From marching bands to jazz, to big bands, symphony, blues, or classic rock — the saxophone fits it all. It’s one of the most popular instruments for students entering their first year of middle school or high school band because it’s versatile, relatively easy to play, and they just plain look cool. With its shiny brass appearance, you might think it’s classified as a brass instrument, but it’s actually classified as a woodwind with clarinet and flute, thanks to the way it’s played through a reed, rather than the lips vibrating in a brass mouthpiece cup.
Saxophone is one of the few instruments used just as often in mainstream music as it is in a school band setting.
The sax can be relaxing, or a powerful melodic force. Pop and rock stars like Pink Floyd, Jennifer Lopez, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Macklemore are just a few who’ve used saxophone to give their music a flavor that goes beyond just guitar, bass, and drums. There’s no one genre that gets to claim the saxophone.
Beginner sax students will most likely want an Alto Saxophone, as that’s the size most common in a public school band or ensemble setting, but there are actually nine different types. Of those, the Soprano, Tenor and Bass are the other most popular options. The Soprano is a smaller sax, while the Tenor and Baritone are larger and provide a deeper sound. For students considering starting saxophone, check out this helpful list of recommended alto saxophones for beginners.
Portable and Easy to Play
The fingering on a saxophone isn’t terribly complicated, and when compared to other woodwinds, it’s easier to achieve a good tone with a sax. It also doesn’t require an amp, which makes it more portable than an electric guitar — although it’s admittedly not an instrument you can use to accompany yourself while singing. Most kids over the age of 10 can handle the size of an alto saxophone, while the tenor and baritone versions are larger and heavier.
Our saxophone instructor, Jimmy Spencer, spent years as a Band Director and head of the Fine Arts Dept at public high schools, and he’s a fantastic asset for anyone planning on entering school band for the first time!