Lack of interesting learning music/ material for beginners

chris13

New Member
Messages
11
Location
devon
I've got a couple of books (and Pete's excellent DVD) and I'm finding that most of the music that's provided is quite tedious; I know it's there to get you progressing, but I would like something more interesting than playing notes which don't seem to get anywhere. I have no problem with playing scales and arpeggio's and long notes; boring, yes, but they also help you improve your playing, but some of the music seems utterly pointless and sometimes beyond dis-encouraging. Has anyone got any favourite music they had when starting out that can be played by a novice (crotchets are the fasted I'll be going for the time being).

I can currently play Merrily We Blow Along, Cor Blimey, This Land Is My Land and I am getting to grips with When The Saints... (still can't get it right all the way through yet, I'm still working with indisciplined mis-functioning fingers who go off and do their own things at times!) and I've had a go at Beethoven's 7th Symphony: Second Movement; maybe keep coming back to that one a few times over the coming months (I don't know the keying to all the notes involved quite yet); I'm also starting on Little Egypt, very slowly to begin with, still can't recognise it, and hopefully I can nail it in about a month or so.

Is the flute in the same key as the alto sax. A few years back, I borrowed my sisters flute (I had it for about 4 months before she took it off me and gave it to one of her friends), and I still have the book I got to learn from. I would quite like to play A La Claire Fontaine and Lightly Row, but am not sure if it would need transcribing.

As a beginner, I'm still not sure which musical direction I will be taking, but by the end of next year, I would like to be able to play Watermelon Man off by heart, pretty competantly.

I will master as many scales, arpeggios and the tracks that I like playing off by heart, improve my tonal balance and accuracy of keying, and maybe by the start of next year I will be good enough to buy some sheet music to get my teeth into

Many thanks

Chris :sax::mrcool:sax:
 
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Phil Edwards

Senior Member
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East Sussex
Is the flute in the same key as the alto sax. A few years back, I borrowed my sisters flute (I had it for about 4 months before she took it off me and gave it to one of her friends), and I still have the book I got to learn from. I would quite like to play A La Claire Fontaine and Lightly Row, but am not sure if it would need transcribing
Flute is in concert pitch, so no, not the same key. But for what you want to do it doesn't matter (unless you and a flautist - or other differently pitched instrument - want to play together).

You don't need to transpose if all you want to do is play a piece of music by yourself, unless it's written too high or too low for the alto (flute music might well be too high as it's range goes much further at the top end). I use a lot of flute studies for my practice as I like the tunes.

On the book front, if you're happy playing more towards the light-classical range get a copy of Peter Wastall's "Learn as you play Saxophone". It's a beginners book but i found it does get into 'interesting' and tuneful music pretty quickly. As long as you don't mind light-classical as it tends towards those rather than rock or jazz, but as practice pieces they are very good. It's less than £10 too.

regards, Phil
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
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5,232
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
Hi There!

As you are uncertain which direction to go in I would recommend Book 1 in the Creative Saxophone series by Kellie Santin - comes with CD for alto and tenor sax and has a mixture of tunes covering Jazz, Rock, Latin and popular styles.
(also Jazz Method for Saxophone - O'Neill, also CD). Classical I'm less well up on, especially when it comes to ones with CD, so you can hear what it sounds like and also play along). An online search would be helpful - musicroom.co.uk also indicate what level the different books cover (Easy, Beginners, Intermediate, etc.

Having started with the usual beginner books I was totally uninspired but once I became aware of other stuff I was off!
 

half diminished

Senior Member
Messages
1,361
Location
Buckinghamshire
Hi There!

As you are uncertain which direction to go in I would recommend Book 1 in the Creative Saxophone series by Kellie Santin - comes with CD for alto and tenor sax and has a mixture of tunes covering Jazz, Rock, Latin and popular styles.
(also Jazz Method for Saxophone - O'Neill, also CD). Classical I'm less well up on, especially when it comes to ones with CD, so you can hear what it sounds like and also play along). An online search would be helpful - musicroom.co.uk also indicate what level the different books cover (Easy, Beginners, Intermediate, etc.

Having started with the usual beginner books I was totally uninspired but once I became aware of other stuff I was off!
Spot on TomM, I have used the Creative Saxophone book and Jazz Method - both are very good.

Also Lennie Niehaus: Jazz Conceptions For The Saxophone (Basic Vol. 1) is good and Easy Jazz Duets by Nick Holmes (though only for alto) and The Complete Saxophone Player by Raphael Ravenscroft is worth a look.

Also, from musicroom.com (and others) there are loads of Film, Disney, TV show theme books for tenor and alto sax and a whole raft of Jazz, Soul, Ballad, Rock and Pop play alongs in the Guest Spot Series. Musicroom grade these from Easy/Beginner through to Advanced which is helpful.

Whatever you choose, I'd suggest that you get something with a CD - melody and backing.

As for 'boring scales' - make it more fun. Try this which will help you with jazz improvisation too and mastery of your instrument.

Pick a scale - lets say C major.

  • Play it straight up and down over 2 octaves
  • Play it up one octave with arpeggios and down the full scale
  • Reverse the above
  • Play up three notes starting on the root, then start on the second and play three notes, and the third etc up as high as you can play on the saxophone. Then come down the same in reverse.
  • Vary the articulation - slurred, legato, stacatto, jazz articulation
  • Try all of the above but start on the second note of the scale, then the fifth and finally the root. This II, V, I progression is what many jazz standards follow.

Now try this in all scales. Try four notes, five notes etc etc.

Also check out Pete's main site here for more exercises and loads of inspirational stuff.

Also, try playing by ear. Know any christmas carols, hymns, nursery rhymes or other songs? My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean, Pop Goes The Weasel, Happy Birthday. Try and work them out or find a recording and try to copy it. When you have mastered one song, try it in different keys. All good fun and NO COST! All can make practice fun. :w00t:

One small word of caution though. Split your play/practice into fun stuff and stuff you have to do. I've fallen foul of not spending enough time on scales and in particular 'technical' stuff and that is now holding me back. I'm having to work on things that I should find easy after almost 2 years of playing. :(

I'd also suggest you find a good teacher. Also listen to s much music as you can. Check out Spotify for loads of free music.

Most of all have fun!! Hope this has helped.
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
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1,019
Location
Essex
.....Also, try playing by ear. Know any christmas carols, hymns, nursery rhymes or other songs? My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean, Pop Goes The Weasel, Happy Birthday. Try and work them out or find a recording and try to copy it. When you have mastered one song, try it in different keys. All good fun and NO COST! All can make practice fun. :w00t:

One small word of caution though. Split your play/practice into fun stuff and stuff you have to do. I've fallen foul of not spending enough time on scales and in particular 'technical' stuff and that is now holding me back. I'm having to work on things that I should find easy after almost 2 years of playing. :(

....
I spend a lot of time playing along to my favourite jazz blues and soul CDs just by ear - wonderful for learning to improvise :welldone but I too have not spent enough time practicing my scales etc and consequently my theory is not sound and my sight reading is rubbish - which does catch me out - often (note to self - more self discipline!)
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Chris,
Are you a highly disciplined person or one who just wants to play the saxophone reasonably on items you want to play? Do you want a string of letters or certificates after your name for reassurance or don't you worry?
If the answer to both questions is the first option, go along one of the teacher/exam routes and put up with boring bits or if the second, just enjoy yourself learning what you want to, whether by dots or ear.
Whatever, the idea is to enjoy yourself and there are many different preferences.
 

AndyB

Member
Messages
210
Location
Durham, NC, USA
PS. Two more favorites

Bob Mintzer - 15 Easy Jazz, Blues & Funk Etudes
Mel Bay Essential Jazz Etudes...The Blues

These two along with the Snidero Easy Jazz Conceptions book include a wealth of beginner to intermediate material with fun play-along CDs.
 
OP
chris13

chris13

New Member
Messages
11
Location
devon
Chris,
Are you a highly disciplined person or one who just wants to play the saxophone reasonably on items you want to play? Do you want a string of letters or certificates after your name for reassurance or don't you worry?
If the answer to both questions is the first option, go along one of the teacher/exam routes and put up with boring bits or if the second, just enjoy yourself learning what you want to, whether by dots or ear.
Whatever, the idea is to enjoy yourself and there are many different preferences.

I am a fairly disciplined person, but with no inclination to perform in public (or anywhere else) or in taking exams, I'm only playing for myself, but I would like to get to a decent standard

Many thanks

Chris :sax:
 

Rogerb

Member
Messages
766
Location
Costa Blanca, Spain
What I 'want'!

Yes, I only really want to play for my own amusement, and for my more tolerant family and friends, but would like to make a nice sound and only a few mistakes!

I get a tad irritated with being told "What you want to do is join a band" ....that would almost certainly improve my sight reading and concentration, but I do not 'want' to do it ;)

It's surprising how many people know what you 'want' better than you do!
 

Rogerb

Member
Messages
766
Location
Costa Blanca, Spain
Yes, some apparently think we are back in our second childhood and need to be continually 'directed'........ the difference is that the response they get now is rather more acerbic :D (Although ISTR having been a rather cheeky kid, too :lol:
 
I'm a late bloomer that also plays for my own enjoyment.
Would like to improve , I get practice time every day. Long notes and scales are fine but I do like a different tune from the usual to give me a challenge and one that most importantly I enjoy the sound of. Last one I found was " The star spangled banner ",

More interesting material would be great,

Rod
 

SLoB

Member
Messages
102
Location
Bishop's Stortford
As OG has indicated it really depends what you want to achieve. For example, at the ripe age of 50 I am just about to start lessons again, because I have identified what I want help with, etc, etc. For some of us lessons work, for others perhaps not. Similarly, I find I get better when playing in a group (any size or type), but that is entirely up to the individual. The point that has been made about playing in groups is that you can improve when learning in isolation, but most (not all) tend to improve quicker when in a group.

The most important thing is to have fun. :)

As for finding tunes, if you can read music do not get hung up on having to play music written for sax, or even written in the 'correct key'. If the piece is written with the appropriate range you can play anything whether written for sax or any other instrument (or vocals). There are plenty of online resources for free or cheap music and some libraries have sheet music.

If you eventually play with some form of accompaniment (guitar, piano, backing CD, etc), the key you play in, etc becomes important and you may then have to transpose.

What songs, tunes, groups do you like? Most nowadays have a songbook printed of their greatest hits, etc. Get one and play through it. You know the songs and therefore what it should sound like. The main problem is that most of the books are written for 'c' instruments (e.g. guitars and piano) orand a sax would need to transpose IF you eventually play along with a c instrument or even with the original recording. But for the meantime simply get something you like and play it.

It is great that you want to simply play for your own pleasure and perhaps to friends and family. Do a search for free sheet music and see what turns up. In the past I have found there is lots of stuff out there. Find something you like and give it a go.

Enjoy. :sax:
 
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