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TUTORIALS & LESSONS ONLINE

I have designed and developed all the online 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.

In the Tone Section

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 full set of these is included in the book  Taming The Saxophone Vol I – Tone without Tears

  • Saxophone Tone & Sound

    Tone & Sound are not the same thing Obviously we often use these words interchangeably, but when you are learning an instrument like the saxophone, it’s very useful to consider them separately. Tone: you can think of this as the “raw” unprocessed ... Read more…
  • Intonation & Tuning

    Which of these is more “in tune”? Listen to these two files, then check the video. Example 1 Example 2 First of all please try this little experiment. The two audiofiles on the right are two different versions of the first few notes of ... Read more…
  • Tone Control Exercises

    How to get the best sound out of your saxophone, whether you want a jazzy, bluesy, pop, rock sound. How to sound like your favourite player or get your own unique sound Read more…
  • Saxophone Articulation & Tonguing

    How to tongue quickly or slowly and evenly. High r or Heavy. Articulation is the first part of the sound and so possibly the most important way to enhance your tone. Read more…
  • Saxophone Vibrato

    How to do vibrato Database I find the most useful form of vibrato for the saxophone is called jaw vibrato. This involves moving the jaw down and up repeatedly to create oscillations in the pitch of the note, as if saying “yah yah yah ... Read more…
  • Mouthpiece Exercises

    Improve your saxophone tone and expression There is one well established exercise which some people refer to it as The Mouthpiece Exercise, however it’s definitely not the only one as we shall see. All of the mouthpiece exercises referred to here are covered in ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Harmonics (Overtones)

    Why is practising overtones so useful? In order to play the overtones you need to think about your embouchure, especially the shape of your oral cavity and tongue position. You need to be able to imagine the sound of the note before ... Read more…
  • Altissimo

    The altissimo range of the saxophone consists of many notes higher than the “standard” range that is taught in elementary and intermediate stages of learning (up to F or F# with instruments that have that key). The fingerings for these ... Read more…
  • Subtone

    Another Kind of Blue Harlem Nocturne Imperial (Midnight in the Naked City) Slinky Polkadots & Moonbeams See: Midnight in the Naked City CD Subtone could just as easily have come under the Effects section, as it can be considered  as it is no longer as common as ... Read more…
  • Visualising the Sound

    There’s no doubt about it. Practising long notes can be boring. Bored practice is wasted practice so if you find that your mind is wandering then that is a good time to either take a break from practising or move onto some ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Embouchure

    “Correct” Embouchure Embouchure (very basically) means what you do with the front part of your mouth (lips and teeth) in order to play the saxophone. There is more than one “correct” saxophone embouchure. The pictures on the right are from a very good book ... Read more…
  • Breathing Exercises & Breath Control

    Breathing Exercises Diaphragm Breathing   Good breathing and breath control when playing the saxophone is important for two reasons: Playing extended phrases without running out of breath Having good breath support from your lungs The second of these is probably the most important as ... Read more…
  • Diaphragm Breathing

    Breathing Exercises Diaphragm Breathing What is Diaphragm Breathing, and Why? This question comes up a lot, and it can be quite a difficult one to answer. People tend to use various analogies rather than a pure physiological analysis of what happens. ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Circular Breathing

    What is circular breathing? It means breathing in while still blowing a note or notes on the saxophone. It sounds much harder than it really is. When you use circular breathing, you are still breathing in and out of your lungs as ... Read more…

In the Fingering Exercises Section

This section of the site includes many online 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

  • Intro: Fingering Exercises (Vol 3)

    Taming The Saxophone vol 3 110 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 – ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Warmup

    Taming The Saxophone vol 3 110 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 – ... Read more…
  • Dexterity & Technique

    Taming The Saxophone vol 3 110 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 – ... Read more…
  • Cycle of Fifths

    Taming The Saxophone vol 3 110 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 – ... Read more…
  • 2 5 1 Progressions

    Taming The Saxophone vol 3 110 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 – ... Read more…
  • Chromatic Scale Exercises

    Taming The Saxophone vol 3 110 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 – ... Read more…
  • Studies in 4ths

    Using the interval of a 4th The interval of a 4th is very useful for contemporary styles of jazz improvisation Ex 6.01 As an alternative, instead of stepping up a semitone between each 4th arpeggio as shown here, try using a whole tone. Taming ... Read more…
  • Diminished Patterns and Licks

    Taming The Saxophone vol 3 110 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 – ... Read more…
  • Whole Tone Scale Exercises

    Taming The Saxophone vol 3 110 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 – ... 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” fingering which actually alternate from one to the other and ... Read more…

In the Saxophone Effects section

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 Growl

    How to Growl on the saxophone and get that really dirty, raw, gruff tone – it’s not as difficult as you think if you follow these guidelines. We start off listening to how some of the saxophone greats use the ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Note Bending

    How do you bend a note on the saxophone? Bending notes on the saxophone usually involves starting the note at the correct pitch and bending it downwards, or starting at a lower pitch and bending it upwards. (This is the opposite ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Wobble

    AKA Bb Wobble or Texas Shake This is a stunning effect used by many of the greats including Ben Webster, Illinois Jacquet, Earl Bostic, Arnett Cobb to name but a few. It is really very simple if you know the fingering: basically you ... Read more…
  • Slaptongue & Smacktongue

    Smacktongue (non-pitched) Example: Smacktongue The slaptongue effect can be categorised as two different types, pitched and non-pitched. I think the best term for the more percussive non-pitched variety that has more of an indefinite pitch like a smack or clap is smacktongue.  This ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Dooden Tonguing

    AKA “Ghost Tonguing”, “La-la Tonguing” or “Half Tonguing” Example: Dooden Tonguing I have also heard this referred to as doodle tonguing, however I believe that is incorrect as this is a trombone and trumpet technique very similar to legato tonguing. This technique has ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Laugh

    First try to laugh This means laughing for real. Obviously you do it spontaneously when something funny happens, but can you do a convincing laugh as if you are an actor having to react even though you’ve heard the joke many ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Fluttertongue

    aka Flutter-Tongue This effect has been in use for all woodwinds and brass instruments for centuries. It involves vibrating the tongue while blowing a note as if rolling the syllable “r” – “rrrrrr”. It was initially a classical effect which has not been used ... Read more…
  • The Adderley Trill

    How to do it The Adderley Trill I’m not sure if this is the official term for this effect – it could just as easily have been called the Curtis tremolo – it was used by the great bebop and soul alto ... Read more…
  • False Fingerings

    AKA. Fake Fingerings or Double Densities Example 1 It’s easy to confuse these with alternate or alternative fingerings. For alternative fingerings see the alternative saxophone fingering chart Alternative An “alternative” fingering is a different fingering for the same note – the player can choose which ... Read more…
  • Saxophone Multiphonics

    Multiphonics (Playing more than one note at once) It is not possible to play a complete set of chords on the saxophone, but there are a few fingerings that you can use to play what we call “multiphonics,” more than one ... Read more…

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