Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How To Clean A Saxophone

Cleaning your saxophone is a necessity. Believe it or not, spit builds up inside the mouthpiece, neck and body. If it is left alone, it will mold and cause problems with the instrument. Fingerprints on the outside of the sax can also create marks and will eventually rust.

There are a variety of tools that may be used to clean the sax. A mouthpiece brush is small and easily slides through the mouthpiece to clean out the spit. You can buy a bottle of sanitizing mouthpiece spray as well. The neck also has a brush that is similar, but longer, and with one side that dries out the inside. The bell must also be cleaned. A cleaning cloth with a string attached is often used. First, drop the string down into the bell, then set the cloth in on top of the string. Flip the sax upside down and the end of the string should fall out the bottom. If you pull this string, the cloth will slide through the body and clean it nicely. Be very careful, though, because it has a tendency to get stuck on key pieces. Lastly, it is a good idea to wipe down the outside of the saxophone to get rid of any fingerprints. This will help prevent marks on the sax.

It is very important that you keep your instrument clean, or it will not work properly. Repairs are also very expensive, so I would recommend that you do your best to prevent damage. You can purchase a variety of cleaning tools on Amazon. Also, Northern Kingdom Music sells cleaning supplies, as does the Bangor Music Store.

   picture thanks to

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Playing G & A Notes

There are many, many moving parts on a saxophone. Which buttons should you press? There is a "home key" set that is the basic finger positioning. The index, middle, and ring finger of each hand have three keys on either side of the saxophone that are the main keys. Most notes can be played with these keys. To play the note in a higher octave, add the button that corresponds to the left thumb. Your two pinkies have two or more buttons that can make a note sharp or flat.

The G note is usually the first note young players learn. It is also the first note on the concert B flat scale. The G note is played with the index, middle, and ring finger of your left hand. To play a higher G, add your left thumb.

The next note up from G, an A note, is the second note in the same scale. It is played with only the index and middle fingers of the left hand. To make the note higher, the same as with G, add the left thumb.

Do not forget that practice is the best strategy. Practice, practice, practice until you turn BLUE! You cannot practice enough. For quality practice with G and A notes, try the exercises here.

How To Choose A Reed

The reed is possibly the most important part of the saxophone. Without a reed, there would be no sound. When you blow into the sax, the reed vibrates and creates sound. Using your fingers, you can cover different combinations of holes to get the desired note. The better the mouthpiece, the better the sound, so if you plan on playing for a good long time it would be worth the money to purchase a quality mouthpiece. For beginners, though, a student mouthpiece will serve the purpose just fine.

Now, how to choose a reed. Reeds range in sizes from 1 to 5, with 1 being the weakest and easiest to play and 5 the strongest and hardest to use. The higher the reed size, the better the sound, despite the difficulty. Size 2 is about right for a beginner. As you continue to learn and practice, and 2.5 will make a considerable difference.

I would have to say that Rico Reeds are the most popular, effective and least expensive choice. They make a variety of different types, including the Rico Royal. These are specially designed and French cut in a way to make articulating as easy as possible. I would say, from experience and research alike, that Rico Royal reeds are the best choice for a beginner. For a list of all reed types and when to use them, go to Rico Reeds.


Embouchure can be a major roadblock in young saxophonists. Embouchure is the positioning of your mouth around the mouthpiece of the saxophone. This can greatly affect the sounds that come out. If you are pressing too hard on the reed, the sound will be either sharp or flat, depending on the note you are playing. Also, if the mouthpiece is placed too far on the neck, the sound will be sharp. If the mouthpiece is not pushed on enough, then your sound will be flat.

Think of the “instrument” as being not the actual piece of metal, but you, as mentioned in a previous post. All of the sound comes from you, more specifically your mouth. Your teeth should be positioned so that they are resting on the top of the mouthpiece, with your upper lip closed over them. Your bottom lip also curls over your bottom teeth, and the bottom of your lower lip rests on the underside of the reed. The corners of your mouth should be tight. No air should be able to escape through any part of your mouth, except into the mouthpiece, of course. The first few weeks you are playing, it may hurt your lip and leave tooth imprints. This may look unnatural, but it is normal, do not worry. For more information, go to Saxophone Lessons.

How To Produce A Clear Note

Many young musicians have trouble with posture and the like while playing the saxophone. It is a difficult skill to master. I had trouble with it myself when I was beginning (I still do sometimes:). If you would like to know the most effective way to get a satisfactory sound from your saxophone... keep reading!

Think of the instrument as not the piece of metal you hold, but instead yourself. As Stan Getz, a famous saxophone player, once said, "If you like an instrument that sings, play the saxophone. At its best it's like the human voice." 

To begin, the only way to produce a clear, accurate note is to follow it with substantial air support. Posture is the deciding factor in playing a strong note. Standing up while you play gives your lungs room to expand more than sitting would, and therefore is the most effective position. If you must sit, I would recommend sitting on the edge of a hard chair, never a sofa, with your feet flat on the floor and your back as straight as a two-by-four. If you sit like this, there should be no problem with producing sound.

Sometimes young music students will become lazy and slouch in their chairs. This can become a habit and lead to a lifetime of whiny music. The saxophone produces a very "whiny" sound when not enough air is applied. Also, it has a tendency to squeak. All of these issues are common with musicians, so do not worry if you are having trouble with producing a note. If you are interested in receiving further help, take a look at Sax Lessons.

photo is thanks to 

Blog Change

Just To Let You Know........

This blog used to be called It's A Mystery, but now has a different title. I believed that I could be helpful to young musicians, and so decided to change the subject of my blog. I hope you like it!