What comes to mind when you think of easy-to-play music? It’s usually nursery rhymes, isn’t it? However, the saxophone is an instrument that not many nursery rhyme–aged children would play. Due to its size and weight, it is usually older children that learn to play the instrument.
This is why it is important to find different songs for them to play, keeping them engaged, interested, and, of course, always improving!
Here, we are going to give you some easy saxophone songs that are ideal for kids learning to play the saxophone. These will help them to learn different aspects of music and the instrument, as well as give them well-known songs to perform to impress their friends.
With this in mind, read on to learn about ten easy saxophone songs for kids they can quickly learn and perfect.
1. “Ode To Joy”
When it comes to classical music, it doesn’t get more iconic than Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” in the fourth movement of his Ninth Symphony. This is an extremely well-known song that has been featured around the world in countless settings.
The melody to the tune for “Ode to Joy” moves mainly in steps—between five notes, with a very simple rhythm consisting of crotchets, quavers, dotted crotchets, and minims. There is a mixture of tongued and slurred notes to help introduce the child to articulation.
2. “Dance Monkey”
Released by Tones and I in 2019, “Dance Monkey” was an international hit. Its catchy tune gets people up and dancing and is actually very simple and instantly recognizable. The melody is mainly based on four notes—G, A, B, and C—all played with the left hand, with a couple more notes added in for extra interest.
“Dance Monkey” has a simple rhythm that can be manipulated easily, but the song also uses syncopation and swung notes. It is in A minor, which means that it sounds a bit jazzy while using simple notes that fit within the C major scale.
This song is not only great for beginner saxophone players to learn but is also fun to improvise to for those who are looking to practice these skills.
Taken from the French word for lark, “Alouette” is a famous ditty that is sung around the world today. It originated in France, having been learned by the Allied soldiers during the war, taking it back home and subsequently teaching it to their families.
Today, “Alouette” is fully or partly heard everywhere, from Benjamin Britten’s “Canadian Carnival” to featuring in Casper: A Trip through Ghostland to a Cheryle Cole song, and even on the terraces of football clubs.
“Alouette” has a simple melody in C major and a straightforward rhythm, ideal for kids that are just beginning, especially if they are looking to play a more classical style. Most of the notes are within an octave and are good practice for using the octave key over the break.
The melody utilizes the C major scale, showing that the hours of scales practice can pay off and also can be used to learn about tonguing, slurs, and phasing.
One of the iconic features of “Alouette” is the fact that it can be played as a round, meaning that more than one person can play it, adding interesting harmony and introducing the concept of playing with other people.
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4. “We Will Rock You”
Queen’s iconic “We Will Rock You” is the next on the list. This is a song that needs no introduction—most people recognize this song instantly—just from the clapping and stomping intro! Playing along with a backing track, you can add extra weight to your version of this song and maybe get people singing along with you!
Learning this version of “We Will Rock You” is great practice for playing in more pop key signatures—C#—which sounds complicated but is very common for the alto saxophone, especially when you are playing along with guitars.
“We Will Rock You” is split into two sections: the verse and the chorus. The verse uses a limited number of notes and is mainly based around the rhythm. This makes it good practice for tonguing and articulation. The chorus is based on the C#m scale and has a very simple rhythm.
5. “Can’t Help Falling In Love”
“Can’t Help Falling in Love” is one of Elvis Presley’s most famous songs, but it was actually written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore, and George David Weiss. The song was one of the highlights of Elvis’s film Blue Hawaii and has also been covered by numerous artists since.
One of the main features of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” is that it is set in a 12/8 time signature, introducing the concept of triplets. It also has a syncopated section in the bridge.
This version is written in D, a common key signature, and involves a lot of step movement, as well as leaps of a 5th. It is set within a simple A and B structure and can also be used to introduce the concept of repeats.
“Havana” was a hit for the Cuban American artist Camila Cabello in 2017 and reached #1 in the UK Singles chart. The melody is set against a Latin beat (inspired by salsa), perfect for dancing to, and is certainly a song that can be played to impress people.
Much of the melody moves in arpeggios or steps and the rhythms are generally simple—although there is a triplet section in the middle of the song and a small section that uses syncopation.
“Havana” is the ideal song for practicing playing simple rhythms along with a more complex beat, such as Latin styles, getting more complex as you go through the song.
7. “Speak Softly Love”
The famous theme tune from The Godfather is next up. It was written by Nino Rota and was written as an instrumental, so not technically a song! It was later lyricised in English, becoming the song “Speak Softly Love.”
The fact that this piece was written as an instrumental means that it is lyrical and interesting, and ideal for being played on the saxophone. In fact, the rhythm in this piece is very simple, but the challenge comes in the accidentals.
This is an excellent piece for practicing the reading and playing of accidentals, specifically because the rhythm is simple and the melody rather more complicated.
8. “Scarborough Fair”
“Scarborough Fair” is a well-known English folk song thought to originate from Northumbria and Yorkshire. The most popular version of this song is probably the one recorded by Simon and Garfunkel in 1966, but there have been numerous versions recorded of it over the years.
“Scarborough Fair” is mainly in the Dorian mode, which has a minor key feel and a lilting 3/4 time signature. It is the ideal song to learn in the folk genre and includes a small amount of syncopation and dotted rhythms.
All the notes are within an octave range, spanning from A to A, helping with practice in using the octave key.
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9. “Unchained Melody”
“Unchained Melody” is one of the world’s most recorded songs written by Alex North (lyrics by Hy Zaret). Arguably the most well-known version is that of the Righteous Brothers, recorded in 1965, but it is believed that the song has been recorded over 1,500 times by over 650 different artists and also features in the film Ghost.
“Unchained Melody” is a beautiful song that lends itself perfectly to being played as an instrumental. Much of the melody is in step, but it also has some arpeggios and leaps up and down, helping learners to get their fingers around an array of notes and patterns without the use of numerous accidentals.
The song is slow and lyrical, thus helping to improve breath control and long notes, as well as rubato and expression.
10. “The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)”
“The Imperial March” from Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back is an iconic theme familiar to anyone who has seen the film. It was written by John Williams, the composer who wrote the entire Star Wars soundtrack.
The song is strong, loud, and creates a sense of tension and foreboding—and it is really fun to play on the saxophone! The melody involves a few accidentals and is generally based around arpeggios in the first part.
The second part becomes more chromatic, a great exercise to get the brain cells working! The rhythm includes long notes and dotted rhythms, which must be strictly played in time—it is a march, after all!
“The Imperial March” is great for breath control and maintaining the continuity of the strength of notes. It needs to be played confidently and with precision.
Summing Up Our List Of Easy Saxophone Songs For Kids
Learning a combination of these ten songs for saxophone will get kids well on their way to learning some of the core techniques involved in playing the saxophone.
By already knowing the music, it can help to push along the learning process and, by enjoying what is being played, keep motivation up. Have fun!