Lessons

Jazz Saxophone for Beginners

Not Sure Where to Start?

I have many lessons in my series, so I understand if you are not exactly where or what you should start with. Since most musicians are at different stages of development, I’ve created lessons at a variety of levels, so you have many options.

The lessons are organized in categories and are offered in sets or individually. You can read descriptions of the categories and individual lessons below. You’ll also find links to YouTube Playlists that provide samples from many of the lessons.

New! Sound and Style

In this 3-part series, you’ll learn how various inflection techniques, time, articulation, and phrasing all have their roles in creating great improvised solos.

View samples from the lessons in this YouTube Playlist:

Lessons:
Soloing With Style
Based on a transcription by one of my subscribers of my solo in the introduction to the lesson on But Not For Me, this lesson identifies inflection techniques I use in my solos. You’ll learn about the articulation, bends and scoops, alternate fingerings, and more that I use to personalize my sound.
Skill Level: Medium-Advanced

The Stylings of Stanley Turrentine’s Summertime
We'll explore the blues stylings on 6 licks from Stanley Turrentine's solo on Summertime taken from the album, Up At Minton's. I'll reference points in the recording you can find on YouTube as we dive into various aspects of the way he plays things. No transpositions of the licks are provided, since some of his sounds are specific to the key of E minor on sax. I have included separate play-along tracks in E Minor for Tenor Sax, Alto Sax, and Concert Pitch instruments.
Skill Level: Medium

Focus on Phrasing
Learn about the phrasing techniques: Call & Response, Point Up-Point Down, Sequencing, and Theme & Development. I use play-along tracks based on the blues and sections from Take the A Train, Blue Bossa, and Recorda-me to demonstrate and explain these phrasing techniques. Play-along tracks included.
Skill Level: Medium-Advanced

New! Advanced Jazz Articulation!

In this 4-part series, you’ll learn how to produce and incorporate the “Da-un-Dah-un” articulation used by great jazz sax, rock, and blues players including the likes of Red Prysock, Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon, and many others.

View samples from the lesson in this YouTube video:

Lessons:
Advanced Jazz Articulation! Part 1
Part 1 in the series acquaints you with the sounds of the “Dah-un” articulation and shows you how to begin the process of learning to produce it.
Skill Level: Medium-Advanced

Advanced Jazz Articulation! Part 2
In Part 2 I’ll give you more tips on creating the articulation along with a series of exercises for implementing it.
Skill Level: Medium-Advanced

Advanced Jazz Articulation! Part 3: Single Notes and Alternate Fingerings
In Part 3 you’ll learn the role of advanced jazz articulation in playing repeated notes. This is a sound you may be familiar with from listening to great jazz players like Lester Young, Sonny Stitt, and Stanley Turrentine as well as rock and blues players like Red Prysock and King Curtis.
Skill Level: Advanced

Advanced Jazz Articulation! Part 4: Articulation Styles of the Great Players
In Part 4, we'll analyze the articulation and create practice variations on examples from Sonny Stitt, Hank Mobley, Dexter Gordon, and Cannonball Adderley. The end goal being to help you find direction in developing your own personal style using articulation concepts we've explored in this series.
Skill Level: Advanced

New! Basics of the Blues

This is a new series I’m currently working to expand. You’ll find a number of blues lessons in Stages I-IV, but these lessons cover additional blues related topics. The lessons are at varying skill levels and it’s not necessary that they be studied in any specific sequence. Written material and play-along tracks are included.

View samples from the lessons in this YouTube video:

Lessons:
Blues Basics Part 1- Connecting the Triads
This lesson provides a practice routine for learning to connect the triads found in the basic blues chord progression. The objective is to learn to play the chord changes with accuracy and smoothness.
Skill Level: Easy-Medium

Blues Basics Part 2- Pentatonics and Passing Tones
Learn to combine the basic pentatonic scales, 7ths, and chromatic passing tones using this set of exercises and a Bb Blues play-along track. The objective is to add harmonic depth to your blues vocabulary.
Skill Level: Medium

Blues Basics Part 3- The Rockin’ Boppin’ Blues Lick
This is a great lick that includes elements of the major blues scale and the dominant bebop scale into a passage that can be used in its entirety or as a concept in your rock and blues playing.
Skill Level: Medium

Blues Basics Part 4- Blues and the Cycle of Dominants
This lesson explains the relationship between the Circle of Fourths and the blues. You’ll learn how practicing ideas around the cycle develops your ability to play the blues and transport your musical ideas to different keys. A Cycle of Dominants play-along track is included with exercises that range from basic to difficult.
Skill Level: Medium-Advanced

Blues Basics Part 5- Learning the Blues in All Keys
Like the title says, this lesson takes you through the steps of learning to play the blues in all 12 keys. Shuffle blues play-along tracks in all keys are included.
Skill Level: Advanced

New! Quick Tunes 3 Sets Now Available!

This is a new series of lessons that is gaining popularity quickly, so look for new tunes to be added frequently. In these lessons we’ll go directly to the process of learning and soloing on classic tunes. Phrasing demonstration and instructional videos along with a play-along track and written file are included with each lesson. The written melodies are not included, but in most cases I can help you locate them.

View samples from the lessons in this YouTube Playlist:

Set 1 Lessons

I’m in the Mood For Love

Develop an understanding of the chord-to-chord the harmony as we work on developing melodic phrases over this timeless classic. This is a fun tune to play that we’ll approach at a tempo placed between a ballad and a medium swing.
Skill Level: Medium

Georgia on My Mind

This tune has been at the top of my “lesson request” list for some time and should be in the repertoire of all jazz musicians. In this one we’ll begin with the use of the major blues and basic blues scaled advance to arpeggios and dominant flat 9 sounds- all in an easy-to-follow format.
Skill Level: Medium

The Girl From Ipanema

This is a Bossa Nova that’s in every jazz musicians “Ya Gotta Know This Tune” list. In this one I cover the basics of the “A” section, but break down the dreaded bridge into a practical approach that is easy-to-follow.
Skill Level: Medium

Set 2 Lessons

God Bless the Child
Learn to phrase and solo on the chord changes to this classic tune by Billie Holiday. We’ll develop ideas based on the basic vocabulary all the way to altered dominant sounds.
Skill Level: Medium

Summertime
Learn the basics of playing and soloing on this Gershwin classic. After establishing an approach to learning the melody by ear, I identify the three primary sounds from the chord progression as we build a soloing approach from the ground up.
Skill Level: Easy-Medium

Blue Bossa
I begin by identifying tonal centers and chordal relationships. Then you’ll learn how to develop interesting solo lines using pentatonic scales, arpeggios, and the harmonic minor scale.
Skill Level: Medium

Set 3 Lessons

Autumn Leaves

Learn to solo on the classic jazz standard, Autumn Leaves. The lesson covers both tonal center and chordal specific soloing concepts.
Skill Level: Easy-Medium

On the Street Where You Live

Learn to solo on this classic tune using steps based on the melody, target tones, and advanced concepts.
Skill Level: Medium

Sugar

Learn how to perform the tricky turns in the melody before we take a key centered approach to soloing on this 16-bar blues progression. We’ll also identify some target tones and sounds you can use to place your personal signature on the tunes.
Skill Level: Easy-Medium

The Complete Beginning Sax Series for Alto or Tenor Sax

10-lesson Beginner or Refresher Saxophone Course complete with video instruction, sheet music, written Instruction, and play-along tracks! Free Introductory Lessons are found on the Learn More page.

Lessons

Lesson 1: This lesson picks up where the free introductory “Getting Started” lesson left off. A new note is introduced. Playing exercises incorporating whole-notes and whole- rests are included to help build timing, tone, and note recognition skills.

Lesson 2: Four new notes – Long tones for improving tone quality – G Major Scale: Playing exercises are designed to help build reading and rhythmic fluency through a full octave. Learning the G scale provides preparation for improvising in the next lesson.

Lesson 3: Tuning the sax – Half-notes & rests – Jazz improvisation in G
major: Playing exercises incorporating half-notes & rests are included to build technique & reading skills. A jazz improvisation lesson & play-along track with a Bossa- Nova groove are included.

Lesson 4: Four new notes, Quarter-notes & rests, C Major scale – Jazz improv in C major: Playing exercises incorporate quarter notes & rests, are designed to build technical fluency & extend the range. A jazz improv lesson & play-along track with a jazz-rock/R&B groove is included.

Lesson 5: Two new notes – Dotted half-notes – Ties – 1st & 2nd endings – F Major Scale: This lesson begins with a scale review & tone exercises. Playing exercises use a variety of rhythms learned in this & previous lessons. A jazz improv lesson & play-along track with a funky minor groove are included.

Lesson 6: Three new notes – Eighth-notes: After beginning with a scale review & long-tone warm-up, the focus of the written lesson is to build technique & reading skills. A jazz improv lesson & play-along track with a bluesy jazz-rock groove are included.

Lesson 7: Two new notes – Eighth-rests – Slurs – Dynamics – D Major Scale: After beginning with a scale review & long-tone warm-up, the focus of the written lesson is to build technique, range, & reading skills. A jazz improv lesson & play-along track with a funky jazz-rock groove are included.

Lesson 8: Two new notes – Dotted-quarter notes: This lesson includes exercises designed to build technique & rhythmic accuracy. A jazz improv lesson & play-along track with a Bossa Nova groove are included.

Lesson 9: One new note – B Flat Major Scale – Triplets – Swing: The focus of this lesson is on learning to understand & play both triplets and swing style eighth-notes. A jazz improvisation lesson & play-along track with a swing feel are included.

Lesson 10: Two new notes – Upbeat Eighth-Notes in even and swing styles: The focus of this lesson is on developing greater rhythmic skills in both even and swing styles. A jazz improvisation lesson & play-along track with a swing blues progression are included.

Soloing on Tunes

In this series, you’ll find in-depth lessons based on there chord progressions to common standard tunes. Most of the lessons include multiple videos that cover topics such as chord progression theory, the basics of the chords, phrasing, and advanced soloing concepts. The lessons often reference other lessons in my Stage I-IV series. Play-along tracks and written files included with all lessons.

View samples from the lessons in this YouTube Playlist:

Lessons

Soloing on Tunes: Broadway

The lesson begins with some fundamental observations about the chord changes, which are followed by a step-by-step approach to phrasing and playing the changes.

Skill level: Easy-Medium

Soloing on Tunes: All of Me

This tune ranks very high on the list of "tunes you've got to know," making it essential to the repertoire of any jazz musician. There's a lot of I Play-You Play phrasing practice with a great play-along track in the lesson, as we add chromatic passing tones to your basic arpeggio and pentatonic scale vocabulary.

Skill level: Medium

Soloing on Tunes: Misty

Misty is a favorite among sax players, making it a perfect ballad for this series. This is an extensive lesson with four instructional videos totaling over 90 minutes of instruction. Video 1 focuses on the theory behind the chord progression. Video 2 covers the basic vocabulary needed for soloing. Video 3 provides phrasing and lots of "I Play-You Play" practice. Video 4 shows you how to stretch the limits with advanced soloing techniques.

Skill level: Medium-Advanced

Soloing on Tunes: Fly Me to the Moon

This extensive Soloing lesson includes 5 videos with topics including The Chord Progression Theory, Foundation for Melodic Soloing, Anticipating the Changes, Phrasing and Soloing, and Advanced Soloing Concepts. With this lesson, you’ll learn to solo with confidence on this classic tune.

Skill Level: Medium-Advanced

Soloing on Tunes: Softly As in a Morning Sunrise

We'll concentrate on phrasing as we work at both expressing the minor tonality and playing the chord changes over a Bossa Nova play-along.

Skill level: Medium

Soloing on Tunes: But Not For Me

Learn how to create a toe tapping, hand clapping, knee slapping solo that swings on chord changes to the standard, "But Not For Me." You'll learn the chord changes basics and how to include the blues scale and major blues scale in your improvisation. There's a lot of I Play-You Play phrasing practice making this a really fun and practical lesson for anyone looking to engage their listeners.

Skill level: Medium

Soloing on Tunes: Scrapple From the Apple

This is an extensive dual purpose lesson. In addition to learning to solo on a classic bop standard, you'll learn how to practice and utilize the basic components of bebop. The lesson includes 4 instructional videos, a play-along track, written instruction, and more. Topics cover the theory behind the chord progression, bebop scales, auxiliary tones, chromatic enclosures, and double-timing.

Skill Level: Advanced

From Licks to Language

Learn how to transcribe and analyze licks, practice them in different keys, find concepts within the licks, and include them in your solos. The lesson includes 4 instructional videos that use play-alongs from my Soloing on Tunes lessons, written instruction, and a folder with all 58 of my Transcribe This Lick videos. Skill Level: Medium-Advanced

Stage I

This series is perfect for beginning jazzers still working on basic fundamentals but looking to start improvising. The lessons will help you continue learning your scales, develop technique and articulation skills, and build a practice routine centered around learning to improvise on standard tunes and the blues.
View samples from the lessons in this YouTube Playlist:

Jazz Lesson 1; Developing a Practice Strategy
For sax players with basic skills looking to become jazzers, the lesson will help you focus on developing tone, technique, jazz chart reading, and improvising.

Blues by the 4's
Learn to construct blues solo lines based on basic 4-bar phrases. Lots of I Play-You Play with play-along.

Learning the Major Scales/Time, Tongue, and Technique
A method for learning and memorizing the major scales and arpeggios along with a method for building your time.

Making Sense of Jazz Improvisation, Part 1-3
Learn the basics of improvising and phrasing on jazz standards. Exercises in playing chord changes and soloing.

Introduction to the Blues (4-Lessons)
Learn the basics of improvising and playing the chord changes on 12-bar blues progressions.

Circling the Minor 7 Arpeggio
Constructing a pattern for building minor 7th chord vocabulary.

Stage II

For musicians with experience but still fairly new to improvising, these lessons will help you continue to build your theory knowledge, develop your improvisation vocabulary, and get more soul into your playing.
View samples from the lessons in this YouTube Playlist:

Jazz Sound and Style
Learn how to give your music that jazz sound and style.

Jazz Improvisation; How to Play Chord Changes
Take the first steps toward learning how to improvise over tunes with chord changes.

Shaping the Blues Scale, Parts 1&2
Locate and use the soulful sounds of the blues scale.

Sax Tips; Inflection and Embellishments
The growl, vibrato, scoops, and more are addressed in these videos.

Relating the Pentatonics, Parts 1&2
Learn the relationship between the major pentatonic, minor pentatonic, and blues scales. We work together at improvising using the minor pentatonic and a play-along.

Major, Minor, Dominant; What's the Difference/Intervals- The Building Blocks of Jazz
Learn the differences between basic major, minor, and dominant chords and arpeggios and guide to understanding the different simple intervals with playing exercises for internalizing them.

The Foundation of Technique and Harmony
Combine the study of jazz theory with practice designed to build your technique and an internalized knowledge of the foundation of jazz harmony.

Metronome Obsession: Practicing in Time
Some of my favorite practice techniques for building your technique and internal sense of time, tempo, and rhythm.

Stage III

For musicians with a reasonable amount of jazz experience and good basic skills looking to step it up a notch.
View samples from the lessons in this YouTube Playlist:

Relating the Pentatonics, Parts 3&4
In Part 3, you’ll earn how to use pentatonic scales for improvising on dominant chords and in the blues. Part 4 shows how to use pentatonics to improvise on a funk based blues groove.

Through the Keys Part 1; The Circle of Fourths and Dominants
A method for learning the "Circle of Fourths" and for practicing concepts, phrases, and licks on dominant chords in all keys using the "Cycle of Dominants.”

Through the Keys Part 2; ii-V-I’s: The Modal View
Learn the major ii-V-I chord progression through Dorian, Mixolydian, and Major scales. Exercises are provided to help you learn to play phrases and licks over ii-V-I

The Arpeggio Circle, Parts 1&2
A technique using circle patterns for practicing and internalizing the arpeggios associated with the chord changes to most standard tunes. The chord progression from, "You Stepped Out of a Dream," is used in the exercises.

Technique Through Concepts Parts 1&2
A strategy for incorporating technique and harmony building patterns in your practice and solos.

Minor to Minor: Understanding the Scales
Sort out the confusion and begin understanding the most common types of minor scales used in jazz.

The Rock and Blues Series
Lesson topics include the V-IV Turnaround, Rock & Blues Vocabulary, Common Rock & Blues Forms, and Licks From the Greats. Lots material for crossing the bridge between jazz and rock & blues playing!

Stage IV

For advanced jazz players looking for new practice techniques and ways to better understand jazz theory.
View samples from the lessons in this YouTube Playlist:

Navigating the Changes, Parts 1 & 2
A simple, straight-ahead, practice method for creating interesting lines that flow through the chord changes of tunes.

Through the Keys Part 3; ii-V by Any Name
Learn to identify the naturally occurring ii-V chord sequences found in major keys and tunes.

The Flat Nine
The chord changes from the standard, "I Could Write a Book," are included to help expand your vocabulary to include these extensions of basic harmony.

Guiding the Harmony
Learn to use guide tones for navigating chord changes to standard tunes. Exercises are based on the changes to the standard, "There Will Never Be Another You."

Through the Keys, Part 4: Tunes Through the Keys
Learn to transpose and practice standard chord changes in different keys using the Roman Numeral system.

Through the Keys, Part 5: The Shifting Tonal Center, Major-Minor
Launch the altissimo through the use of overtones, and a technique for approaching the particularly problematic tones from above. Fingering chart included.

The Bebop Series
This 4-part jazz improvisation lesson series on bebop takes you from an exercise using the dominant bebop scale to building enclosures and practicing the concepts on tunes.