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Harmonize Your Band's Sound: The Importance of Listening to Different Music Sections While You Play

Playing the saxophone in groups and can be a challenging task. Not only do you have to have competency on your instrument, but it is also requires that you have confidence in the music that you are playing. This means practicing your charts and knowing them like the back of your hand.


Another thing you have to be able to do is adjust on the fly. When playing with other musicians, you must be flexible and have the ability to play softer, louder, slower or faster within a few beats. The challenge is who do you listen to when there are a lot of different musical instruments? There are bands that have different horn sections, there are bands that have electric guitars, keyboards, drums and vocalist.

Bonus Video

Watch the video below about Playing the Saxophone in Tune: Sharp or Flat. Subscribe to the Saxophone Workshop YouTube channel to learn more about the saxophone.



Listening to everyone else starts with the rhythm section. They define the beat and how fast

or slow the band will go. In a marching band, the rhythm section defines how fast or slow the group walks, in a rock band the rhythm section defines the tempo of the song. In a concert band or jazz band, the rhythm section is literally the driving engine to pushing the beat and changing tempos in the middle of a song.


Next is the other sections in the group. If you are playing in a marching band, concert band, or jazz band it is incredibly important to identify certain areas of the song where you need to play softer so other sections can come out or play louder when it is your sections time to shine. If you cannot hear the other sections in the band, then you and your section might be playing too loud. It is important to make sure that you can hear the other sections in the band so there is a balanced sound throughout.


The last area of listening is to hone in on your section. If you are playing in a marching, concert or jazz band it is vitally important to listen to the other saxophones in your saxophone section or on the sax line. This insures you are in sync with the other players both melodically, and rhythmically.


If you are in a rock band, the last area of listening is to hone in on the lead singer. If you cannot hear the lead singer then you are playing, then you are playing too loud.


Can you hear other instruments when you play in a band?

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