Is The Alto Saxophone Hard To Play (Explained)

is the alto saxophone hard to play
Written by Corey Morgan

The alto saxophone is a beautiful instrument, capable of producing a wide range of sounds and textures.  It is not overly difficult to learn the basics of playing the alto saxophone, however, it takes dedication and practice to become proficient in it. Even experienced players need to work hard to master complex techniques, making the alto saxophone a challenging but rewarding instrument to play.

Consider These Factors When Trying to Master the Alto Saxophone:

The alto saxophone is a fairly simple instrument to master. Because of its size, it is more forgiving than the soprano sax, which is smaller, but it is easier to manage than the tenor and baritone saxes, which are larger.

Learning the fundamentals of a skill can be simplified if one has access to the appropriate equipment, as well as a method book or a qualified instructor.

Which is more harder to Play the Alto Saxophone Than the Tenor or the Baritone Saxophone?

The tenor and baritone saxes are more difficult to learn to play than the alto saxophone.

Although it is the smallest of the three saxophones, the alto saxophone is in no way considered to be a small instrument. On the other hand, due to its more manageable size, holding it shouldn’t be too difficult.

That may make it simpler to play for children and adults of smaller stature, but it may also make it simpler for adults of greater height or larger hands.

Now, in terms of the embouchure, the alto sax can be a more challenging instrument.

Because it requires a firmer embouchure than the larger saxophones, you might find that you need to work on the formation of your lips in order to get a good sound out of it.

Is the Alto Saxophone a Good Instrument for Beginners to Start Out With?

The alto saxophone is an excellent instrument for those who are just starting out. In comparison to other wind instruments and saxophones, getting started with this one is not too difficult.

It will take a little bit of practice to get the hang of blowing into the mouthpiece, but not too much. After a few minutes of practice with the correct embouchure, you should be able to produce a decent sound on the instrument.

The fingering system, on the other hand, is not too difficult to comprehend given that you open a key to raise the pitch and close a key to lower the pitch.

When you have finished going over the mechanism’s setup, you can move on to figuring out more fingerings.

Which Saxophone, the Alto or the Tenor, Is the Best One to Begin with?

In general, the alto saxophone is a better starting instrument, particularly for children and adults who are shorter or smaller than average.

It is lighter in weight and more comfortable to hold than the tenor saxophone.

In addition, as a result of these factors, the price of an alto saxophone is significantly lower when compared to that of a comparable tenor saxophone. Beginning on the alto sax will save you money, and upgrading will typically cost less.

On the other hand, if you’re an adult, you have the option of beginning on the tenor if that’s what you prefer which is a good option if you have a strong appreciation for jazz music or if you want to play in a band that does not have any tenor saxes but does have a lot of alto saxes, that is a good choice for you to consider.

What About the Soprano Sax?

When you eventually get around to learning an instrument, the soprano saxophone is a great choice. However, it is not a good option for those who are just starting out, and there are a few different reasons for this.

To begin, the soprano saxophone may be comfortable to hold, but it calls for an embouchure that is more firmer.

When playing the soprano saxophone, it is essential to have a good understanding of how to properly form your lips, especially in order to play higher notes. However, this is a skill that takes time to master.

Additionally, the soprano saxophone hardly ever has its own parts in a jazz or concert band. When I have heard a soprano part, it has almost always been played by an alto saxophonist who is also doubling on the soprano.

If you want to play with other people, you’ll need to teach yourself either the alto or tenor saxophone.

How Long Does It Take to Learn to Play Alto Saxophone?

To become proficient on the alto saxophone can take anywhere from about two to four years of dedicated practice.

The specific amount of time required is contingent on how frequently you practice and how quickly you pick up new information.

Learning to play the alto sax can also mean different things to different people depending on how you define it. You could learn the fundamentals, including the fingerings for the first and second octaves, in as little as a month if you put your mind to it.

On the other hand, if you want to play an advanced repertoire on the alto saxophone and become proficient at it, you will need a lot of time.

Be sure to maintain your commitment if you want to see the fruits of your labor.

Can You Teach Yourself to Play the Alto Saxophone?

It is possible for one person to teach themselves how to play the alto saxophone on their own, but this is not the case for everyone.

You shouldn’t attempt to teach yourself on your own if you discover that you require an outside source of motivation, such as an upcoming class.

You can, on the other hand, teach yourself the instrument if you can find the motivation to practice on a regular basis. You’re going to want to make sure you have a reliable saxophone method book on hand before you go that route.

In this way, you will be able to adhere to a predetermined curriculum and ensure that you are learning new ideas in the appropriate sequence. Finding some video tutorials that cover the fundamentals can also be helpful in getting you started.

Watching videos of professionals play the saxophone is another thing that can help you learn how to play it on your own.

After that, you can study how to properly hold the instrument and attempt to imitate the playing styles of more seasoned musicians.

How to Make It Easier for to Learn the Alto Saxophone

You need to give the alto saxophone a shot if you want to become proficient at playing it.

On the other hand, it is helpful to have some tips that you can follow in order to increase the chances of enjoying the process and, as a result, wanting to continue with it.

Try out these pointers to see if they make a difference for you as you continue to hone your skills on the alto saxophone.

Invest in a Reliable Instrument

Purchasing an alto saxophone of high quality is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

There are a ton of reasonably priced saxophones available for purchase online for a couple hundred dollars, and the quality of these instruments is satisfactory.

On the other hand, the majority of those inexpensive saxophones won’t last very long at all. They may also be constructed in a manner that prevents you from realizing your full potential and achieving your goals.

Instead, you should save the money aside to purchase a Yamaha or Selmer saxophone.

If you don’t have a lot of money, you could get the quality you need to support your learning by purchasing a used model from one another reputable brand instead.

Consider Taking One or Two Classes

You would be in the best position to be able to sign up for weekly private lessons that last for approximately half an hour.

You will be able to receive individualized comments and suggestions from a trained expert in this way.

However, a significant number of people do not have the time or resources necessary to commit to consistent training. In that case, you should make every effort to enroll in at least one or two classes with a qualified instructor.

In this way, you will still have the opportunity to receive assistance with the fundamental aspects of playing the saxophone.

Participate in a Local Band.

Joining a local music group is a good idea once you have a basic understanding of the instrument and are able to play the first and second octaves.

There are community bands or jazz bands in many cities, and some of them do not require an audition to join.

This indicates that you are able to show up and play with other saxophonists, even if you are just starting out. It’s also possible to pick up specific techniques or fingerings from the other people playing the instrument.

One more advantage of participating in a band is that it provides motivation to put in the necessary practice time each week.

Additionally, in contrast to private lessons, you are not typically required to pay for them, unless you are a college student and join the band at your college or university in order to earn college credit.

Maintain a Regular Routine for Your Practices

You should create a practice schedule for yourself that you can stick to, regardless of whether you join a group or not.

It’s okay if you can only devote fifteen minutes to your practice each day if you’re too busy to do more.

Consistency in your practice is essential if you want to keep advancing in your abilities, so make sure you don’t skip that step. Your timetable can be as flexible as you want it to be, as long as you want to practice for a set amount every day.

On the other hand, if you have a lot of things going on, it’s possible that you’ll need to block off a certain amount of time.

You should try your best to keep to the schedule you’ve created, and you should also think about setting daily or weekly goals to assist you in remaining on track.

Make Small Upgrades

It’s possible that as you progress in your alto saxophone studies, you’ll come to realize that your current instrument setup is limiting your potential.

Regrettably, moving up to an intermediate or professional saxophone can be quite pricey.

You are capable of changing your setup in more subtle ways, such as experimenting with a different reed. You could try reeds from a variety of manufacturers and of varying densities before settling on one that you prefer.

If you have a little bit more money, another option open to you is to upgrade both your mouthpiece and your ligature. If you have the right mouthpiece and reed, you can get a significantly better sound for a lot less money than the price of a brand new saxophone.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to play the alto saxophone can be challenging at first, but like any other instrument, it gets easier with practice.

To get off on the right foot with your alto saxophone playing, you should make sure to purchase the best student model available and think about taking some private lessons.