I have designed and developed all the saxophone exercises, tutorials and lessons in this section over many years both as a professional recording musician and as a teacher at Southampton University, and have used these exercises as part of a regular practice routine.
The exercises are aimed towards jazz and blues playing, but are still very useful for other styles, whether it’s free jazz, smooth jazz, classical, funk, pop, rock & roll and r ’n’ b. The tone and effects section is useful for all styles. I hope you find these lessons and tutorials useful.
We look at almost every conceivable area of learning the saxophone, if I’ve missed anything out please feel free to let me know – I’m always open to suggestions.
You don’t need to work through these in any order, though absolute beginners should probably start with the beginners tutorials. There is a lot of crossover between some of the lessons, and between those in this section and the jazz section – e.g. you will also find plenty of useful jazz & blues licks and phrases on the jazz & blues theory pages.
In the first section we start right at the beginning, from learning how to assemble the saxophone, mouthpiece and reed right through to learning tunes, a little music theory and essential scales and other exercises. We look at different styles of music, organising your practice time and how to deal with stage fright.
110 pages of exercises, patterns, scales, licks etc. for intermediate to advanced players. Check out the examples in this section
“Thanks for your Taming the Saxophone book. Lots of great stuff for both myself and my students – I sure wish I’d had the book fifteen years ago!” - Dan Forshaw
“Taming The Saxophone – a great book, I use it every day to keep the chops in order” - Bobby Wellins
This section of the site includes many extracts from the book Taming The Saxophone vol III. These are mostly the exercises that I have been practising every day since I became a professional player. Some come from books but most are things shown me by other players, i.e. they are the most useful things to practise to get your fingers around the horn and to get an understanding of how scales, chords and other aspects of music theory fit into your playing and help with general technique as well as improvising.
The full set of these exercises, in all keys where appropriate, is included in the book Taming The Saxophone Vol III
Tone and sound are crucial for being able to play expressively, so we take an in-depth look at the techniques involved. Tone production exercises have always been thought of as especially boring – even if you dedicate a lot of time to long notes, unless your mind is focussed on what you are doing then much of the practise time is wasted. We look at how to keep the tone practise efficient and interesting.
The important thing is not so much exercises that are suppose to give you a good sound, as that is not only very subjective, but also something best done when there is a real teacher present. Yes, I accept the limitations of online lessons and tutorials, however what I do find most useful in this context is learning how to control the sound so that is one of our main focuses.
The full set of these is included in the book Taming The Saxophone Vol I – Tone without Tears
The saxophone is capable of so many special effects, it’s vital to include them in your repertoire. This help to express music as well as keep it interesting and sometimes humourous. We cover most effects from note bending, the growl, fluttertongue and how to make the saxophone laugh.
Saxophone Instruction DVD for Beginners
This DVD is produced by Amity TV for Virgin Vision and presented by Pete Thomas as part of the Jools Holland Music makers series. It has sold over 20,000 worldwide and is described by Phill Straker of sax.co.uk as “basically, the best one out there…”