Beginning Alto Sax

Practice for the winter concert on January 24, 2018 with a special playlist:

Find a link to the songs in the red method book as mp3 files for free to download and practice with at home here: Beginning Band Practice Files

Since I was sick on Wednesday, watch this short lesson video:

And download a practice sheet here: ALTO SAX WEEK 2 PRACTICE SHEET

Week 1 Instrumental

Dear Parents and Students-


I’m excited that you are starting an instrument here at Fairmount Park! This is our first week of lessons and I want you to understand the following principles that will help you progress on your instrument:


  1. Plan time this week when you will practice by using the sheet I gave you in class. By scheduling a daily practice time, just like you do for your homework, sports events and other activities, you can prepare yourself to actually do it!
  2. Find a practice space that is free of distractions, is well lit and use a chair that will give you the correct posture for your instrument.
  3. Practice for brief periods of time (10-15 minutes) every day. This will get you into a routine and avoid tired muscles, especially in the beginning.
  4. Be patient with yourself if you don’t get a certain skill right the first time.
  5. Record your practice time on the sheet I gave you in class. Have your parents initial the column when you are done and return the sheet to Mr. Pendergrass at your next lesson.

*If you practice twice in one day, put a / in the box with a new time, minutes and skills practiced.


Alto Sax practice. Put the number of the skill you practiced in the column above labeled “SKILL PRACTICED.” Do skills 1-8 each time you practice and and at least three of the skills numbered 9-12 at each daily practice session. Remember to try and imitate what we did in class by listening and paying attention to the sound your instrument makes. Repetition is the key to success. You should be able to show me the skills on the back of this page you have practiced at our next lesson on October 4.


*means you must do this every time you practice

  1. *Point to and name the parts of your instrument out loud.
  2. *Attach your mouthpiece by carefully “squidgleing” it on the neck and not bending the octave key. Tip: use your cork grease.
  3. *Attach the reed to your mouthpiece securely without over tightening or loosening the ligature.
  4. *Attach the neck to your saxophone being careful not to bend the octave key and getting the octave key lever on your sax underneath the octave key bar on the neck piece.
  5. *Adjust your neck strap by yourself so the saxophone is in the proper playing position. Tip- unhook the neck strap from your instrument before you adjust the strap, by yourself.
  6. *Stand up and check that your neck strap is high enough for the mouthpiece to come to your mouth without moving your head up or down.
  7. *With the mouthpiece in your mouth, stand-up, then sit back down and keep your back straight in your chair. You may need to move forward to the end of your chair to make this work. Adjust your neck strap if your head moves up or down too much.
  8. *Sit with your saxophone hanging properly from your neck strap and on the right side of your body.



Do at least 3 of the following at your practice session and watch this video:


  1. Blow a 4 count lip buzz without putting your lips on the mouthpiece. Rest for 4 counts. Buzz for four counts. Breath should be from your belly: warm fast air that fogs up the mirror.
  2. Do #9 again, but this time say “Tah-ah-ah-ah” for four counts. Note where your tongue goes as you say and release Tah.
  3. Carefully position the mouthpiece in your mouth, with your teeth resting on top and your bottom lip relaxed on the reed. Don’t bite down on the mouthpiece, but don’t let your mouth be too relaxed. Kind of like eating a popsicle.
  4. Do exercise number #10 with your mouth on the mouthpiece. Don’t let the reed vibrate yet.
  5. Vibrate the reed for a sound- now while carefully clamping your lips around the mouthpiece and reed, blow “Tah” into the saxophone to create a sound. It should not be a “honk” but a solid sound. Do this many times on long breaths until it sounds like a beautiful note. This will take time and consistent breath.
  6. If the note you are playing in #13 still sounds too loud or honky, try putting less mouthpiece into your mouth. Experiment with a little mouthpiece in your mouth, and then too much. Stop when you find the perfect sound. Now go look in a mirror to remember that spot.
  7. While you are in front of a mirror with the perfect mouth placement and beautiful sound, try and blow the sound without puffing your cheeks. You’ll need a mirror to check this or a helper who can watch you.
  8. Show a parent the proper way to put together your saxophone as if you were the teacher giving a demonstration.




Some great sax instruction videos you should check out: