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Thread: Tenor and Soprano

  1. #1

    Default Tenor and Soprano

    Hi. I'm a saxophone player of almost 3 years now, and I've struggled on with a half-hearted practice regime on the tenor (jazz), without anything fantastic happening to me or my music.

    It was only in the last few months that I started to notice some real progress in terms of soloing and sound, and that I've started practising properly. I very much enjoy playing saxophone.

    For various reasons, I managed to get hold of an intermediate-range Soprano saxophone, and from the moment I picked it up, I found I could play a lot better than on the tenor. The sound came more easily, breathing wasn't such a problem, and even my soloing sounded better. I gave up the tenor for a few weeks, and when I picked it up today, I found my playing clunky and much less secure.

    Of course I am experiencing the usual Soprano problems of intonation, but I feel I can do something to correct that, and with practice, I see no problem with the high notes.

    I'm considering which instrument to pursue (of course I enjoy both, but I do wish to concentrate on one in particular), and I'd like to know if anyone else has had a similar experience with Tenor and Soprano (or any two saxes or instruments), so they can tell me if this is merely because the Soprano is an easier instrument to play, and if they found that it was worth changing. I hadn't played the tenor for a few weeks before getting the soprano, and my fear is that I feel more comfortable with the sop because I was out of practice with the tenor. I'm not quite sure if I prefer the sop because it's easier, because I'm out of practice with the tenor, because I've learnt the basics on the tenor (and so the sop pyschologically seems a lot easier, as I've got a head start), or because it's more naturally "my" instrument.

    I also have a sneaking suspicion that I have fairly awful lower-register hearing, and am much better on the high notes...

    Information from experience and opinions would be welcome .


  2. #2


    The soprano must be your instrument if it's easy for you most people find it harder!

  3. #3


    My concern is that I think it's easier just because I haven't played the Tenor in a while (I guess one solution to this is to play Tenor for a while, and see, but I'd still like to see if anyone has had a similar situation.)

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Northampton, UK


    My own personal experience of doubling on the sax is that your overall game gets better.

    My experience has been more or less the opposite of yours - I mainly played the soprano for about a year and then took up the tenor to broaden my sound palette. Playing on the tenor initially was clunky but I noticed that going back to the soprano my tone sound a whole lot better and it was easier to get more lyrical on the soprano.

    I can definitely say, playing more than one sax will improve your overall game.

  5. #5


    Ralphael, what I would say to you is this....
    Based on your comments about how it just ain't happening with the tenor, it is with the soprano, and most telling, your mention of not thinking your "lower-register hearing" is any good, I think you should think about doubling on alto instead of tenor.

    I know many players who tend to favor "lower than higher" or vice versa, and that most doublers are either ten/sop or alt/sop. There are also cases of established tenor players, who've switched to alto, and have said they did it mainly for "comfort" reasons (less hanging from your neck, less air-required etc.). So, bottom line, you should only play what you feel like playing, there are no absolutes you "must, need, or should do"....

    Some of the greatest players only played tenor, others alto, and some soprano, whether you pick one or two or more to play, is something only Ralphael "should do".......

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