These 5 learning mistakes could be holding you back in your saxophone progress. Learn what they are and how to avoid them!
Practice time is Precious
Our practice time is really precious and we want to make fast progress on our saxophone. We don’t want anything to get in the way of our saxophone learning. But it’s easy to get distracted.
I’ve helped thousands of saxophone learners in Sax School, and I see these 5 saxophone learning mistakes over and over again. Whether you’re brand new to sax, or an experienced player, make sure these 5 simple things are not getting in the way of your saxophone progress.
Tip 1: Focus
It’s easy to waste loads of time digging around on YouTube, seeing lots of different approaches from different people, and going around in circles. We go from one thing to another, searching for new tactics or techniques, a new way to get our fingers moving faster, get a better sound, improvise over any tune… you can waste an awful lot of time just digging around, getting confused and not making any progress at all. It’s super-frustrating, and it’s not going to help your saxophone learning.
So FOCUS is really important. Find a strategy for how you’re going to use your practice time. Get some great guidance on what to work on to quickly reach your goals on saxophone, whether that’s tone, finger speed, learning tunes or improvising.
Set yourself a goal or a challenge. Decide on your approach, then follow it through.
“I’m going to focus on just pentatonic scales for the next month.”
“I’m going to work on this piece of music until I can get it to a standard where I can record it or film it and stick it on YouTube”
Work through one thing and fill it right to the end and forget about all the other extra ideas that you’ve got. You can make a note of them if you want to. You could even make a list that you can work through one by one. But don’t work on 20 different things at once because you’ll end up not achieving anything.
Choose a strategy, get some great advice on how to reach your saxophone goals, and then stick to it.
Tip 2: Practice Habit
We all know that practice is important, and we should have a schedule for it. But very few of us follow it through. So my next tip is to get yourself a PRACTICE HABIT. Make your saxophone practice a priority.
Find a time, day and duration that works for you – and then stick to it. Don’t let anything distract you from your sax practice.
It’s a great idea to tell your friends and family about your practice habit and get them on board, to support you to stick to it.
Whether you’re a brand new beginner, or you’ve been playing saxophone for years, having a practice routine is vital for effective saxophone learning.
Tip 3: Keep it Simple
Keep it simple. I don’t just mean WHAT you’re learning on saxophone. I’m also talking about HOW you approach your saxophone learning. You might want to play super-fast or super-high altissimo. But to make great progress it’s best to keep it simple and focus on getting the basic, foundation skills right.
So, pay attention to getting a great sound, or being able to play lovely, simple melodies in a really clear way. Work on simple improvising tactics that work for you. Get these basics right in your saxophone learning – then the fancy stuff will come!
Tip 4: Embouchure
I see loads of people making the mistake of neglecting their embouchure. Everything starts with a great, strong embouchure. Whether its your tone, or flexibility over your range, playing altissimo, or putting effects into your playing – it all starts with your embouchure.
So the most important thing you can focus on in your daily saxophone practice is exercises to build your embouchure strength. It could be slow melodies, or playing effective warm-up exercises. Or it could be using your tuner in your practice.
Whatever level you’re at, taking the time to build a strong embouchure will help you achieve your sax goals much faster. A killer embouchure means a killer sound and a killer sax player!
Tip 5: It’s Not About The Gear!
We sax players love our gear, don’t we? It’s tempting to believe that a new mouthpiece, a different reed, or even a different sax will make all the difference to our playing. However, this is just another time waster. It’s really not about the gear.
In my experience, you need to get a saxophone that works, a mouthpiece that’s comfortable and a reed that works for you. And then spend your time working on your embouchure, and those foundational skills we talked about earlier.
You can waste a lot of time hunting around for the latest piece of saxophone gear, then getting used to it in your playing. And that can really hold you back in your saxophone learning.
Concentrate on getting those basics right instead and you’ll make much faster progress on your saxophone (and save yourself a tonne of money!)
Start your Saxophone Learning Right
Stick to these 5 tips and you will see some great progress in your saxophone learning.
To help you, I’ve put together my favourite lessons with my top tips on getting a great practice habit, the perfect warm-up, building your skills and much more in my Ultimate Saxophone Tool Kit. Get it FREE here.
Or if you’re really ready to get serious with your saxophone progress, come and see what we’re doing in Sax School.
You can get started with Sax School.