How Much Do Professional Saxophone Players Make? (Real Truth)

How Much Do Saxophone Players Make
Written by Corey Morgan

Saxophone players with more expertise and notoriety can expect to make much more money, and those who reach the pinnacle of their profession can expect to earn well over $100,000 per year.

If you’re serious about playing the saxophone professionally, you’ll want to invest in a professional saxophone once you’ve fully committed to the instrument, have mastered more difficult compositions, and are ready to dedicate your career to it.

In comparison to intermediate models, professional saxophones have better performance, tone, and responsiveness. To assist professional musicians to realize their full potential, manufacturers are building ever-better instruments for them to use.

How Much Do Professional Saxophonists Make?

Musicians who play the saxophone for a living are known as saxophonists. A wide range of musical genres uses this instrument, although it is particularly prevalent in the jazz scene from the current generation.

Even though they are more likely to be in bands than solo acts, saxophonists have a fair chance of success because of the strong appreciation they receive from their fans.

The route to becoming a skilled saxophonist is similar to that of most other musicians in that a prospective student must demonstrate an early enthusiasm for the instrument.

Many well-known saxophonists began their careers playing in local pub bands before moving on to more prestigious ensembles or even starting their own. It is fairly easy to get a job as a saxophone if you are proficient and experienced, as well as willing to adjust your style and adapt to a band’s flow if necessary.

Success and employment are two major factors that influence the earnings potential of saxophonists. Playing in smaller venues on a one-time basis can normally earn you between $20,000 and $30,000 a year in most circumstances for those who are just starting.

Do Saxophone Players Make More Money Than Other Musicians?

Saxophone players may earn more than other musicians if they are the principal player in an orchestra or a band.

These are frequently the highest-paying jobs in the music industry.

Solos are performed by and overseen by the band’s principal players. Due to their additional responsibilities, they can earn up to 15% more than their peers.

It will take a lot of effort if you want to earn a high salary as a principal player. No trumpeter has ever achieved professional success without putting in a significant amount of time practicing at home, working closely with a private tutor, and attending numerous auditions.

Is It Hard For New Saxophone Players To Make A Living?

For the most part, professional saxophone players must work multiple jobs in order to survive. For new players, this can be a challenge.

As a professional saxophone player, you can expect to work as a freelance musician. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to land a job that pays you enough to cover your expenses.

Teaching private lessons and/or working in a university are the most common jobs for a saxophone player.

Most saxophone players will never have the opportunity to perform in a professional ensemble. Many players prefer to teach in order to gain the necessary experience and skill for these positions.

Teaching positions are much easier to get. Teaching can be done in a variety of ways, from working as a private tutor to leading a school band.

However, once you get your first job, it’s easy to find more. Paying gigs may open up if you do well at your current job. You should play as many gigs as possible while working as a freelance musician.

Wealthiest Saxophone Players From The 1990s Till Date

So, without further ado, here are some of the most talented, well-to-do saxophonists to emerge in the post-’90s period.

The good news is that all of them are still performing, recording, and sounding fantastic!

1. Kenny Garrett

Garret began his professional career as a sideman for some of jazz’s most prominent artists, like Woody Shaw and Art Blakey, and appeared on several recordings by Miles Davis, such as Amandla, while still in high school.

The ‘Young Lions’ school, led by Wynton and Branford Marsalis in the 1980s and signaling a resurgence of interest in acoustic, straight-ahead jazz, has included Kenny Garrett on occasion.

Kenny Garrett’s first album, Introducing Kenny Garrett, features Woody Shaw and demonstrates that he can play jazz standards in a lively small group as well as in more fusion-oriented situations.

Alto players throughout the world can hear his impact, and he is still a huge draw as a touring musician.

One of jazz’s most revered alto tenor players since Charlie Parker, according to the New York Times.

2. Turner Mark

After making his debut in the 1990s, young jazz performers have been particularly drawn to Turner’s analytical and highly developed tenor saxophone approach.

As an altissimo player, he is particularly excellent at producing a dark yet clean sound on his saxophone. In addition to Warne Marsh and the Tristano school, Turner also immersed himself in the works of John Coltrane and Joe Henderson.

As a sideman, he’s collaborated with artists such as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Brad Mehldau, and the FLY Trio. He’s also collaborated with the likes of Billy Hart and Lee Konitz.

Late in 2014, Turner released Lathe of Heaven alongside Avishai Cohen, Joe Martin, and Marcus Gilmore as his ECM artists, a harmony-free foursome.

In the previous 20 years, Mark Turner has been one of the most significant players, if not the most significant. It’s as though he’s never in any question about what he’s doing.

3. Potter Chris

In his youth, Chris was an accomplished jazz saxophonist, and he still has a high level of skill.

Charlie Parker’s quintet featured Red Rodney on trumpet as a teenage sideman in the early ’50s. Paul Motian, Dave Holland, and John Patitucci have all used Potter as a member of their ensembles, while the singer has issued 22 albums as a soloist.

Despite his showy playing style, he still leads the Underground program as a medium for producing complex contemporary fusion pieces in the style of the tenor saxophone in the style of contemporary jazz.

4. Melissa Aldana

Hailing from Colombia, she became the first woman from South America to win the Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Contest in New York City in 2013, at the age of 24.

Her father, a well-known tenor saxophonist from Santiago, Chile, was a semi-finalist in the 1991 Monk Competition. It is Melissa’s great-Selmer grandfather’s Mark VI tenor that she continues to play today.

She also established the Crash Trio in New York in 2012 alongside pianist Sam Harris and vibraphonist Joel Ross, and since then, they have recorded many recordings together.

5. Redman Joshua

He is Dewey Redman’s son, a tenor saxophonist who collaborated with Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett on revolutionary free jazz albums in the 1960s and 1970s.

When he was declared the winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Contest in 1991, he had recently been accepted into Yale Law School after graduating from Harvard (which puts him ahead of Eric Alexander and Chris Potter, who are currently ranked second and third respectively).

As a sideman on a large number of tracks and albums, he has established himself as one of the most promising young jazz artists working in the industry today.

6. Donny McCaslin

McCaslin was inspired by Michael Brecker, and in the early 1990s, he came to New York City to take his place in Steps Ahead.

Aside from his career as a bandleader and sideman on many albums, he has achieved success in current jazz. He has been a part of Maria Schneider’s Jazz Orchestra for many years.

After hearing McCaslin’s band play at New York’s 55 Bar in 2016, David Bowie asked them to play on his Blackstar album.

Final Thoughts On How Much Do Saxophone Players Make

Playing the saxophone professionally can be challenging, but it can also be a rewarding experience.

Most saxophone players are happy to teach and perform for smaller audiences, even if they don’t make six figures like orchestral players.

Staying consistent with your practice time is the most important thing to remember. In order to be a good player, you must practice frequently.