Learning about the saxophone in the music classroom

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

A popular instrument these days is the Saxophone. It has uses from Jazz to Classical and Rock music. Saxophones are often featured in “big band” music.”Big Band” music often features the saxophone. Two alto saxophones, two tenors and one baritone typically make up the saxophone section Any of the saxophonists may double on other woodwind instruments

Here are a few ideas for learning the names of the saxophone family. Divide students into groups of four. Distribute any remainders into other groups to make a few groups of five. Within each group students can then arrange themselves by height, and then make cards or labels for a saxophone corresponding 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.

Repeat the exercise with other attributes – birthday, shoe size, length of hair, etc.

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.

For an extra challenge and a quieter classroom, have the students complete some of these tasks without speaking.

Suggested Listening:Duke Ellington, Three Suites album. Sony / BMG Custom Marketing Group 723866. This Contains a big-band jazz arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker Suite.