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Getting the most out of your online saxophone lessons

June 21, 2020
Getting the most out of your online saxophone lessons
Whether you decide to play sweetly, or tear down the house with some raucous noise, you’ve made an awesome choice in deciding to take online saxophone lessons.


Faculty Trainer | Sage Music

It’s loud. It’s crazy-looking. It’s been called “the devil’s instrument,” and people all over the world instantly associate it with the West. Particularly, the United States.

All kidding aside, the saxophone has access to a wide range of sounds and textures, and has been a staple in modern music for over one hundred years.

Whether you decide to play sweetly, or tear down the house with some raucous noise, you’ve made an awesome choice in deciding to take online saxophone lessons.

Really, all you need to have your saxophone lesson online are:

  • Your saxophone
  • An audio and video-enabled device
  • An internet connection

Equipped with these three basic things, you’re ready to learn to play the saxophone online!

But you’re here because you’re looking to get the most out of your saxophone lessons.

In that case, keep reading to learn what you’ll need for a top-notch online saxophone lesson experience.

Recommended equipment for your online saxophone lesson

The right device

To get started, you’ll need a video and audio enabled device.

A laptop with a large screen is preferred. This is because you’ll need to be able to see as much of your teacher as possible. You’ll need to see their hands on the saxophone keys, and their mouth blowing into the instrument, to have an effective lesson.

Using a laptop gives you a large screen to view your teachers’ demonstrations. A laptop will allow you to provide the best camera view for your saxophone instructor as well.

Additionally, laptops have the processing power for a smooth audio and video connection.

A tablet or smartphone with a tripod stand also works in a pinch. But remember, you may not have the best view of your teacher, and your teacher may not have the best view of you.

A fast internet connection

A strong internet connection is also essential to a successful online music lesson experience. Any equipment we list here will be useless if your saxophone teacher isn’t able to see you or hear you clearly.

The recommended speed for video conferencing is at least 10mbps, both for uploads and downloads. You can test your connection speed here.

Connecting to the internet directly using an ethernet cable will give you the fastest connection, so go for it if you can!

Headphones or Earbuds

Wearing headphones or earbuds during your online saxophone lesson will make it easy to hear your instructor. You’ll be able to really focus on the nuances in their playing.

If you’re using corded headphones, ensure that the cord runs down your back and not the front. Otherwise you risk getting tangled up in cables while trying to play!

To completely eliminate any issues with having a headphone cord get in the way, consider a pair of bluetooth headphones or earbuds. These will give you free range of motion while you learn to play your saxophone.

Some bluetooth headphones to try:

USB Microphone

For online saxophone lessons, it’s best to use a quality USB microphone if you have one instead of the microphone on your device.

You will ideally direct your saxophone bell (the large, flared opening of your saxophone) at the USB microphone.

The saxophone bell is where most of your sound will come from. So you want the microphone to be aligned with the bell as much as possible.

For this reason, a headset is not the best for online saxophone lessons. Headsets are designed to pick up audio that comes directly from your mouth.

And the saxophone bell is far from your mouth, toward the bottom of the instrumen. So a headset isn’t useful for picking up sound from a saxophone.

You’ll want your teacher to hear your saxophone clearly so that you can get the best advice for your practicing and playing.

Here are some solid USB mics:

Of course, if you don’t have a USB microphone, you can use your device’s internal microphone.

Recommended set up for your online saxophone lessons

Camera positioning

Position your camera so that your hands, mouth, and the keys of your instrument are in full view.  While it’s nice to see each other face to face, providing a view of your hands and mouth for your instructor will be best.

You’ll also want to place the camera facing away from any light sources. For instance, a camera facing a window with lots of light coming in will make it very hard to see!

Ideally, any light source should be in front of you and you should ideally be in front of a plain wall to provide the clearest picture for your saxophone teacher.

Conklin at Sage Music
Move the camera far enough away from you so that your instructor can fully see your torso, your posture, your hands, and your mouth.

Where to stand (or sit)

Position yourself with your music stand directly in front of you, and the laptop approximately 45 degrees to your right.

This angle is important so that your instructor can properly see your fingers on the keys of the instrument. This way, your saxophone teacher can best see your form and movements. And help you avoid bad posture.

Saxophones (of all sizes) are fairly big, so it’s best to stand if you are able.

If you need to sit, position your camera far enough away so that your instructor can fully see both hands and your mouth.

Conklin at Sage Music 2
This is ideal positioning for your online saxophone lessons. Notice the angle of the music stand and laptop relative to the student.

Pro tip: The most effective way to set up for your online saxophone lesson is to use a video-enabled laptop, and an additional video-enabled device with a tripod.

Use the laptop for face-to-face interaction and to see your saxophone instructor’s demonstrations. Use the additional device to focus on your note fingerings, posture, etc.

If your teacher is using this two-device setup as well, having a large screen on your laptop will make it easier to see both of their camera views.

In sum, the best way to set up for your online saxophone lessons is to make sure your instructor is able to see as much of you as possible, and vice versa. This way, they can ensure that you have great posture while practicing, so that you can avoid injury and play to the very best of your abilities.

Some final helpful tips

Have a notebook handy

In addition to all these important tips, to have the most success with your online saxophone lessons, you’ll want to make sure that you have a notebook and pen or pencil handy. Taking notes will help you learn and retain information in the best way.

Take good care of your instrument

Also remember to take care of your instrument so it doesn’t break down.

You want to take excellent care of your saxophone especially with online lessons, because your teacher will not be able to play your instrument for you to test how well it functions, or confirm if it needs repairs. 

Be sure to:

  • Empty all moisture from your saxophone after every time you play
  • Gently clean your instrument after each session
  • Store your reeds and your saxophone properly

Don’t wait!

Perhaps most important of all is this: don’t wait until you have all of these resources in place to start learning! Above all of these helpful tips, you should be enjoying yourself and playing music you love! 

A knowledgeable and professional saxophone instructor––like the instructors at Sage Music––will know just how to guide you in getting started toward your goals. 

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