Friday, April 19, 2013

I first heard the sax on the Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon. That's what happened in my case. It's sound is closest to the human voice more than any other instrument. Could be the reason so many of us are attracted to it.


I have created a backing track and saxophone sheet music available for download of Pink Floyd's Us and Them song from the Dark Side of the Moon album.

And the good news is that the sax fingering is probably the easiest to learn of all the instruments and you'll be able to learn it after your first saxophone lesson.

Developing a great sound on the other hand will take a lot more time and effort. There's no way around this except to spend the time on your instrument working on tone exercises involving mouthpiece and breathing techniques. These aren't tough and in fact are similar to the ones used in singing exercises involving breathing from your diaphragm or stomach muscles.

Beginners often start doing these wrong and try to get the air support from the throat. It's natural to try and push the air from the throat, but this is not the proper way for saxophone breathing. Taking some saxophone lessons to get this technique can speed up your tone process.

For the first several months to a year or 2, a sax player's tone may be a little thin and sound a bit out of tune. Well this happens because the air flow was coming from the throat and upper chest and not from down deep in the diaphragm.

Unfortunately, this is not the most natural thing one will do so it must be taught and demonstrated.

Believe it or not, the sax is not the most important thing that will develop your tone. More importantly will be your breathing technique, your reed, and the mouthpiece you choose. Mouthpieces vary in sizes: width, chamber, tip opening. Add the several different reed sizes and you need to do a bit of experimenting to get a combination of a mouthpiece and reed that will make your job of putting air through the horn as easy as possible.

It'll take some time, and you may get frustrated from now and then but as the small improvements in tone become more apperant you'll be glad you're taking the time to learn to play the saxophone!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ready to Play the Sax?


If you're like a lot of people, the sound of the saxophone really speaks to you, possibly so much that you just have to go get one and learn how to play it. That's my story anyway. I think it sounds very close to the human voice in my opinion. And that may be why it's sound attracts so many music lovers to it.

You'll be happy to hear that the saxophone fingering system is about the very easiest of all the instruments to learn and you'll probably nail it after a day or two of instruction..

Getting nice sound on your sax is another story!. Tone and proper breathing exercises will help you to develop your sound over time. These aren't tough. You can learn the same way singers do, which is to breat from your diaphragm and not your throat as is what most beginners tend to do incorrectly..

A bad habit like this that is not corrected quickly can delay your progress a great deal. When we put the sax to our mouth and blow, we force the air through the throat and this is a big mistake. This is where having a teacher for some sax lessons will go a long way.

You know that sound, a novice playing the sax and sounding thin and out of tune. This happens because the air flow was coming from the throat and upper chest and not from down deep in the diaphragm.

Believe it or not, the mouthpiece you play, along with the reeds will make a bigger difference in your tone than the sax does. So, when buying or renting a horn, just try and get a known brand that is in good working order. Spend your money on a mouthpiece upgrade and you'll be flying in no time.

What is a highly recommended mouthpiece? The Selmer S80 sax mouthpiece is a great one for anyone starting out and will carry you for a good year or longer. These are not expensive either, like many top brand names these days can get, like well into several hundreds of dollars.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Saxophone - the Seducer!

The sound of the saxophone is a seducer. With me, that's exactly what happened. It's the closest sounding instrument to the human voice in my opinion. I'm sure that's why so many of us are attracted to it's sound.

And the good news is that the sax fingering is probably the easiest to learn of all the instruments and you'll be able to learn it after your first saxophone lesson.

But the other part of it, the tone, will not come so fast and easy. Tone and proper breathing exercises will help you to develop your sound over time. These aren't complicated and in fact are identical to the ones used in singing exercises involving breathing from your diaphragm or stomach muscles.

This is where beginners make a terrible mistake that if not corrected will slow down your tone developing progress big time. When we put the saxophone to our mouth and blow, we force the air through the throat and this is a big mistake. This is where having a teacher for some sax lessons will go a long way.

Have you ever heard a novice sax player's tone sound really thin and the intonation wavering all over the place? Well this happens because the air flow was coming from the throat and upper chest and not from down deep in the diaphragm.

Your saxophone is not even the half of it. More importantly than even your sax is what you use as your mouthpiece and reed selection. Mouthpieces vary in sizes: width, chamber, tip opening. Add the several different reed sizes and you need to do a bit of experimenting to get a combination of a mouthpiece and reed that will make your job of putting air through the horn as easy as possible.

Now this is a very easy task and can be fun as well but hopefully you'll nail it down in a reasonably short amount of time and start getting that big beautiful tone together as you learn how to play saxophone!

I'd like to announce my latest offering - the saxophone music page where you can download saxophone sheet music and play along sax tracks at HowToPlaySaxophone.org. Check it out today and make learning tunes that much more fun!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Saxophone Backing Tracks To Improve Your Playing

Do you use saxophone backing tracks when you practice or when trying to learn a new song for your repertoire? You should! Hopefully you know what a backing track even is! It's the next best thing to playing with a group, which is why most of us started to play an instrument in the first place right?

Ever since I can remember I've played along to one type of backing track or another. There was the very popular Jamey Aebersold which were for jazz and quite good to have. But I needed others and so started making my own tracks for the specific songs I wanted to learn.

It doesn't take to much to have enough recording equipment to do a decent job, especially these days with so much computer related gear and software available. Much more accessible than when I started messing around with it in the 1970's!

The Benefits of Working With Saxophone Backing Tracks

Like I said, this is the next best way to improve next to playing with others in a group. But there are even more benefits because you can take your time to work out certain things like technical difficulties a particular tune might give you. Sure, you can and should work this stuff out a t first on your own, without any tracks playing but as you get close to being able to play it, it just becomes much more fun to work it out over a play-along track.

I've started to record more of these and want to share them with other saxophonists so if that's you, come on by and check some of them out here:
http://howtoplaysaxophone.org/saxophone-music

You'll be able to listen to each one as they have been recorded via video performance with the exact tracks available for download so go there now and give a listen!
Here is an example of what you can do with a backing track:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How Far Can You Go With a Student Model Yamaha YAS 23 Alto Saxophone?

The Yamaha YAS 23 Alto Saxophone is considered to be one of the best student models out there. Do you need to spend any more on your first saxophone? The answer is a defenate NO!

I've played several Yamaha student models that are very good horns and their professional models are up there with the best of the best. Yes even Selmer! The only thing better about Selmer horns is they have a slight edge in tone quality.

How Much Will A YAS-23 Cost?

New they go for around $1500 and if you can find a used one, and you can, for 400-500 grab it! I sometimes see the at Amazon - see link below.

What are the differences between a Yamaha student and pro horn?

The quality of the build is the same, done in the same factory by the same people. The first most obvious thing you'll see on the student saxophone models is the silver rods and note covers//protectors. These are normally gold colored on the pro models, making the instrument stronger and more aesthetically appealing. 

The material of the YAS-23 is yellow brass whereas on the pro models it's an annealed brass which makes it a little tougher and so longer lasting than the plain brass.

Another main difference is the finish on the body of the instruments - Nickel plated finish on the student saxes as opposed to a gold lacquer finish on the higher end models making it tougher and richer looking as well.

Can you get a good sound on a Yamaha yas-23?

Most definatley! What you may not realize at this early stage of your playing is that most of the sound coming out of your sax is NOT dependent on your saxophone, but rather you and your embouchure, the mouthpiece and reed you choose.

So getting a Yamaha student saxophone is a great option for the first few years of your playing career or even longer. Spend the extra money on a really good mouthpiece and reed setup and work on that embouchure and breathing technique!

Check out a Yamaha at Amazon now!

As you start to play the saxophone you will of course want to learn some cool tunes right? Now you can download the saxophone sheet music and play along tracks to make learning them easier and also much more fun.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Used Alto Sax For Sale

Hi gang, yesterday we added a couple saxophones for sale on the side bar of this blog...

One is a used Barrington alto. This is a student model horn that you could pick up new for around $600. The price on this one is $479.

Any sax you get new or used should be looked at by a good repairman. Eve new horns aren't totally set up right and who knows how a used horn had been set up before.

The Barrington 301 is a very decent starter alto sax that'll take a beginner a couple years or so to grow out of.

Barrington 301 used alto sax for sale

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tenor Sax Man Big Jay Still Rockin'!

Hey guys, just came across this press release today about one of the all time faves.. Big Jay...

Big Jay McNeely is one of the musical pioneers of the wild, honking style of sax playing that emerged from dance halls during the late 1940's. He has electrified audiences for over 60 years with his outrageous stage presence with his squawking, honking playing style that has earned him the nicknames "Big Jay McSquealy," "The Deacon of Tenor Sax," and "King of the Honkers.” Big Jay is best known for "Deacon's Hop" Tenor saxophonist Cecil "Big Jay" McNeely has been performing for over 60 years, and he's still going strong.

Read more.. Big Jay rocks Doo Wop Cruise