Leo Pellegrino shares tips on how to get a better saxophone tone

How does Leo P get his incredible baritone sax sound?

Leo Pellegrino joined us for a Guest Masterclass to share his tips, plus a great exercise to get a better saxophone sound.

Leo P Baritone Sax Sensation

You’ll probably have seen Leo Pellegrino on YouTube playing his incredible baritone saxophone on the New York subway with the band Too Many Zooz.

Leo P’s Baritone Sax Sound

I really wanted to ask Leo how he develops his amazing baritone sax sound, and he shared this great exercise.

Leo learned this long tone exercise from his baritone sax tutor Gary Smulyan at Manhattan School of Music.

Watch the video to see Leo demonstrate this exercise, then try it for yourself! This is a great challenge even Leo says he will never truly master it! But it’s great for working on

  • Your sound
  • Your articulation
  • Your intonation

all at the same time. You’re working to have as much control over the saxophone as possible.

You’ve got to show the saxophone that you’re the captain of this ship!

This is a really tough exercise, working on getting your tuning right, and intervals, and dynamics. Try practising it with a tuner to check your intonation.

Leo recommends practising this in short bursts every day.

Saxophone Practice Challenge

This exercise will sound terrible to begin with, but Leo says this is okay. “One day it will sound less terrible, and some day it might even sound not terrible!”

For Leo, practice should be a challenge if your playing is going to improve. “I love making things difficult,…. because it’s the best chance for growth. If you’re good at something, that’s so boring!”

Consistency is the most important thing in music to me!

Saxophone Insights

In the Masterclass Leo shared so many great insights into

  • his approach to performing,
  • building up his stamina
  • tonguing,
  • his thoughts on improvising,
  • what inspires his as a player

and so much more – inspiring stuff!

If you’re a Sax School member you can watch the replay of the whole of this Guest Masterclass with Leo Pellegrino in the Members’ Area, as well as Masterclasses with amazing players such as Grace Kelly, Tom Politzer from Tower of Power, and Freddy V from Average White Band.

If you’re not a Sax School member yet, find out about membership here.

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