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Saxophone

Saxophone Lessons in Dallas, TX

Invented by Adolphe Sax in 1846, the saxophone has been heard all over the world, from military bands in the 19th century to jazz ensembles throughout the 20th century. While the saxophone is a complicated machine of an instrument, and it presents a number of unique challenges to the new player, it is one of the most beautiful and rewarding instruments to play in the world. A French composer who lived during Sax’s time named Louis Hector Berlioz once wrote that its “principle merit…is the varied beauty of its accent, sometimes serious, sometimes calm, sometimes impassioned, dreamy or melancholic…like the mysterious vibrations of a bell, long after it has been struck…”

The primary challenge of playing a saxophone well is in that there are many variables that can affect the sound that a sax player produces. Like other woodwind instruments, the sax has a mouthpiece that is attached to a reed with a ligature. As a result, the reed’s age, installation, moisture, and hardness affects the sound, as does the environment’s heat and humidity, which changes the shape of the saxophone body. This is without taking into account the two skills the player must develop to be an effective sax player: playing the reed with his/her lips and playing the keys with his/her fingers. However, these factors can all be understood and maneuvered with time and patience.

Understanding the Four Main Types of Saxophone

The saxophone, although famous for powerful role it plays in jazz and its history, is also an integral part of classical orchestra playing—Puccini, a famous composer, believed that the saxophone more resembled the expression of the human voice than any instrument. It comes in four traditional types:

  • Soprano (B-flat)
    This saxophone is the smallest and possesses the highest range of the traditional saxophones. Unlike the other kinds of saxes, sopranos typically don’t possess a curved structure, so they tend to resemble “golden clarinets.” Don’t be fooled: that “golden clarinet” is more likely a soprano saxophone.
  • Alto (E-flat)
    This is the middle-range saxophone and is commonly considered the most “lyrical” of the sax types. Of all the sax types, it is considered by most musicians the easiest to handle and play. According to Phil Baldino of the Woodwind Teaching Studio, there are “over 2,000 pieces of symphonic literature written that use the alto saxophone,” so it has a rich history of music in its relatively short lifetime.
  • Tenor (B-flat)
    If you’ve heard any great jazz or heard a saxophone in a rock piece, you were likely enjoying the rich sound of the tenor saxophone. It is the most commonly use sax in contemporary pop music, and rewards powerful lung power with a deep, versatile voice. If you want to play jazz or contemporary rock funk, this saxophone is probably your newest friend.
  • Baritone (E-flat)
    The baritone sax is the largest of the traditional saxophones, and it has the lowest range as it plays an octave below the alto sax. While it plays a foundational role in big band pieces like the trombone, the baritone sax is also a powerful instrument for soloists who have the lung and shoulder strength to play it. It’s no less expressive than the other saxes despite its larger size and depth of sound.

No matter what saxophone you decide to play, you can be sure that if you devote your time to understanding and practicing this young instrument, you’ll be capable of producing smooth, expressive, rich-sounding music in many different styles. Call Promethean Studios to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced saxophone teachers, who can give you advice about what sax to buy and which one you should consider playing!

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