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Saxophone Lessons

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About the Saxophone

The saxophone (also referred to as the sax) is a family of woodwind instruments. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. The saxophone family was invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax in 1840. Adolphe Sax wanted to create a group or series of instruments that would be the most powerful and vocal of the woodwinds, and the most adaptive of the brass instruments.

The saxophone family vary in shape and range:

  • Sopranissimo
    The sopranissimo or soprillo saxophone is the smallest member of the saxophone family. It is pitched in B♭, one octave above the soprano saxophone. the soprillo is 30 cm (12 in) long, 33 cm (13 in) with the mouthpiece.
  • Sopranino
    The sopranino saxophone is one of the smallest members of the saxophone family. It is tuned in the key of E♭, and sounds an octave higher than the alto saxophone. The sopranino saxophone has a sweet sound and although it is one of the least common of the saxophones in regular use today, it is still being produced by several of the major musical manufacturing companies. Due to their small size, sopraninos are not usually curved like other saxophones       
  • Soprano
    The soprano is the third smallest member of the saxophone family and is pitched one octave above the tenor saxophone
  • Alto
    The alto sax is pitched in E♭, and is smaller than the tenor, but larger than the soprano. The alto sax is the most common saxophone and is commonly used in classical music, military bands, marching bands, and jazz.
  • Tenor
    The tenor saxophone is a medium-sized member of the saxophone family and is pitched in the key of B♭. The tenor and the alto are the two most commonly used saxophones.The tenor saxophone uses a larger mouthpiece, reed and ligature than the alto and soprano saxophones. Visually, it is easily distinguished by the bend in its neck, or its crook, near the mouthpiece. The alto saxophone lacks this and its neck goes straight to the mouthpiece
  • Baritone
    The baritone saxophone or “bari sax” is one of the largest members of the saxophone family, only being smaller than the bass, contrabass and subcontrabass saxophones. It is the lowest-pitched saxophone in common use, and uses a mouthpiece, reed, and ligature that are larger than the tenor, alto and soprano saxophones.
  • Bass
    The bass saxophone is one of the largest members of the saxophone family—larger than the more commonly encountered baritone saxophone and is pitched in B♭, an octave below the tenor saxophone. The bass saxophone is not commonly used in any music, but it is heard on some 1920s jazz recordings.
  • Contrabass
    The contrabass saxophone is the second-lowest-pitched member of the saxophone family. It is extremely large (twice the length of tubing of the baritone saxophone, with a bore twice as wide (standing 1.9 meters tall) and heavy (approximately 20 kilograms), and is pitched in the key of E♭, one octave below the baritone saxophone.           
  • Subcontrabass
    The subcontrabass saxophone is the largest and is pitched in B♭, one octave below the bass saxophone, two octaves below the tenor saxophone.

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Frequently Asked Questions

In Finoon, there are typically 8 progressive levels for the saxophone through which the student studies certain musical compositions with a special focus on technique and practice. The duration of each level depends upon the comprehensive capabilities of the student, their regular attendance to classes and persevere practice.

First, let’s establish that no magic can make you a player overnight, mastering any musical instrument takes time. The most important thing however is, the number of hours per week that you actually invest into practice. Practice strengths your muscle memory so that your body knows what to do without you even thinking. Make sure that you practice at least three hours a week, but it is recommended to practice for an hour (uninterrupted) daily.

In terms of weight, the saxophone can be relatively heavy for children younger than 12 years old (but this is broadly speaking as it really varies from one person to another). The saxophone generally also requires controlling one’s breath, so it may be a bit challenging for people with breath difficulties (or adverse conditions in the lung) or people who have lower frontal teeth that are irregular, have relatively big gaps or differences in height.

The curriculum contains a set of breathing exercises for controlling the diaphragm especially in for beginners and other ones as the player advances in learning the instrument. You’re strongly advised to use a metronome to help you stay on rhythm (many metronome apps are available for free download over the internet). It is preferable, nonetheless, to practice for an hour (uninterrupted) daily or even more when advised.

Musical instruments are known to be very fragile, you should always handle them with gentle care, and that includes not subjecting them to heat, impact or direct sunlight. As for the saxophone, it should regularly be cleaned using a clean dry cotton cloth dedicated specially to it to protect it from moisture in the breath and it’s also recommended to use a good cork grease for the mouth piece.

The saxophone is most used in the jazz and blues music. It can also have a powerful role in modern and contemporary music.

Yes, Finoon can buy the instrument on your behalf and this rids you of a lot of effort if you’ve just started your musical journey. Finoon can also sell instruments on your behalf, if you’re looking for an upgrade, or provide technical support and guidance for purchasing used and new instruments

It’s advisable to start learning with an alto or tenor saxophone as the soprano and baritone ones can be a bit challenging for beginners. It’s advisable to buy a saxophone from a known brand to guarantee the level of quality expected from it. As for unknown brands, it’s better to let a professional (or someone with good expertise) test it for you first. A used saxophone should be cleaned and sanitized really well before you use it.

A saxophone player needs the following accessories to play:

  • A neck strap: from a good brand to comfort your neck while you play
  • Cork grease: to make it easy to put and adjust the mouth piece without harming the cork
  • Reeds: Reeds have different sizes and it’s preferable to use 1.5, 2, 2.5 reeds for beginners. The sizes can vary from one brand to another so it’s advisable to try more than one to be able to reach a size that works for the player

No, that’s not necessary

There are a bunch of tuner apps, which you can download over the Internet and a lot of them are fortunately free. These programs will use the microphone on your computer or mobile phone to listen to the sound of the saxophone and indicate its tone:

For alto and baritone saxophones you can either:

  1. Play the F# note on the sax: The tuner will read (A). If the tuner indicates that your note is either flat or sharp, adjust your mouthpiece accordingly, roughly one millimeter at a time, and try again. Repeat as needed
  2. Play an A note on a piano and play an F# on the sax. You should hear the same tone

For soprano and tenor saxophones you can either:

  1. Play the B note on the sax: The tuner will read (A). If the tuner indicates that your note is either flat or sharp, adjust your mouthpiece accordingly, roughly one millimeter at a time, and try again. Repeat as needed
  2. Play an A note on a piano and play a B on the sax. You should hear the same tone

12 years and above should normally be good, and there is no maximum age.