In today's generation of music education, there are many standard "staple" books that have been used for generations as well as more modern books used for private music lessons on saxophone, clarinet, and flute. Let's first take a look at some basic books I use to help establish basic technique on saxophone, clarinet, or flute. The Rubank Elementary Method series has been around for ages, and there is a reason why! The books private a solid foundation on the bare-basics of playing saxophone, clarinet, or flute. This includes a nicely laid out fingering chart and diagrams when new notes are introduced. I really like how the books focuses on a just a few notes at a time, then introduces new notes along with new keys. The keys and songs get more challenging as the book progresses. This book isn't the best as a "teach yourself" method book because it lacks detailed explanations but is solid when used in conjunction with a teacher.
There are a couple good introductory books for children that can also be used with the Rubank Method books. One of my favorites is the Essential Elements series. This is a standard book for band directors and teachers around the country as an introduction to their students' instruments. Another similar book is the Foundations for Superior Performance series. I have found this book to have a slightly better layout as far as important scales and technical studies. Currently, this is the book I would recommend to students on any instrument. In addition to introductory books, there are several good classical etude books that I recommend for all students.
One of the most agreed-upon classical etude books among educators would be the Concert and Contest collection of books. The are used consistently by music teachers but are also utilized as audition pieces for schools and honor orchestras. Definitely a good book to have for all three instruments! Also in the classical realm are Rubank Selected Duets for Saxophone, Clarinet, and Flute. Duets are an essential element of my teaching curriculum because they allow for musical interaction between the student and teacher. Learning exercises and practicing is important, but music is emotional and interacting with other musicians is good practice and most importantly, it's FUN! Moving on, i use several different Jazz method and repertoire books with my students.
Starting off as an excellent introductory book to the jazz style and a classic for many years, is Basic Jazz Conception for Saxophone by Lennie Niehaus. This book is a proven method to assist students in gaining an understanding of the jazz style and it's articulation. A more modern book with similar ideas is called Easy Jazz Conception by Jim Snydero. The Jim Snydero books have amazing sounding play-along and example listening tracks on the CD's which can be an excellent tool--the play-along band is comprised of some of New York's finest musicians! These are gaining in popularity and may eventually replace the old school jazz conception methods.
As far as learning improvisation with your instructor, the Jamey Aebersold books really do a great job with being informative at the basic level as well as providing nice backing tracks for playing along with jazz standards and exercises. There are more modern methods available, but these are consistently used by students and educators around the world. Three of the most basic volumes are Volume 1-How to Learn Jazz and Improvise, Volume 3-The II-V-I Progression, and Volume 54-Maiden Voyage. Those are just three of the 150 plus volumes!
Last but not least is the Charlie Parker Omnibook. Learning the BeBop style of jazz is important to gaining an understanding of improvisation and this is where it all began, especially for saxophone! This book doesn't offer much explanation, but there are some more recent editions with play along CD's and you instructor can help with the rest. Most of these books should be available from local music stores as well as online. Stay tuned for the next BLOG post with even more essential method books. Please feel free to email me with any questions on the Contact page of my site.
Until next time!