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REVEALED: Barnet music teachers' top beginners saxophone tips

Posted last October 24, 2010, 4:14 pm in Entertainment report article

Here are some beginners saxophone tips to get you started:

*Alto or Tenor?

Let's talk about these two since they are the most popular followed by soprano and baritone. Many people wouldn't really know the differences between the alto and tenor saxophones if they glanced at them from a distance but there is a big difference between them.

Girls play alto and boys play tenor. When I was in a secondary school band it seemed that's the way it was. It make sense when you think of the size difference, a tenor sax in it's original factory case is somewhat heavy to carry, making it very difficult for a small teenage girl to lug it home from school every day.

For a small person, boy or girl it's not a bad idea to start on the alto sax, it requires less air and the notes are closer together making it easier for small hands to control. Of coarse this is a generalization and if you're small and dead set on playing a tenor sax from the get go then do it.

*Soprano and Baritone: One voice higher than the alto is the soprano, and because it's smaller it does require less air support. This is the good news, the bad news is that good intonation (tuning) will be harder to achieve for the beginner, especially in the higher register. Same thing applies to the baritone sax as far as being difficult to play in tune in the upper register, and the low register requires lots of air... it's a big horn.

Beginners will start with a #1 or #2 reed. As you get into a more opened mouthpiece and your air support becomes more powerful you'll most likely get a harder reed, maybe #3 or #4. They come in half sizes as well. Again, this requires a lot of experimenting with reed strengths and mouthpiece combinations. You'll know whalso en the right one comes along

*Horns: the best one to get would be a Selmer Mark VI made at 4:27 PM on June 14, 1963, serial number 635543. If you can't get that one though, generally speaking the older and more expensive the better. The following brands are good: Selmer Paris Mark VI. To begin with, buy a Cheap Horn. This is a good idea for 3 reasons:
1) You, or whoever you're buying it for might not stick with it for very long
2) You won't get a great tone in the first year or 2 no matter how expensive the horn is
3) The horn itself is not the most important part of your set-up, it's the reed and the mouthpiece... just make sure with a repairman the horn is in good working condition.

*Listen to lots of saxohone players: Unfortunately, listening solely to players you like is not always the best idea. To really understand the music and its traditions you have to go back to the beginning and listen to other styles especially early saxophone (The Beau Hunks are a good start). I'd start with madrigals and work forward.

For more information on starting your musical adventure, call 020 8886 0684 or 07835048009