I do not have any prior musical training. I do not know how to read music.

The only instrument I have played are a keyboard and a harmonica. I think I can learn the saxophone if I remain as passionate as I am now, but I seek advice first because buying a saxophone is a costly affair.

Does learning a saxophone involve a very steep learning curve? I know most people start playing in their school-days. Is it too late for me to start? (I am 22)

I really want to play like David Sanborn some day.

All suggestions are welcome!

  • 7
    It's never too late to learn music :) Nov 30, 2013 at 7:21
  • 1
    I started learning clarinet in my 30s, together with my kids. Soon I got a sax too. As long as you 1. get a teacher and 2. practice often you can learn anything you want. OK you may not make it to Carnegie Hall, but you can jam with your mates. These days I play with 2 big bands and people pay to get in! It's never too late to start. Start with a used or borrowed instrument - your teacher may help you here.
    – RedSonja
    Jun 23, 2015 at 7:40

3 Answers 3


As has been said so many times - get a good teacher - at least for a while. I believe anyone can learn to play an instrument by themselves - if they live long enough !! A teacher will guide you to a suitable sax, be it soprano, alto tenor or baritone (quite expensive). Watching videos and using tutor books is good, but they won't answer a question you suddenly come up with while you're playing. A teacher will.

Some music schools will let you rent an instrument which can eventually be bought. You should go to music shops and talk with the guys there about your dreams - they have lots of experience playing, and maybe know a person to point you to.

Learning to play an instrument and learning to read music are two different skills, and I always advocate getting to know the instrument and making sounds with it well before starting to correlate dots to fingering.

No, even in retirement it's never too late. Just make the time to practise and play.It's worth the effort !

  • 1
    I’d also add the very usual: a teacher will tell you what you do wrong. This is especially important in the early stages of learning, where you have to learn how to produce sound: how to take your mouthpiece, how to “hit” the reed with your tongue — you don’t want bad habits there, and with a saxophone, it’s easy enough to “force” sound just by blowing harder. Plus they’ll tell you when you need to switch to harder reeds, help you find the right mouthpiece. When you want to buy an instrument, they can even try them for you — because a good serial number never guarantees a good instrument.
    – Édouard
    Nov 30, 2013 at 11:16

Even if the question has an accepted answer I would like to leave my answer to tell you about my encouraging experience with the saxophone.

I never had any musical education but that didn't stop me from buying a Xaphoon In July 2006. I played the thing by ear for a few months. It was dreadful at start but the sound got better sounding after 6 months. Around this time (Feb 2007) I met a sax player at a party and asked him if he would give me some classes which he did; and after trying a Tenor and a Alto sax I bought myself a Alto saxophone: a beautiful copper coloured Jupiter Colorado (I don't mean to publicize it but I'm so proud of it still today that I cannot resist... :-) Note that at this point I still had no musical education but had some money to spend on it and definitely a huge willingness to learn music and how to play it.

A couple of months after starting these classes I realized that to play by hearing it, would require much more time practicing than I could afford so I decided to join a music academy where I started learning music and the instrument. This was September 2007.

Three years later (August 2010) I was doing this, and 2 more years on there was some improvement... :-) The video is the same but the sound track was replaced by a more recent one and I guess you can tell the difference (also the recording equipment was much better). Today, two years after that last recording I feel I have progressed even further and all of it was due to a great, great teacher (see Tim's answer ;-). I have also started composing a few pieces and harmonizing them.

Oh, and in 2014 I'm 43 so I started with 36 and to me being 22 is probably what you refer to as "school days"!!! ;-)


To learn to play the saxophone, you just need to get your notes and hearing right. Practice with a lot of sample notes and before you know it, you are developing speedily. Check out saxophonist who started to play just three months back.

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