How Can I Improve My Saxophone Technique?

classical saxophone, general, Jazz, online lessons, saxophone lessons
How Can I Improve My Saxophone Technique?
Working on exercises and etudes can be a great way to improve your technique!

Having a good technique on the saxophone is vital in so many ways whether we play in a jazz, pop or classical context. For example, when we improvise a jazz solo we want the freedom to express what we want to say through the saxophone at that very moment. It’s having command of our instrument that allows us to do this. I’ll therefore try and answer how you can improve your saxophone technique in this article below with some useful tips and advice.

An Introduction to the Saxophone Quartet

classical saxophone, general, Jazz, Uncategorized
Nathan Hassall's Java Saxophone Quartet performing at a garden party in north London, in May 2018.
The Java Saxophone Quartet, performing in 2018

Ensemble playing of any nature is one of the great joys of music making. There is something uniquely special about working as a collective whole to create something of beauty (or, something that swings your socks off!) in the concert environment, or just for fun!

The saxophone quartet is arguably the most similar ensemble to that of a string quartet, with it’s blendable combination of soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones. However, it is an ensemble that is often wrongly overlooked by classical music composers and enthusiasts.

Online Music Lessons

general, online lessons, saxophone lessons
Take online music lessons with professional saxophonist Nathan Hassall.  Saxophone, Jazz, Improvisation and Music Theory Lessons available.
Nathan’s Online Music Lessons Set-up!

With the Coronavirus, Covid-19 currently bring life as we know it to a standstill I thought it would be a good time to write a post focusing on teaching music lessons online.

Having music lessons of any any nature online is nothing new. With the development of broadband and platforms such Skype people have taken music lessons via the internet for years.

If you think about it there are some serious benefits to having online lessons. Arguably the biggest one is that you can take saxophone lessons with whoever you want to as there are no physical requirements to be in the same place. With only a good broadband connection and a webcam you can benefit from lessons with some of the best professional saxophonists working today, and not be limited to those who lives close by to you. (ed. As a professional saxophonist with (usually) a busy performing schedule as well as my teaching and lecturing positions at both the London College of Music and Royal College of Music, I hope that does include me! – modest I know!!)

An Introduction to Classical Saxophone

classical saxophone, general
Nathan Hassall's Classical Saxophone Final Recital Poster from 2004.
My final recital poster from back in the day at the RCM!

The saxophone is so well known for the output of the many great jazz saxophonists, the fact that there is a huge wealth of classical repertoire written for it is often wrongly overlooked.

As Professor of Saxophone at the London College of Music, as well as being an alumni of the Royal College of Music, the Classical Saxophone is something that I hold very dear to my heart and actively aim to champion whenever possible.

For this article I therefore thought I would create a Spotify playlist featuring a number of my favourite classical saxophone works, covering a range of repertoire including core french, concerti, and contemporary classical. Celebrated composers such as Claude Debussy, Alexander Glasunov, Mark-Anthony Turnage, and Michael Nyman all feature.