Are you ready to have some fun playing the blues on saxophone? I hope so, because, in this free lesson, we’re going to do a beginner’s easy blues jam for saxophone.
And even if you’re pretty new to the saxophone, you’ll have fun with this lesson too, because I’m going to show you all the notes you need to know.
I’m on my tenor, but you can grab your alto or your soprano, or your baritone, or your tenor to any saxophone you like.
Join the Easy Blues Jam
And I’m going to talk to you through some easy guidelines, so you can get started improvising, and having a easy blues jam session with me on this video. Grab your sax. Let’s get started.
Better Blues Solos
I love to play the blues. It’s such a great way to get started with improvising, and it’s something we talk about a lot with our thousands of members inside Sax School. And in fact, I shared a blog just recently where I was giving you three tactics for blues improvising. If you’ve not seen it, go check it out here. So now we’re going to expand on that and put it into practice in a easy blues jam session.
3 Easy Blues Jams
So we’re going to do three separate Blues jams today. We’re going to start really easy, and then just add a little bit of extra complexity with each Blues jam as we go through. But don’t worry. It’s all going to be really simple and fun.
Even if you’re new to sax, I’ll show you the notes one by one. I’ve got the tenor in my hand, but I’ll also be demonstrating on the alto sax. So of course, if you’re a bari sax player, just follow the alto notes. And if you’re on a soprano, just follow the tenor notes.
In my “Better Blues Solos” blog I shared three tips. The very first tip was all about keeping things super-simple. And for our first jam, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to stick to just one note for the tenor and the alto saxophone and focus on our rhythms. So let’s have a look at that note.
Need help with fingering? Get our FREE Saxophone Fingering Chart here.
One Note: Tenor Sax
On the tenor saxophone, we’re going to use the note B flat. There are a few different ways you could play that.
Here’s fingering option 1.
Here’s fingering option 2.
One Note: Alto Sax
Now, for alto players we’re going to use to note F.
And that’s important to remember as we’re going through this jam, that we can use those notes in the bottom register, but we can also put that note up in that upper register, just by adding our octave key. As we go through the Jam, have a listen to what I’m doing, and if you think you’d like to do the high version, just add the octave key on the back of your sax.
Easy Blues Jam #1
Let’s get stuck in with our first jam. I’m going to use my tenor sax, but you could play along with me on whatever sax you like.
This is what we are going to do. I’ll start the track off. I’ll play two bars, just using that one note that we’ve just learned, and simple rhythms. The most important thing here is that we’re trying to listen to the band and play a rhythm that’s simple and locked in, and groovy! We’re trying to get people to dance to what we’re playing.
I’ll do that for two bars. Then there’ll be your turn for two bars. Then back to me for two bars, and back to you, and so forth, as we go through a couple of choruses of this Blues. Are you ready? Grab your sax. Let’s go.
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Play along with the first jam on the video.
How did you get on with that? It’s good fun, right? Don’t get too hung up, trying to play exactly what I’m playing. What I want you to do is just listen to what I’m playing, and use that as inspiration, so you can make up your own notes.
What I don’t want is for you to send me a message and say “Nigel, can you just write me out all the notes that you’re playing in this lesson?” Because you’re kind of missing the point if you do that. You’re far better off using what I’m playing as inspiration and then make up your own notes, and your own phrases. Because there’s no right or wrong, as long as you think about the parameters that we’re using here. Use the notes that I’m talking about and use the guidelines that I’m mentioning here too, about the type of rhythms that you’re using.
Easy Blues Jam #2
Let’s move on to jam number two. Now we’re going to spice it up a little bit here, and we’re going to add in another note. We’re going to use two notes.
Second Note: Tenor
Now, on the tenor saxophone, we’re going to use B flat that we used before, but we’re going to add in the second note, which is D flat. D flat sounds complicated, but it’s really just no fingers at all. It’s the same as C sharp.
So, we’ve got B flat and D flat, and of course, we could add an octave key and play those up the octave as well.
Second Note: Alto
If you’re on an E flat instrument like alto saxophone, or bari saxophone, then we’re going to use the F that we’ve mentioned before, and we’re going to add on A flat. A flat is the same as G sharp. And remember we can play those down the octave, or add the octave key and play them up the octave.
I’m going to use my alto sax for the second jam, but you could join me on whatever sax you like. We’re going to stick to using just those two notes and also use really simple rhythms.
Now remember – I don’t want you to get stressed out, trying to copy exactly what I’m playing. Instead, just listen to what I’m playing and use that as inspiration to make up your own melody choices, using those two notes and some really simple rhythms.
Play along with the second jam on the video.
Do you like these jam style lessons? Let me know!
Easy Blues Jam #3
For the third jam we’re going to ramp it up and we’re going to add two more notes. We’re going to have four notes in total.
Now remember, this is just a starting point. What we’re trying to do is prove that we can make comfortably make nice-sounding, functioning solos over a Blues progression. And once we get this right, then really the sky’s the limit, because we can just add in more notes and more rhythms, and more complexity. But if we get these foundations right, then we’re off to a really good start that’ll help you to learn to really quickly with your improvising.
More Notes: Alto
Here are the four notes that we’re going to use on the alto saxophone. We already know about the F and the A flat we’re going to add to the B flat.
And then we’re also going to add in the B natural.
Now, if you know about blue scales, these are the four first four notes of a blue scale. But it doesn’t really matter if you don’t understand why we’ve chosen these notes. Let’s just focus on how they sound and how they work in a melody.
So those notes again: F, A flat, B flat, and B natural. And again, we can add the octave key to play up the octave.
More Notes: Tenor
For the tenor saxophone, we’re going to add an E flat and an E natural. We’ve already got B flat. We’ve got D flat. We’re going to add E flat, which is the same as D sharp.
And also E natural.
So those notes again: B flat, D flat, E flat, and E natural.
It’s a bit harder for us to play this up the octave, unless you’re familiar with your palm keys. I might play some notes up there, but if you don’t know about your palm key notes, don’t worry about it. You can just play them in this register.
Now I’m going to use those four notes. And again, we’re going to do two bars each, but I’m going to try and make up some interesting lines using those four notes. We’ll start by just playing the four notes plain as day so we can hear what they sound like. And then I’ll start mixing it up and seeing if we can create some interesting melody lines.
I might go in the upper register. I might keep it down low. It’s up to you whether you’d like to go up or down.
Now, remember you don’t have to play exactly what I’m playing. Just listen to what I’m doing and use that as inspiration to make your killer lines.
Play along with the third jam on the video.
Hey well done! You’ve made it through all three of the jam sessions.
You can get this PDF and the practice track from our Sax School Locker. It’s completely free, and that’s where we put all of our free content. Just sign up below to get access to this and all of our other resources.
Now, of course, there’s so much more to learn with improvising, and this is just a great first step. I suggest you go and check out the other content here on my blog or over on my YouTube Channel.
But if you really want to dig into improvising, then go see what we’re doing over at Sax School in the Members’ Area. We’ve got hundreds of lessons and dozens of courses devoted to improvising. Plus we’ve got some of the best teachers in the world on our tutor team that are there to help you as a member. Plus, you get access to all the other things that are going on inside of Sax School, like our Monthly Challenges, our regular live masterclasses, and of course our fabulous Community where you can connect with players from all around the world.
That’s all over at Sax Schoolonline.com and right now you can check our 14-day FREE trial here.
And most importantly, though, keep practicing hard!