The saxophone is a single reed instrument and therefore part of the woodwind family. It is usually associated with jazz but is notable for a range of styles from orchestral/wind bands to modern pop and is therefore a very versatile instrument.
There isn’t a minimum age to start playing the saxophone but it is a heavy instrument (requiring a neck strap) and big for small hands; it is important to be able to reach all keys. It should be suitable as long as you are not uncomfortable with the saxophone’s weight on your neck and you can position the hands as depicted.
The four common types of saxophone (from smallest to largest) are: Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone. The most common being the Alto and the Tenor however, it is possible to start on the smaller Soprano.
If you find the saxophone unsuitable at this time, it is very common to learn it’s slightly smaller cousin, the clarinet, first and quickly pick up the saxophone later on. If you think you might like to play both, it’s suggested that the transition from clarinet to saxophone is easier than the other way round. In advanced settings, it is possible to have “Reed” parts within bands that require you to play clarinet, saxophone and flute.
Saxophones, like all single reed instruments require a regular supply of reeds. These come in different strengths and sizes (for the type of saxophone you have). When you start you may start with a softer reed strength e.g. 1½ and gradually move up as you improve; your teacher should advise you on this. Some reputable reed brands include Rico and Vandoren.
You should use a pull through after playing to remove excess moisture and some players use a pad saver to leave in the saxophone after doing so. This means the pads on the keys should last longer.
When you buy your first saxophone, it is usually recommended to go for a cheaper student model that will last you up until Grade 3+. These usually start around £200 but the more you spend, the longer the saxophone will last before an upgrade. It is always best to speak to a player before purchasing a saxophone but some reputable brands include:
There are also rent to buy schemes available as well as purchasing outright.
Caution: If you are buying a second-hand instrument, try to make sure you know exactly what you are buying e.g. the condition/playability of the saxophone. Every saxophone is different and some of the much older models are very different to play than the newer ones. Therefore it is advised to go with a known brand for your first instrument. The cheaper and second-hand instruments are often harder to sell on.
Please get in contact to discuss any enquiries you may have.