Play the saxophone softer – wouldn't you want to play louder?

The saxophone is one of the most expressive musical instruments. From the breathy subtone of the jazz greats to the screaming high note rock solo, saxophones can cover all types of dynamic requests and musical situations.

Developing the ability to play the extreme soft and loud dynamics is a skill that takes time to develop and must be done playing close attention to airflow (breath support) and embouchure position.

How to play the saxophone softer 

One key factor in developing the ability to play at all dynamic levels is to be able to hear the tonal quality you desire at the dynamic level you need to perform. In other words, let your mind and ears guide your body to make the adjustments to play at the dynamic level needed. If you constantly listen to certain styles of music where the saxophone is playing loudly, you will have no basis or reference point for playing softly.

Another key point to consider is this: if you want to play louder, you NEED to be able to play softer.

That may sound like a contradiction, but in order to play at any dynamic level you need to control the reed. That is very difficult to achieve if your dynamic level is always at forte. 

One of the greatest trumpet teachers and musicians of all time, Herbert L. Clarke, taught his students (and countless others through his great method books) to master the softest volumes so that the student could properly develop the embouchure muscles to expand his/her range and dynamic control.

The same is true for controlling the saxophone (and clarinet) reed. Lack of reed control equals lack of control over your tone.

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But what if you have that reed control and are not able to play loudly when you practice because you live in an apartment, constantly travel or can't practice during normal waking hours?

Saxophone Mutes

When playing softly on the saxophone isn't just a luxury, but a necessity in order to maintain your embouchure and technique, there are not that many options available.

In the following videos, you will learn about some techniques for playing softly on saxophone (and trumpet) as well as some tips for muting the sound when you just cannot play louder than mezzo piano.


For those of you interested in purchasing saxophone mutes, this video gives you a demonstration of some of the ones that are out there, along with cheaper alternatives.

Play the full range of dynamics on the saxophone

Fatten up your saxophone tone with these 3 tips – just click on the button below to access your Free Video Lesson:

Get Your Free Video Here ?