A Simple Blues Warmup to Boost Your Skills

Sax School LIVE Episode 11 – 1st October 2018

Sax School LIVE sessions are live streamed on our Facebook page each Monday at 8pm UK time. Click here to join our next session: http://www.facebook.com/saxschool

Want more? CLICK HERE to watch all previous episodes.


Downloads for this session:

Blues Scale Recap – free download from Blues Mastery for Saxophone

Ready to learn more about improvising? Register to be notified of the next Blues Mastery student intake here.


Show Notes

This week Nigel shared a simple Blues Warm-up, plus answered your questions on improvising, long tones, sheet music, and altissimo.

Don’t forget to register for your place on the FREE Quickstart to Blues Improvising for Saxophone workshop taking place this Thursday – Click this link: Register here

Did you know the answer to our Duran Duran quiz question?

Lesson on Duran Duran’s “Rio”


News from the Facebook Sax School Members’ Group

Lots of members have shared videos this week. “In a Sentimental Mood” has been a popular choice, with Emmanuel sharing his first improvised solo over this melody. Susan shared an amazing recording of a classical quartet performed on aerophone – beautiful! This is a great group for sharing and for getting support in your saxophone journey.


News from Sax School

Nigel has been finishing off the Classical Mini Course, and the first part will be coming out next week in the Members’ Area. Even if you are not a big fan of classical music, give this course a try – it’s really about playing beautiful melodies on saxophone, as well as developing your skills in tone, vibrato, and expression.


Alex Horne and the Horne Section

Chris has been to see this great band this week. They are a comedy band who do loads of great stage improvisation, even coming up with whole songs on the fly! Check them out if you get the chance.  http://thehornesection.com/


Blues Improvising

This week there is a FREE online workshop – Quickstart to Blues Improvising for Saxophone. Nigel will be sharing some simple tips for creating great blues solos.

  • Nigel’s Three Note Blues Trick
  • Five Secrets to Making Interesting Blues Solos
  • Unlocking Your Potential for Improvising

Click this link to register: Register here

Blues Warm-Up

Nigel shared a taster of the Blues Mastery Course (registration opening soon) with this easy blues warm-up. This is a great way to develop your creativity – a really important part of your practice. Grab the free download on the 12 bar blues to help you with this. Blues Improv Download

Turn on your metronome to around 60 BPM, and try improvising a melody using only the notes of your chosen blues scale. Think about using the right notes, your melodic ideas, timing, and rhythm. Try to keep it going for five minutes, developing your ideas as you go. Expand by trying different blues scales. Watch Nigel demonstrate!


Your Questions:


Which Scale is Better?

When improvising, why use the blues scale rather than the pentatonic?

It depends on the scenario. Using pentatonics, modes, or diatonic major scales are all great techniques, but you need to choose the technique which works for you. Blues scales are a great way to get started because they sound great and they are easy. If you are playing over a pop song pentatonics are often a better choice. In the Blues Mastery Course Nigel covers many of these techniques for creating great solos.


Long Tone Practice

Should I practice with a tuner or with a tone playing in the background?

You can work either way. However, instead of playing along to a tone, try playing with a backing track. The Five Minute Warm-Ups in Sax School work in this way – there’s more going on harmonically to develop your ear. It’s good practice for playing with a band when you have to keep in tune with the other players.

Playing ballads slowly is also a great way of practising long tones because it develops your breathing, expression, and vibrato.


Sheet Music vs Aural Learning

Is it better to learn with sheet music or by ear?

If you have learned to read music before, this can seem like a really big hurdle when you begin to learn saxophone.  With some methods of teaching it can feel as if you can’t get on to playing anything interesting on your sax because you can’t yet read the music, and this is discouraging. With Sax School the lessons are very visual so you can learn without reading the music, although it is there if you want it. Often people start by learning visually, then move to reading music as they get more confident on the instrument. The benefit of being able to read music is that it opens up a lot more possibilities for you, and makes the process of learning quicker. So, it’s really important to be able to learn by ear, and reading music is really important too. Find a way to learn that helps you to overcome both these obstacles.


Differences Between Saxophones

Should there be a difference in approaching altissimo on alto or tenor?

Altissimo is the very top range of the saxophone. There is not very much difference between playing altissimo on alto and tenor; the throat is the same as is the fingering. However, individual instruments often have different fingerings which work better for altissimo notes; so once you have got started with the altissimo range, you might need to tweak the fingerings depending on your particular instrument.


Don’t forget to “like” and “follow” our Facebook Page, and turn on notifications so you won’t miss another Live session!

Nigel McGill

After 25 years touring, performing all over the world, I setup Sax School to share what I have learned. Today thousands of players in more than 70 countries use the huge library of online saxophone lessons in Sax School. Find out how it can help you too! www.mcgillmusic.com

Latest posts by Nigel McGill (see all)

%d bloggers like this: