Alto Saxophone fingering for A note

How To Play A on Alto Saxophone

🎷 Written by: Greger Hillman, Your friendly saxophone teacher online

In this Sax lesson you will learn how to play A on Alto Saxophone. You can play the A note in two octaves on your saxophone and as you'll find out there is just one key that needs to be added (or removed) in order to switch between them.

And as a bonus you'll also learn an alternate A fingering to use for solos and when you want to add some interesting flavor to the A note sound on your Sax.. But first things first. Let's get you started on the basic A sax fingering first.

Play the A note on Alto Saxophone

Instructions: To play the A note on your saxophone you only need to use the index finger and middle finger on your left hand. The right hand do not push down any keys.

However, you should always keep it in place with the right thumb on the thumb plate, so that you can maintain a steady position of the mouthpiece in your mouth at all times. This is essential to your saxophone sound and part of  developing a good saxophone embouchure.

Play middle A on Alto Saxophone

To play the middle A note on Alto Saxophone you only use the index- and middle fingers. Looking on the front of your saxophone you'll see 5 keys.

Most alto saxophones has 4 pearl keys with a metal key up top (also known as the fork key).

Skip the top key (fork key) and press down the index finger (B note) and the middle finger (C note) together. Now you have the middle A fingering on saxophone.

Breaking it down even further it looks like this:

  • Fork key: Skip
  • B key: Use index finger
  • B flat key: Skip (a smaller key just below the B key)
  • C key: Use middle finger
  • G key: Skip
Play middle A note on saxophone fingering keys

The A note is usually one of the first notes saxophone beginners learn to play. It's one of the three notes (B-A-G notes) that gets you started playing songs like “hot buns” and similar beginner tunes for saxophone. (You can learn to play B on Alto Saxophone here and play G on Alto Saxophone here).

Play High A on Alto Saxophone

To play high A on Alto Sax you use three fingers in your left hand. This fingering builds on the middle A fingering and simply by adding the octave key you get high A on your saxophone.

With your left hand:

  • Index finger: press the B key on the front of the sax
  • Middle finger: press down the C key on the front of the sax
  • Thumb: press down the octave key (register key) on the back of the sax
Play high A on Alto Saxophone fingering key chart

The difference between middle A and high A on Sax

These are the two basic fingerings on saxophone and the only difference is that left thumb on the back of the saxophone.

  • Without the thumb you get the middle A note, also referred to as the A in the first octave.
  • With the thumb added you get the high A note on your saxophone, also referred to the A in the second octave

Alternate A note saxophone fingerings

You should definitely focus on the two basic A fingerings first as they are fundamental to your continued success playing the saxophone.

However, if you are looking to start improvising on the saxophone there are altered A fingerings that will give you more options to create interesting saxophone solos.

These alternate A fingerings stems from the regular A fingering on the Saxophone and the basic idea is this:

  • Finger the regular A with the octave key on your saxophone, giving you the high A
  • Using your right hand, push down on the three main keys (F, E and D) at the same time and you'll get a slightly altered A sound on the sax.
  • In order to get the full effect of this altered A note fingering you should alternate between the regular high A fingering and the alternate A fingering using a rhythmic pattern in order to incorporate the different sounds in your saxophone solos.

Want to learn all the Saxophone fingerings?

Great! Make sure to download the free Saxophone fingering chart PDF to keep as a reference when you practice your saxophone.

About the author

Hi there. I’m Greger Hillman, your friendly saxophone teacher online with a passion for playing and teaching the saxophone. It’s been over 35 years since I picked up the sax for the first time and it was love at first sight.

If you are just getting started playing saxophone I’m really excited for you and I’m looking forward to helping you become a better sax player starting rigt now. Check out the articles below.