Saxophone Fundamentals

There are a few key saxophone fundamentals that will set you up for sensational saxophone success.

If you use these simple saxophone fundamentals from the very beginning of your saxophone journey – and keep using them in your practice routine – your saxophone WILL sound how you want it to sound, your fingers WILL do what them to do and you WILL be AWESOME.

At the risk of sounding like someone’s saxophone teacher, it is much better and easier to set yourself up with correct habits right from the start.  Correcting bad habits later on can be difficult and time consuming.  Here at we want things to be easy – not difficult !!

So, what are these saxophone fundamentals that we should all be doing with our saxophones ?


If possible, please stand up to play.

Ok, so obviously it is not always possible for everyone who plays the sax to stand up for a variety of reasons.  However, if you physically are able, please stand up to play your saxophone when ever possible.

Your posture helps when playing.

Your diaphragm (the big muscle under your lungs at the bottom of your rib cage that allows you to exhale) will thank you.  This is because standing makes it easier to control and push air out into your saxophone.

Your neck and shoulders will thank you.  Standing allows you to subtly adjust your body position so that your saxophone and neck strap (or harness or saxophone support mechanism) are comfortable.

As an added bonus you can move to the music more easily, thus adding to your awesomeness.

But, if you can’t stand up at any given saxophone playing moment in time, please make sure that you sit up straight !


Saxophone Long Tones – Saxophone Long Notes

Playing long, slow notes on your saxophone gives your embouchure – your mouth, face, cheeks and lips – a work out.  Strengthening these muscles means that you can play and be in more control of your saxophone for longer.

Saxophone Long Tones

Long saxophone notes are the bicep curls of saxophone playing and of saxophone fundamentals.

Ok, so you are unlikely to develop huge bulging face muscles and win body building contests.  However, having strong muscles will allow you to :

  • play in tune more easily
  • have more control over your sax
  • allow you to adapt with each note that you play
  • have a better and faster response time
  • play for longer !

I wrote an article about Saxophone Long Tones if you would like some further reading.


Saxophone Scales – the Vegetables of Music

If you don’t eat your vegetables, you will not grow up to be big and strong.

If you don’t play your scales your ears and your fingers will not know what to do.

I have mentioned this before – here, here, here and here.

Your brain might say, “Hey, play this !

If you don’t have all of your scales under your chops, your ears and fingers will reply, “That’s easy for you to say….:-(

And that is NOT what we want and certainly NOT how to play the saxophone !

Playing a few minutes of scales each and every time you pick up your saxophone WILL make you bigger, better, stronger, faster and able to leap tall building in a single bound…..all while playing your sax.

Think of playing scales as being like the Wax On Wax Off lesson from the old Karate Kid movies.  It may seem tedious and irrelevant now, but suddenly you WILL be able to anticipate notes, your fingers will know what to do and playing the kind of music and songs that you want to play is just soooooo much easier.



Your ears are an important part of your overall playing of saxophone fundamentals.

Listen to yourself playing, listen to the band or the backing track, listen to what others are doing.

If you are aware of what is happening around you musically, you can easily join in.  If you hear something you like, just play it !

Ok, so it can take years of practice to just “play” a song without a few run throughs first.  However, if you can hear it in your head, if you can sing it in your head, you CAN play it – maybe not straight away, but you can play it.Saxophone Fundamentals

Listen to yourself when you play your long notes or scales as mentioned above.  Do the notes sound even and controlled and in tune ?  Do they sound good ?  If yes, play them again.  If no, adjust and try again.

Record yourself and listen back to the recording.  You don’t need fancy equipment for this – just use your phone video camera.

Listen back to the recordings you make and ask yourself if you like it or don’t like it.  Again, if yes, play them again.  If no, adjust and try again.

Another handy tip is to keep these recordings.  Listen to them again in one months time and compare them to recordings that you made today.  You WILL see and hear the improvement !!

These saxophone fundamentals will put you on the right path for playing the kind of music that YOU want to play.

But, above all, please don’t forget to Have Fun, Play Saxophone, Be Awesome and Repeat !


Matthew 🎷


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