The B major scale on saxophone has five sharps (♯) which are C♯, D♯, F♯, G♯, and A♯. It is one of the more complicated Major Scales to learn on Saxophone due to a couple of challenging fingering combinations.
Especially going from C♯ to D♯ and from G♯ to A♯. These fingerings take some extra practice to get used to.
That being said, studying the B major Scale is also something you should be doing once you've learned those basic Major Scales on your sax.
Playing the B Major Scale on Saxophone
The B Major Scale can be played over two octaves on the Saxophone. From low B to middle B (1st octave) and from middle B to the high B (2nd octave).
Related resource: Saxophone Fingering Chart
Here's the B major scale in the 1st octave. It's a good starting point for learning the B Major Scale on your sax and as you can see in the image you have the note names labeled above each note.
Basic facts of the B major Scale
The notes in the B Major Scale are: B – C♯ – D♯ – E – F♯ – G♯ – A♯ – B
The intervals of the B Major Scale are: W – W – H – W – W – W – H
The letter W stands for Whole Step. Observing the piano keys, you can note that the interval between B and C♯ is a Whole Step (W) as it spans the distance of two half steps.
The Letter H stands for Half Step. On the piano keys, instances of this are between the notes D♯ and E and the notes A♯ and B in the B Major Scale. These half step intervals don't have other notes in between, marking them as true half steps.
B major Scale intervals explained
I often use the keys on a piano when I teach my saxophone students as it is visual and makes it easier to understand the intervals when you can see them.
Looking at the image above, you can see that the B Major Scale on Piano has five sharps (♯) and uses both white and black keys. Those black keys represent the C♯, D♯, F♯, G♯, and A♯ notes.
Practicing B Major Scale on Saxophone
Begin practicing the B Major Scale by starting on the root (B) through each note in the scale up to the octave (B). This will help you get used to the fingerings.
Most of my saxophone students find it a bit challenging to play the combinations going from C♯ to D♯ and from G♯ to A♯ at first. It's totally normal as these are some tricky fingering combinations.
The solution to this is to break out and practice these fingering combinations isolated like this:
- Start by fingering C♯ to D♯ back and forth. Slowly, without playing the sax
- Next, repeat the same combination (C♯ to D♯) but this time play and tongue the notes
- Finally, play the notes (C♯ to D♯) again without using tonguing and aim to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Once you've feel confident with C♯ to D♯ repeat the process going from G♯ to A♯. This is a technique I use all the time to break down difficult fingerings and to practice them isolated.
Basic B Major Scale patterns to practice
Ascending and Descending Scale Practice:
Begin with the B major scale in the second octave as it runs through the middle range of the saxophone. Once you're comfortable playing the scale in the second octave you can drop down to low B and play it in the first octave as well.
However, start by ascending from the root note (middle B) to the octave (high B), and then descend back to the root.
Prioritize maintaining a correct embouchure and proper air support for each note, so that all notes are clear and even. This can be a challenge, especially when moving through the more tricky fingerings.
The key thing here is to practice slowly, so that you learn the fingerings for B Major Scale for real. Skimming over the notes and fingerings won't do you any good so it's better that you put in the time now.
Start on the root note (B) and skip to the third note (D♯), then return to the second note (C♯) and skip to the fourth note (E). Continue this “ladder” pattern until you reach the 9th note (the C♯) and land on the octave B note.
The Scale interval pattern looks like this:
- B-D♯, C♯-E, D♯-F♯, E-G♯, F♯-A♯, G♯-B, A♯-C♯, B.
Practicing the B Major Scale Arpeggio on your saxophone will help you go beyond the basic exercises where you play the scale up and down.
With Arpeggios it looks like this:
- Start on the Tonic (Middle B) » Play third (D♯), the fifth (F♯), and the octave (high B)
- Drop to low B and play the same intervals starting on the Tonic (Low B) » the third (D♯) » the fifth (F♯) » the octave (high B)
- The Arpeggio Sequence ascending is: B-D♯-F♯-B
- The Arpeggio Sequence descending is: B-F♯-D♯-B
Practicing arpeggios helps you reinforce “the sound of the primary chord” (B Major) within the scale. This is something I introduce to my students when they've learned the B Major Scale well as it adds more complexity. Still, it's a good exercise and will help you stretch both your fingerings and mind.
B Major Scale Triads
Moving beyond these exercises there's the Major Scale Triads which help you really stretch both your mind and fingering capabilities on your saxophone.
Before moving on to Major Scale Triads I recommend that you learn the basic Scale exercises (going from the the root to the octave and back down) for all 12 Major Scales on Saxophone first.
Once you've learned the intervals of the Major Scale (W – W – H – W – W – W – H) you can transpose it to any Major key as they all follow the exact same pattern.