The Belgian inventor Adolphe Sax patented the saxophone in Paris in 1846. The saxophone is a part of the woodwind instrument family – even though it is made of thin metal, usually brass. The sound of the saxophone is formed in a reed fastened to a mouthpiece. The reed vibrates when you blow on it, which causes the air inside the instrument to vibrate. The tone, volume, and timbre of the saxophone are altered by fingerings (closing or opening the keys on the sound holes), blowing technique, altering the position of the larynx, moving the tongue, and embouchure i.e. the lip position. The choice of the instrument, the mouthpiece, and the reed also affect the sound quality of the saxophone greatly.

The sound of the saxophone is very versatile and can easily be modified to all kinds of musical interpretation. The saxophone is a central instrument in jazz music and essential to other types of Afro-American music, such as R&B and soul. The saxophone is found in classical music as well as in pop, rock, and dance music, entertainment music, and the folk music in many different countries. The saxophone is a part of many ensembles: rhythmic small groups, big bands, wind bands, occasionally symphonic orchestras, chamber music groups, and saxophone quartets.

Notable saxophonists include jazz musicians Sidney Bechet, Johnny Hodges, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Michael Brecker, and Jan Garbarek; R&B musicians Lee Allen and King Curtis; and classical musicians Marcel Mule, Daniel Deffayet, and Amy Dickson. Notable Finnish saxophonists include Juhani Aaltonen, Jukka Perko, and Linda Fredriksson.

Pupils usually learn the alto and tenor saxophones as well as the rarer soprano and baritone saxophones. A good age to start playing the alto saxophone (which is a good size for a child) is around 10. A good new beginner’s instrument costs a little under 1,000 euros. Good makers to start with include Yamaha and Jupiter.


Read also:

The content of the studies

Application instructions


Salla Männikkö

clarinet and saxophone
Hämeenkyrö, Tampere and Ylöjärvi

Petri Nieminen

clarinet and saxophone
Tampere and Ylöjärvi

Masa Orpana

clarinet and saxophone

This is what saxophone sounds like

Video of ten-year-old Elmiina playing and talking about her saxophone:

Masa Orpana plays rhythm and blues with his tenor saxophone.