If you want to learn to play the saxophone, you’ve come to the right place. California Music Studios is your one-stop shop for achieving your musical dreams. For over 25 years, we have helped students of all ages—kids, teens, and adults—find talented, knowledgeable music instructors for in-home or studio lessons throughout the Southern California area.
We work with a network of saxophone teachers, each of whom goes through a rigorous in-person professional and personal screening process. The teachers we work with offer one-on-one lessons that are suited to your unique learning style and progress. We have a 97 percent or better success rate with matching saxophone teachers and students, but if you feel unsatisfied with your sax lessons, we can easily swap out your teacher for someone else.
Riverside saxophone lessons give you a chance to hone a new skill, grow as a person, and partake in a unique musical tradition. Keep reading to learn more about the sax, or contact us now if you’re ready to sign up.
A Brief History of the Saxophone
The saxophone was invented in 1841by Antoine-Joseph “Adolphe” Sax, a Belgian musician and instrument designer. As a flautist and clarinetist, Sax felt a need to create an instrument that had the agility and range of a woodwind and the power and projection of a brass, essentially bridging the gap between the two sections. What came of that was the saxophone, made of brass but with the similar fingering and play style of a clarinet.
His idea was patented in 1846 in two groups of seven instruments, each comprising various sizes and transpositions. However, this patent expired in 1866, giving other instrument makers and manufacturers the chance to improve on Sax’s design. The most notable of these modifications was an extra key that extended the standard range down to B flat.
The instrument’s initial popularity saw its use in military bands in France and Belgium, primarily in its baritone, tenor, alto, and soprano forms. The baritone, tenor, and alto saxophones were quickly adopted in symphonic bands and big band music, but it was the 1920s that saw the sax’s greatest use thanks to the developing jazz form where it became one of the frontline instruments for the genre.
Tips for Playing the Sax
The saxophone is filled with warmth and character, but bringing that sound is difficult in the beginning, even for the pros. Here are some tips to keep in mind during your saxophone lessons and practices.
- Keep your posture in mind until it becomes second nature. Good posture supports your breathing, which is the key to your playing. You should be sitting at the edge of your seat, feet flat on the floor, back comfortably straight. No slouching or crossing your legs.
- When holding your sax, your fingertips should always be touching the pearls of the keys. Don’t let them stray.
- Learn the circle of fourths and fifths and practice your minor and major scales. Both will help you learn your key signatures, allowing for better transitions when reading music and overall better performances—California Music Studios holds 65 recitals per year, so keep this tip in mind!
- It’s not uncommon for saxophone players to cut their tongues on reeds, especially reeds just out of the box. If you’re using a new reed, soak it in warm water for about ten minutes or give it a little extra mouth time before placing it on your mouthpiece. Initially, play gentler on new reeds. If it’s becoming a constant problem, ask your teacher during your saxophone lessons for different reed recommendations.
- Use dynamics when you learn to play the saxophone. Dynamics are what give a piece depth and character. They create the story and tell listeners how they’re supposed to feel. During your practices, overemphasize your crescendos, decrescendos, staccato notes, and other dynamics.
- Charlie “Yardbird” Parker has become an icon for early hipsters and the Beat Generation. His compositions and saxophone playing were crucial in the development of the bebop style of jazz. See one of his alto solos from “Fine and Dandy.”
- Julian “Cannonball” Adderley is a legend of jazz, playing primarily during the hard bop era from the 1950s to 1960s. He’s best known for his 1966 single “Mercy Mercy Mercy,” but he has plenty of awesome songs in his oeuvre, like his rendition of the classic “Stardust.”
- No list is complete without mentioning the great John Coltrane, who shaped not just jazz but music as a whole.
- His version of “My Favorite Things”
- And “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”
- Coltrane joining with Stan Getz for “Autumn in New York”
- The sax has had something of a revival thanks to bands in search of more eclectic sounds.
Feeling inspired to learn to play the saxophone? Great! Contact us today.