Fingering Exercises Vol 3

Taming The Saxophone vol 3

Patterns, scales & licks for intermediate to advanced players. Examples in this section
Lots of great stuff for myself and my students - I wish I'd had the book fifteen years ago! -Dan Forshaw

A great book, I use it every day to keep the chops in order - Bobby Wellins
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Warming up, playing faster and playing more creatively


In this section you can see many of the exercises and patterns presented in Taming The Saxophone volume III. We start off with a wonderful daily warmup exercise and then progress through different types of  fingering patterns and licks for jazz, blues and rock playing.

Timing and Articulation.

All throughout this course, I am going to emphasise the importance of playing evenly – many people start to play fast before they can play at an even tempo, which results in sloppy timing. Just as a drummer practises rolls very slowly to begin with to make sure the strokes are even, that is what we need to do on the saxophone.

Even when you have progressed quite a way through the exercises at a good tempo, the warmup exercises are great to get you (and keep you) grounded and focussed.

In the fingering exercises section:

  • Saxophone Warmup

    Why is it important to warm up first? This first of exercise will get your fingers loosened up. Just like an athlete, it is best to stretch your muscles before sprinting. However, this is not only a physical (fingering) exercise but it is also great at focussing your mind so that you are practising thoughtfully, not just fingering “muscle memory.” This exercise will ... Read more…
  • Dexterity & Technique

    Saxophone Fingering Exercises for a Fast Playing Technique The next four fingering exercises of this section are based around simple four note triad patterns which take you chromatically through all the keys. These are very useful to gain a good fingering technique which is fast and even. You can also do it with minor triads. Try to do this without the music ... Read more…
  • Cycle of Fifths

    Before practising these, make sure you are familiar with the theory behind the cycle of fifths. The cycle is an immensely important concept in chord progression based jazz improvisation and crops up in many tunes, whether it’s a simple turnaround or extended bridge pattern This exercise is very basic, it takes you through the cycle of fifths using triad arpeggios. As it is ... Read more…
  • 2 5 1 Progressions

    IIm7-V7-I progressions (“2 5 1”) “Why is the 2 5 1  so important in jazz (and blues)?” I’ve already mentioned how the harmony of music can imply a feeling of movement away from or towards a state of rest. This is what can make the music interesting (or boring), depending on the way you do it. Sometimes this is heard simply as ... Read more…
  • Chromatic Scale Exercises

    Exercises involving the Chromatic Scale These exercises are all based around the chromatic scale so it’s a good idea to first learn the scale before studying these exercises. Obviously you don’t want to run before you can walk! As usual I have followed a convention of using sharps for ascending passages and flats for descending, except where it complicates the look. For example ... Read more…
  • Studies in 4ths

    Using the interval of a 4th The interval of a fourth is very useful for contemporary styles of jazz improvisation. The idea of using fourths can be applied both melodically – as we are learning to do here – and harmonically, for example in chord voicing. Ex 6.01 As an alternative, instead of stepping up a semitone between each 4th arpeggio as shown ... Read more…
  • Diminished Patterns and Licks

    The diminished scale can be very useful. When applied to a dominant 7 it includes several nice extensions and chromatic notes: the b9, b10, #11 and 13 and can be used with a plain dominant 7 or one with those extensions. As you may know the diminished scale can have any root note, there are only three sets of fingerings ... Read more…
  • Whole Tone Scale Exercises

    Like diminished scales, whole tone scales fit very well over a dominant 7 chord, especially if the chord has an augmented 5th or b13th, though they usually work well even when the chord has a perfect 5th. There are only two whole tone scales with different notes in as each step of the scale is a whole tone: you can ... Read more…
  • Alternate Saxophone Fingerings

    Alternate or Alternative? The fingerings we are looking at here, and shown in the chart below, are alternative fingerings, either for ease of fingering or preferred sound. These are different to “false” or alternate fingering which actually alternate from one to the other and back again and are used to create a special effect. See here for the alternate or false ... Read more…
  • Tips 1 : Auxiliary F without the aux key

    Auxiliary F key (aka aux F or front F) The top F auxiliary key (ie the key just above the B key) is an alternative way to finger top F. As you can see in the fingering chart, this involves fingering a top C  (2nd LH finger) and adding the front F key. This allows a very quick way to leap ... Read more…
  • Tips 2: F to G altissimo trill

    Altissimo Trill – F to G This is part of a new series of blog posts on some handy little hints and tips. To begin with we will look at some altissimo trill tricks. We know that altissimo notes can have slightly more awkward fingerings than the “conventional” range of the saxophone. Although some of the higher altissimo notes (e.g. A & ... Read more…
  • Tips 3: Low Bb to B Trill

    Easy! Go ahead and finger bottom Bb, then with your left hand pinky trill to B. Not so easy, eh? Maybe you got a bit smug because now you can do the altissimo trill F to G. But the Bb to B trill is impossible in most cases without knowing this nifty little trick, or having a bionic pinky finger in your ... Read more…

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Fingering Exercises Vol 3
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