[Video] Saxophone Scales for Alto Saxophone and beyond


You have to learn the scales, man!

-Have you heard that one before?



more information below….

Well, it’s true and in this post I’m going to outline why it’s important to spend time on learning the saxophone scales.

But first, let’s just clarify one thing. There’s not really any Saxophone Scales per se. These scales are equally important for all instruments and are important building blocks of music as we know it.

There are many different types of scales. You’ve got major scales, minor scales, blues scales, pentatonic scales and the list goes on and on.

If you are in the first stages of learning saxophone you probably get a bit overwhelmed by this. I know I was in the beginning.

However, if you think about it for a bit it’s pretty simple. You need to start from the beginning, with the foundation.

Imagine that you would start building a house from the second floor and up – Impossible, right?

The same thinking applies to learning saxophone and learning all those scales that I just mentioned. You’ve got to start from the bottom and work you way up. So, when we look closer to these scales we need to start with the most common ones.


“In this article we will look closely at the major scale which, along with the minor scale, is the most common basic scale.”


Get started with the major scale

So, I’d like you to get started with the scales and that’s why I’m including parts of a premium saxophone scale lesson here for you to enjoy. This particular lesson is part of “the 12-week major scale challenge”, which is designed to help you learn all major keys on saxophone.

full challenge only available for members

The major scale

There are 8 notes within the major scale. Take a look at the video below where I cover the basic formula of the major scale more in depth. I’ll explain why in just a minute, but first lets find out a little bit more about the major scale.



In this video I walk through the different steps within the major scale. To keep it simple I’m using an example using the C major scale. I do this mainly because it’s using “just the white keys” on the piano and the scale doesn’t have any *accidentals.

*An Accidental could be used to describe how a note should be either lowered a half step (b), so that it becomes a flat or it could be raised a half step (#), so that it becomes a sharp.


The notes in the C major scale are:

C - D - E - F - G -A - B - C


Do you recall the scale formula from the video?


The major scale formula

Whole step - Whole step - Half step - Whole step
- Whole step - Whole Step - Half step

Learning this scale formula will open up a new door for you if you are just getting started with the saxophone.

As you practice your major scales, regardless of instrument, you’ll also develop a sense of tonality for the scale, which is really useful and will help with your saxophone progression.


Learn the C-major scale on sax

Notation of the C-major scale


 A few final words about scales.....


Why you should study the saxophone scales?

Most music in the world are based on the major and minor scales. That means that as you are learning to play melodies for various songs, they will all have there base in either the major or the minor scale.

As an example, imagine that you have a melody in F-sharp which has 6 altered notes or sharps (#).

If you already know the F-sharp saxophone scale it's going to be a lot easier for you to play that melody! 


About The Author

Greger Hillman

Greger has been playing saxophone for almost 30 years and is a certified teacher as well as a well experienced musician. With the Learn saxophone Online website he shares his knowledge with students from all over the world. Here's more information on the Sax School.