In this tutorial, I give you some tips & tricks that will help you start to crush your altissimo notes on the saxophone. The goal with altissimo notes is for them to be a functional part of your saxophone playing and not just special high notes. The way we accomplish this goal is by:

  1. Connecting your altissimo notes by sluring chromatically from altissimo G up to altissimo D.
  2. Connecting your altissimo notes by tonguing chromatically from altissimo G up to altissimo D.
  3. Playing interval jumps between regular register notes and altissimo notes.
  4. Playing short easy melodies like nursery rhymes in the alitssimo register.

By practicing these exercises (and many more inside the Sax School) you will be crushing your altissimo notes and turning them into a regular part of your sax arsenal.

INSIDE THE SAX SCHOOL

If you are looking for a step-by-step guide on learning how to play or improve altissimo on the saxophone, then you have come to the right place! Inside the Sax School, we have an entire course that takes you from getting your first altissimo note all the way through mastering your altissimo. This course is done on both alto sax & tenor sax and includes altissimo fingerings, altissimo embouchure positions, altissimo tongue positions, and a step-by-step process of working your way through learning all of your altissimo notes – one at a time, and then connecting them. So whether you are an altissimo beginner, or already have some experience but would like to improve your altissimo, we’ve got you covered! Click the “ENROLL NOW” link in the top menu to make a giant step forward in your altissimo journey today.

HOW TO CRUSH YOUR ALTISSIMO – video transcription

0:00:06.4 Scott Paddock: What’s up everybody. My name is Scott Paddock. And today, I’m gonna give you a couple of tips and tricks on how to crush your altissimo.

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0:00:18.7 SP: Being able to play functional altissimo notes on your saxophone can definitely be a big challenge. But some of the tips and tricks I’m gonna give you today is gonna make it way easier to figure out how to make those notes stop being special notes, special high notes and turn them into notes that you just play on your saxophone, just regular, everyday normal notes. Now, this video is gonna be for people who already know how to play altissimo notes. This is not a beginner guide to playing altissimo, so if you’re gonna work on this video, you need to already be able to play your notes. Now they don’t need to be perfect, they don’t need to be great, but you need to know the fingerings and you need to know how to get them out. So if you are a beginner on altissimo and you’re looking for a video about how to learn how to play altissimo, I already did one of those. Check it out on my YouTube.

0:01:03.1 SP: Okay, so let’s dive in. Our goal with altissimo is to have them become everyday, normal, functioning notes on your saxophone, not special notes that you play only at a certain point when everything is set up perfectly, and you have plenty of time to figure out how to get to that note. We want them just to be everyday notes that you play. I’ll teach you to play a high G, an altissimo G, an altissimo B, whatever, we want them to be normal parts of your saxophone playing. So here are some steps to make that happen. So for these examples, we are gonna go from altissimo G to altissimo D. So we’re gonna cover that fifth, all the half steps in between. So the first thing we’re gonna do is start on a G and slur our way up to a D.

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0:01:52.5 SP: Now, that might take you a little while to do. That’s your very first step is being able to slur from your G to your D. Now, I did it fairly quickly. I would suggest doing it slow and taking your time, but don’t do it too slow because you have to hold those notes out, and it is definitely a lip killer. So something else to think about when you’re practicing your altissimo is you should only practice it for about three to five minutes at a time, because it is a definite lip killer. So if you practice more than five minutes, your lip is gonna get tired and you’re gonna start missing things for sure, and it’s gonna affect the rest of your practice time. Okay, so step one is ascending, meaning going up slurred notes.

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0:02:35.5 SP: Once you can do that and it’s very functional and it feels pretty good, and you can hit it the majority of the time, with altissimo, it is never 100% of the time. It’s not something like playing a G in the middle of your saxophone, so you’re not always gonna hit those notes. But if you’re getting them pretty consistently, you’re on the right track. So step one, slur your notes ascending from G to D, and then obviously the next step would be slur them back down. So we’re gonna slur all the way up and slur all the way down.

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0:03:10.2 SP: Once you can do that, the next step is doing the exact same thing, except tonguing them, so in a tongue four-quarter notes ascending.

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0:03:31.5 SP: So at the end, it started to crack ’cause I was running out of air. Again altissimo notes are never 100%. I would suggest maybe taking a breath after your A. So I started on my G. Taking a breath at some point, maybe after your A, just because once you get up past your B flat, restarting the note is gonna be pretty tough. So I’ll take a breath this time so you can get an idea what I’m talking about.

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0:04:03.7 SP: And as you notice, as I get up really high, especially on that D, tonguing it becomes very difficult, so again, it’s not always gonna be 100%, but the easier it is for you to tongue those notes, the more control you’re gonna have over them. Now, obviously, once we go up, we wanna come back down, but we’re gonna need to breathe. It’s gonna be a little bit more difficult than the slur, for sure. So we’re gonna start on our G, go all the way up to our high D and we’re gonna tongue. I’m gonna go a little bit faster just so that I don’t have to hold my breath as long.

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0:04:50.7 SP: So that is your next step. Descending is gonna be tough, especially when you have that high D, the high C sharp and the high C. Those notes are so close to each other up that high, especially with your tongue movement and all that kind of stuff, that it’s gonna be pretty tough, but work on that. Get it down as clean as you can. I find it easier to do a different rhythm than just straight quarter notes.

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0:05:19.4 SP: So if you’re gonna do something like that where you’re just kind of playing with the rhythm, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re tonguing the notes. That might make it a little bit easier for you than just playing straight quarter notes. Okay. Your next step in making these notes functional, is figuring out how to play melodies up there. So I like to have my students play nursery rhyme or really easy three-note melodies in different keys up there just to try to get them used to moving their fingers and playing actual musical ideas up there. So the first one I always have them start with is Mary Had a Little Lamb in the key of G, so that’s B, A, G, 3,2,1.

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0:06:01.4 SP: Then once you can play it in G, then do it in the next key, which would be A flat, so that would be C, B flat and A flat.

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0:06:12.3 SP: Then of course, the next one would be A, so it would be C sharp, B and A.

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0:06:25.7 SP: Then the next one would be our last key, which would be B flat, so you’d have high D, C and B flat.

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0:06:37.5 SP: And so on and so forth. So work on little nursery rhymes. It’s gonna make your life way easier when it comes to getting those notes functional because you’re gonna get used to moving your fingers. So again, Mary Had a Little Lamb is a good one. Hot Cross Buns.

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0:07:05.7 SP: That’s a good one also. So another really good one is, I don’t know the name of the song, I should probably know the name of it. But it’s one, two, three, two, one, two, three. It keeps going back and forth. It’s a classical song.

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0:07:21.2 SP: That’s a really good one to get your fingers moving because it’s a little bit faster, then do it in the next key up.

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0:07:30.4 SP: And so on and so forth. So playing those nursery rhymes is kind of the key to really getting your fingers down up there. And I know it might feel a little funny to be playing Mary Had a Little Lamb or Hot Cross Buns, but if you can do that up in the altissimo, you can also play other ideas with no problem. And the whole idea is getting your fingers used to moving around up there with those weird fingerings for the altissimo. Alright, so this has all been working on getting those altissimo notes to be functional. Another really big part of altissimo is getting through the break, getting over the break into your altissimo notes. So the next thing is to be practicing your major scales going up into the altissimo. I suggest starting off tonguing them ’cause it’s a little bit easier to get over the break when you tongue, but tongue your major scales, just do them in one octave and do the altissimo. I’ll start off on G.

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0:08:21.4 SP: Then A flat.

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0:08:25.9 SP: Then A.

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0:08:30.5 SP: So on and so forth until you get up to the high D. Now we’ve worked on getting our notes functional once we’re up in the altissimo. Then we worked on getting over the break. The last thing we’re gonna work on is hitting those notes out of nowhere. So the way to do that is to practice octaves. So the first one we’re going to start on is G, we play our middle G, our high G and then our altissimo G.

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0:08:53.7 SP: Then the same thing on A flat.

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0:08:57.9 SP: Same thing on A.

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0:09:03.7 SP: Then B flat, so we’re going to start on a low B flat, so we’re gonna do four octaves with this.

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0:09:09.2 SP: B.

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0:09:14.6 SP: C.

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0:09:19.0 SP: C sharp.

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0:09:23.9 SP: Now, you might have noticed on that last note, instead of hitting the note right on, I slid into it a little bit. When you get up that high, the notes again, like the tongue movement is so small that you’re gonna get a little sharp or a little flat, so you’re gonna have to zero in on that note.

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0:09:39.9 SP: There’s all that stuff in there that you can just do with your tongue, so you wanna try as hard you can to hit that octave.

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0:09:46.8 SP: And then of course, the last one on D.

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0:09:54.9 SP: Now, once you get that down, try doing it faster with as few breaks as possible.

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0:10:13.6 SP: Now, if you notice again, when I go to that C sharp and that D, it’s gonna take a little bit longer to zero in on that note, so feel free to slow it down or take your time. But the more you work on it, the easier these notes get and the idea is to have them functional when you’re up there, and to be able to hit them out of nowhere. So those are some tips and tricks on how to crush your altissimo notes. Thanks for taking the time to check out this video. If you have any questions, leave a comment below. If you have suggestions for future videos, please leave me a comment. And if you enjoy my content, I would really appreciate it if you would hit the subscribe button, and tell your friends, give me a thumbs up, I really appreciate it. Thank you.

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