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Beginner playing basic notes


As a beginner, how do i know when learning to play notes if they sound right? Is there anything which can be used to compare the sound i am trying to play to the sound which i want to achieve?

I realize a piano would be great but that is a complete impossibility.

Any advice for an unemployed very mature student of the sax.



ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Just north of Munich
A piano isn't going to help with this, unless you're worried about pitch. In which case a cheap electronic tuner is what you need at first. Either get one that allows you to set the instrument pitch, or learn from the start the differences between the sax notes and what the tuner says.

If it's the sound of the note, your ears are your best help. Play a note facing a wall or something else that will reflect sound back at you. Hold it for a long time. Listen to the sound. Experiment with lip tension, tongue shape, opening your throat, how hard you blow and work on improving the sound. Do this with other notes. This should become a part of your daily practice routine.


Bon vivant, raconteur and twit
cocks hill perranporth KERNOW
Play a simple tune which you know well. Listen as you play. If it sounds right to you it is a good start, but you may be playing out of tune (top end of the both registers, but particularly top end of the upper register) and concentrating so much on playing that you may be out of tune and not know it...

If you could afford even a few lessons with a good teacher could help you not to develop bad habits. Also there is a lot of stuff online, including some 'beginner' tutorials.

If you can scoop up a bargain keyboard on e-bay (£15 upwards!) go for it - it will help in visualising keys and chords, and you can also use it to tune up - getting the mouthpiece in the best position with the best embouchure is very important as it affects your whole playing. Try doing an advanced on this site search for embouchure discussions - and, again, it is worth hunting on youtube for free tuition stuff.

There is a keyboard thread on this site somewhere which gives guidance on what to go for ... and what to avoid...

Just found it:

If you explore you will find a list of Yamaha touch-sensitive keyboards which I posted, which will do the biz.
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Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I would highly recommend using a beginning method that comes with an accompaniment DVD that plays your part the first time through an exercise or tune, and then the accompaniment alone the second time. Bruce Pearson's Standard of Excellence is one of the best.


Well-Known Member
Costa Blanca Spain
One of the best things I was told, which I constantly forget the importance of, is a quote from the flute man, you know, blow it going to have to google him, back in a minute. Ok, that would be James Galway. "Make every note a beautiful note". I can try forever and couldnt condense the vitals more precisely. You will know if you're single notes are beautiful or not. I didnt neccesarily know how to make my notes beautiful but I knew well enough that they werent. And now I often realise that by injecting something that I think is quite clever into my playing, I forget to make the sound beautiful. Its often a bit cak. And I guess that people will know that I am not yet a very good player. I like rock and roll old style, and even in the raucous nature of that you can tell a great sound when you hear it. My big breakthrough when I first picked up my cheap Chinese alto, was making a gentle note with a gentle breath. No more ducks and fog horns. It was a big deal actually. Goog luck.


Cafe Moderator
Cheshire UK
Thanks for the link Jx. Nice summer night here in Poynton, presume it's the same in Bramhall.

It's lovely yes, fancy you being so close. We have some friends in Poynton on Oakfield Rd, I do like Poynton but not the new shared space in the centre. :)


Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Burnley bb9 9dn
The keyboard has many uses for the saxophone player. You can check pitch but more importantly it's easier to visualise harmony and chords. Theory seems to make more sense and be clearer on a keyboard. Transposing is a challenge at first but it becomes second nature in time.

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