If you’re starting to explore playing a new instrument, you may be wondering, “Is the saxophone hard to learn?” Several factors go into this, and we’ll tell you all about them in this saxophone guide for beginners! The good news is that the saxophone is much easier to learn than other instruments, and it’s a whole lot of fun!
Like many instruments, the saxophone isn’t too difficult to begin playing but challenging to master. Many people say that it’s easy to make a sound on the saxophone but harder to make a good sound. However, self-discipline and a few other tips can make all the difference and have you playing like a pro in no time!
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the saxophone for beginners. From how difficult it is to learn and types of saxophones to steps to help you learn this new skill, you’ll be ready to start playing in no time!
You may also be interested in: What Instrument Should I Learn to Play? [Quiz]
Is the Saxophone Hard to Learn?
Getting a sound on the saxophone the first day should be pretty straightforward. If the sound isn’t responding, the reed and mouthpiece are likely being squeezed together due to too much jaw pressure.
The way you hold your lips on the mouthpiece of the saxophone is called the “embouchure.” This is the most crucial aspect of learning the saxophone, and it has a significant impact on tone quality. This skill is developed over several years and requires a lot of practice.
So, to really answer your question, “Is the saxophone hard to learn?” … The truth is, certain people will have an easier time learning the saxophone than others. But, everyone will need to practice! Students younger than middle school age would have a very difficult time learning the saxophone because of their smaller hands and mouth.
On the other hand, people who have prior experience with any wind instrument, especially woodwinds such as the clarinet, will adapt to the saxophone more quickly. Fortunately, the fingering system for the saxophone is not as complicated as other woodwind instruments.
One of the biggest challenges of the saxophone is that there isn’t instant gratification. It takes a lot of time and effort to develop good tone quality.
How Long Does it Take to Learn the Saxophone?
This can vary depending on your experience and how much time you spend playing. Some students get frustrated that they don’t sound like a professional within the first month or two. These unrealistic expectations can set a student on a course for disappointment. Keep in mind that college music majors who have been playing the saxophone for eight years still have a lot to learn!
3 Steps for Learning How to Play the Saxophone
Now that we’ve hopefully cleared things up and answered, “Is the saxophone hard to learn?” you’re probably ready to start playing! Taking these steps will get you well on your way to sounding incredible when you play the saxophone:
- Choose your saxophone and equipment wisely.
- Find an experienced saxophone instructor.
- Practice, practice, practice!
1. Choose Your Saxophone and Equipment Wisely
Having the right saxophone and quality equipment can make a huge difference when you start learning how to play the saxophone. Stay away from “value” brands. Professionals will tell you that if you’re worried about the initial cost, it’s better to get a used instrument from a trusted brand rather than a cheap, brand new instrument.
Here are popular types of saxophones:
|Type of Saxophone||Best For|
|Tenor saxophone||Beginners who like the sound of jazz or rock and roll|
|Alto saxophone||Beginners who want a smaller-sized saxophone|
|Soprano saxophone||More advanced sax that’s good for playing classical and jazz music|
|Baritone saxophone||The largest of the four and better after you’ve had some practice with other wind instruments|
Wondering how much a saxophone costs? This can vary greatly! This is great news because no matter your budget, you can find one that works for you. You can find new and vintage options and prices can range from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand.
Once you pick the type of saxophone you want to start with, you’ll need some other equipment. Here are our best recommendations for standard equipment for beginners:
- The Selmer S80 C* mouthpiece: improves the sound of your saxophone’s basic mouthpiece and works great for just about every style of music
- Vandoren Traditional “Blue Box” reeds (strength 2.5): thin piece needed for playing the saxophone and producing sound
- A Bonade ligature: holds the reed onto the mouthpiece
- Neck strap: allows saxophone’s weight to be evenly distributed over your neck and shoulder
Note: For your neck-strap, just make sure that it is rigid and not stretchy.
2. Find an Experienced Saxophone Instructor
When you first start learning to play the saxophone, it’s very important to develop fundamental skills on the saxophone and not simply work on playing the same songs over and over.
Working on the embouchure, scales, articulation, dynamic control, and vibrato will strengthen your abilities as a saxophonist. The best thing you can do to learn these skills and continue to grow as a musician is to choose a good private instructor. TakeLessons has a great selection of experienced saxophone instructors for both online and in-person lessons. There are a variety of teachers so that you can choose one who can help you reach your specific goals.
If you hope to play in the jazz, pop, or rock genres, it’s best to start with a classical instructor and classical equipment. This type of instruction will help you build a solid foundation of tone, reading ability, and technique.
3. Practice, Practice, and Practice!
Mastering any instrument is a lot of work and takes practice to master, but remember to have fun! With your teacher’s suggestions and feedback in mind, put in as much time as you can to practice your instrument.
At the end of each practice session, try some improvisation or play your favorite song. Including this step into every practice routine will help you stay motivated.
And, don’t forget to remind yourself at the end of each practice session why you love the saxophone! This will help you avoid frustration and continue thinking positively about your progress.
If you feel like you’re too busy to practice a lot, check out these time-saving hacks for music students!
Enjoy Learning How to Play the Saxophone!
Now that we’ve answered, “Is the saxophone hard to learn?” and given you some tips to get started learning this exciting instrument, we hope you’re feeling motivated!
Want to find a teacher that can help you master the skill and love your new hobby? Search TakeLessons today for a qualified saxophone teacher near you. The journey of becoming a saxophonist can be a winding road, but it will also be incredibly rewarding. Good luck!