Visualising the Sound

Bored practice is wasted practice

There’s no doubt about it. Practising long notes can be boring.

Taming The Saxophone vol 1 - tone without tears
Taming The Saxophone Vol I - Tone Without Tears. All the tone exercises on the site and lots more Buy Now

…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 other exercises that you find you can concentrate on more easily. Ultimately though you should try to train yourself to be able to practise long notes without getting bored. You should learn to really focus on the sound and “get inside” it. One way to do this is by visualising the sound as a colour. Not only will this help you concentrate on when doing your tone study, it will actually give you a much better understanding of your saxophone sound and how to expand its possibilities.

What do sounds look like?

What kind of tone do you imagine when you think about these images:


Fluffy tone
Spread, unfocussed, warm & fuzzy, fluffy?
Focussed, compact, bright?

In the following exercises you will need to experiment with altering the shape of the inside of your mouth and/or tongue position……Continued in Taming the Saxophone vol I

Visualising: step 1

Using diaphragm breathing, blow a long note. You must make sure that there are no wobbles or hiccups, imagine it as a straight line. It shouldn’t dip or rise in pitch: imagine it as horizontal. As you near the end of the note (ie you are running out of breath) make sure that you are still supporting the air in your lungs and air column from your diaphragm, and now, more than ever, you must keep that line straight – no wobbles – and hold it like that right until your lungs are empty. Breathe in slowly and relax.

NB: It may take you a while to get to this stage. I would recommend that you make sure you can maintain a wobble free note that sustains well through to the end before continuing, but if not it probably won’t do any harm to have a go at the next bit – it just may not be quite as rewarding.

Visualising: step 2

Once you are confident about your “straight line ” tone, try it again, this time imagine that line as being a bit broader. I don’t mean your sound needs to be broader or wider, this is just another way of visualising the tone. Aim for a nice soft, warm, dark and wide tone. (These are descriptions which may mean different things to different people – that does not matter). Again you must imagine the line as being horizontal and wobble free. No change in dynamics and hold for a full breath again.

This time do the same thing, but imagine the note as a colour. It doesn’t matter which colour because once again, different people imaging different colours to go with certain sounds. For now let’s assume it’s purple,Visualising the sound just because I’ve chosen that in my illustration). The important thing is that you see in your mind the colour of this sound and that it is as straight as possible.

Visualising: step 3

Now try again, and as you blow, make it get louder. As it gets louder the line expands, and you can imagine the top edge gradually taking on a bright gold against the original colour.Visualising the sound This is your warm dark tone gradually getting a bit of edge or brightness to it. It is common for the higher frequencies in the tone to be amplified more relative to the fundamental” sound. This is because the loudness increases so you are probably just visualising the changes that are actually happening to the sound. However this process is going to be very useful when it comes to you actually controlling the sound. You will be able to make the higher (brighter) overtones come and go as you play that tone. But all the time you must be aware that you are supporting the breath with your diaphragm and there are no wobbles.

Taking this a stage further

Once you get used to this you can experiment with visualising different colours to adjust your tone. The important thing is to try to note what you do with your saxophone embouchure or oral cavity to do this. It may be that it’s impossible to analyse. Don’t worry, the most important thing is to be able to gain control over it. Even if you can do this without knowing exactly how, you have achieved a great deal.

After a while you may be able to identify a lot more in your sound than you at first realised, and this is a very big step towards controlling it. Listen out for a “core”. Imagine this like an electrical cable with a copper middle surrounded by the insulation.

You may also identify a part of the sound that is the sound of your breath. This is especially noticeable when playing softly or subtone as it is a quiet part of the sound. The sound of real human breath is something almost impossible to synthesise so it can often but can be a useful part of the expression. (e.g. Listen to Ben Webster)

Subscribe To Our (very occasional) Newsletter
Subscribe to our email newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news, tutorials and special offers!
No Thanks
Thanks for signing up. You must confirm your email address before we can send you. Please check your email and follow the instructions.
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.
Frequently Asked Questions
I did not receive the email with with my download link

Please check your spam folder.

NB: Purchased downloads are also available to download directly from your customer account area.

I am having a problem downloading to iPad or iPhone

This is a common issue and affects all downloads, not just our products. In order to download anything to iPad etc. you will need an app that can handle .zip .pdf and .mp3 downloads.

See this article and/or this app

It may be easier to download to your desktop and then transfer to your tablet.

Download expired, reached its limit
  • The download may actually have  expired. Download links are valid only for a certain number of days and have a limit on number of downloads - please contact us with your order number and date of purchase to reset it. (Ideally reply to your order confirmation email)
  • Download manager/accelerator  software or browser plugin is interfering with the download. If so try disabling it.
  • The files did actually  download, but very quickly and you did not realise. Please do a search of your download destination directory before contacting us.
Do you sell outside the UK?

Yes, we sell internationally. Your currency will be automatically converted at the current exchange rate.

Saxophone Instruction DVD region compatibility

This is a PAL all region DVD so will not require you to reset your DVD player/computer region.

However as it is PAL format it may not be compatible with some older U.S. TV sets which are NTSC only, please check if your TV and/or DVD player is compatible with PAL format.

If not, it should still work on any computer with DVD drive (anywhere in the world). Please note we have only tested the DVD by playing on DVD systems or playing on computers with standard DVD hardware and software. We cannot guarantee that files extracted (ripped) from the DVD will play successfully. Sharing of copied DVDs or ripped files is illegal.

How much will postage cost?

After adding an item or several items to your cart, click on the Calculate Shipping button and choose your location from the dropdown menu. This will give you the postage options available to your country.

When will I get my stuff?

Products in stock

We usually post within 3 days of receiving an order. We are unable to give exact delivery times, but generally packages to Europe can take 2 - 7 days, outside Europe 4 - 14 days. Under exceptional circumstances (weather, strikes, customs delays) it can take longer.

Out of stock (backorders) or special orders

Out of stock books and DVDs are generally restocked within a week. Out of stock or special order mouthpieces can take between 6 and 10 weeks for manufacturing.

From time to time we have a holiday, in which case items will take longer, look out for any notices at the top of the page re:holidays.

How do I find out the price in dollars, yen, euros, dirhams etc?

The checkout pages shows prices in GBP (£). Your bank, credit card company or Paypal take care of the actual conversion, so you can pay with your normal account in your own currency. We don't publish actual rates in different currencies as this is constantly changing so we advise you check with a live currency conversion site such as

Thanks for signing up. You must confirm your email address before we can send you. Please check your email and follow the instructions.