The days where saxophone lessons could only be done in person or through whatever books we could procure have come to an end. While there’s really no substitute for in-person lessons, there are many great resources out there for those looking to learn the saxophone for the first time, or those who want to break out of their normal practice routines.
Websites containing free online saxophone lessons offer us techniques and approaches that might have never occurred to us were we taking direction exclusively from our private teachers and personal collection of books.
Featuring incredible video lessons by saxophonists including Michael Brecker, Jerry Bergonzi, Walt Weiskopf, and even Kenny G among many others, legendary reed manufacturer Rico offers an amazing free online resource. Although some of the lessons are for clarinet (which will probably be helpful to many of you as well), there is a massive amount of great video content specifically for the saxophone.
Created by saxophonist, composer, and educator Rick Hirsch, this is one of the best sax-related YouTube channels I’ve seen yet. Each well-produced video features Rick going over topics such as embouchure, overtones, reeds, and jazz improvisation. Rick’s lessons are taught in a very straightforward & easygoing manner which makes them a pleasure to watch and learn from.
Although access to much of Randy’s educational content is not free, there’s enough free material on this page to make the site well worth visiting. Covering a wide array of topics from saxophone fundamentals, scalar exercises, jazz improvisation, and composition, there’s a lot to keep you busy here. On top of all of that, you can download several transcriptions of great jazz saxophonists as well PDF & MP3 play-along sets.
Pete Thomas generously offers us an abundant plethora of saxophone exercises and detailed lessons mostly geared towards beginning to intermediate students. Subjects covered include fingering, scales, tone production, and even a section on playing rock and roll saxophone. One thing that’s quite rare about Pete’s lesson plan is that it offers day-1 instruction for those who have never even picked up a saxophone before including topics such finding as finding the basic equipment and assembling the horn.
Brilliant Kansas City saxophonist Matt Otto offers an impressive collection of mostly jazz improvisation-related lessons going teaching harmony and rhythm from a saxophonists perspective. The ear-expanding lessons are video-based with some accompanying text, and best of all, a downloadable PDF for each exercise. Matt’s teaching style is very easy to follow and many of the exercises presented sound cool and are a lot of fun to play.
Classical saxophonist and educator Ryan Fraser offers a website packed with information on the fundamentals of proper saxophone playing. Topics such as posture, breathing, tone production, and equipment – to name just a few, are presented in Ryan’s entertaining yet descriptive writing style. Although the site hasn’t been updated in a long time, the information given here is timeless and extremely beneficial to saxophonists at all levels.
Oregon saxophonist David Valdez’ blog is jam-packed with incredible information technical exercises, a rare audio masterclass with Joe Henderson, improvisation techniques, and much more. Although there are a few posts that are music reviews and not actually saxophone lessons, the quality and depth of the lessons that comprise most of the blog make this site definitely worth frequenting.
Renown jazz saxophonist and educator offers a gaggle of downloadable saxophone, improvisation, and music theory exercises mostly in PDF format. Due to all of the theory and improv-related lessons, I would say that these are more geared towards the intermediate to advanced player. All of the lessons are on a single page, which makes it easy to grab everything you need quickly.
While being a bit difficult to navigate, Alastair Ingram’s intuitively titled website is a great resource mostly geared towards beginning students. With helpful descriptions of basic musical concepts coupled with useful exercises, this site is a great starting point if you’re new to the saxophone, or if you’re a saxophone teacher looking for additional materials to offer your students. One notable offering is the Jazz Webcasts page which features a downloadable mp3 recording of an interview with John Coltrane.
Although Kelly’s lessons here are only 2 pages, this collection of invaluable warm up material is a compact and ultra-useful tool for anyone looking for a solid warm up routine.
Consisting of user-submitted videos, this site offers quite a bit of free instructional content. Since just about anyone can submit their videos, the quality of the videos may be inconsistent, but there does seem to be a good amount of useful information.
Saxophonist Dan Christian has an impressive collection of videos geared more towards the beginning player. The nice thing is that the videos and the site in general are well organized so it’s easy to get a sense of what’s being offered.
The Wrap Up
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro looking to break out of a stale practice rut, these online resources are here to help kick you up to the next level.
Happy online lesson…ing(?).
About the AuthorI've been playing the sax since the late 80's, but my musical journey has run quite the gamut. The musical rap sheet includes tours with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and reggae master Half Pint, center stage at the L.A. Music Center, cozy cafes, raucous night clubs, gear-drenched studios, and the pinnacle of any musician's career - playing weddings in New Jersey! (duh). There's a lot of other stuff too, but you should be reading these blog posts and leaving comments instead. Now off you go!
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