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Alto Sax Notes and Techniques for Beginners
The alto sax is a member of the woodwind family and more specifically, one of 14 different types of saxophones.
14:19 10 October 2022
The alto sax is a member of the woodwind family and more specifically, one of 14 different types of saxophones. The alto is one of the most commonly played instruments, and it is often used in jazz and classical music as an accompaniment. Learning the alto sax notes, fingerings, and proper embouchure are essential for a novice. The alto sax has quite an impressive range and is also an ideal addition for seasoned professionals who want to improve their musical skills.
Why Choose To Play the Alto Sax
The alto sax is a great instrument to learn music on, so it is one of the most commonly chosen band instruments for lower grades. It is perfect for beginners and intermediate players alike. Alto sax notes are a little more challenging to play, but the instrument is easier to hold than the tenor sax, so it’s still very manageable to learn for younger players. With a bit of practice, you'll be playing complex songs in no time.
How To Play the Alto Sax
Basic Hand Placement
To play the alto saxophone, learners will need to know how to hold the instrument and practice managing the weight.
- The neck strap is adjusted to hold most of the weight of the sax so that there is no slack nor does it pull on the neck.
- The right thumb supports the remaining weight against the thumb rest located toward the bottom of the instrument.
- The left thumb sits at the back of the sax on a nonfunctional button near the middle.
- The remaining fingers of each hand are placed on the key pads on the front of the instrument below the thumbs.
Beginner's Alto Sax Notes
Most beginners are advised to start by attempting to make sounds from their reed, the wooden piece that slides into the mouthpiece. Once you are familiar with that, you can begin with a D, which is played with many keys closed, or pressed down. Experts consider the D note the best first note for new alto sax musicians since closed keys make the instrument easier to grip. Practice playing this note steadily and smoothly, and then move up to the E note by lifting the ring finger of your right hand and “opening” that key.
Once these two notes are down, continue up the scale with F, G and A. Once you have these four alto sax notes down, try your hand with the B and C notes. These notes can be trickier for beginners since they are played with so many open keys. Remember to rest your fingers lightly on the open key pads, breathe deeply and check your posture.
How To Learn Alto Sax Notes Faster
There are some tips and tricks to help learners grow. Getting a teacher you know and trust is a great place to start. In between the sessions, practicing with the help of YouTube videos or online instruction is a great way to stay sharp. Before you delve too deep into trying to learn entire songs or watching too many videos, take time to get the basics of the instrument before you start to play; it will help you play your instrument better and actually understand what you are playing.
How To Choose Sheet Music for Alto Sax
Consider Your Skill Level
If you are a beginner learning to play the alto saxophone, it should not be challenging to find beginner sheet music with alto sax notes you can read and follow. A skilled instructor should be able to guide you and, luckily, you can also find a lot of beginner saxophone sheet music online. The best thing about beginner saxophone sheet music is that it is designed with new learners in mind, so it is slower, less complex, and easier to read and follow.
Beginner music typically includes many different practice exercises that will help you build the skills and stamina to play better over time. In the case of music and musical instruments, practice truly does make perfect.
Select Alto Sax Sheet Music
The alto saxophone is also a transposing instrument, meaning that it plays different notes of a specific interval relative to other instruments, or “concert pitch.” Concert pitch is usually in the key of C, and the same as a piano. The key of the alto saxophone is E-flat, which means that when you play the C note on an alto sax, it sounds the same as an E-flat on the piano.
Sheet music written specifically for alto saxophone should already be in the correct key. Still, understanding the fundamentals of instrument key and pitch will give you the foundation that can make advanced skills like improvisation and transposing music written for other instruments develop more naturally.
Use Online Resources
Whether you’re a musician looking for saxophone sheet music, an amateur looking for a great method for learning alto sax notes, or a professional looking to find a great place to acquire professional music notation, Musicnotes is the perfect place to find sheet music. Musicnotes also offers accessible notation for your saxophone, clarinet, flute, oboe, trumpet, trombone, and other popular instruments.