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Jazz Sax Lessons: Music Reading Basics

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This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Jazz Sax Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

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[MUSIC]
Okay, it's time
to do some reading now.
We've covered a lot of different areas in
terms of where to press your fingers down,
where the notes are, how to put
the horn together and, you know,
your embouchure and everything.
So now it's time to read some music.
So, before I begin, I want to make sure
you're aware of the fact that If you have
any questions regarding note values,
the name of notes, time signatures,
key signatures, the staffs,
anything at all, you can go check out
our Artist Works Basic Music Theory
Workshop and it's all there.
It's an amazing, super comprehensive, and
it'll answer all those kinds of questions.
So, very good.
I've written a little piece for
us to read entitled Something to Read.
Hey, very original, I know, thank you.
And it's available to you there as a PDF,
so make sure you download it.
If you're an alto or baritone player, you
can obviously download the E flat version,
cause alto and baritone are in E flat.
And sopranos and
tenors are B flat instruments, so
you'll want to download that PDF, so
you have it available to you there,
it'll be much easier for you to read.
So let's go over a couple of points here.
As far as reading is concerned in general.
Man, I wish somebody had
told me these things when
I was first starting off reading, because
I kind of created some bad habits for
myself and had to correct,
got to work backwards,
so tip number one is to
always follow your music.
I'm looking here on my music stand.
Always follow along.
It's like the old follow
the bouncing ball thing.
Realize that all music,
all music that's in time that you're
counting one, two, three, four, and so on.
There's a reason why your counting
in time, it's all in rhythm and
so you know beat one happens, and
then beat two, and beat three, and
beat four if you're in four four time.
And so, as you're playing,
you want to avoid skipping too far ahead.
You want to avoid obviously lingering
on where you're playing and
not keeping up with that bouncing ball so
to speak with the time.
And so, for instance,
If you look at your sheet,
the first note we have is a half note,
takes two beats, but
you're always thinking, it's like
you're dividing your attention, and
the first half is on what you're playing.
The second half of your attention is
on that beat, on the meter, because for
a note like a half note that lasts for
two beats, beat one, two,
beat three, you're onto the next thing,
whether it's a note or a rest.
So nine times out of ten,
our problems happen when we simply
don't follow along with that meter.
So make sure you do that.
The other, I can tell you three things
that are always the big hang ups.
One, is what I just described.
Number two, is the key signature,
that's a new thing,
you'll see that In our theory lessons as
well, you can learn more about those.
But always, on this sheet, in E flat,
it's written in the key of D,
which has two sharps,
it's those cool little tic-tac-toe
signs at the beginning of every staff.
And for the B flat folks it's one sharp.
That means simply that every
time my E flat part here,
I've got a sharp on my F and
a sharp on my C.
Which mean that unless otherwise
indicated, every F you come across
is going to be an F sharp, and every C
you come across is going to be a C sharp.
So the hangup in sight reading,
reading in general,
is that we forget our key signature, so
it's always like this reminder that there
should be anyway constantly in the back of
your brain saying key signature, key
signature, key signature always have that
flashing so you don't forget that, because
again I'm a professional reader I'm
a studio musician in Los Angeles and
now it's bad to make mistakes in general.
And it's really bad if you
make a key signature mistake,
it's such a basic thing, but
you just want to train yourself for that.
And then the third thing that we commonly
make mistakes on, strangely enough,
are the rests.
Very often as a novice reader, you look
at a rest and go, that's the easy part.
I'm not playing,
I don't have to play anything.
Contrare, it's easier
to keep your rhythmic
pace when you're playing music when
you're engaged and playing something.
It's when you are resting and counting
to the next thing that you're doing,
the next note you're playing
that invariably hangs us up.
It's just, it's a musical fact,
so be aware of that.
Be aware of keeping your
place in the music,
being aware of the key signature,
and counting through those rests.
So I'm going to play the song for you.
And feel free,
I'm just going to count it freely,
we're not going to use a metronome or
anything, nothing quite that official yet.
So, feel free to play along,
or watch me play.
So here we go, ready?
One, two, three, now.
[MUSIC]
Okay,
there's
our
song.
Okay so that was a nice, easy tempo.
When you're playing along make
sure that as you're playing.
In general, too, you want to make sure
that especially when you're practicing,
you don't want to play anything
faster than you can control.
So always play things nice and
at a comfortable tempo so
that you can control that.
And you can always speed them up later,
but never faster than you can control.
[MUSIC]