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First Time Tenor Saxophone Players
By Alex Beamer
8/4/2017 10:38:00 AM

First Time Tenor Saxophone Players

Congratulations on choosing to play the tenor saxophone. The saxophone, or “sax” as it’s often called, can be seen in all types of music. As a music student, or a parent of a music student, you will want to know these basics.

Alto vs Tenor Saxophones

Both the alto and tenor saxophones are part of the woodwind family, both use wooden reeds to create sound, and both make excellent beginner instruments! The major difference is that the tenor sax is larger than the alto and produces lower tones.

Parts of the Tenor Sax

Below is a diagram of the tenor saxophone. Click on the image to enlarge it.

tenor sax diagram

Assembling Your Saxophone…CAREFULLY!

1. Even though it’s made of metal, your saxophone is delicate and should be handled with care. Follow these instructions or the instructions given to you by your music director to prevent damaging the instrument.

2. Place on a steady surface right side up.

3. Open the case and find your neckstrap. Place the neckstrap over your head so the hook is in front and the pad is resting on the back of your neck.

4. Place the thin end of the reed into your mouth or a container of water to moisten it.

5. Remove the mouthpiece cap and ligature. Gently twist the mouthpiece onto the neck cork so about half the cork is visible. If needed, place a small amount of cork grease onto the neck cork. Be sure the flat part of the mouthpiece is facing down.

6. Add the ligature to the mouthpiece, then slide the thick end of the reed against the mouthpiece with the flat side against the rectangular opening. The reed should be centered and not extend above the top of the mouthpiece. Gently tighten the ligature screws to hold the reed in place.

7. Carefully lift the main body of the saxophone out of the case. Be careful not to hold it by the keys or rod.

8. Place the hook of the neckstrap into the ring on the back of the saxophone.

9. Remove the end cap from the upper opening in the main body and return it to your case. Loosen the neck screw.

10. Gently twist the neck into position. Do not rock the neck into place or try to twist in a full circle, and never hold the saxophone by its neck!

11. Once the connection with the octave key is in its correct position with the key on the neck closed, tighten the neck screw.


Putting It All Away

1. Remove the ligature and reed from the mouthpiece.

2. Place the reed in a reed case. This helps it dry properly and last longer.

3. Disassemble in reverse order of assembly. Use the saxophone swab to dry the inside of the instrument. Wipe off the outside with a soft cloth.

4. Carefully place the instrument in the case and close all the latches.

5. Store only your instrument and its accessories in the case. Sheet music, folders, and other objects may bend the keys and damage the instrument.

Related Articles

Have questions? Need advice? West Music is here for you! Give our school band experts a call at 800-373-2000. 

Adapted with permission from Alfred Music's Sound Innovations for Concert Band 1: Tenor Sax

Tags: band, beginner, tenor sax, saxophone, alex beamer
Categories: Band & Orchestra
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