What To Practise After An Extended Break From Your Saxophone

So, you haven’t played your saxophone for a while.  Perhaps quite a while.

Perhaps years.  Perhaps decades ?!?

But, you have made the courageous and long over due decision to pick your saxophone up again and give it a red hot go.  Good on you !  Go for it, I say !!!

So where do you start ?

Do you “start from the very beginning” (because that’s a very good place to start) ?

Do you try to pick up from where you left off ?

If it’s only been a few months, or up to a year, you will be able to take one step backwards and two steps forwards fairly quickly.

However, if it’s been years since you played your saxophone, it is a good idea to start with the basics.


Some basics to practise after an extended break.


1. Re-acquaint yourself with the fingering. 

Grab yourself a saxophone fingering chart at the bottom of this blog post if you need one.


2. Long notes.

Try to hold a single note in tune for 5 seconds.

Then try 8 seconds, then 10, then 15, then 20, etc. Don’t pass out by trying to hold a note for 75 seconds on the first go !

Try this on all notes that you can play.


3.  Scales.

Try C major, D major, F major and G major on your sax first, across as many octaves as you can manage, up and down, up and down.

Scales are the vegetables of music – if you don’t play them then you won’t grow up to be big and strong.

Also, if you do play your vegetables, you are allowed to have as much dessert as you like, in the form of playing the songs that YOU want to play.

Two to four minutes of scales each time you pick up your sax as a warm up will be more than enough.


4.  Play simple songs.

Relearn “Hot Cross Buns” and “Mary Had A Little Lamb”.

A practise plan could then include playing them faster.

Playing “Mary Had A Little Lamb” slowly is easy.  Playing it quickly is tricky.

Crawl, walk, jog, run, sprint – don’t instantly try to play your simple songs at a ridiculous tempo straight away.

Just up the tempo a small notch, master it, then up the tempo another small notch, master it, repeat.

Don’t stress.  Your previous saxophone skills may or may not return in a hurry.  It may take a little while to get back to where you were from a playing saxophone perspective.  Accept this.  Go with the flow.


5.  If budget allows, have a lesson or two.

This could be in the form of physically travelling to your local saxophone teacher, or some online lessons.  Google and Youtube will be your friends !

( I can be your friend too – our Members Area has HEAPS of saxophone lessons ready for you to relearn how to play your saxophone.  Find out more about our saxophone lessons here. )


6.  Commit to playing your saxophone if not every day, then at least every other day.

This will help your embouchure, your fingers, your lungs and your overall control of your body and your saxophone.  10 minutes playing every day beats one hour of playing once a week !


7.  Play the music that YOU want to play.

Music is supposed to be fun.  Therefore, don’t listen to anyone else – play the songs and styles and genres of music that YOU enjoy.

What To Practise After An Extended Break From Your Saxophone | Saxophone Lessons

What To Practise After An Extended Break From Your Saxophone

If that is learning the riff to Gerry Rafferty Baker Street, or the riff to the Rolling Stones Satisfaction, or George Michael Careless Whisper, or Bach, or Beethoven, or Maceo Parker or Candy Dulfer, or John Coltrane or Cannonball Adderley, then live on the edge and go for it 🙂

I hope this helps.




P.S.  If you would like simple step by step instructions to help you learn how to play the saxophone:

  • all neatly organised in the one convenient location,
  • all provided by an experienced saxophone teacher who can help you to play the music that YOU want to play quickly and easily,
  • with a forum community to ask questions and receive (and give) answers

then check out our saxophone lessons membership options.  Get started on your saxophone journey today !


Not a member yet ?  Join us and get access to the always increasing library of saxophone lessons and PDF cheat sheets.

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