Saxophone/Lesson 1.1

Students should already be familiar with all of the material in the preliminary section of this Wikibook.

In this lesson you will learn to play your first three notes. Remember to always begin by placing your tongue over the reed and releasing it as you start the note, like saying “taaaa” into your saxophone. It is not correct technique to begin a note using only your airstream like saying “haaa” or “aaaa”.



A note that takes up one beat of musical pulse is called a crotchet (American: quarter note). It looks like this:

Or like this:

Where the notehead is located on the stave tells you which note (pitch) to play.

Crotchet Rest


A rest is the musical name for a silence. A crotchet rest is a silence that goes for one beat. It looks like this:

The Note B


To play the note B press down the key indicated with the index finger of your left hand. Note that this key is not the very top key on your saxophone but the second one down. Take a full breath of air and being careful to start the note by releasing the reed with your tongue play a B as a long tone until your air runs out.

The note B looks like this on the stave:

Practice playing long tones on a B keeping a steady sound and airstream.

The Note A


To play the note A, press down your index finger as for a B and also your middle finger on the key indicated. Note that this is not the immediately lower key but the one beneath that. Practice playing a long tone on an A being sure to start with a “taaaa” with your tongue releasing the reed.

The note A looks like this on the stave:

Note that when the notehead is high in the stave, as for B, the stem points down and when the note is low in the stave, as for A, the stem points up.

The Note G


The final note in this lesson is the note G. To play a G, press down your index and middle fingers as for an A and add your fourth finger onto the next note down. Practice playing long G’s.

A G looks like this on the stave

Repertoire for this Lesson


When you are confident playing the three notes in this lesson learn the following pieces on your saxophone. Points to keep in mind includeː

  • Is your posture upright and relaxed?
  • Are you taking full breaths of air that last until the next rest?
  • Are you starting each note with a clear "ta" sound from your tongue releasing the reed?
  • Do you have a steady pulse going through everything you are playing?

Piece 1.1.1



Piece 1.1.2



Piece 1.1.3



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