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5 Tips to Sound Great Playing Jazz Saxophone

playing jazz saxophoneMusic has this amazing power to touch a person’s heart and conjure up emotions. But not every song can do this. Only when a jazz saxophone player understands how to tap into the soul of a song can the audience really experience, or “live”, the music. That leads to a very important question – how do you infuse that level of emotion into a song?

Simply playing the notes isn’t enough. To make your sax playing become less stuffy and instead, become more natural and expressive, here are five tips you can try.

1. Know the Basics:

When first starting out, you always need to begin at the beginning. And when it comes to jazz sax chords, that means learning the basics – fingerings, posture, and more. As you become more comfortable with these basics, they will take less work and gradually become less stilted and more natural. Honing these skills will give you the starting point for learning how to express emotion in your music.

2. Play with Dynamics:

Loud and soft - dynamics is a great way of incorporating drama and depth elements into your jazz sax chords. However, you just cannot barge into a change of volume. You need to make the transition somewhat slowly, based on the emotion at that moment in the piece so that the change seems both natural and interesting.

3. Practice Vibrato:

Nothing can create intensity like a good vibrato. Holding that note until it becomes almost too much can instill melancholy and beauty into any piece. But – you need to practice. Random vibrato can just be too much, while sloppy vibrato may make your audience cringe. Make your practice focused and deliberate, and use vibrato consciously yet sparingly.

4. Note Movement:

Moving from note to note – it is not merely playing one note, then looking towards the next one. Each note is connected to the one before it and one after, and your work, as a musician, is to help make each note change seamless within its surroundings. So how do you do that? First, understand the point of each rhythm, each bar, each instruction. Why is it there? Where is it going? Then, you need to figure out what you want to do with it. Do you want to stay there a while, or create movement by rushing along with speed? Analyze your song to see what you can do with each phrase to develop a natural flow.

5. Learn the Lyrics:

You may have an idea of what a song is supposed to impart, but are you correct? By learning the lyrics of a song, you can leap into the heart of the composer to understand what they had in mind with their jazz sax chords. Doing this can give you a perspective of how to approach a rhythm, what type of dynamics to use, or how to incorporate vibrato astutely. Translating the lyrics and infusing it with your experience can create a wonderful connection for you and the listener.

Learning how to add emotion to jazz sax emerges from understanding both the technique and the thought behind a song. Play around with a song, bars, or even individual notes to find out what each means to you, and then try to express that feeling with your musical knowledge.

You never know where you can go or will the music will take you.

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