Making Difficult Notes Easier to Play

Long tonesMake it easier to play saxophone

We can fix that! And this is how.

We need to train your tongue to do the right thing exactly at the right time. Luckily, you don’t need to think about your tongue at all. Just follow the steps below and your tongue will make the adjustments, all on its own. Your tongue will be in shape in no time.

Let’s assume you are doing all the basics correctly, such as holding the saxophone right and making a proper embouchure. If you feel you need assistance with the basics, we have provided free lessons to help out. Click here to get instant access. Once you’re ready, follow the steps below.

The Steps

Step 1 will help improve your sound and step 2 will help you play every note on the saxophone.

Step 1-Play Loud!

  • Choose a note that you can already play well
  • Play it loudly with a good sound (tone)
  • Play as long as possible (take a deep breath before you start!)Long tones
  • Repeat 2-3 times

Step 2- Play Loud…Again!

  • Choose a note that is hard to play
  • Play it loudly with a good sound (tone)
  • Play as long as possible
  • If it doesn’t come out—Don’t Stop!
  • Hold out the note anyway
  • Don’t  move your jaw or the saxophone
  • Repeat 2-3 times

Warning! – By moving your jaw or the saxophone, your tongue will not figure out where it needs to be. If a bad tone comes out at first, it’s OK.  Keep on holding the note until the note falls in place.  

Play Through The Pain- It may not be easy to listen to, but it’s worth it!

Get a better toneDuring step 2, if the note sounds bad to you, you may have the desire to stop playing immediately. In fact, you may find stopping to be an automatic reaction. Fight the desire to stop! By playing through the bad tone, you will discover the good tone sooner.


How Often Should I Go Through the Steps?Easy steps to a better tone

Follow this 2 step process every time you practice, and on every note you want to improve.

Keep in mind that some notes may pop out in one practice session. Others may take some time. Be patient, consistent and diligent and you will be able to play every note on the saxophone easily.

Good luck! You will do great.


Saxophone tipsQuestion– What notes are most difficult for you to play? Go ahead and respond in the comment section. I may have some additional tips for you.

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Comments 6

    1. Post

      Yes Paddy, the C is not the “purest” note on the saxophone. As you apply the exercises in this post, the C will improve a great deal. The key, once again, in consistency. If you are able to apply these practice methods everyday, you’ll get a better tone sooner. Let me know about your C as it develops!

    1. Post

      Great job Shana! Yes, the lower notes are harder to play. A good goal, when beginning, is to gain the ability to play 2 octaves starting on the low D. Once you are able to do that, then move below the low D (into the spatula keys-the keys played by the left hand pinky, excluding the G# key) and into the palm keys at the top. Let me know how you do!

    1. Post

      Hi Amos,

      Have you had a chance to go over the embouchure section in the free lessons? Check that out and that should help. It’s also important to know if you’re adding enough pressure to the reed. Here’s a blog post that explains how to add the right amount of pressure to the reed. After you’ve gone over the embouchure section and read the post, go ahead and send me a recording and I’ll provide feedback to help with sustaining notes.

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