Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Complete Approach to Sound for The Modern Saxophonist

I am pleased to announce that my book is officially in print. For those who haven't caught me talking about it yet, here is a quick description:

A Complete Approach to Sound for the Modern Saxophonist has been immediately recognized as “a highly-concentrated, efficient approach to tone production” by (Bret Pimentel, and has been endorsed by world-renown saxophonist Walt Weiskopf. The book is designed to guide saxophonists of any genre towards achieving their ideal sound. Pursuing this aspiration will not only result in a more beautiful and powerful tone, but it will also promote virtuosity in other areas of technique such as the ability to execute technical passages, extending the range of the saxophone to four octaves, and widening the palette of available tone colors. The guiding principles for reaching these goals are taught in the text as are corresponding specific exercises to help effectively achieve them. Many of the concepts in the book are based on those taught by Joe Allard and Sigurd Rascher, but the text also develops these ideas in new ways that help further expand the players capabilities.

Beyond the text, the book has a accompanying sound clips for many of the exercises which can be found at

Where To Get It

For those you who are already convinced, you can get A Complete Approach in print at CreatespaceAmazon, or Barnes and Noble, or you can get the digital version at Payhip. A kindle store version is in the works as well. 

Endorsement, Review, and Feature

"This is a terrific book on an often neglected yet integral part of saxophone playing. I recommend Ben's book to every serious saxophonist." - Walt Weiskopf

"...a highly-concentrated, efficient approach to tone production." - Bret Pimentel, full review

Article featured on

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 – Foundational Concepts
Introduction to Air Support
Exercise 1.1 - Breathing In
Exercise 1.2 - Blowing Hot Air
Exercise 1.3 - Up Against the Wall
Introduction to Embouchure
Exercise 1.4 - Mouthpiece Test
Exercise 1.5 - Mouthpiece Bends
Introduction to Air Stream Focus
Exercise 1.6 - Low vs. High
Focusing the Vocal Tract
Exercise 1.7 - Bending Up
Air Stream Focus vs. Embouchure Pressure
Other Contributing Factors

Chapter 2 – Air Support: The Key to the Saxophone
Exercise 2.1 - Long Tones on the Mouthpiece
Exercise 2.2 - Air Attacks
Exercise 2.3 - Low Note Bends
Air Support at Soft Dynamics
Exercise 2.4 - Whispering Hot Air
Exercise 2.5 - Soft Long Tones
Putting it to Practice

Chapter 3 – Embouchure
Embouchure Pressure
Sound and Feeling
Exercise 3.1 - Wrong Embouchure
Exercise 3.2 - Embouchure and Articulation
Exercise 3.3 - Interval Jumps
Embouchure Flexibility and Timbre
Exercise 3.4 - Roll In, Roll Out
Exercise 3.5 – Subtone vs. Full Tone
Looking Forward

Chapter 4 – Air Stream Focus
Exercise 4.1 - Lower Lip Out
Exercise 4.2 - Tongue Bends
Exercise 4.3 - First Flight
Techniques for Executing New or Difficult Overtones
Guiding Principles for Overtone Practice
Types of Overtone Exercises
Long Overtone Variations
Level I Exercises
Level II Exercises
Overtones and Altissimo
Exercise 4.4 – Multiphonics with Tongue Bends
Last Thoughts
Level I Long Overtones
Level I Overtone Flexibility
Level II Long Overtones
Level II Overtone Flexibility
Bugle Calls
Scales Using Multiple Partials
Scales Using a Single Partial
Slurring Up

Chapter 5 – Articulation
Articulation Techniques
Exercise 5.1 - The Lightest Articulation Possible
Exercise 5.2 - Moving Beyond Low Bb
Exercise 5.3- Legato Tongued Scales
Exercise 5.4 - Staccato Low Bb
Exercise 5.5 - High Register Staccato
Exercise 5.6 - Staccato Scales
Exercise 5.7 - Real Music

Chapter 6 – Daily Practice and Warm Up
An Approach to Daily Practice
Regularly Recording Yourself
Why Warm Up?
Importance of Long Tones
Warm up Outline
Customize Your Warm Up


About the Author

Excerpt from Exercise "Roll In, Roll Out"

"The amount of lip rolled in over the bottom teeth often changes according to the style of music. Typically, jazz and pop saxophonists will play with the lower lip rolled out in while classical players will tend to roll the lip in further over the teeth. A common problem with beginners is to have the bottom lip so far rolled in that it stops the reed from vibrating properly."

"For this exercise, play the following example, or a familiar melody, first with a majority of the bottom lip rolled over the bottom teeth. With the lip rolled too far in, as described, the sound can become thin and sometimes even harsh or biting. Next, roll the lip in only moderately so that a little less than half of it is pulled over the bottom teeth and play the melody again. The tone should have less highs and more depth than before. Now, roll out your bottom lip so that only a little of it remains between the bottom teeth and the reed and play the melody again. The sound will become brighter and lush. Some players will find they need to either roll their bottom lip in or out to achieve their desired sound. Make note of any needed change and review your bottom lip position and resulting sound regularly during your daily practice sessions until you have formed a consistent habit."

Excerpt from "Introduction to Air Stream Focus"

"Another foundational determinant of tone quality is the concept of air stream focus. The initial speed of the air stream is determined by your air support, but it can be further shaped by the vocal tract, which consists of the throat, tongue, and mouth. A well-focused vocal tract will help the tone sound supported, in tune, full and rich in harmonics. This will further relieve any need for added embouchure pressure."

"Controlling the muscles involved in focusing the air stream can be elusive and it is something most efficiently learned through experimentation with overtones, which will be addressed in chapter 4. However, you can start experimenting with some simple recommendations and exercises to begin learning this concept."

"The tongue plays a primary role in the vocal tract, and getting in the habit of placing it in a supportive position is one of the first steps to focusing your airstream. The tongue should be relaxed and wide, but the sides should be high enough in the mouth that they touch the bottom and sides of the upper back molars. Keeping the center of the tongue relaxed and wide, while raising its sides in the back to touch the top molars, will focus the airstream, and promote good tone quality and intonation."

Exercise 1.6 - Low vs. High

"This exercise contrasts incorrect and correct technique. First, play a medium fast slurred scale while keeping the sides of the tongue low so they are not touching the bottom back molars, and then contrast that with the correct technique described previously. Note how supported and in tune the sound is when using the correct technique and how dull and unsupported it is when the sides of the tongue are lowered."


Get A Complete Approach at:


  1. man! this is just pure genius. My interest in the saxophone has been to the pion that i have piecked it up about 3 weeks ago and was looking for such a thing. I am a blind jazz pianist though, so getting used to the transposition is a bit tricky, justlike with any other instrument. Now, I just highlighted the blindness part because the piano has its annoying technicalities (I must practice stride more to gain better control over distances ETC) but wit the saxophone, boom! its all suddenly within easy reach. I have not found yet a combination chart or whatever to let me know what the notes are, but with the help of my great great friend and sax player I can get a few tips here and there. Though, this book is great because the sound clips are just as complemetary as the presented information. The book is pretty readable and usable with screen readers, so anyone seeking it is pretty much in the right start. I commend you for your work and even though there could be slightly more descriptive text (you for example say "play this scale" but don't say probably which one) it is stilla good bet and has a lot of valuable information into it. Sure, I do also realize that I am still beginning and working on the long long notes, but I am slowly getting there. Its been a couple of days and i have tried to apply the first couple of chapters and it is working! SO again, thanks for exposing this book and I will be lookiing for any of the other books. not to mention tohat in my opinion it was a bit under priced, especially because the download process and everything was just so smooth, I ccould ravee on and on and on.. but just, thank you!

    1. Well thanks so much. I'm glad you are having success with it. If you do have any questions, I'd be happy to clarify. Just shoot me an email at

      Good luck!