 'bell' at the other end. To make the saxophone easier to handle, the horn is bent into the characteristic 'S' shape, except in the very small saxes, like the soprano, which is straight like a clarinet.

The original saxophones had a range of about two octaves. With today's breed of saxophone the range is now about two and a half octaves, although with special playing techniques much higher notes can be achieved. Modern saxes also have a better designed key mechanism making them easier to play.

Getting Started

It is advisable that you start learning with the alto saxophone. The soprano is also good for a beginner, but it is not recommended that you start with a tenor or baritone sax – get an alto to begin with, you can always switch later. The change will be much easier.

The saxophone isn't one of the more difficult instruments to pick up and play, if you put the effort in you can easily be playing tunes very quickly.

To play the saxophone you need to have arms strong enough to support the instrument and hands big enough to reach the keys. There are no small instruments especially for beginners, although of course the little soprano sax is easier in this respect. It is common for children of 11 or 12 to start on the saxophone. Please note that developing a good embouchure (the shape of your mouth around the mouth piece) from the outset is an absolute necessity because this will affect the overall tone quality of your sax, this is why it is not recommended that children who still have their milk teeth learn to play saxophone as your teeth form an important part of a good embouchure.

Practice, Practice, Practice

You will definitely need good resource material that teach you fingering, scales, exercises that help you develop a good embouchure etc.

Learning to play the sax will require you to put in much time in regular practice. Molding your skills and starting to play like a pro comes with determination and discipline, along with training and practice on a regular basis. Give yourself a generous amount of time to practice the technique and know how to improve your weaknesses.

It highly recommended that you find yourself a good teacher in the area that you live who will be able to monitor your progress and help you maintain discipline and keep you on track.

Being properly equipped

Buying a good quality saxophone will give you the best start on your musical journey, remember you will always get what you pay for, you may be tempted to buy the cheapest but you'll probably pay out in the long-term or become dissatisfied with it very quickly. Think of it as an investment, not an expense. Buying a good quality horn from a reputable manufacturer will put you in good stead long-term, not to mention having a superior tone and a more accurate intonation. Other essential equipment are-

· A firm case (not a soft gigbag)

· A good solid stand

· A neckstrap

· Cork grease

· A swab to clean the inside

· Resources for scales and fingering technique exercises.

· Sheet music. Start with simple musical pieces

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