If you’ve just learned your first few notes on tenor saxophone, it’s time to get stuck in learning your first cool song.
If you’re a beginner tenor sax player, you’ll love this cool tune called “Swingin’ Easy” – and we’re going to learn it in this free lesson.
Now, this is a super-easy song. It only uses about four or five notes. It’s really easy, but it’s a lot of fun to play. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Saxophone Toolkit Bundle
This lesson is actually from our Saxophone Toolkit lesson bundle, but I’ve popped it here so it’s really easy for you to access. You can get the full Toolkit free, using the link above.
And I’ve also included the backing track at the end of the lesson so you can come back and practice as many times as you want. Oh – I should just tell you, I recorded this before I had my beard, so I do look a bit different, but it’s still me! Have some fun with the lesson. I’ll catch you at the end.
Before I start showing you the notes for this tune, I’m going to pop on the backing track and play it all the way through, so you can hear what it sounds like. Watch as I demo the tune for you. And then we’re going get stuck in learning the tune in easy steps.
So you can hear it’s a really easy tune. It’s perfect for you as a beginner tenor sax player. It sounds great fun, but actually, it’s so simple. It has just 2 sections, so it’s a really quick one to learn.
So remember, your fingers on both hands are using those big pearly keys.
The first note is C and we play it using the middle finger of the left hand. And remember every single note that we play today, we start with a “to” with the tongue.
Our second note is D. Now D is a tricky one, because for D we’re going to add all six fingers down. Plus we’re going to add this little extra modify key at the back, which is called the octave key.
Now we operate that with the thumb. So, our hand goes on the back and presses it down. When we press down that octave key, our saxophone goes up an octave, or whole set of 12 notes up. So we go from C to the D, with all six fingers on and our thumb on the octave key.
Practice that a few times.
Now I’m keeping my fingers away off the saxophone, so you can see what I’m doing. But what I’m playing, my fingers are touching those keys all the time.
So I want you to think about keeping your hands and fingers as close as possible to those keys, so they’re always in touch. It’s a bit like a Ferrari engine that goes super fast because no extra flappiness going on inside there.
First Phrase bars 1-8
So the first phrase starts with a rest, the C and up to D. And then we take our bottom finger off on our right hand to get the note E.
C D E C D
So pick up your saxophone. Let’s try these fingers together, slowly. Remember, every note starts with a “to” with the tongue.
Now that happens three times in this piece of music.
And this third time we finished it off by playing C, D, F at the end. so it’s C up to D, and then up to F. For F we only have the first finger down on our right hand.
So let’s try that the third time through with the little ending on it. And we hold that F for an extra couple of beats at the end. Let’s try doing all of that together.
Reading the music
Now, if you’re looking at the music as well, you’ll notice that the music goes across from left to right. And along the musical stave, there are horizontal lines every so often. Those are dividing the music into bars.
A bar is a collection of beats. In our music, like most Western music, there are four beats or four pulses in every bar. So we count 1, 2, 3, 4. That’s one bar. Then 1, 2, 3, 4, that’s the next bar and so on.
I’ve numbered the bars through this piece of music. No we are going to start back at figure A, which is bar 1. We’re going to play all the way through to bar 8.
- So start each note with a “to”
- Keep your fingers close to those keys
- Don’t forget that octave key
- Also, think about having a nice round shape on your embouchure. Keep all of your throat open as well
- Don’t put too much mouthpiece in your mouth.
Second Phrase bars 9-16
Now the cool thing about this piece of music, is that bar 9 to bar 16 is the same as bars 1-8.
So we get to play all of that section a second time.
So that’s the first half of the tune. There’s only one more little section to learn in this tune. Then we know the whole song.
Section B at Bar 17
If you look at your music, there’s a section marked B at bar 17, and we’re going to have a look at that now.
These are three phrases that are similar, and the first one of these starts on another new note for us.
Now, do you remember when I was showing you the left hand, there was a little key which we skipped between the first finger on the B and the second finger on the A. We’re going to talk about that little key now.
Sharps and flats
Sometimes in music, we use a note that’s halfway between two notes. We call these either a flat, if it’s half step down, or a sharp, if it’s half way between going upwards. So we are going to play a note halfway between B and A, which is a B flat (Bb).
And the way we play that note on the saxophone is we use our index finger here, and we press down the first pearl key and we also press down that little key below it. This is called B flat (Bb).
Now there are a few different ways to play Bb, but today we’re just going to stick to this Bb fingering for now. As a beginner tenor sax player, it’s all you need.
Listen as I demonstrate the sound of B and B flat.
In the second section at Figure B bar 17, we start with that Bb, after 2 rests. So we count rest, rest, Bb up to C, up to D, Back down to C, back down to Bb.
So if you’ve got your saxophone, try doing these fingerings with me.
Okay, the next phrase is the same idea. But this time we start on the A and we go rest, rest, A, Bb. So I’m still using my first fingers to do both keys there. A, Bb, C, Bb, A, so A up to Bb up to C, and back to that Bb. Let’s try playing that.
Now try those two together. So start with the Bb first, and then we’re going to play the bit that starts on the A.
Okay. And the third phrase starts rest, rest, then G, A, normal B this time. So I’m just using the B key, not the Bb.
So that phrase again goes rest, rest, G, A, normal B, G, A, B, C for two counts, up to D for two counts, up to E for two counts. Let’s try that four-bar phrase from bar 21.
Now let’s just finish off now by playing that whole B section together. So we’re going to go back to bar 17 and play all the way through until we finish at bar 24.
Those are all the notes you need to know for this tune! The last section – section C – is the same as section A. So you already know it!
And that’s the whole tune. Well done you for making it through.
So, there’s lots of new things to think here about as a beginner tenor sax player.
- breathing, but also things like your
- The Bb fingering
- New notes C D, E, F.
Let’s try putting it all together. Now I’m going to pop the backing track on again. We’ll play it through, but this time play it along with me and let’s see if we can make it through this tune.
Think about tonguing every single note, keeping lots of air into our instruments and getting it to play smoothly.
You can practice as many times as you like with the backing track on this video.
How’d you get on with that? I think this tune is loads of fun to play. As a beginner tenor sax player, this tune is perfect for practising your skills. And don’t forget, you can use this lesson as many times as you need to. That backing track section at the end of the lesson is handy just to go back and use as a practice tool.
Now that you’ve learned your first song, I bet you can’t wait to learn a whole load more songs. So there’s so much to keep you busy inside Sax School. We’ve got over a thousand lessons and dozens of courses that you’ll enjoy exploring.
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