If you are beginning to learn the Saxophone then here is a list of some of the best beginner tutor books available to help you choose the most appropriate book for you. All of the listed music books contain brilliant systems to help you master the saxophone though each is slightly different with some suited to younger pupils, some more mature. Some contain more popular tunes and some are more technique based. I have tried to list the best attributes from each book to help you choose.
Have a browse and please feel free to leave any comments that you feel may be appropriate to help other beginner musicians on their journey !
This is my favourite tutor book at the moment. It has a good repertoire including some well known sax tunes, is easy to understand and follow and is laid out in a very teacher friendly way with each new page containing good clear explanations. This book is probably not very well suited to younger pupils. I would suggest it is aimed at pupils aged about 10 and above. The book now comes with a play-a-long CD which makes practice a lot more fun. There is also a lesson diary & practice chart at the front to help monitor a pupils progress.
Each page includes a picture of the correct sax fingering and the position on the stave of each new note that you are about to learn. The book starts with some simple rhythm studies on the note of B and A then progresses page by page through the notes G, C, F, D, E and F# with some simple repertoire including merrily we roll along, Au clair de la lune and Acapulco Bay. From there you are introduced to 3/4 time before securing fingering with some more tunes (including Morning) concentrating on the notes you have learned. The book then gently introduces you (a page at a time) to the full range of the saxophone using a lot of very well known tunes and some really nice duets. You are introduced to slurs, tied notes, quavers, scales and key signatures all the time introducing new notes as you go.
As you work through the book you move onto more complicated music and time signatures such as 6/8 & 5/4 time. At the back of the book is a full list of all major and minor scales and arpeggios. Repertoire in this book includes :
- Watermelon man
- In the mood
- Pink panther
- Moonlight Serenade
- Star wars theme
- What a wonderful world
- Mood indigo
- Morning has broken
- Over the rainbow
The book contains many more really well known tunes and also has a good selection of Christmas tunes
In conclusion this is a very good series (a lot of the tunes work in conjunction with other TEAM books from different instrument groups). As I mentioned it is probably not suited to very young pupils but if you do choose this tutor book you are guaranteed to have a fun and comprehensive learning experience.
This is another of my favourite saxophone tutors especially for younger pupils. Whilst the material is suitable for all this book is aimed at beginners probably below the age of 10. As with most good saxophone tutor books it is laid out in a very clear systematic way that enables the pupil to grasp all concepts of saxophone playing with most pages having illustrations to make the visual impact a little more fun. The book also contains a good selection of well known songs/tunes. Highly recommended for younger pupils.
This classic tutor book that has been revised and updated. Clear explanatory diagrams and photographs help guide you through the lessons. A good selection of well known tunes certainly helps ! I would suggest this book is perfect for the 10 to 16 year old age range (though should not necessarily be discarded for younger or older pupils). A great fun book that is worth exploring.
The complete saxophone player
Written by Raphael Ravenscroft (the guy who played sax on “Baker St”) this is a very modern and, as it says on the cover, complete guide learning saxophone. It is brilliantly written from how to hold the sax, how to breathe, first notes right through to how to improvise jazz, multiphonics and other tonal effect like “growling”. The book contains a very modern selection of some of the best known saxophone songs (Baker St..of course, pink panther, careless whisper etc). If you are an adult learning sax then this would make a very good choice. It is available in four different books or as an omnibus edition.
This is the mothership of tutor books! Not one for the faint-hearted or the absolute beginner but if you have a basic grasp of your instrument (or even an advanced grasp!) this book will take your playing to the next level. This book does have some basic instructions for a total beginner (how to hold a saxophone, how to create a sound on saxophone) and a comprehensive fingering chart but I would suggest you use this book in conjunction with a more basic tutor book as listed on this page. If you want a book to really help with your facility, technique and reading skills then this is the book for you!
This little beauty I came across quite by accident….but I was glad that I did ! Firstly whilst it does have a section at the beginning on how to hold, breathe, play your first note etc this is not really a book for absolute beginners to the saxophone. The 8 original tunes in this book are aimed at the player that does have a bit of competency on the instrument, so if you are looking for a total beginners book for sax/reading music this is not for you. Ok, so if you do know your way around the saxophone and can read a little bit of music then this is a really good book if you are looking to develop your playing, especially in a modern jazz/blues/soul genre. As mentioned this book contains 8 excellent original tunes through various styles :
- Summer song – a big band composition using a straight 4/4 rock beat
- Funky town – a melodic funk composition using a 16th note drum feel
- Blue note shuffle – a medium tempo 12 bar blues using a shuffle feel
- Soulfully rockin’ – an up-tempo soul/RnB tune
- Roller coaster – a 12 bar blues using an up-tempo shuffle beat
- La Madrugada – a 24 bar Latin American style tune
- Mr cool vibes – a jazz blues written in 6/4 time
- Modal mania – a funk-orientated composition using a 2 beat funk shuffle
The book guides you through a lot of the rudiments of music as well as some advanced jazz theory including : building chords, pentatonic scales, dissonance, syncopation, major 7th & dominant 7th chords, blues scale, rhythmic displacement & polyrhythms, II-V-I sequence, diatonic dominant extensions and improvising.
There are also loads of great tips to help improve your playing and a really useful section with some great patterns to play with. There is also a comprehensive guide to scales and how to use them. This book also comes with a play-a-long cd. A very good book to help develop your playing.
NOTE : since writing this review I have noticed that this book is now out of print so you may have to hunt around for a copy of it.
Jimmy Dorsey and his brother Tommy were the prominent big band leaders of their day (1920’s to 1950’s) and the writing in this books reflects that ! If you can get past the rather “stiff” way that this book is presented it is actually a treasure trove of musical inspiration. Again, whilst the first few pages show how to hold, breathe, finger etc this book is really not suited to the total beginner lesson No 1. But if you have mastered the basics and want to move on then this book would be a great choice. It is full of patterns, studies, phrases on different chords and to finish with it includes some nice tunes (Jimmy Dorsey compositions…of course!).
The book starts with some simple instruction on how to hold the instrument, how to form embouchure (the formation of the lips around the mouthpiece), breathing, tonguing, keys of the sax and rudiments of music (the stave, notes, bars etc). We then move onto the first exercises. Again this book assumes that you are able to play (and read) the full range of the saxophone. If you are an absolute beginner and cannot (yet) read music then you will, in all honesty, struggle with this book. The book swiftly moves into exercises on major scales, minor scales, arpeggios, chromatic scales, staccato and legato tonguing, double and triple tonguing, triplets, vibrato, syncopated rhythms, studies in intervals and some technical studies.
There is then a very good section on improvising (an absolute necessity for all modern sax players) with explanations on chord structure and chord progressions. The book then ends with some concert pieces (Oodles of noodles, Tailspin, Waddlin’ at the Waldorf and Dusk in upper Sandusky).
As with the Otto Langey this is a very comprehensive book with some brilliant technical exercises that will definitely improve your playing. Unfortunately if you are an absolute beginner this book will probably leave you completely bamboozled so I would suggest that this book is for pupils that do have a good general grasp of the saxophone and reading music.
This is a really great system aimed at the younger pupil (probably about pre 10 years old). It is brilliantly fun introducing the notes slowly and clearly. It is presented in a colourful and fun way that should really appeal to younger learners. The system comes with CD accompaniments (a teachers book is also available). I can highly recommend this system for younger learners.
This is a great book probably aimed at about 8 year old and above. It is laid out in stages that are very easy to understand and take the player from beginner up to a good standard. There are clear technical drawings, fun illustrations and a useful pull out fingering chart. The majority of the repertoire are original pieces but there is a selection of well known tunes as well. All in all this is an excellent tutor book.