How to Play The Soprano Saxophone
The soprano saxophone, along with the alto, tenor and baritone are generally accepted as the most commonly used instruments
from the saxophone family. The soprano is second in size, right after the soprillo and comes in a large variety of forms and designs, being one of the trickiest members of the saxophone family to play properly. It’s not as easy to learn to play the soprano as it is to learn the alto for example. Most people start out learning the alto first and after they get accustomed to the way a saxophone plays, they either switch to tenor, baritone or choose to try and learn how to play a soprano saxophone (and of course, there are many who stick with the alto nevertheless).
If you’ve set out to learn how to play the soprano saxophone, the most important thing is to decide what kind of soprano type you want to play. Although the original saxophone family invented by Adolphe Sax had a straight soprano as one of its members, today, the same instrument is found in various curved designs. The shape of the soprano will be an important factor in the way you learn how to play it. For example, if it has a curved neck, you will be able to keep it closer to the body and keeps the bell from hitting the music stand. A straight shape however, favors playing the sax while standing and allows better handling.
There’s a saying that goes around the musical world that states that “the saxophone is the easiest instrument to play badly”. This is not necessarily true. Although the saxophone requires a lot more concentration and practice than other instruments, “bad performances” are usually the effect of bad habits formed while learning how to play the soprano saxophone in the first place. If you look hard enough, you will find some soprano sax players with a lifetime of practice at their back that still perform awfully.
So, in order to learn how to play the soprano saxophone properly, you will need to take 3 steps:
1. Learn the theory properly first. This includes all the breathing, articulation, posture, voicing, tonality, finger position and so on. The reason you need to learn these things first hand, even before starting out with the practice is that you will avoid gaining any of the above mentioned “bad habits”.
2. Set a goal for yourself, aiming for how you wish to sound. For example, if you have a favorite soprano sax player, try copying his tonality and articulation. Don’t worry if you sound bad or if you don’t even sound close to what he performs, just knowing that there’s that goal there will help you into learning how to play the soprano saxophone the way you want.
3. Practice, practice and more practice. Playing a saxophone (and even more so, a soprano) is like sports. The more you train, the better you become, but if you take a longer break, than most of the constant work you’ve been outputting will be lost. Another analogy is sometimes made with a huge coal stove. If you constantly feed it coal, you’ll get a bigger and bigger fire. However, if you let it die down you will have a hard time getting the flame you had before.
Go here to learn how to play the saxophone. These lessons are suitable for both beginner and intermediate players.
Further reading on how to play saxophone.
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