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how to Read Saxophone Sheet Music

Discover how to read sheet music in minutes

How To Read Saxophone Sheet Music

Learning to read music is definitely a different skill from actually playing the saxophone. As part of our ‘Beginner’s Guide To Learning The Saxophone’ selection, this segment will provide you with ample info to begin practicing this amazing skill.

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What is notation?

So how exactly does somebody from New Zealand write down something, and somebody in us can understand it? It’s because they follow the rules of reading and writing in the English language. Printed written music notation is exactly the same. If you’re in LA or Sydney, provided that you can decipher the symbols on the page, you can play the music.

But when was it created? Well, really early examples have been found on natural stone tablets as long ago as 2000 B.C. But the current variety we read now was actually produced by Catholic Monks to help make church music throughout the world a standard format!

How To Read Saxophone Sheet Music

Why Should You Learn To Read Music?

Learning how to read music will take time and effort. There are no two ways about it, it’s a difficult skill to learn.

If you’re looking to play pop music, it’s not so crucial that you discover how to read music. Nonetheless, if you do, you’ll find life easier down the road.

You may absolutely go down this path if you choose. Just understand that like riding a bike, reading music is really a skill you never forget – and the benefits massively exceed the drawbacks.

When You Learnt To Read And Write...

Whenever you were finding out how to read and write, did your educator treat them as the very same task? Most likely not. Physically writing letters and learning to control a pen, is actually a different skillset than reading how particular letters join together to make a word.

Reading music, and the whole process of learning to make it happen is the same.

The process of playing the saxophone is really a totally different skill from the process of reading the music which is put before you. Yes, you will discover a relationship. But it’s not precisely the same. So any educator who is not breaking up out these tasks, and teaching them through unique techniques, needs to be fired!

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The Treble Clef Staff

For saxophone, staff notation is organised around something known as the treble staff. This contains a stave (the term for the lines) of five lines and four spaces. It is usually labelled with a treble clef (the squiggly thing at the beginning of the line)!

Middle C sits in the space at the very bottom of the stave, on an imaginary line.

Notes can sit on a line or in a space. The vertical placement (height) of the note specifies the pitch. The higher up the stave, the higher the pitch. When the note would need to go higher or below the stave lines, we add mini lines for any note that is higher or lower. These lines are known as ledger lines.

Treble Clef Staff

The notes

So that we don’t need to count up from middle C to find our note, we are able to start using a technique – and it’s as simple as remembering the word FACE…


The 5 lines of the treble staff are EGBDF. The acronyms that happen to be popular are “Every Good Boy Does Fine” or “Every Girl Boss Does Fine.” We personally think they are pretty rubbish, and it’s far more fun to make up your own!


And simply for an overall view, here is the whole Treble Clef Staff, with all notes…

Treble Clef Staff

Tell Me About The Duration Of Notes

When reading sheet music, we read from left to right. Now we understand what situation on the stave makes what note, we must have a second instruction from the printed symbol. We have to discover how long to hold the note for.

The specific shape of the note and stick can let you know how long you’ll have to play the note.

  • A whole note (or if you are in the UK, it’s called a Semibreve) is an empty circle and lasts four counts.
  • A half note (or if you are in the UK, it’s called a Minim) adds a stem and lasts two counts.
  • A quarter note (or if you are in the UK, it’s called a Crotchet) fills in the circle and lasts one count.
Note Length
How To Read Saxophone Sheet Music

How To Read Saxophone Sheet Music - Summary

Good work!

You have the information and facts, now go and use what you’ve discovered! What’s that old saying about taking a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink…

It won’t surprise you to know that there is quite a bit more about reading music compared to what I’ve cited above. But we all have to start somewhere – and when you can reach the position where you remember all of this information and find it easy, you’ll then be ready to jump in deeper with your search for understanding!

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