If you’re looking for the best Yamaha saxophone, but you’re unsure whether the instrument is hard to play or not, don’t worry; it’s one of those instruments that is a bit difficult to learn at first but after you get the hang of it, you will be fine. Just make sure you know the theory and how it works.
Saxophone versus other instruments
Anybody able to blow a bit of air should be able to play the saxophone, although not too great from the get-go. Comparing instruments isn’t always a good thing, but when it comes to deciding which instrument is harder to play, you can do that. This is mainly how most people assess how difficult an instrument is to play, by comparing it to others.
Generally, an instrument has two degrees of difficulty. There are some instruments that are very easy to play at first but then when you learn more and more about them, you find out that there are a lot of techniques for you to learn if you play professionally. And there are certain instruments that are harder to learn in the beginning, but after that, there aren’t many new things to learn.
Taking that idea and applying it to the saxophone, we find out that the instrument is one that is hard to get started on, but after you get the feel of how it should work, you will be able to perform wonders on it.
Sax versus trumpet
When comparing a sax with a trumpet, which is another brass instrument, there isn’t much difference in terms of difficulty. The trumpet is considered one of the most difficult instruments to play, and if you want to make it sound good, you will need constant practice for an extended period of time.
The sax works a bit differently, in the sense that it’s a one-note instrument, and that is why keeping a tone is easier than with the trumpet. If you practice for an hour or just half an hour a day, you will be able to get a good tone after one year or two, depending on how well you progress.
This means that you need minimal practice to get a mature tone, a sound that will feel good to the ear. Of course, you won’t be able to perform publicly before you get yourself ready, and that can be frustrating for some.
What about the piano?
It’s hard to compare the saxophone with something like a piano because the later mentioned one offers you a lot more. The piano can play on itself and it will always sound good, while the saxophone can do that, but only sometimes.
The big advantage of the piano is that no matter who presses the keys, they will still produce a good tone if the instrument is in tune. But with the saxophone, in order to create the perfect sound, you need to put in a lot of work.
To play the saxophone you need a good playing technique, and that only comes with practice. Of course, the sax has its own public and people that like listening to it are generally in love with the sound of the sax, so that’s a plus.
Although they are beautiful sounds when you get to master them, the notes created by the sax will be quite bad at first and you will have to get used to that. It will take you some time, in the beginning, to get somewhere with your efforts.
However, the saxophone is one of the most rewarding instruments, maybe because of this. When you finally get to play that note how you want, it will feel amazing. Another difference between the sax and the piano is that the saxophone is a melody instrument, meaning that you only play one note, a solo while having no concern for the harmony or bassline.
The piano could be considered more difficult from this perspective, as you have to play the bass part with your left hand and the melody part with the right hand, sometimes changing them around, depending on what you are playing.
So, from this point of view, the piano is a more complex instrument that will require better music knowledge. The saxophone will not require you to learn any kind of harmony, but you will still need to know how to harmonize with other instruments.
The piano is similar to the guitar in certain aspects, and that’s why, when comparing the saxophone with the guitar in terms of difficulty, we could say the same things. The guitar will be somewhat easy to play at first (although a bit more difficult than the piano), and you could perform a song from the first week of learning.
Furthermore, the guitar can be used for both the accompaniment and the leading part, so it requires you to learn both of them. Many people start learning music using a guitar because it’s often the most accessible instrument, so if you’re switching from a guitar to a sax, you should expect to feel some frustration at first because you might not feel you’re progressing fast enough, but that feeling will pass once you get some nice sounds out of the instrument.
The piano will help you
Knowing how to play the piano will be a big advantage when trying to learn the saxophone. Although not directly related, the two instruments share a lot, and what the piano brings is much-needed music knowledge.
If you had the change to learn the piano in the past and you are now starting with the sax, you will find it a lot easier to grasp musical concepts. The music theory is mostly there in your case, and that is because the piano uses the 12-note system that is employed in most popular music nowadays.
How to ensure the saxophone isn’t hard to learn for you?
Learn the mechanics
Because the saxophone isn’t the most popular instrument out there, you won’t always find a teacher to help you progress and learn faster. Also, if you do find one, the lessons might be too expensive for your liking, and if that’s the case, you will have to learn alone.
Unfortunately, learning how to play this instrument by yourself is difficult, because the technique needs to be on point. And one thing that beginners do when starting out with the instrument, even those that work with a teacher, is the fact that they don’t take the time to fully understand how the saxophone works.
It’s not rocket science, but the mechanics of the instrument will have to be learned if you want to play it. Understanding how the instrument produces the sound, or how it is designed to work will help you eliminate problems that you have in your technique, and it will also inspire you and make you more confident.
If you don’t understand how the instrument works, you won’t be able to tell why it’s making a strange sound, or if something is broken. Once you know the mechanics of it you will be able to observe what is wrong and maybe replace some parts that need to be replaced.
Many problems don’t require you too much effort to find. They can be things like a broken spring, or a leaking hole, and solving them takes little to no time. It’s best if you know how to do this yourself because that will help you progress faster.
Don’t play alone
Although you can learn alone for some time, you will inevitably hit some walls where you will need some help. Many people consider that playing alone can help them expand their horizons faster because they aren’t held back by somebody that only wants them to play a certain genre.
Furthermore, there are people that are too scared to play in front of others and that may keep them away from feeling ashamed in front of a teacher. You might think that you can learn some things on yourself and then present yourself in front of someone without feeling ashamed, but it sometimes takes too long for that to happen.
Playing with a teacher or in front of others is also a great way to build-up confidence, which will, in turn, help you progress faster. If you can’t find a teacher, at least go to a local improvisation workshop where you can meet some fellow players that will be able to give you advice on what you should and what you shouldn’t do.