Mastering the Altissimo Range

A Guide to Bridging the Altissimo Gap

Hello, fellow saxophonists! It’s wonderful to have you back here again. My name is Martino, and today I’m thrilled to show you how to conquer the altissimo range on your saxophone. Now, let me be upfront with you—the altissimo range is a formidable challenge. But don’t let that discourage you. It’s important to remember that everyone struggles with it at some point. In this article, I’ll share a little trick to help you bridge into the altissimo range successfully. So, let’s get started on this exciting journey!

Understanding the Altissimo Range

Before we dive into the technique, let’s take a moment to understand what the altissimo range entails. The altissimo range refers to the higher register of notes beyond the normal range of the saxophone. These notes require a different set of fingerings and embouchure adjustments to produce accurately. While it may seem daunting, with practice and dedication, you can master this challenging range.

Alternative Fingerings for Palm Keys

To begin bridging into the altissimo range, it’s crucial to become comfortable with alternative fingerings for the palm keys. Traditionally, the palm keys (D and D#) have specific finger positions. However, for the notes E, F, and F#, you can use a lesser-known key known as the “X” key. Let me walk you through it:

  • E: Play a G and position your index finger on the X key instead of the B key.
  • F: Play an A and position your index finger on the X key.
  • F#: Maintain the same position as F but add the Bb key.

By using these alternative fingerings, you can create the foundation for reaching the altissimo range.

Slurring as a Fundamental Technique

Now that you have the alternative fingerings in place, it’s time to work on your slurring technique. Slurring is an essential skill in the altissimo range because it helps you navigate smoothly between notes without using the tongue. Begin by slurring E, F, F#, and back down. Practice this exercise repeatedly until you feel comfortable and confident with the fingerings.

Bridging into the Altissimo Range

Once you have mastered slurring the alternative fingerings, it’s time to bridge into the altissimo range. Start by playing F# and transition to G without tonguing. Refer to the video above for the correct fingering. Remember, the sound may not be perfect initially, as the alternative fingerings produce a slightly different tone. Be patient and persevere with practice, and you’ll gradually achieve the desired result.

Important Considerations

While working on the altissimo range, it’s essential to be mindful of a few things. First, bear in mind that your embouchure and lip muscles may tire easily when playing in the altissimo range. Avoid overexertion by balancing your practice with other aspects of saxophone playing. Additionally, limit your altissimo practice to avoid straining your lip muscles excessively.


Congratulations! You’ve learned a valuable technique for bridging into the altissimo range on your saxophone. Remember, mastering the altissimo range takes time and dedication. Be patient with yourself, practice regularly, and gradually expand your range

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