In this sax lesson you will learn how to play E flat and D sharp on Alto Saxophone. It's actually the same fingering for both notes. The only “difference” is how the notes are written in sheet music, which depends on what key the song is played in.
So, I'll be referring to the E flat note below but that also applies to the D sharp note on your sax. The E flat note can be played in three octaves on your Saxophone and we'll cover all three fingerings in this lesson. Let's get you started!
Playing the E flat note on Alto Saxophone
Instructions: The E flat note can be played in three octaves on the alto saxophone. The basic fingering require you to use both hands palming the saxophone with both thumbs on the supporting plates on the back of the saxophone. You should also always use a saxophone neck strap which should take about 80% of the saxophone weight.
Low E flat on alto sax
Place your left hand on the upper section of the saxophone with your left thumb on the plate on the back of the sax. Finger the B, A and G notes on by pressing down those keys on the saxophone.
At the same time your right hand (positioned on the lower section of the saxophone) need to be pressing down the E, F and D keys at the same time.
In addition to that your right pinky needs to push down the E flat key on the saxophone. All together you'll pushing down the B, A, G keys (right hand) and the E,F, D and E-flat keys in your right hand.
This will give you the low E flat on your saxophone.
Note from the saxophone teacher: Playing E flat on saxophone is fairly straight forward. The only difference between the low E flat and the low D is that right pinky. If you are having problems hitting the E flat note on your saxophone you can start with the low D fingering and then add the E flat key (right pinky) to that D fingering and voila! You are playing low E flat on your sax.
Middle E flat on alto sax
To play middle E flat and D sharp on Alto Saxophone you have to press down B,A,G keys plus the octave key (left hand) and the E,F,D and E flat keys in your right hand.
Once you know how to play the low E flat note on saxophone (see above) this middle E flat will come with ease. The only difference between the low and middle E flat on saxophone is the octave key (left thumb) located on the upper part of your saxophone close to your left thumb.
As a matter of fact, the octave key (also referred to as the “register key”) is the only key on the back of the alto saxophone so you should be able to find it easily
High E flat on alto sax
To play high E flat on the saxophone you have to press the octave key and the nr 1 and 2 side keys at the same time.
The high E flat note uses three keys, all in your left hand. If you already have learned high D on saxophone this high E flat fingering will come as a breeze.
However, just to make sure you can finger the high E flat no matter what you've learned so far let me give you the basics to get you going.
Place your left thumb on the thumb plate on the upper part of your saxophone. Palm your hand round the saxophone body like a “lego hand” so that you can rest your index finger, middle finger and ring finger on the front keys without pressing them. This is the starting position of the fingering.
That's the D side key and E flat side key on saxophone together with the register key (octave key).
Note from the saxophone teacher: It's quite common that the E flat can sound a bit out of tune on saxophone. The main reason for this is that the embouchure is too tight around the mouthpiece on your saxophone. We will cover Saxophone embouchure more in detail in another lesson but for now you can look at it like this.
If you squeeze your saxophone mouthpiece to hard it will become harder to play the higher notes on the saxophone. At the same time the note you are playing will sound out of pitch and “higher” than intended.
The solution is to relax your jaw a bit when you play high E flat on your saxophone. Keeping the air supporting, dropping the jaw slightly, will make for a larger and more “open” sound on the saxophone. Now this do take som practice but if you bring this concept with you into the practice room you'll make great progress playing the saxophone over time.
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.