Some Ups & Downs of Playing Saxophone

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Deciding to play the saxophone is a very exciting time. Can you relate to the any of the following characteristics? You’re excited because:

  1. You’ve finally decided to learn the saxophone
  2. You believe this is something you can do
  3. You get to buy a saxophone
  4. You get to explore equipment and see what will work best
  5. You once again have a hobby in your life
  6. You can’t wait to sound like your favorite saxophone player

These are common feelings to have as you begin a new instrument. This excitement will motivate you and help you improve at a faster rate. Even though learning an instrument can be very satisfying, there can be some ups and downs in the process. Let’s check out what might happen and how to overcome these low times.


The fastest way to improve as a beginner is to have consistent practice sessions. You’ll make the most progress if you practice 7 days a week. However, consistency can often be a challenge.

Little Time to Practice


I understand that practicing 7 days a week will not work for everyone. Does this mean that you can’t learn the saxophone? Absolutely not! The 7 day practice schedule is the best thing you can do, but if you can’t do this, that’s okay, you can still succeed.

Solution: Realistic Expectations

It’s important to understand that you can succeed on the saxophone no matter what your schedule is. If you can practice 7 days a week, that’s great. If you can only practice 1 day a week, it just means that you will progress at a slower rate.

If you don’t have much time, here’s what I suggest:

  1. On the days you don’t have time to practice, try practicing 5-10 minutes
  2. On the days you have time to practice, then practice longer

If you follow these 2 tips, you’ll find that you are able to practice many days during the week. The key is consistency, and the more consistent you are, the better off you’ll be.



Along the way, you may have planned out your practice sessions and then missed multiple days in a row. This can lead to frustration, and a feeling that you’re not doing all you can to succeed. This will result in slow progress, which has led some people to quit prematurely.

Solution: Set Realistic Goals

Just so you are aware, you can experience this frustration at every level of playing. Even some professionals, who do nothing but play live shows for a living, can become frustrated because of the lack of practice. So, when it comes to this, you’re not alone.

To relieve the stress in your life, make realistic goals for how many days you should practice in a week and how long each session should be. It’s okay to make adjustments to your practice schedule as you learn what works best for you. If you can only practice 2 days a week, then start with that. Make sure it’s a realistic goal so you feel in control rather than pressured by the goal. But most of all, remember why you are doing this: to have fun!

If the Thrill Fades


Sometimes we’re doing all that we should and we’re making progress. Then one morning, you wake up and you don’t feel like practicing. This is another experience people have that cause them to quit.


Once again, you’re not alone. Many musicians have had this experience. How do we overcome this lack of desire? Here are some tricks we use:

  1. Take 1 day off
  2. Listen to your favorite saxophone player
  3. Understand that you are improving, even though you may not always be aware of that
  4. Practice anyway and muscle through it
  5. Play for fun. For that day, play only the music that you want to play, nothing else

You’re Not Alone

Hopefully some of these thoughts will help you through some obstacles that arise as you learn to play the saxophone. The overarching idea that I want my students to understand when learning the saxophone, is that there will be some ups and downs; this is completely normal and you’re not alone.

The tips presented in this post will help with some of these issues and increase your likeliness of success. As you succeed with music (and your dream), there are only a few things in this world that are more fulfilling.

What do you do when you run into some of these issues? How do you overcome them? We would love to hear about your experiences in the comment section.

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Comments 4

  1. Totally agree. I’ve been on several of the scenarios you depicted. Particularly I’m an enthusiast who may fall perfect on points 1, 2 and 5 of the list of motivations…
    If you allow me, I’ll do a complete inversion to the five points under the “If The Thrill Fades” subject. Play for fun, blow the mouthpiece only, practice just muscles -fingers and embouchure- without sounding at all (see “Quiet Practice Sessions” blog entry), read solfége (better with the metronome, but if not, it’s good anyway), listen to yourself if you have some old recordings to hear how you sounded a year or just months ago, and if all else fails…. only then… just take one day off.

    1. Post

      Hi Marc,

      Thanks for your comments ans sharing your experience. Great comments in regards to changing the order and adding “listen to yourself”, and solfège.

  2. Am a beginner who has wanted to learn saxophone for a long time Am just wondering if I should buy my own or wait till I know a bit more before buring one?

    1. Post

      Hi Christopher. A strong desire to play is one of the best reasons to start playing the saxophone. If you’re ready to play, there’s no better time. As far as choosing a saxophone, here’s a post that might help. If you have additional questions, just let me know! Buying the Right Saxophone

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