How can I teach myself saxophone?

I’m playing sax in marching band. I originally play bassoon so I don’t know how to read treble clef, but I have two beginner books and I cannot afford private lessons, so how should I start learning? I also have to have a whole page of marching show music memorized on saxophone in a couple months.

Alright! Since you’ve got an alto sax, I can help you. I’ve played the alto sax in marching, concert, and jazz bands.

Wow. So you have to be able to play marching show music in a few months, and you are a beginner at the sax? That will be hard to do. Marching band music is sometimes easy, but can be difficult. It depends on the kind of music that your director chooses, and what part you play. (1st alto, 2nd alto, 3rd alto, etc. 1st alto is usually the hardest part, and it gets easier the farther down the line you go.) It’s not impossible to jump right into it, of course, but it’s not easy, either. Especially without any sort of lessons. Do you have a band teacher at school, or a friend who plays the sax who could help you, or are you completely on your own?

I’m assuming since you have two beginner books, that they also include a fingering chart, correct? Most fingering charts for the alto sax will be shown as a series of dots, some colored in, and some open. (I assume that this is similar to a fingering chart for the bassoon, too.) The colored in dots are the ones that you hold down, and the white open ones are the ones that are not held down.

It would be SO much easier if I could just go grab a sax and show you this, but I can’t. So, I have looked around on Youtube for quite a while for good videos to show you.

This video is a great one! Do what he does. Watch all of the videos from this guy. (Don’t worry: there’s only 5 or 6 videos to watch from him.) You will see that, to play the basic notes, there are 6 main keys that you can press down. Remember that the left hand goes on top, and the right hand goes on the bottom. (Doing it the other way around will feel awkward and uncomfortable.)


Here is a video on embouchure. Forming a correct embouchure is extremely important when playing the saxophone. An incorrect embouchure will lessen the quality of the sound, and will make it sound unpleasant. Also, do not blow too hard! You’re not blowing a candle out. NO chipmunk cheeks!!! What does that mean? Don’t puff your cheeks out when you play. Doing so will distort the tone of the saxophone.


This video is a good one about finger placement.


This is another good beginner video.


Here is a site on how to read sheet music for the alto saxophone. It isn’t hard to read the treble clef, don’t worry. There are a few standard acronyms that make it easier to remember the notes on the treble clef. Your beginner books also probably discuss this topic.


I hope this helps!

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