A Brief History of the Saxophone
The saxophone was invented in 1841 by a Belgian clarinetist named Adolph Sax. After settling in Paris, Sax patented his new instrument in 1846. The instrument soon became popular across all of France. American musicians visiting Europe took a liking to the saxophone and soon it found a home in America, where it has been popular ever since.
The saxophone was invented to be a “bridge” between the woodwind and brass sections of military marching bands. Consequently it is a rather, loud instrument. Modern concert bands, designed to play in concert halls, generally limit the number of alto saxophonists to between 2-4 players.
Although the saxophone is made of brass, it is classified as a member of the woodwind family of instruments because of its flute-like fingerings and use of a reed.
Things to Consider in Choosing to Play the Saxophone
Below are some factors one should consider when choosing the saxophone. While it is not mandatory that a student wishing to play the saxophone possess each characteristic listed, the chance for success will be greatly increased if a number of these factors are present.
- Hands large enough to reach all the keys.
- Stature is adequate to handle the size and weight of the instrument.
- Generally, braces are not a hindrance in forming a correct embouchure.
- Small motor coordination is important.
- Reading skills are above average.
Instrument brands listed in bold are the director’s recommended brands. Currently, I believe the Yamaha product is the best student-line instrument available today. Based on my many years experience teaching Band, Yamaha has proven to be the most consistent and well-built instrument for the middle school band student.
*The Yamaha student sax is, in my opinion, so far superior to other instruments that it is difficult to recommend any other brand.