Saxophone Arpeggio Practice Techniques

Improving your saxophone arpeggio practice techniques

Arpeggios are fundamental to mastering saxophone technique, improvisation, and reading music. Understanding and practicing arpeggios will transform your playing and significantly enhance your skills. If you’re an upper beginner or intermediate player, this article is perfect for you. Let’s explore how arpeggios are built, the best ways to practice them, and get some hands-on practice together.


What are arpeggios

Arpeggios are a sequential series of notes played individually.

When we play a scale, we play all the notes one after the other, up and down.

When playing an arpeggio, however, we only play certain notes of the scale.

If we were to play the notes from an arpeggio simultaneously (on the piano, for example) that would become a chord. Since the saxophone can only play one note a time, we can only play arpeggios (often referred to as broken chords).

Mastering triads

Arpeggios can extend further than just three notes, and it’s important for you as a saxophone player to build solid foundations on triads before moving on to more complex arpeggios (such as 7th chords, for instance).

Triads are the building blocks of arpeggios:


A major triad is composed of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of the major scale,

  • C (C, E, G)
  • G (G, B, D)
  • D (D, F#, A)
  • A (A, C#, E)
  • E (E, G#, B)
  • B (B, D#, F#)
  • F# (F#, A#, C#)
  • F (F, A, C)
  • Bb (Bb, D, F)
  • Eb (Eb, G, Bb)
  • Ab (Ab, C, Eb)
  • Db (Db, F, Ab)
  • Gb (Gb, Bb, Db)


Example in C major below


A minor triad is composed of the 1st, b3rd, and 5th of the minor scale.

  • A minor (A, C, E)
  • E minor (E, G, B)
  • B minor (B, D, F#)
  • F# minor (F#, A, C#)
  • C# minor (C#, E, G#)
  • G# minor (G#, B, D#)
  • D# minor (D#, F#, A#)
  • D minor (D, F, A)
  • G minor (G, Bb, D)
  • C minor (C, Eb, G)
  • F minor (F, Ab, C)
  • Bb minor (Bb, Db, F)
  • Eb minor (Eb, Gb, Bb)


Example in A minor below:


Knowing all major and minor triads will give you a solid foundation for practicing arpeggios.


How to organize your saxophone arpeggio practice techniques?

Building and Practicing Arpeggios



Build solid foundations on playing 1-octave arpeggios. Limiting the range to one octave is essential to ingraining the mechanics and building good muscle memory.


Intermediate players

Once you have one-octave arpeggios under your fingers in all 12 keys, take things up a notch by playing two-octave arpeggios.
However, considering the limited range of the saxophone you can only play two full octaves in certain keys (major and minor).

  • Bb, B, C, C# (or Db), D, Eb, E, F, and F# (or Gb)

Example in C major

Example in Bb major


Playing two octaves can be seen as a transition in preparation for playing full range.


Full range practice

Playing your arpeggios and scales full range is what you want to aim for, as this is the default way advanced players and professionals play them.

Start from the lowest note within the scale and ascend to the highest note available within the scale, then descend back to the lowest note within the scale and go back to the tonic.


On the key of G major:

Practice together

Let’s practice a C major one-octave arpeggio together:

  • Start with C, then E, then G, middle C then down to G, E and back to low C.
  • Repeat the sequence up and down, ensuring smooth transitions between notes.
  • Do this in keys up to three sharps and three flats to start with.

Now, let’s move to a two-octave arpeggio:

  • Begin from low C, E, G, middle C, high E, high G, top C. Then back down: high G, high E, middle C, G, E and back to low C
  • Focus on maintaining a steady tempo and clear sound for each note.

Taking further

For those aiming to push their saxophone arpeggio practice techniques further, practice full range and explore more complex patterns like broken arpeggios and diatonic intervals. This advanced practice will enhance your technical skills and overall musicianship.



Arpeggios are a must for any serious saxophonist. They improve technique, enhance improvisation skills, and are crucial for reading music. Make them a regular part of your practice routine to see significant improvements in your playing. For more detailed practice routines and exercises, check out our recommended books and resources.


Major scales click here to buy

Minor scales click here to buy

Full range Scales click here to buy


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