The Four-Note Warmup

Four Note WarmupThis guest post is from saxophone and multi-reed player, composer, recording artist, and educator Sam Sadigursky of

As an improviser and composer, I do my best to always add an element of creativity and ear-training to all the practicing that I do. Often, my practice time is quite limited, so being able to address several things at once is crucial for me.

I got this warm-up from a college friend of mine. I’m not sure where it originally came from, but I’ve found it effective and have used it quite consistently over the years.

The idea is simple: take any four notes, play them up and down two octaves, at any speed, as many times as it takes to get comfortable with them. Then, change just one of the four notes, any one of them, that is. And repeat again and again as many times as you wish.

This can also be a great way of building your low and high registers and learning to incorporate them with the rest of your horn. You will also train your ears and your musical mind. Some of the four-note groupings may produce obvious seventh-chord arpeggios, but I would try to incorporate some groupings that are a bit harder to decode as well.

The result may remind of a minimalist piece if you’ve ever heard music by people like Terry Riley, Phillip Glass, or Steve Reich.

(you’ll probably need to right-click on the links and choose the option to save file)


Study with Sam

Sam Sadigursky is currently offering online lessons through Skype and private lessons in NYC. He has given improvisation clinics across the U.S., is a regular guest professor at Hunter College, and currently performs internationally with Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Folklore Urbano, and others. To find out more, visit