Studying instruments in your music class? The saxophone is a great one to include in your music lesson plans.

Saxophones are a very popular instrument, having uses in many genres of music, from Classical to Jazz and Rock. Saxophones are often featured in “big band” music.”Big Band” music often features the saxophone. The typical “big band” sax section consists of two altos, two tenors, and a baritone. Players typically double on other woodwind instruments in the saxophone section.

Here are a few ideas for learning the names of the saxophone family. Students can be divided into groups of four Left over students can be incorporated into groups of five. Within each group students can then arrange themselves by height, and make labels or cards for the saxophone which corresponds to their size – baritone, tenor, alto and soprano saxophone (continuing on to bass saxophone for groups of five). In other words, the shortest student will be the soprano saxophone, the next smallest the alto saxophone, and so on.

This activity could be repeated with other attributes like shoe size, length of hair and birthday if you wished.

To combine this with a music theory activity you could create some flashcards with single pitches on them, and ask them to match them to appropriate saxophones.

Students may respond to completing some of these tasks without speaking for a quieter classroom and an extra challenge.

An excellent piece of listening featuring the saxophone can be found in: Duke Ellington, Three Suites album. Sony / BMG Custom Marketing Group 723866. This Contains a big-band jazz arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker Suite.