Each month in Sax School we do a group Masterclass for saxophone students…

To be honest, these are my favourite lessons of the whole month! Members from all over the world get to connect on a group video call and can ask questions, play for the group and get individual help.


In the July Masterclass:

This month we had some great playing from two different Sax School Members.

Jo from the UK was asking how to play grace notes on her saxophone.

Jo has been learning the classic sax line from the Dire Straits hit “Your Latest Trick”. Although the version Jo is playing was moved to an easier key, she was struggling with how to play grace notes smoothly on her sax.

Playing embellishments like Grace Notes and making them sound natural is quite difficult. Particularly if you are an intermediate or beginner player. We discussed tactics to help smooth out your fingers and get a more even technique on saxophone.

The first step is to play the passage without the grace note at all. This helps you to focus on the RHYTHM of the phrase, which is super important.

The next step is to add the grace note back in, but keeping the rhythm accurate from the previous step.

Remember, a grace note is a decoration – the main melody is the most important thing to focus on.

Breaking down grace notes on saxophone in this way makes the process of learning that much easier.

Yvonne from the USA gets help with improvising on her saxophone.

Although she has only been a Sax School member for a few months, Yvonne is making amazing progress with improvising on her saxophone.

In today’s session Yvonne needed help with structuring her improvising over the jazz standard Summertime.

We broke down the harmony in Summertime and focussed on a way to build solos in a step by step way that made it easier to focus on getting the timing correct.

By simplifying the note choices when improvising, Yvonne could more clearly hear when the chords were changing in the song, and keep her timing much better.

Also in this session:

We also covered how to plan out your breathing on saxophone when playing a difficult passage. And, shared tips for improvising behind a singer on your saxophone.

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