Playing Altissimo On The Saxophone
In this series of videos, we look at some exercises that will help you get started on the road to playing altissimo, then how to incorporate the high notes into your playing and some very cool advanced techniques.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Moving On
In this video, we look at exercises that will give you more control over your throat, airstream and embouchure. Then we look at playing altissimo notes and how to incorporate them into your playing.
Discuss this tutorial here.
timestamp 0:13  To be able to play altissimo well, you need good control over your overtones. Once you can play the overtone series up and down, try playing some different patterns e.g.
  • 1-2-3, 2-3-4, 3-4-5, ...
  • 1-3, 2-4, 3-5, ...
To be able to do this, you have to hear each note in your head before you play it.

It's very important to use the correct technique when sounding out each overtone! Don't overblow or bite down on the reed, just use your throat, airstream and embouchure.

timestamp 1:13  To start playing some real altissimo notes, go through some fingering charts e.g. this one.

It's important to make notes e.g. which fingerings are in tune, sharp or flat, which fingerings allow for easy transitions to other notes, which fingerings work for more than one note, etc.

timestamp 2:17  The fingering chart you produce is not the most important thing, it's the process you go through to make it. Trying to make each fingering work will teach your body how to control your throat, airstream and embouchure that will ultimately enable you play well in the altissimo range.

timestamp 2:52  Once you can play some altissimo notes, the next step is to incorporate them into your playing. It's important to keep it musical - just squeaking out the odd high note is not going to impress anyone, it just annoys the neighbours!

Ear-training is critical - since each fingering can play multiple notes, you have to be able to hear the note in your head before you play it. Play lines in the normal register, to get the sound of it, before trying it in the upper register.

timestamp 3:42  The ultimate goal is to be able to transition seamlessly between the normal and altissimo registers, without the listener being able to tell.