Overview and History of the Saxophone
The newest of the woodwinds, it was invented by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian. He was born in 1814, and as a child he learned to make instruments in his father’s shop. At the Brussels Conservatory, he studied the clarinet and the flute. In 1840, Sax decided to construct an instrument that would fulfill the middle range sound of a military band. The sound that he was seeking would be between the woodwind tone of the clarinet, and brass sound of the trumpet. He moved to Paris in 1842, and completed his work in 1845. The created instrument he named the “saxophone”. It was soon taken up by many French orchestral composers. The saxophone started to be used in little orchestras in the 1800’s. It was also popular in military bands. It gained greater popularity in the 1920’s because of jazz music.
The reason a saxophone is considered a woodwind is because the way it is played is very similar to the clarinet. It is made of brass, and is the only woodwind that has never been made of wood. It has a single reed mouthpiece. It is made of a long, bent tube with holes in it, which are covered by pads called keys. The player operates the keys, opening and closing them, determining the pitch. The saxophone has three parts: the body, the neck and the mouthpiece. Soprano saxophones are straight, whereas deeper-toned saxophones have a bent crook and an upturned bell.
Since saxophones and clarinets are similar, many clarinetists, in their spare time, also play the saxophone. There are at least six different types of saxophones in use today, the most popular being the alto sax. The smallest of the saxophone family is the soprano, which is only 16″ long. But the biggest is the contrabass, being 6-1/2 feet tall. The saxophone is used more in jazz and military bands than in orchestras, though it is included in some classical music.
Age to Begin Saxophone Lessons
At the Royal Academy students may begin saxophone lessons between ages 7 and 9. A good preparatory instrument before starting saxophone lessons is the clarinet or other woodwind instrument.
Developing The Necessary Skills
A child is most prone to developing “bad habits” in music between the early ages of 4 through 12, that is why we take great care in how we introduce to our students to music. At the Royal Academy each child will explore music in its entirety, developing all the skills necessary in being a well rounded and creative musician. The Royal Academy ensures that all of its students are taught sight-reading skills, counting and rhythmic skills, technical skills, basic music theory and most of all, to be creativity. We do not teach our students to “play by ear” nor do we subscribe to ridiculous notions that a child can learn to play an instrument online or in a month from a “learn it yourself book or CD “. Music is accumulative and the only way to progress and become a good little musician is to instill healthy and productive practice habits. It is equally important the teacher presents the material in an enjoyable and encouraging way, carefully listening to your child and understanding how they register the material along with being attentive to your child’s problems in a particular area is key to their music development.
Finding an Instrument
If you do not already have a Saxophone there are several options that you have. As saxophones can be very expensive, the first and least expensive option is to rent a Saxophone. The Royal Academy rents a variety of woodwind instruments such as the saxophone, if you are looking for a Saxophone, please call us at 508-792-1221.
The Benefit of Saxophone Lessons
Interesting Article on “Music and the Brain”
Music enters the brain through the ears. Pitch, melody, and intensity of notes are processed in several areas of the brain such as the cerebral cortex, the brain stem, and the frontal lobes. Both the right-brain and left-brain auditory cortex interprets sound. Feza Sancar (1999) writes that the right-brain auditory cortex specializes in determining hierarchies of harmonic relations and rich overtones and the left-brain auditory cortex deciphers the sequencing of sound and perception of rhythm.
Many studies have been performed to examine the affect of musical instruction on the brain. For example, researchers at the University of Munster, Germany, (1998) reported that music lessons in childhood actually enlarge the brain. The auditory cortex is enlarged by 25% in musicians compared to those who have never played an instrument. According to the study by Frances Rauscher of the University of California, Irvine, (1997) links between neurons in the brain are strengthened with music lessons. Dr. Frank Wilson’s study (1989) involving instrumental music learning to play an instrument refines the development of the brain and the entire neurological system and the brain reveal that evidence, it is clear that music instruction is essential to children’s education because it improves their academic performance. Curriculum areas that music instruction affects most include language development, reading, mathematics, and science. Music itself is a kind of language full of patterns that can be used to form notes, chords, and rhythms. Exposure to music helps a child analyze the harmonic vowel sounds of language as well as sequence words and ideas. Another curriculum area enhanced by music participation is reading. A child who participates in music activities experiences sensory integration, a crucial factor in reading readiness. Wilson’s study (1989) reveals that music instruction enhances a student’s ability to perform skills necessary for reading including listening, anticipating, forecasting, memory training, recall skills, and concentration techniques. Mathematics is the academic subject most closely connected with music. Music helps students count, recognize geometric shapes, understand ratios and proportions, and the frameworks of time. Researcher Gordon Shaw (1993) found that piano instruction enhances the brain’s ability for spatial-temporal reasoning, or the ability to visualize and transform information.