25 Easy Saxophone Songs For Beginners

“Roar” by Katy Perry

Song year: 2013

Katy Perry roared onto the Billboard Hot 100 in 2013 with “Roar” (not to suggest that this was her first hit – it wasn’t). With themes of female empowerment becoming increasingly common, this song hit a timely nerve, and it remains an anthem of the same to this day.

Lioness Katy Perry delivers the vocals with ferocity, just as you would expect. If you listen closely, you’ll notice the melody has a staccato quality that lends itself nicely to woodwind instruments.

“Stand by Me” by Ben E. King

Song year: 1961

There isn’t much that could be said about Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” that hasn’t already been said. Memorable hook. Dynamic builds. Classic melody. This song has it all, and it teaches you the foundations of R&B / soul too.

The “50s progression” (that’s what it’s called) utilized here is something every musician should become familiar with. So, have fun with these riffs. They aren’t too hard.

Pop saxophone songs to learn

“Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bog Seger

Song year: 1978

I often think to myself how metaphysical Bog Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” is. If anything, it seems self-referential. In 1978, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Jimi Hendrix wouldn’t be a distant memory, and Led Zeppelin still had two more years of activity to fulfill.

So, were the songwriters yearning for Chuck Berry? Elvis Presley? Rock didn’t exactly have a rich history yet.

Either way, every saxophonist needs to learn the 12-bar form and how to solo over it. It may as well be this song.

“Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles

Song year: 1961

Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack” is beyond iconic. It features a classic chord progression every musician should learn, and its subtle use of horns is ingenious. In addition to the riffs and fills, it’s well worth learning the melody of the song too.

The original has a rather quick tempo, but the video tutorial above slows things way down for you so you can pick it up with ease. Of course, you can always use YouTube’s built-in playback speed function too.

“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

Song year: 1969

Any time this song comes on, it’s hard not to imagine the sun peaking through the clouds, lighting up another beautiful day. The sky is blue, and the birds are chirping. The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” is a sanguine, essential 60s pop-rock hit.

Its melody mostly revolves around the same notes, which makes it relatively easy to play. The video tutorial above also slows things way down to ensure you get the gist of it.

“Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash

Song year: 1982

The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” is a fine example of what punk rock can and should be. Sure, it’s simple at its core. But its use of rests and varying rhythmic patterns is not something your average modern-day punk rock band has mastered now, is it?

The song features a relatively tight melody that can be played with just a few notes, so it’s a very instructive song for saxophonists. Have fun rocking out!

“Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder

Song year: 1976

Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” is a soul music essential. This song features very busy instrumentation, but not in an overbearing way. It’s very complementary overall.

The verse melody repeats quite a bit, and that part isn’t so bad. Learning the chorus can take a little more work, but it’s kind of like a variation on the verse melody, so hang in there. You can do this!

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin

Song year: 1988

The late 80s A cappella reggae of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is a thing of genius. I remember hearing songs like this as a kid, and when my parents told me no instruments were being used in it, I would go, “No way!”

Bobby McFerrin does many things well, but vocalizing bass lines, guitar “chucks,” and harmonizing with himself are well within his wheelhouse. Its message is much deeper than meets the eye, urging us to be happy no matter the circumstance.

This song features yet another melody that translates nicely over to the saxophone.

“Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin

Song year: 1971

Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” flew in the face of conventional music rules. Yet, it went on to become one of the most successful songs of all time. Its lyrical content is a mystery (or songwriters Robert Plant and Jimmy Page simply refuse to tell us), but that only seems to add to its legend.

Given its epic arrangement and length, there’s no way the song could be about anything trivial. The song is very emotionally evocative, featuring several “movements” as if a classical composition, and an epic guitar solo section too.

In the video tutorial, you’ll have the opportunity to learn the melody.

“Take On Me” by a-ha

Song year: 1985

The synth riff to a-ha’s “Take On Me” is emblematic of 80s synth riffs in general, and easily one of the best. Almost every guitarist and keyboardist stumble upon it at some point and end up wanting to learn it. You might be in that camp yourself, and fortunately, it is possible to pick it up on the sax too.

Of course, it is a lot of notes in a short period, and it’s recommended that you practice it very slowly before trying it up to speed.

The video tutorial above focuses only on the melody, and that’s generally the best place to start.

“Firework” by Katy Perry

Song year: 2010

“Firework” finds songstress Katy Perry at her inspirational best. Some don’t see it, but that’s okay. Like it or hate it, it’s a song.

The song focuses heavily on the melody. Not surprising, as Katy’s voice is always rich and powerful.

If you’re already familiar with the melody, you can probably pick up the song faster. But even if you don’t know it, it shouldn’t take you too long to become familiar with it.

“Something In The Way” by Nirvana

Song year: 1991

It might seem like a novel idea to play a Nirvana song on the saxophone, and in a way, it is. The good news is that if the song features notes, you can play it on your instrument!

“Something In The Way” features a very repetitive melody that should prove very learnable. Have fun.

Easy Saxophone Songs For Beginners, Final Thoughts

Songs are the best way to learn and improve your technique. Enjoy!

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