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How to Play Saxophone Fast?

I want to be able to play really fast and ideally be able to play everything from the sheet right away. And play by ear. But give it time.


For the first part, playing fast, you just need to start slowly and then increase the speed as you master the music.  It doesn’t matter if you cut the speed in half.  Get to a tempo where you’re comfortable and work on whatever it is that you’re having difficulty with.  Then you gradually increase the speed.

The tool you use is the metronome.  So blow off the dust if it’s hidden away!  Or replace the battery.  Or just place it conveniently in the area you practice sax.

Being able to site read is also an issue of practicing slowly and building.  Begin with a slower tempo and practice site reading a little bit every day.  The rhythms and transitions that you once found challenging will become familiar and you’ll notice musical ideas that exist in many songs.

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  1. Hi Neal:
    I play an old Conn 16M tenor and when I saw the photo of you with your sax, It occurred to me that either the picture was taken through a mirror or it was a left-handed sax (which I’ve never seen sold, or advertised ).
    What at first caught my eye was the low Bb-C# keys on the left side and the reversed hand position (at least on the photo). My old Conn has the Low Bb and B keys on the left side and that gives me fits since I generally play with the sax against my right side and very often those keys will be held open as they brush against me, producing the predictable squeal . Could a reworking of the bracing on those keys be a possible remedy?

    • Hey Tony,
      Good eye! It’s not a left handed saxophone, just flipped horizontally in photoshop, seemed to look better that way on the right hand side. You’re the first one to notice.

      I have played some older saxophones with the low Bb-C# keys on the opposite side as well, feels a bit funny. Generally I play standing up, so it wouldn’t be as much of an issue then.

      When sitting…. you probably could figure out a system to add on something to the braces to make it not act funny when it comes in contact with you. I have seen people do extensive work on the palm keys to make them fit their hands better.


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