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Mastering Difficult Saxophone Phrases Like a Pro: 3 Proven Techniques to Learn Fast

Are you getting frustrated when playing a difficult phrase on a music chart? Are you having challenges getting a specific phrase under your fingers? Playing that same phrase in sync with other saxophone players is even more challenging than one would think. So how do those Jazz Big Band saxophone lines get so good? Practice is the obvious answer, but it is the way they practiced that made the difference.

In this next section, we will break down the process so you can understand how to practice

effectively. Breaking down the musical phrase measure by measure is how you start. Pay attention to the key signature, you don't want to spend the time to learnt he phrase with the wrong key signature!

Tip #1 - Take it slow again & again This method is called muscle memory, you want to practice the phrase so many times that your finger muscles will start to remember the finger pattern. If the phrase is eighth notes, break it down to quarter notes. If the phrase is sixteenth notes, break it down to quarter notes to get the finger pattern under your finger tips. Then work up to eighth notes adding phrasing and articulation, then back up to sixteenth notes.

Bonus Video

Watch the video below about the 5-Ways to improve your practice sessions and subscribe to the Saxophone Workshop YouTube channel to learn more about the saxophone.

Tip #2 - Play the phrase in time

Once you have the phrase under your fingers, it is time to add the metronome. Set up your metronome to the speed that the phrase should be played at guessed it - play the phrase over and over again until you are comfortable playing the entire phrase at the right temp.

Tip #3 - Play the phrase with other musicians.

This can be a little bit scary, even when you know how you play the phrase. The important thing is to have confidence in your playing and your ability to play the phrase that you have been practicing. You also have to listen, listen to how each part intertwines and supports the other. Try to be balanced and not overpower the saxophone player next to you, you should be able to hear each horn and what they are playing.

Do you have a method for learning a difficult phrase?

Share your methods with us in the comment section below.


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