October 4, 2011 2:41:50 PM EDT
DEVELOPING GOOD TECHNIQUE
Developing good technique on the saxophone will allow one to comfortably play throughout the entire range of the instrument. Consequently, it will be easier to learn the notes of a new piece of music. After learning the notes and rhythms, concentrate on good tone and musicianship. To have good technique one must use correct posture. The back and neck should be straight, allowing for proper breathing. The neck strap must be pulled up far enough so that the mouthpiece comes to the mouth; do not shift the head to the mouthpiece. The tenor and baritone saxophones must be held along the right leg, although the alto saxophone can be positioned between the legs or to the side. Either way is acceptable, but the player must be sure not to lean the instrument against the chair or on the lap; this can change the placement of the mouthpiece in the mouth. The saxophone is primarily supported by the neck strap and the left and right thumbs. The right thumb is placed in the thumb guard so that the hand can gently curve with the fingertips on the pearls. The right pinky finger is placed where the Eb and C keys meet so that they can be used quickly. The left thumb acts as a balance to hold your instrument in place. The thumb should be placed so that it can easily reach the octave key. The rest of the left hand is curved around the palm keys so that the fingertips touch the pearls. The left pinky is placed on the G# key so it can be used quickly. It is important to keep the fingers that are not being used as close to the keys as possible. When playing middle C#, when no keys are depressed, all fingertips should still be touching the pearls. Keeping fingers close to the keys eliminates wasted motion and allows more rapid movement between notes. Another example occurs when playing a low G. The three left fingers should be down and the left pinky should touch the G# key. The fingers of the right hand should be resting on the pearls.
While in high school the saxophonist should strive to learn all major, harmonic minor, and chromatic scales over the full length of the instrument (refer to Example 1). Scales are part of the language of music. If one knows the scales, they can be easily identified and performed as music is read. Almost all music is based on one scale or another. If one recognizes scales, playing pieces will be easier and making music will be more fun.
To be effective, technical learning must be slow and methodical. Slowly teach the fingers what they need to do. Establishing a good practice routine, setting short and long term goals, and employing constructive critical thinking will help one become a more accomplished saxophonist.