When it comes to practicing written music, it’s easy for us saxophonists to stick to repertoire that was artfully composed to sound good on the sax. And although that saxophone repertoire can be extremely challenging, if you really want to take things to the next level, try practicing music that was written without giving even the slightest care as to what might or might not flow out easily out of the saxophone.
You’ll find all sorts of wide interval jumps, cross-register-break skips, unimaginably awkward scalar patterns, altissimo runs, and just about anything else that will generally ruin a saxophonist’s day. So basically, practicing non-sax-centric repertoire on a saxophone is kind of like in the song, New York, New York – if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere.
Ok, that analogy didn’t really work, but basically, if you can nail a violin concerto on sax, then you’re a lot more likely to be able to nail a saxophone concerto on sax.
In search of the definitive list of non-saxophone repertoire that will push, pull, and twist any saxophonist into a rock-solid technician, and more importantly, artiste, I decided to do what any hard-working online publisher would do – I got other people to do my work for me. The list below comes from the Facebook group inexplicably named, of all things, “Saxophonists.” ;)
Any of these pieces will give you a serious run for your money.
- Four Horn Concertos and Concert Rondo by Mozart
- Two Part Inventions by J.S. Bach
- Vocalise by Sergei Rachmaninoff
- Three Romances Op 94 by Schumann
- 24 Capricci, op. 1 by Paganini
- Piece en Forme de Habanera
- Syrinx By Claude Debussy
- Six Suites for Violoncello Solo by J.S. Bach
- Canon in D & Gigue by Johann Pachelbel
- 99 Irish Dance Tunes for Flute by Ann McGinty
- Oboe Method by Giuseppe Prestini [Sorry(!), but this web page has disappeared since the original publication of this article]
- Sonata in G-Major for Soprano (or Tenor) Saxophone and Piano by Platti
- Csardas for Alto Saxophone and Piano by Vittorio Monti
- Staccato Fantaisie by Wilhelm Popp
- Beautiful Colorado (Valse Caprice) by Joseph De Luca
- (Any Flute Book by Marcel Moyse)
- 18 Canons / 6 Sonates (free PDF download) by Telemann
- Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra by Domenico Cimarosa
- 48 Famous Studies for Oboe or Saxophone and 3 Duos Concertants for 2 Oboes or 2 Saxophones by W. Ferling
Have you guys tried any of these? Any favorites?
Special thanks to the contributors to this list:
Karl Wingruber, Jonathan Rowden, James Barger, Jeff Ellwood, Kiyohiko Hagihara, Dave Wilson, Doug Ramsdell, Michael Shoehorn Conley, Grant Koeller, Jorre Reynders, Bill Jones, Glenn Broadhead, Carlos McCoy, Justin Pierce, Ueli Dörig