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Alto Sax

AltoSaxA 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.

Suggested Brands

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.

Yamaha, Jupiter
*The Yamaha student sax is, in my opinion, so far superior to other instruments that it is difficult to recommend any other brand.