So you’ve got your Sax, but now need to learn to read music…
If you are looking to significantly increase your ability on the Saxophone, then you’ll need to understand music. This will open up a whole new world of playing.
While sheet music can be intimidating and foreign to new Sax Players or those that learned to play by ear, learning to read it allows you to play the works of others, understand musical terminology, exercise your abilities and become acquainted with more styles of music. It is helpful to think of music like a language. You can learn and speak English without learning to read, but your vocabulary and communication skills are impeded in their development. In the same way, learning to read music makes it much easier for you to learn specific pieces and practice certain playing techniques.
Here’s an ideal Theory book that I highly recommend to get you started learning music.
Some saxophonists never learn to read music because they do not wish to play classical music, focusing on jazz, funk or rock instead. After all, these styles usually feature a great deal of improvisation, which doesn’t require you read notes from a page. However, learning to read music is the first step toward a greater understanding of musical theory. Even if you never sit down and learn your scales, playing music from a page teaches you how different notes interact with certain chords and progressions, making it easier for you to come up with the perfect solo.
For those that wish to write their own songs on the saxophone, musical literacy is nearly always crucial to success. If you can read music fluently, and understand major scales and minor scales as well as chords you can much more easily annotate, transcribe and distribute parts to a band or group, giving you an easy way to teach your song to other musicians. Reading music also makes it easier to pick up and incorporate new ideas into your work. You can study popular sonatas, symphonies, jazz tunes, rock songs and even transcribed solos, dissecting them to find out what makes them so appealing and improving your songwriting skills in the process. It even lets you learn unique skills by playing music initially written for other instruments. Jazz great John Coltrane famously played harp music on his saxophone for hours in order to improve his versatility as a player.
In general, learning to read music can never really have a negative effect on your ability to play saxophone. Instead, it can open new musical doors and allow you to better hone your skills. Even if you are an advanced saxophonist that learned to play by ear, learning to read music now can help you avoid frustrating obstacles later. You can learn to read music with a relatively small investment of time, one that can pay itself off many times over by making you a better saxophonist and better overall musician.
The best next step you can take to learn to read music is to grab one of these book recommendations and get started