Saxophone Ligature – how to choose?

Different Ligatures

Classical style of saxophone ligatures:
BG Ligature, Silverstone Ligature, JLV Ligature, Selmer Standard Ligature, Vandoren Optimum Ligature, François Louis Ultimate Ligature, Eddie Daniels Rovner Ligature
Jazz Style of saxophone:Pure Brass Ligature of François Louis, Vandoren Optimum, Eddie Daniels Versa Ligature, Selmer Brass Ligatures, Rhino Ligatures EVO HD, Rico Ligatures.

Sometimes we need some changes: to make improvement in your playing just by taking a little time to try out some DIFFERENT EQUIPMENT such as reeds, ligature and mouthpieces!

How to figure pit which one is BEST for you?
Tuning is correct! Playing on different registers come easily in any dynamics! And you like the sound playing loudly and softly! Basicly we are looking for colours!

You have to control the mixture: mouthpiece-reed-ligature , when you have all these named components I told above, then it is Best for you!

Always helps and I do recommend highly recording or take the teacher with you or a good saxophone friend to have an opinion from outside! Because our inside EAR is hearing things DIFFERENTLY!

Bon courage!

Beginners first saxophone and mouthpiece!

The children are often using in my class of saxophone Yamaha 4C, Yamaha 5C is too open for a beginner. One reason is because when they buy instrument Yamaha 280 (student model) or 480 (semiprofessional model) and the mouthpiece is coming with the instrument.

Why I recommend to buy Yamaha instrument, because I do have long experince about: Beginners first instrument is ALTO SAXOPHONE (not plastic!)
1) saxophone resistance in time – quality of material, every year washing, regulation and new oil – you keep it like a new instrument!
2) what is saying Master of reparation, I mean, how often he needs to do the reparation work on Yamaha? Answer is SELDOMLY! It means good value for money!
3)tuning is correct,
4)the mouthpiece that comes – 4C- is good for several years and if you break it, you can buy the new one for 25 Euros,
5)the position for the little hands is good, although the 5-7 years they can play untill F(Fa) or E(Mi) and I let the play on the CHAIR, not on the neck or shoulders!
6)Easy to blow, actually all student instruments are easy to blow. Professional models have a thicker metal body, so you could develop more personalized sound. Personal sound is not easy with student models instrument, although saxophone as instrument herself has a capacity to cooperate with everybody’s individual physics and CAN OFFER the possibility of YOUR SOUND. All is possible.
7) Please buy a saxophone STRAP, NEVER EVER NECKSTRAP (bad for vertebral column – do not brake it with saxophone), BG or Lemark or Jazzlab (jazzlab is not suitable for bony children!!!).


As being Teacher of many many years, I have noticed and thought about LITTLE INSTRUMENT for the 5-7 years old children. Yanagisawa Curved Soprano Saxophone has been one possible version for so little ones. Saxophone teacher needs to transpose many repertory, but it could be also a good experience. i do not recommend Plastic Saxophone and neither Nuvo JSax – and the reason is simple, the touch of saxophone buttons is NOT THE SAME as the REAL SAXOPHONE INSTRUMENT HAS. There is a big even HUGE difference, so I know a lot of inventors try to solve the problem for the little ones, but the change is too much.

So I do like more next solution in my saxophone class:
1) Yanagisawa Curved Saxophonne S-991 or S-992
2) Yanagisawa or Yamaha Alto Saxophone and we are playing on the chair of the piano. I repeat, children do not carry on the shoulders. you place it on the chair you can move up and down, because children do grow fast!!!

Wooden or Plastic REEDS?

I often play with Vandoren Blue Reeds, beginner from number 1-2. Also Gonzales Reeds and D’Addario.
Plastic Reeds: Légère. I have tried others (fibre, half fibre etc) and they became so quickly soft and impossible to play longtime like I do with Légère Reeds (the sound is the same like canned or wooden reeds!!!!), especially when the price is between 25 – 30 Euros! Wooden reed is between 2,5-3 Euros!!!!
When I especially need a plastic reed, is when I need to change saxophones and I will not have time to wet the reed again! Or I play outside or in other difficult situations – then I always play with plastic reed.

Wooden Reeds need to be wet before you can start to play!

Advanced students from number 2,5. Of course playing on the hard reeds does not make you an advanced saxophone player!
Jazz Students on Rico Reserved and Vandoren Jazz reeds.


Probably you need a reedcase when You live in a dry climat, where you constatnly need to wet the reed! But you need to be aware of that the moisturising material in reedcase needs to be UPDATED, otherwise it is just a plastic reed case with no longer extra quality. Rico has a REED VITALISER, which makes reeds last longer because they have kept your reeds in good and stable consitions.

About saxophone playing for beginners!

The position of the mouthpiece on your mouth

How important is the position of the teeth on your saxophone mouthpiece? Yes, it is very important! Music is the ART OF THE SOUND, so as you bite the mouthpiece, it is crucial to understand, that we produce the sound with REEDS! How far is important and how strong you NEED to bite? In my practice I have seen a lot of overbiting at first and then about a year when I have been really demanding, the ebouchure has established. The lip work is most important and not the jaw as on the clarinet playing!!!! Let me clarify the difference! Clarinet is placed mostly on the jaw on your mouth 45 degrees and saxophone is placed straight, 90 degrees and using lips muscles. In order to obtain light and not overbiting sound we need only lip muscles. How do you know when you are biting too much? We hear the narrow sound, tuning is awful and in different registers that you play!!!! To obtain good and light sound with good intonation we need to hold up the upper lip soft and upwards and the jaw straight down. Mosttuning work is done by the corners of the lip which in saxophone embouchure makes the most of the work. I do find difficult to write about a thing that we merely FEEL more than understand intellectually!You nedd to blow, make the sound in order to be able to correct the embouchure!

Dosation of the air and importance of breathing

Yes, wind instrument need air. Different phrases need different dosation of air. Breathing is also important for producing the sound. Right breathing is similar to singers, where vocal tract is working along in palying different registers, because it is all about SOUND. The saxophone is only your extension – I do repeat it often, we tend to manage always just on the moment of playing, but your work is with YOURSELF, your body. How you breath – next…..what sound comes out from your extension/saxophone? We need to practice the muscles that are between the open ribs, they create the space for DOWN part of the lungs – this kind of breathing leads to long phrases and you have big dynamic range as well very colourful sound. If you breathe with upper part of the lungs where the ribs are closed – the dynamic range is mostly just half loud, tuning is bad and you have a so called “tiny” sound colour, tiny sound in upper register and forced sound in low register. Music is the art of sound!

Be familiar with common articulation technics

In reading differents partitions, we need to have the articulation automatic habits. When slur start we should use soft attack, when we have not, the articulation is really concrete. Of course we have different publishing habits! In jazz and in barock music – they hardly note and we need to be aware of oral traditions and a lot of recordings help us with articulation use/traditions. In classical music we tend to note everything to the tinyest details and for classical saxophone we take a lot of articulations from violin and flute music. As saxophone is the youngest acoustic instrument and the last one before the electrical instruments came – we need to be the BRIDGE between both centuries!!!! Détaché=DU-DU-DU and Staccato and Staccatissimo (equal to violins pizzicato technic). The most difficult to obtain is Legato and to play slow notes in a beautiful sound and have a maximum use of air (using down-part of lungs) – all is under YOUR control!

Why the long notes?

Importance of long notes remains the same as for the beginners and for advanced saxophone players. So what is there so important, what is hidden inside? It is actually quite logic and simple. Our muscles and lungs need to operate every day, but the use of them in wind instrument as well as in sports remain the same – are we ingood shape or in bad shape? Is it 12 seconds or 42 seconds – who is in better shape? As well in breathing development we also train lips embouchure muscles to have a good dynamic range and perfect intonation. These tree basic and yet extremely important features in saxophone playing are so delicate to develop to obtain the steady sound, dynamic colours – all to serve rich variety of musical styles.

How to improve your sight-reading skills?

On a WIND instrument, sight-reading depends on the relationship between visual, mental, aural, and physical skills. The repertory may not provide a person with adequate fingering knowledge and general musicianship. In addition, EYE movements are REALLY seldom trained to recognise and to have the habit to read quickly notes and therefore to transfer through musical notation ALL you SEE through your instrumental skills. When I observe students during a sight-reading session, the most notable problem is their FIXED glance on the sheet music. Therefore I have included exercises strictly for developing fluid eye movements.

Scan the page to observe as many difficulties as possible

One approach is to glance from the upper left to the lower right of the page diagonally through the middle of the page. For a useful exercise, tap a pulse at the speed of crotchet = 60. Why 60? In my opinion, it is most common pulse or a tempo used in music and also the clock is ticking on the same pulsation, so we have a lot of touch in everyday life about this tempo 60. What do you SEE first? Does the tempo remains the same or does it changes? Next step is to look across the same line on beats one and two and name the highest note on that line on beat three-this is helpgul for phrasing. Repeat this procedure for each line to have an overview of phrase flowing structure. Identifying the highest note on each line will help one choose enough air to be able to play correctly and musically. The dose of AIR is the most important and crucial to understand. It is also helpful to locate visually any complex rhythms on the musical line which can then be of course carefully analysed more deeply. There are always 2 lines you need to practice 200 times more and that’s all!!! Easy!

Identify sequences and intervals

In fast movements the fluidity of sight-reading and eye movements and of course the brain needs to be very active! We need to recognise the sequences and intervals visually BEFORE you play them and follow the contour/structure of the note heads. The process is like that: READING AHEAD by looking towards the first note of each group and MEMORISING at least one beat of fast notes. DON’T STOP whatever happens, keep going! This visual skill can be practised actually WITHOUT the instrument. WHY? The control over the fingers is so essential while you are playing fast music, there in my practice the most effective has been working without blowing the saxophone. It needs some RETHINKING but it is so rewarding!!!! Hold a small sheet of paper in your hand and cover a group of notes after looking at them. Solfege (NAME the notes by heart) this group of notes without looking from the partition!!!!

Know all key signatures and be familiar with all diatonic scales

How important would be your theoretical knowledge about music you are about to play? Would be of course perfect to understand the backround of the music and style and how to achieve to play it correctly! It is helpful to practise scales without blowing the instrument, it is important to understand, that you need to divide the work between blowing, fingers, tonging, throat or vocal chord functioning…oh etc. So tehcnical skills like scales is all about finger work! In my practise I have got very good results working ONLY by saying notes AT THE SAME TIME moving my fingers exactly syncronised. So the work is essentially through the BRAIN, it is not only muscle of the hands! You NEED to understand the difference between that! More you practise like that more you are HOME one scales and in all keys. Also be able to start a chromatic scale from any note!

Be familiar with common metres and rhythms

This is again at first theoretical knowledge, but let’s take one of the most difficult mesures: triple metres of 6/8, 9/8 and 12/8 along with asymmetrical metres are particularly challenging to read in quick tempo. Why? We need to read eights ALL THE TIME! Because as the metre indicates, not quarter notes (like 2/4 or 3/4 etc), but eight notes, I like to think about it as a inside pulsation of these metres! Keeping the pulsation of eights during different syncopations and rests is very important sight-reading game. Again I do recommend to read without blowing, because we need to divide the brainwork, we do not need to be overloaded from stress to do 5 things right a way! So the work of rhythm doesn’t need blowing, because I do not need to practice blowing!!!!! So divide the work and you HAVE LESS STRESS. Again, NAME the notes and touch the fingers on your instrument AT THE SAME TIME! You need to develop the connection between brain (sight-reading) and fingerwork on your saxophone.

Choose a tempo in which you can play the most difficult passages

How to choose the tempo to achieve the right tempo on difficult passages? First, don’t stress on a high tempos, everybody can achieve them. Because the most important factor X is TIME that you pass on that passage! Of course we professionals, start from the low tempo and we are working on “forward-backforwar”d method. It is the same principle when we practice the scales, I mean UP and DOWN – so I DO THE SAME with difficult passages! I reduce and increase the tempos, every day during one year I do practice also different scales and that particualr difficult passage. When you arrive on your GENERAL TECNICAL tempo on 100 or more, then when you see on that tempo difficult passages, I can garantie you – they are no longer difficult. So very important is also to increase your work on everyday scales also the average of your scales tempo! There is no problem, if it stays 5 months on quarter note=60, because the most important is to be stable at this tempo and feeling good, the rest follows and you will enjoy all fast tempos!

Recognise and be familiar with all the intervals, both visually and aurally

In order to memorise the notes on fast sight-reading, we train our eyes to move really fast forward. The eyes have fabulous power to be 0,3 seconds ahead of what we actually do at the moment. So this is visually the most important to start to use and to start to TRUST! Well, we need to go once more time into the thoery of music. Intervals of perfect fourth, tritones, and sevenths, both major and minor, are particularly important in sight-reading. Be on the look-out for intervals which can be notated with enharmonic notes (Ab=G#, or Db=C#, Bb=A# etc) that make the original interval look different. But as we are saxophonists, we tend to think more in # than on bemoll/flat scales. I do react quicker when I see G#, C# and Bb, I know why. in the beginning of the studies we play C major, D major, G major, F major, Bb major! So we have already practiced more C# and Bb than Db or A#!!!! But nevertheless, it depends on a person’s backround and knowledge in music.

Listen to the other parts of the ensemble

Quite often we play in diferent groups or ensembles and we need to be very certain about our own written part, certain about our line, our contribution to make alltogther sound recogniseable piece of music. As well following the style, character and whole conception of the COMPOSER. While playing focus visually at the samet ime on your own individual part, really really really in focus. Music or composition consists often of the layers: rhythm, melody, middle voices, Dynamics, tempos, metress. LISTEN to the underlying rhythm of the composition and UNJDERSTAND HOW your part fits in the ensemble. It helps to visualise mentally the score from the parts that you hear. Listen a lot of music and analyse like Mozart did in live concerts, this is also developing your perception in music. General musical knowledge of music theory will help improve the sight-reading.

Opening Ceremonie

Hello world!


I am a saxophone teacher and contemporary chamber music teacher in College of Eller Music School Teacher . I have been a teacher since the year 1998, I have pupils from the beginning to the high level of instrumental skills as well as amateur skills saxophone players WHO LOVE SAXOPHONE. I am estonian, I do speak fluently english and french and little bit russian. You are welcome to connect with me!

I would like to share the materials that I have used with differents students, because it does change in a time and I am always open to share new things and ideas, all this is to make us richer in experience of allaround Continent.

How to find good mouthpieces, reeds, straps for beginners and on advanced level. How to start on saxophone, tutorial videos, masterclasses, tricks and effects on saxophone soprano, alto, tenor, bariton and basse. These are all thing I would like to share and I do hope that You ALL THERE share with me your eperiences.

Thank You! Ursula