Is Saxophone easy to learn?

Updated: Jan 9, 2021

By Jeremy Trezona

How hard is the saxophone.... really?

A lot of new students (particularly adults) think twice about starting a new instrument before finally taking the plunge.

Will I have the time to commit to practice?
Will I enjoy it?
Will my shiny new instrument just end up sitting in a corner gathering dust?

A lot of these concerns stem from one simple question: How easy the saxophone easy to learn?

Well, in this short article we'll look at some of things you might not have known about the saxophone and why it's actually a very beginner friendly instrument.

Prefer to watch instead? Check out our handy YouTube video below!

A modern instrument.

Although we might not realize it, in the grand scheme of things the saxophone is actually quite modern. Designed in 1846, the saxophone is over 500 years younger than the earliest trumpets and guitars.

Thanks to it's clever, modern design, the saxophone is actually one of the easiest instruments to start on.

Let's start by considering the keys. If you take a close look at the saxophone, you'll notice they're spaced apart in a precise way to match the shape of the human hand.

This makes a huge difference when playing the saxophone, as we don't have to bend or stretch our fingers to reach the keys.

alto saxophone

Notice that the white keys are offset? This small detail ensures that the saxophone keys are easy to reach, even for those with smaller hands.

One key to rule them all.

Also, unlike many other wind instruments the saxophone also features an octave key.

What exactly is an octave key I hear you say?

Well, the octave key instantly takes our note from the lower register to the upper register, meaning we only need to learn one set of fingerings across 2 octaves of the saxophone's range.

Even better, the octave key is conveniently located right above the lefthand thumb rest, meaning changing registers is only a small press of the button.

saxophone octave key

The octave key sits conveniently above the left hand thumb rest (the large circle in the middle of the image).

No need to squeeze.

We've all seen the pictures of trumpet players squeezing their lips together to reach high notes - it looks like hard work, because it is!

It's important to remember that the saxophone is distinct from the trumpet, in that that we use a reed (a piece of cane) on our mouthpiece to create a sound, instead of the buzzing created by our lips.

That is why the saxophone is a member of the woodwind family of instruments, rather than the brass family (like the trumpet and trombone).

Dizzy Gillespie
saxophone reed and mouthpiece

Pictured (left): The late, great jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.
Pictured (right): The saxophone mouthpiece, with reed attached.

In comparison to brass instruments, woodwind instruments (like the saxophone) require a lot less muscle strength in the lips to create a reliable tone, making them a beginner friendly choice.

Looking to learn online?

Often the hardest thing about learning the saxophone is simply finding the right material to get you started (and help maintain your progress).

What techniques should I start with?
What songs can I learn?
How will I know what to learn next?

Thanks to the internet, these days anyone anywhere (at any age!) can start learning the saxophone at their own pace from home.

SaxTuition Beginner Series

Products like ours, the SaxTuition Beginner Series, are specially designed to get you started on the saxophone, and provide a complete package (with videos, an eBook and playalong tracks) to keep you motivated and on track.

In fact, the SaxTuition Beginner Series is now one of the most popular ways to learn saxophone online!

Would you like to start your first lesson for free?
Get started by signing up below!

ready to start learning saxophone?

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