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Hello From Las Vegas Newbie


New Member
Hi all,

I'm an excellent drummer by experience and profession and an electrical engineer by profession, and I dabble with several other instruments, mostly guitar as well as several others but I'm not very proficient at anything except the drums. I also enjoy recording and have a well equipped home studio.

I just "discovered" the saxophone. On a whim I decided to buy one (alto) never having even held one in my hands to see if I could learn how to play it, one reason being it's almost impossible to use samples to create a convincing sax performance on a recording, and I've always loved the sound of the instrument. Turns out that my embouchure has developed rapidly, I can get some nice tones out of the instrument after only a short time practicing, and I find it quite enjoyable. I think if I practice this instrument I could eventually become a decent sax player, or at least a better player than I am on other instruments except the drums. The key word is "practice" since my 3 year old son puts a lot of demands on my time.

Up until now my focus has been on developing the muscles in my mouth and embouchure and lung capacity to make some nice tones. I haven't yet begun to learn read. I was practicing the chromatic scale but otherwise everything I play is by ear. I play everything in the key that I find it easiest to play in. I've developed the ability to pitch bend and vibrato and change the character or tone of the sound but I have to search around for the fingering of the note I want to play, then memorize the fingerings to play a simple tune.

I don't know if this is the ideal approach, but my goal is not to become a sight reader. My goal is to compose original songs and use the saxophone as one of the instruments without resorting to using samples (ugghh!) and play relatively simple parts. The quality of the sound and the control of the tone, vibrato, and pitch bend, and other forms of articulation are my main focus.

One thing I hope to lean here are practice tips, as well as recommendations for mouthpieces and reeds. There are so many choices for mouthpieces I don't know where to begin. I purchased a good quality hard rubber Vandoren mouthpiece that blows away the Yamaha plastic mouthpiece I initially tried (don't remember the model numbers of either one right now) but changing mouthpieces made it very clear how important the mouthpiece is to the sound and ease of playing.

I look forward to participating in this forum as time permits and will have many questions in the future that I hope some of the more experienced members here would be so kind to answer. I think this is my first post in the Doorbell section of the Forum. If not I apologize for posting twice. I also hope I'm supposed to create a new thread for my introduction - I couldn't see any other way to post. If I'm doing something wrong please set me straight.

Thanks everyone!



Cafe Moderator
Cheshire UK
Hi Stephen

Welcome to the café :)

Starting a new thread here to say hi is the right thing to do.

You will get lost of advice re mouthpieces and reeds

Ask any questions and enjoy your visits.


Little My

Practice makes better.
Wiltshire, UK.
Hello and welcome!

If you click on the Taming the Saxophone button near the top of the page you'll find loads of useful info, including, I think, a fingering chart.

I have a 6 year old daughter and many memories of trying to practise when she was the same age as your son. The great thing about alto, as opposed to tenor, is that it's much harder for them to stuff their toys into the bell whilst you're playing. Hopefully he will learn to love another sound in the house! Enjoy your playing :sax:


One day i will...
Liverpool ( Pool of Life )
Welcome to the cafe Stephen

Enjoy :)


One prosecco, two prosecco, three prosecco - floor
Café Supporter
Hi Stephen, welcome to the cafe


Elementary member
Berkshire, UK
Welcome Stephen. Envious that have so much good boxing on your doorstep. Ask all the questions and advice that you need. All of the forum members are happy to help.


Hi and welcome to the forum.
I hope you enjoy your sax playing as much as well all do here!
I agree with Mickey Mike - some lessons with a good teacher would be beneficial.
Have a look at some practice tips I use with my students -

Some practice tips for students
Last edited by a moderator:


Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
cocks hill perranporth KERNOW
Hi Stephen and welcome.

I started learning alto sax and clarinet "by ear, by guess and by God" (which, as an atheist, ain't easy) as a kid and after maybe a year (?) took lessons for a year or so.

It was a great help as I had started top develop some bad habits and it nipped them in the bud.

Good teachers are good for advice on all sorts of stuff, too - reeds, "is it me or is it my sax?" problems, and where to go if it needs fixing. Complicated bits of machinery, saxes - they all need attention from time to time.

Talking of which, check out the sister site "Taming the Saxophone" and also this one - very informative and a good read as well! (Check out the various 'Jazz Etiquette' articles...they come under 'Notes'...)


Well-Known Member
Hi Stephen. Welcome. I can understand your point, to learn without reading music. But you will probably regret it if you don't. A bit further down the road. You may think you will be more creative if you play by ear. But the best most creative musicians do both.

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Burnley bb9 9dn
Hello and welcome.

I've played music most of my life and have never managed to sight read. Being able to understand a little theory and make sense of the dots will help you compose and play. Absorb what you can and use what you need.
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