Today we are going to learn how to play 3 very popular songs on the saxophone. I’m also going to tell you how you can get the sheet music for free as well as these very cool, smart accompaniment tracks to play along with.
This is a super fun way to get better on the sax, so let’s jump right in.
“Perfect” by Ed Sheeran
This is a great simple melody that’s going to be very easy for us to learn. Thanks to Tomplay for sponsoring this video and for providing us with the sheet music as well as the fantastic accompaniment tracks.
To play Perfect on alto saxophone, all you need is your F major scale, if you play tenor or soprano sax, it’s your Bb major scale. On the Tomplay app, you just choose the tenor sax version and it transposes everything for you.
Now, if you read sheet music, Tomplay is great, it has thousands of songs like this, you just choose what you want to play, pick the difficulty level right for you, and go. I’m playing on the intermediate version. But, as I said, all the notes for this song come out of the major scale, so if you know that scale, and the melody pretty well, you can just kinda play the lyrics on your saxophone. This is great if you don’t read sheet music that well.
And this way you end up playing a version of the song that’s unique to you. So what I like to do is, when I open the score in Tomplay, I choose this TomImprov version. This gives me more of a lead sheet that serves as a guide. You see it gives me the first bit of the melody and the chords. So now, I can just play the tune along with this guide without reading anything.
Now here’s a power tip I want you to try on any song you’re playing. Instead of just playing the notes, I want you to play the words on your saxophone. Just thinking of the lyrics in this way makes a huge difference in how the melody comes out.
“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
Next song that is great for beginner sax players, is Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers. This melody has even fewer notes, there’s only 6 in the whole thing.
The song is in the key of F# minor for alto saxophone and I like to think of this as being a minor pentatonic scale melody that occasionally has 1 extra note in it, the 2nd scale degree or G#.
I have a whole method for learning to play songs by ear and improvise that is perfect for beginner sax players. It’s called the Pentatonic Foundation, linked in the description.
Now if you want the sheet music and backing tracks for these songs and thousands of others, click the link in the description to sign up for a free 14 day trial of Tomplay. You get full access for 2 weeks and you should be able to learn these 3 songs in that time no problem. You can change the tempo, follow along on the fingering guide if you need any help there, record yourself right into the app, play with or without the recored saxophone part or vocals, and a whole lot more.
It really is an amazing tool for practicing and learning on any instrument. I know lots of people who watch BetterSax videos are getting a tremendous value out of their Tomplay subscriptions. So I encourage you to give it a try, and at least take advantage of the 2 weeks they are offering for free with that link in the description.
So again the choice is yours, either you read the sheet music, or do like I do, think of that scale and just play the lyrics on your saxophone. Let’s give it try together using the TomImprov score…
Fly Me to The Moon
So we had a pop tune, a soul tune, and now let’s go with a jazz standard, Fly Me to the Moon. Now don’t worry, this song is something beginners can handle and I’m going to show you how.
Assuming you know how the melody goes pretty well already, I want you to think of the notes for Fly Me to the Moon as being your A major scale on the alto saxophone, D major for tenor and soprano.
Most of the melody is just the scale moving up and down. We start on the root, go down 5 notes, and then back up. Then we skip back up to the root and go down again.
When we get to the first syllable of the word Jupiter, we have our first non diatonic note. That just means a note outside of that major scale. And that’s our F natural, and then we go back down the scale.
On the word In of “In” Other Words, we have our second non diatonic note, which is an A# otherwise known as Bb. So if you keep in mind those 2 oddball notes, and the words they land on, you have the tricky parts all worked out.
The rest of the song is always notes from that A major scale, and most of the time the melody is moving in steps up and down the scale. I like to learn melodies this way without the sheet music so that I can play with my own phrasing, and it just looks better when you’re performing to not be tied to the sheet music.
But if you need it, the Tomplay app has us covered. I’m going to play this one for you and select the TomImprov score. Remember I’m trying to play the lyrics on my saxophone.
Don’t forget to sign up for your free 14 day trial of Tomplay using the link in the description, and let me know in the comments how the app works for you and how you’re using it. Then go watch this video next to learn how to improvise over basic chord changes, like you find on Ain’t No Sunshine.