Fun Activities to Do in a Marching Band Saxophone Sectional

A marching band sectional rehearsal can be fun and still be productive. A section leader can play several games with his group to help improve issues specific to a saxophone player's technique. Any activity that is part of a saxophone sectional should be specific to the instrument and help improve the player's individual skill. Playing games unrelated to music should be avoided as they waste the band's time.

Scale Contests

Have someone act as the time keeper. Each player in the sectional has to play all of their major scales as quickly as possible without mistakes. The goal should be to play all 12 major scales in under 60 seconds by the end of the year. Sixty seconds might not be possible for a brass player, but it is definitely possible for a saxophone player. The winning saxophone player should receive some sort of award from the section leader. Work with your band director to see if it is possible to get a coupon or gift card for the player with the fastest scales in a month. This is a great productive exercise as it will increase the technique of every player in the group.

Breathing Games

Have every saxophone player stand up and play an Eb on the top space of the staff. Ask them to hold the Eb without taking a breath. When a player has to breathe they must sit down and wait for the contest to end. The last person standing will win the contest. As preparation for the contest, talk about proper breathing from the diaphragm and explain how proper breath control will enable players to get a more consistent and higher quality sound. This exercise will help players increase their lung capacity and it is always fun to see who is the last one standing. Sometimes, the smallest player can have the biggest lungs!

Memorization Contest

Make a copy of each saxophone player's music. With a highlighter block out a section of the music and then make a copy of that piece. Then, make another copy with even more of the music blocked out. Do this with two more copies until you have a total of 4 progressively fragmented pieces. The goal of this game is to help performers try and memorize their music. The final piece should have about 75 percent of the music blocked out. See how many players can play the entire piece from memory. If you find one of the copies is too difficult, then take a step back and let the players play a more complete version.

Accuracy Contest

Start with the entire saxophone section standing. Give them a piece that the group is having some trouble with. Have them start playing and instruct each player to sit down as soon as they make a mistake. The last one standing wins. The benefit of this game is that those that are having trouble playing a part get to listen to those that know how to play the part. This will help them figure out the rhythms of the piece and improve their ability to play. A follow-up to this exercise is to have all of the players clap the rhythm of the piece without playing it. Often, it is the rhythm and not the notes themselves that cause performers issues.

Labeling Activity

Pass out a sheet with a picture of a saxophone and a line pointing to each part. Ask each player to complete the worksheet by filling in the parts of the saxophone. Once everyone is complete, go around the room and ask each player to identify a part and discuss its function. This exercise will ensure that all players know each part of their instrument.


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