Lesson 38 Chromatic HB


This Week

We’re going to take another week off from the chromatic scale as a whole, but I want to focus on one part of the chromatic scale: the palm keys.

The Palm Keys

As you already to know, the palm keys are awkward. I want you to know that you’re not alone if you feel this way. Everyone goes though the awkward stages of playing the saxophone, and the palm keys are part of that. If things don’t feel quite right yet, just keep on going and they will. Here’s what we’re going to do this week to make the palm keys easier.

The Gym

Have you ever walked into a gym and asked one of the employees the following question: “Point me to the machine that works out all muscles at once…then, I’m outta here!” Of course not; we understand that isolating muscle groups is the most effective way of building strength and endurance. It’s the same with learning the saxophone. If you have problems with the palm keys in the chromatic scale, don’t practice just the chromatic scale, isolate the weak part of your playing (the palm keys). Then play the whole scale afterward.

The Isolation

Here’s what we’re going to do. It’s a simple concept but very effective:

  1. Set your metronome to ♩= 63
  2. Play quarter notes
  3. Start on high C#
  4. Go up chromatically as high as your saxophone plays ( D, Eb, E, F, [F#])
  5. Go back down to high C#, chromatically ([F#], F, E, Eb, D, C#)
  6. Repeat 5-10 times a day


  1. Don’t speed up (you’ll most likely begin making errors)
  2. When playing the palm key notes, make sure your air and embouchure is the same as playing a low D


Here’s an example of this process. You can play along with me or just listen to confirm if you’re playing the exercise correctly. In addition, this would be a great exercise to send in to get some feedback. I may be able to make some suggestions that can help you resolve your issues faster. Good luck!

Up To High F

Up To High F#