Even if you’ve never played saxophone before, or you’re just getting started, we’re going to have some fun with this easy saxophone jam.
We’re going to you jamming, and take you from zero to hero. In this easy saxophone jam, you’ll get started with some improvising, and that’s the first steps to making some great, authentic, sounding solos on your saxophone.
Get the PDF and practice track for this lesson – plus all of our other free resources – inside the Sax School Locker.
Getting started with jamming
When you just starting out on saxophone, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to learn loads of really boring stuff before you get to the fun stuff. Because you wanted to learn saxophone to play the fun stuff – right?
And with the thousands of members who are learning with me inside Sax School we really focus on playing fun tunes right out the gate, rather than wasting a lot of time on the boring stuff. So that’s what we’re going to do today.
Now, if you’re brand new to saxophone, the first thing we’re going to do is I’m going to show you the five notes on the tenor and alto sax that you’ll need in this session. There are only five notes you’re going to need.
If you’re already comfortable with these notes, then jump ahead in the video to 4:53 where we start actually putting it into practice and having a jam session.
The Notes on Tenor Sax
Let’s look at the notes on the tenor sax. I’m going to go through this in really easy steps, even if you’ve never picked up a saxophone before.
Watch the video as I show you how to play the note D.
If you lift up the bottom two and just keep the first finger down, that’s the note F.
I’m actually starting every note with a tongue. So I’ve got my tongue on the reed then I start blowing and then I take my tongue off.
We’re also going to use the note G, which is just the left hand, three fingers.
We’re going to use note A, which is just two fingers.
And then we’re going to use the note C, which is just our middle finger on the left hand.
So a quick recap: we’ll be using D, F, G, A, and C.
The Notes on Alto Sax
Now on the alto sax, you put your hands in the same place. Stick our thumb on the back button. And we’ve got our fingers lined up with the round keys on the front of the saxophone.
We’re going to start with an A. That’s thumb on the back and then two fingers.
And then the note C, which is just a middle finger, just like we did on tenor.
Then we’re going to jump up to D. We’re going to stick down all three fingers with our left hand, and three fingers with our right hand. But on the back we’re also going to stick on our octave key. Our octave key goes on with the tip of the thumb really easily.
Lift off the ring finger at the bottom key for E.
And then just use three fingers key for high G.
So, to recap, on alto we are using the notes A, C, D ,E, and high G.
Those are the only notes that we need to get started with our easy saxophone jam for beginners.
Now that you may have already learned some other notes, and that’s brilliant. But if you are just brand new to saxophone, then let’s just stick to those notes.
Now, just a quick reminder here, it’s super important that you start every single note with your tongue.
You always have your tongue on the reed and then you release your tongue to let the notes start. Every single note you play on saxophone should start with your tongue. And of course, you got to make a nice, good seal around the mouthpiece with your embouchure, or your lips, as well.
Getting Started with Our Easy Saxophone Jam
Let’s talk about how the jam session is going to work.
I’m going to pop on the backing track and we are going to have a jam together.
I’m going to use my alto, but you could use your alto or your tenor.
The music is going to be at the bottom of the screen. Now, if you don’t read the music, that’s fine. I’ve written the letter names on there as well.
The Rules for the Easy Saxophone Jam
- Stick to the 5 notes we’ve learned
- Start every note with your tongue
- Keep your rhythms super simple and really clear.
We’re not trying to create an amazing award-winning solo here. All we’re trying to do is prove the concept of having a jam and having some fun.
Listen to what I’m playing to get some ideas. I’m going to start really simple, just using the first and second, maybe the first, second, and third notes. Then I’ll mix it up a little bit. See if you can listen to what I’m doing and copy it.
I’m going to play for two bars, and then you get to play for two bars. Then It’s back to me and it’s back to you, and we’ll go round and round. So, stick to the five notes. Think about using your tongue to start every single note. Keep your rhythms and your melodies super simple. Listen to what I’m doing for some inspiration.
Every single time you try this easy saxophone jam. you’re going to learn new things about what works and what doesn’t work in your playing. It’s super important that you try all sorts of things. Try different rhythms, try using those notes in different ranges on your saxophone.
As you learn more about the other notes on the saxophone, You’ll discover there’s a whole range of notes – 3 octaves of notes that you can use. So those low notes, you can also use up high.
Using a Higher Octave
I’m going to pop on the backing track again, and just have a quick jam through. This time I’m going to use the same notes and I’m going to try and use simple rhythms, but I’m also going to extend into more complicated ideas and also into the ranges of the saxophone. Have a listen.
It’s amazing what you can do in just five notes, isn’t it? And you’ll be able to do that really soon too if you keep practicing through this exercise.
Make sure that you grab the worksheet and the backing track. And keep working through this over and over and trying different things. Let me know in a comment, how you get on with it and what you enjoy about this sort of exercise.
Get the PDF and practice track for this lesson – plus all of our other free resources, inside LOCKER.