A Turtle and A Saxophone

Is This A Kid’s Book Title?

I look at the title of this post and think, “sounds like the title of a children’s story to me!” Even though I’m not telling a story today (if you would like that adventure- click here) this post is inspired by a child and a toy turtle.

The analogy is a little goofy, but read to the end. You may get a laugh, but you’ll definitely improve your playing.

The Analogy

When my oldest child was little, she had a toy turtle that she pulled behind her. It had How to practice the saxophonewheels, but it had egg shaped wheels. I’m sure this enhanced her entertainment because the turtle would bob up and down as my daughter strolled around the house.

Then I began to think, “What would happen if we placed egg shape wheels on a real car”? If we drove slowly, it may bob up and down like the toy turtle; I’m sure it would be highly entertaining.

To add more excitement, what would happen if we drove the same car at 70mph (112km/h)?” The wheels would probably fly off- not so fun.  At this point you may be thinking, “where are you going with this, and what does it have to do with playing the saxophone?” Great question!

How Does This Relate To The Saxophone?

Think of our fingers (when playing the saxophone) like the egg shaped wheels. At slow speeds we may think everything is OK, even fun. But then, we try to go fast and the wheels fall off. What do we need to increase our top speed? Round wheels!

How Do We Get Round Wheels?

You see, our fingers are naturally “egg shaped” when we start playing the saxophone. We need to use correct methods to develop “round wheels”. What’s the method? Simple…the metronome.

If you play slowly without a metronome, you may not notice that you’re playing unevenly, or with “egg shape wheels”. However, if you go fast, you definitely will notice.

When you play slowly with a metronome, your fingers “lock in” and begin to develop a muscle memory for playing evenly. In other words, you begin to develop “round wheels”.  This brings about 1 additional amazing result.


Yes, by playing slowly and evenly you will automatically increase your top speed.  This result occurs because you have placed “round wheels” on the car instead of the “egg shaped” wheels.

This is really important to understand: playing fast does not help you play fast well. Playing slowly, developing even fingers, and working your way up to your top speed will help you play fast. Not only fast, but correctly, consistently, and accurately. Now that’s a lot of fun!


  1. Faster
  2. Evenly
  3. Consistently
  4. Cleanly
  5. Clearly

If you’d like any of the characteristics above, use the metronome. If you feel every time you turn on the metronome, that it fights you, that’s a sign of “egg shaped wheels”. Be patient and consistent, and the “egg shaped wheels” will turn into “round wheels”. You’ll add an essential skill to your playing and you’re likeliness of success will sky rocket!


How are you doing with the metronome? Feel free to use the comment section below.

Comments 2

  1. Sometimes I feel as though I am playing in sync with the metronome and other times I just can get it.. I will keep on keeping on.

    1. Post

      Yes, keep going. Another analogy we could apply here would have to do with braces. For most of us out teeth are crooked, but once braces are attached they straighten our teeth over time, and our very appearance changes, for the better. It’s not always a pleasant experience, but it’s completely worth it. Keep it up and you’ll be playing evenly and faster than ever!

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