• Zachary Woolhouse

Getting Ready for Your First Class

To those reading this, welcome to the first blog post by The Young Saxophonist’s Institute. I hope you find something useful or interesting here to read as we begin this series.


At the time of my writing this, it is July and I’m currently thinking about preparing my beginner student’s instruments for the school year. My beginner class only meets for 20 minutes a day, so I’ve had to be creative in how I present the information so we can get to everything by the end of year, which in this case involves trying to be as efficient as possible with my class time.


First, you’ll need to gather some supplies:

  • Nail polish (the color doesn’t really matter)

  • Black and silver sharpies

  • Scissors

  • Electrical Tape (I prefer a color that the black sharpie will show up on)

  • Trash Can


Most of these items can be found at target. Also, I know that your supply list may be different from mine, so feel free to adapt any of these ideas to your own list.


  • Saxophone Case

  • Place a strip of electrical tape on the side so that it can be seen when the instrument is their locker. Write their name and locker number on the tape so you can easily see who’s instrument it is without having to take the instrument out.

  • Method Book, tuner, neck strap

  • Name and locker number in black or silver sharpie. You can write their initials on the smaller items. Open the tuner and pick-up mic and put in the batteries and wrap the tuner in the cord.

  • Reed Guard

  • Most reed guards will have each reed slot numbered, but it is normally difficult to read. I will use the black or silver sharpie to make the number clearer, then put four new reeds in the slot. My students are expected to have four good reeds at all times and rotate through them. We’ll cover reed care in another post.

  • Mouthpiece/mouthpiece patch/ligature

  • Open the ligature box and put it on the mouthpiece. Place a mouthpiece patch on the mouthpiece - some people will do a “double patch”, where there is half of a second patch placed where students' top teeth should go. Their teeth will bump into the second patch at the correct placement. I don’t do this personally, but if you are NOT a saxophone player and don’t have an eye for this, this is a great idea. I keep the extra patches so they don’t lose them; if they end up needing one, I will just give them one later.

  • Saxophone

  • This is where the nail polish comes into play. Left hand position and pinky placement can be a process, especially since some instruments have five pearls on the left hand while others have four. Place a drop of nail polish on the pearl where the first finger goes in the left hand so students always have a point of reference when they are learning hand position and practicing at home. You can also do this on the Ab/G# key and just above the Eb/D# roller.


Once everything is opened and labeled, I will place everything neatly back in the case. There is nothing complicated about this, but when you have 12 - 16 beginners, things nat


urally move slowly, so finding ways to make things easier to understand or ways to save time will pay off dividends later. I can’t tell you how much it shocked me my first year to see how slowly a 6th grade student will take to open a box of reeds.


I hope you found this helpful. As we continue these posts, feel free to reach out to us if you have specific questions or have a topic you’d like us to talk about! Have a great week!





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