I want to learn to play written music for the e-flat alto, and b-flat tenor saxophones. I have seen many recommendations for using the Rubank Method books to practice. I understand transposing instruments vs. concert pitch, but I find no clear information explaining that the Rubank books are written in anything other than concert pitch.

I've seen where people say that these books are for ALL saxophones (therefore, even C melody too). Since the fingering charts for any key of saxophone call the same fingerings by the same note names, that makes sense for any pitch of instrument.

However, different pitched instruments could not play the music as written at the same time. Is it intended for only a particular instrument pitch to play at a time regardless of real pitch sounded? How should a student with both b-flat and e-flat instruments use the Rubank Method books?

  • I just read that these exercises may be etudes: "a short musical composition, typically for one instrument, designed as an exercise to improve the technique or demonstrate the skill of the player." If that is the case, then real pitch probably doesn't matter. Jun 5, 2021 at 5:31

1 Answer 1


All of the Rubank books include on their front cover

A fundamental course for individual or like-instrument class instruction

This means the books can be used for, say, a class of B♭ tenor saxophones or a class of E♭ alto saxophones, but not for a class of both together.

A student learning both tenor and alto sax can use the single Rubank saxophone book, playing the exercises as written, but understanding that the sounding pitches will be different on each instrument.

Rubank Elementary Saxophone book front cover

  • Your explanation adds clarification to the statement on the cover, so it seems that any Rubank Method book could substitute for different families of instruments that play within the written pitch range. If that is true, how does the saxophone book differ from the clarinet or flute versions (I also have a clarinet)? Also, would the written notes be considered concert pitch or does that not apply to these exercises? Jun 5, 2021 at 17:00
  • 1
    @PeterBuxton Regarding how the different instrument books might differ, I would be guessing. But you're correct about concert pitch — it doesn't really apply here. The pitches are intended to be played as written for the particular instrument.
    – Aaron
    Jun 5, 2021 at 17:06

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