The saxophone was invented way back in the 1840s and has its origins based out of Belgium where it has become one of the most popular musical instruments in the world. Many people desire to play this exquisite instrument while even more enjoy simply listening to the graceful acoustics that the saxophone has to offer.

Today, millions of people play the saxophone across the world, however, only a handful of these players manage to stand out. Those who excel in playing the saxophone have come to realize that without the proper ingredients, you may just be scratching the surface when it comes to your skills. Here are 5 tips to help you stand out as a saxophonist.

1. Learn to relax

Something as little as being nervous can be all it takes for you to spoil a performance. It is important to be relaxed and in the right mindset when you are to begin playing. The first step is to ensure your head is perfectly balanced with your spine.

A tilt of your head a little too much forward or backward and you might not release upward as you should. You must ensure that your shoulders are also relaxed. Any stiffness in the neck or poor positioning of the head can easily compromise your performance.

When you are nervous you may commit more mistakes. That is why you need to come up with a relaxation technique that will work for you. Some common relaxation techniques are taking slow deep breathes, practicing mindful meditation, and even progressive muscle relaxation. Whatever it takes for you to relax, it will benefit you to do so.

2. Practice as much as possible

It has been said countless times that practice makes perfect. Make it a point to practice your saxophone as much as possible. Practice will lead to muscle memory which can be useful when playing different notes in performance.

Muscle memory is a natural phenomenon that allows you to reproduce a particular movement without conscious thought. That means your fingers will be in the right places thanks to the practice that you have put in over time.

Practice also ensures that you develop self-confidence. This can be an important asset when you are playing in a new setting. Say you are incorporated into an ensemble or given an opportunity to play in front of a huge crowd. Having the confidence in yourself to succeed will go a long way.

3. Let it flow

A common mistake that will keep you from truly excelling is thinking too much about your fingers. A lot of people tend to focus on the way their fingers are moving and the next note they are going to hit. This not only slows you down but can compromise the quality of sound you produce.

To become an excellent player, you need to let the music flow through you and out of your fingers. Remember you have been practicing and your fingers know what to do next. Instead of focusing on the next note, focus on the quality output and what fellow musicians around you are doing.

4. You could do with some sound effects

You cannot claim to be an excellent saxophone player until you master sound effects. This will give you a unique flare over the average players. Sound effects include things like flutter tonguing, half-tonguing, slap tonguing, and overtones.

Don’t forget split tones and altissimo. If you can master these effects, you are almost always going to wow your listeners. Of course, these effects are not essential but can be what distinguishes you from all the other saxophone players out there. Used at the right time, they can make for great sounds.

5. Don’t be afraid to improvise

Improvising can be one of the easiest ways to stand out from the rest. Of course, you don’t want to just improvise off the bat. Instead, while practicing, try to come up with your own unique ideas.

If you are too afraid to push the line, you may end up being just like every other average saxophone player. Great musicians are not afraid to push their limits.

The Musicians Institute College of Contemporary Music is here to help

Whether you are a beginner or an established saxophone player, you can always do it with some help. The MI horns program can be a great place to start when seeking to learn or sharpen your saxophone playing skills.

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