Sound Secrets from George Garzone

George Garzone’s Secret to a Bigger Saxophone Sound

Hey guys, welcome to the London Saxophone School! I’m Martino, the founder, and today I want to share with you one of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever received on how to achieve a bigger, fuller, and more relaxed saxophone sound. This technique, taught by legendary Berkeley professor George Garzone, has helped countless musicians, including Branford Marsalis and Joshua Redman. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or even a professional player, this technique can eliminate 99% of your sound-related issues. So, let’s dive in and discover the secret to a relaxed and powerful saxophone sound!

The Importance of a Big Sound

When we hear musicians with incredibly big sounds, it’s because they’re “blowing open.” George Garzone emphasizes the significance of playing with strength and confidence. He recalls standing next to experienced players who could effortlessly overshadow others on stage. The key lies in how you play the instrument. Garzone believes in releasing the restrictions in the bottom lip to achieve a free and open sound.

The “Ha” Technique

Garzone introduces a practice technique he learned from his saxophone mentor, Uncle Rocco, an Italian pizza maker in Boston. Uncle Rocco emphasized the importance of the “ha” sound – pronouncing it like the English term. By saying “ha” with an open back of the larynx, you eliminate any restrictions in the throat. Garzone suggests practicing this sound without the saxophone first to familiarize yourself with the sensation.

Applying the Technique

Once you’ve practiced the “ha” sound, it’s time to incorporate it into your saxophone playing. Many players unintentionally restrict their sound production when they put the horn to their lips. Garzone explains that the smallness of the mouthpiece often leads to this tightening effect. To counteract this tendency, he emphasizes the need to maintain an open, relaxed position when blowing into the instrument.

Garzone demonstrates the technique, encouraging players to produce a raunchy, full sound without restrictions. By blowing down on the sound and avoiding a rise in intonation, you can maximize the volume and richness of your saxophone’s sound.

Benefits of the Technique

Implementing this technique allows you to achieve a maximum sound output from your instrument, whether you play the tenor or alto saxophone. When you step onto the stage, you’ll have the opportunity to be heard amidst other powerful players. The technique focuses on freedom with the air, allowing for a full, unrestricted sound. Garzone also advocates for minimal articulation, believing that excessive tonguing can limit the flow of air and hinder sound production.


Mastering the art of a big, relaxed saxophone sound is crucial for any player aiming to captivate an audience. Thanks to George Garzone’s valuable insights, we now have a technique that can unlock our saxophone’s full potential. By practicing the “ha” sound and maintaining an open, unrestricted approach to playing, we can achieve a rich, powerful, and expressive sound. Remember, it doesn’t matter what level you’re at; this technique can benefit players of all skill levels. So, embrace the freedom of air and enjoy the journey of discovering a bigger, fuller sound on your saxophone!

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