The is a fun and versatile and a great way for kids to start learning about various styles of , including classical, pop and . In this article, we’ll offer a short guide to getting your child started on the
This post will take you through the essential things to know before buying a , including the best books and , gear and accessories for young beginners.
With the wealth of products available, getting started with the can feel like a bit of a minefield. To avoid making any costly mistakes with gear, the best place to start is by finding a good local .
Directories of local teachers are often provided by shops, and university departments, as well as there being a whole host of online services with searchable listings.
A will be able to give you advice on buying or hiring a good before the first , taking away much of the guesswork in choosing the right equipment and books.
Some popular tutor books for are ‘ Basics’ by Andy Hampton, ‘Learn As You Play ‘ by Peter Wastall, and ‘A New Tune A Day’ by Ned Bennett.
Hal Leonard has a fun series of books called ‘Easy Instrumental Playalongs’ which feature well-known pop, film and TV tunes. There are also more and more online sources of suitable for beginners at sites such as Musescore and Plus, and a wide range of YouTube tutorial videos featuring popular songs.
: which type should I buy?
The family features four sizes: , , and .
The and are too big for most children and the is regarded as the hardest of the four instruments to keep in tune.
For this reason, almost all young beginners will start on the – it is the easiest to start out on and a perfect introduction to the .
Check out our guide to choosing a beginner for up-to-date information on the best makes and model.
How old does my child need to be to start the ?
This will depend on your child’s height and size of hands, but around age 10-11 years is a good guideline.
If they really can’t wait to start but an is too big or heavy for them, there are options such as the Alphasax, a for a smaller . It features a much lighter construction with fewer keys.
Most children of around 8 or 9 years are able to start on this , but it is worth seeking advice from a first.
Essential Info about theand Reed
Think of the and reed as being like the engine of a car – yes, the body of the vehicle matters, but without the engine, you’re not getting very far.
Exactly the same is true of the and reed – the small piece of plastic and cane that you blow into to make a . The reed is fixed to the by a ligature which allows it to vibrate and make a .
Although your beginner will come equipped with a basic and one or two reeds, the quality of these can be very poor.
Seek advice from your , but you will certainly want a few quality reeds of the right strength and possibly an upgraded too – the Yamaha 4C is the industry benchmark and makes obtaining your first much easier.
Each time you play, setting up the and reed correctly is vital, so ask your or check out some online tutorials to check this is correct.
As for reeds, there are a few trusted brand names out there which are a great place to start. Vandoren and D’Addario are two of the leading manufacturers. Both produce reeds suitable for beginners such as Vandoren’s ‘Juno’ and D’Addario’s ‘Rico’.
These reeds come in a range of strengths which gauge the stiffness of the cane. A reed strength of around 2 is normally a good starting point for a , but individual brands can vary a lot so check out a reed comparison chart to be sure.
Getting the best from your gear
Saxophones feature lots of moving parts which need to be serviced at intervals of one to two years to maintain peak performance.
Specialist woodwind repairers are best-placed to carry out this maintenance – your local shop or should be able to recommend one.
To keep repair costs to a minimum, make sure you handle the carefully and keep it in a good protective case. Supervise your child’s for at least the first few weeks to check they are handling the with care.
For hygiene, it is important to clean out your regularly with a pull through cloth (you will need a large one for the body and a smaller one for the neck and ).
Wash and disinfect the and reed in warm (but not hot) water from time to time to keep germs at bay.
Neck Straps and Harnesses
Even though the is one of the smaller saxes it is still quite heavy. When , the weight of the is carried by a neck strap or harness.
A is very unlikely to come with a quality, comfortable strap, but fortunately, there is a huge range of products available, many of them with ‘junior’ models designed with a young in mind.
A few things to consider
Strap or Harness?
With a neck strap, all of the weight of the is concentrated around the neck.
This is not normally a problem for older children, but youngsters may find these uncomfortable.
Harnesses use a variety of solutions to distribute the weight around either the shoulders, abdomen or even clip to the belt loop of a pair of trousers.
Padding and Elasticity
For comfort, make sure you choose a padded strap. The wider the material the more evenly the weight will be distributed. Here are some of the best neck straps which use flexible material to reduce the feeling of heaviness.
A market leader for many years, this strap claims to make the feel 50% lighter. It does this through the use of a Neoprene neckpad with an elasticated stretch backing, and comes in a range of sizes and colours.
Featuring thick, ridged padding, this strap uses a separated neck pad to alleviate pressure on the spine. Smooth seatbelt-type fabric on the straps allow for quick and easy adjustment.
BG Comfort Elastic
A comfy cotton neckstrap offers exceptional comfort, plus the elastic connection to the strap help to absorb impact from movement. Compact and stylish, it features a chunky and easily-gripped slider for height adjustment.
Snap hook or metal hook?
Snap hooks tend to be made of plastic rather than metal and feature a spring-loaded clip to ensure that the does not become detached.
Although these may not wear as well in the long term as metal hook, they are much safer for young children and reduce the risk of scratching the .
Why choose the ?
The is a great option for kids who want to get into a wind .
Its ergonomic design and simple system of fingering make for quick progress once the breathing and mouth position are mastered.
Practising in the first stages should be little and often (every day if possible!) to ensure steady progress.
The ‘s versatility means it offers a wealth of opportunities for in different genres of .
the ! in groups such as wind , marching , and ensembles is also a great way to socialise and meet new people. Good luck on your journey and we hope you have lots of fun
The label ‘Discover Jazz’ is attached to articles which have been edited and published by Jazzfuel host Matt Fripp, but have been written in collaboration with various different jazz musicians and industry contributors. When appropriate, these musicians are quoted and name-checked inside the article itself!