Here, we’ll go through how to play tenor saxophone

Although the tenor saxophone is bigger than the alto, the tenor sax is a particularly popular choice for any beginner. 

It’s prominent in jazz, concerts and marching band; often playing inner harmony or melodic lines.  

And, if you’re considering learning, or have just started learning, to play the tenor saxophone, this easy-to-follow guide will help you begin your journey with confidence. 

How to play tenor saxophone

Choose from a reliable brand: to start your saxophone journey off in the very best way, the first thing to do is choose an instrument from a well-known, reliable brand. Choose a tenor sax that’s designed to be easy to play and comfortable to handle. 

Choose your accessories wisely: as a beginner, it may be tempting to choose the cheapest mouthpiece available. However, this is not always the most suitable option! Look for a mouthpiece made for beginners, specifically. 

Experiment with reeds (and buy several!): buying the right reed is crucial to achieving the very best sound from your sax. As a beginner, you’ll want to experiment with different strengths of reed in order to find the reed strength that works for you - the greatest effect with the least amount of effort! Typically, beginners use reeds with a strength of between 1.5 and 3. Within this, it’s also advisable to purchase several reeds as they may break! 

Invest in a fingering chart: purchasing a fingering chart, placing it on your wall or somewhere prominent you can always refer to when you practice will help you memorise the position of your fingers when playing separate notes; the more you see it and study it, the quicker and greater your confidence will grow. 

Hold your instrument correctly: it may seem obvious but ensuring you’re holding your instrument correctly is extremely important! Not only to allow you to reach all the keys easily, but also to make sure you’re comfortable and you don’t accidently drop your sax! Your left hand should be on the top and your right hand should be on the bottom of the instrument; within this, your right thumb should be placed under the curved thumb rest, towards the bottom of the instrument and your right index, middle, and ring fingers go on the mother of pearl keys that should be easy to find.

Your embouchure: ‘embouchure’ refers to the way you place and hold your mouth against your mouthpiece. Essentially, you need to curl your lower lip over your bottom teeth and rest your top teeth on the top of the mouthpiece. Adjust as necessary. 

Make some noise!: from here, it’s time to make some noise with your tenor sax! Without holding any keys, blow through your instrument. At this point, you should hear a C#; if you don’t or you don’t hear any noise/just a squeak, it’s ok, simply adjust your embouchure until you hear the note. 

Get to grips with the other notes: use your fingering chart and your embouchure to try out and practice the other notes in the scale; spend some time getting comfortable with the basic notes and, once you’re feeling confident in that scale, branch out. 

Find your music: once you’re confident with the basics, it’s time to pick your music. Invest in some beginner’s books, and find some easy-to-follow, easy-to-learn music that resonates with you; something fun and energetic that you enjoy playing. 

Practice, practice, practice! : Keep practicing your scales, your fingering, your music - practice every day or at least a couple of times a week (whenever you can!) and you’ll be a confident player in no time! 

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