Learn this relatively easy pentatonic lick for saxophone or any instrument by ear. This is a real public domain lick that can be used in all styles of music. It can be heard in lots of different musical situations and styles.
Easy Pentatonic Lick
This pentatonic lick is a great vehicle for practicing technique and rhythm. Just be sure to use a metronome as with all technical exercises. My favorite is the tonal energy app.
While I recommend you learn this by ear I’ve made a free PDF available to help you. It can be found with the backing track I’m using in the video as well as tons of other free saxophone learning resources in the BetterSax Shed.
If you don’t yet know what a Pentatonic Scale is you should enroll in the free BetterSax Play Sax By Ear Crash Course.
I also recommend you check out the Easy Pentatonic Lick I lesson.
Step 1 – Listen
First off, listen to me play the lick until you can sing it back to yourself. This lick is actually a pattern that you can start from any note of the pentatonic scale and you can continue the lick for as long or as short as you’d like.
To hear me play the lick, jump to 2:40 in the video.
Once you’ve heard me play this several times, on several different notes, you should have it in your ear. Go ahead and try singing the line back to yourself.
Step 2 – Play
Now that you can sing it, the next step is to play it.
There are 3 ways to do this.
- First is entirely by ear. Listen to the pattern, find the notes on your saxophone, and you’re off.
- You can also visualize the pattern by following the pattern of steps up and down and repeated notes
- Lastly you can also do this by reading sheet music. But you SHOULD do it by ear 🙂
I’ve never had a student not be able to play this pattern. I’ve had many that THOUGHT they couldn’t do it, but with a little time and effort in the practice room, they realized that they could absolutely do this by ear without the use of sheet music.
If you already know your pentatonic scale, this should be very easy for you to master.
Whichever way you go about learning this lick, the key is to practice it slowly.
Make sure you practice this with a metronome. Start with a nice slow, easy tempo – like 60 beats per minute. Even if you can only play one note per beat that is absolutely fine. Slow and perfect is always much better, than fast and messy.
Ultimately we want to be able to take a lick like this through all 12 keys.
Step 3 – Improvise
Once you have a solid grasp of this lick, can play it through the full range of the instrument, while starting on any note of the pentatonic scale – it’s time to improvise.
A great way to incorporate this lick into your improvisation vocabulary is to use it as a starting point. Start a phrase with the lick and then improvise to finish the phrase.
Listen out for other players using this exact line in recordings.