Easy Saxophone Songs For Beginners

Are you trying to become a better saxophone player? Have repetitive drills and exercises got you down? Don’t fret. One of the best ways to pick up the saxophone is by learning familiar melodies and songs.

But which songs should you learn? We think the following are among the best to get started with. Here you will find various easy saxophone songs for beginners – pop, rock, funk, folk, soul, neo-soul, and much more.

“Careless Whisper” by George Michael

Song year: 1984

George Michael probably was at the height of his fame in the mid-to-late-80s, and his music and Wham!’s sugary pop are very much a product of their time.

But “Careless Whisper” seems to be calling back to an even earlier time when the saxophone, rather than the guitar, was typically the lead instrument. The result is an emotionally evocative guilty ballad.

This song features an essential saxophone melody every saxophonist should take the time to master, and it can even be beneficial for other instrumentalists too.

“Let It Be” by The Beatles

Song year: 1970

The music of The Beatles features plenty of teachable moments, for beginners and advanced players alike. “Let It Be” is an excellent song for beginner saxophone players, though, thanks to its slower tempo and ballad-like arrangement.

Its melody is timeless. And while there are some wider intervallic jumps, there is also much repetition in the song. That makes it easier to memorize, which is great news because playing an instrument well long term is mostly about muscle memory.

But if you struggle with any song, including “Let It Be,” just remember to take it a bar at a time, or barring that, one note at a time.

“25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago

Song year: 1970

In their earlier hard-rocking years, Chicago would be epitomized by songs like “25 or 6 to 4,” which featured heavy guitar power chords, the masterful vocals of Peter Cetera, and unforgettable horn riffs.

The band would increasingly favor ballads in the 80s, and while songs like “You’re the Inspiration” are timeless and masterful too, I must admit a bias to their earlier, upbeat works.

“25 or 6 to 4” was inspired, clear, and simple. How else would you characterize its incredible arrangement?

Every saxophonist should strive to add “25 or 6 to 4” to their repertoire, as it is a highly recognizable tune where the horns get to shine.

“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars

Song year: 2014

To this day, Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” can be heard in the hallways of lesson rooms across music schools in every locality.

From the drums to the bassline to the horn parts, music teachers quickly realized that the funky song was perfect for teaching simple riffs and motifs as well as rhythm and groove. As is characteristic of the genre, you can expect plenty of staccato notes.

Maybe you should learn it too? I would recommend it!

“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

Song year: 1984

Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” stands as an example of extraordinary songwriting. From the melody to the lyrics to the chord progression, this song teaches you the ins and outs of writing and arranging music and even a bit of basic theory.

Speaking of the lyrics, fun fact – Cohen penned about 80 to 180 verses for this song. Was he inspired? Perhaps. But as history suggests, it’s quite likely he was also struggling to perfect the lyrics. No wonder it came out the way it did.

Take note of the rise and fall of the melody. This is something you can bring to your songwriting.

“All You Need is Love” by The Beatles

Song year: 1967

The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” set the template for vocal / horn call and response motifs in pop music, a style often emulated by other artists. Think of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” I’m sure you can think of other examples too.

Rumors of Beatles music being “easy” have been massively exaggerated, but if you take any part (guitar, bass, vocal, etc.) in isolation, you will find that many of them are indeed simple on their own. That is certainly the case with “All You Need is Love.”

The video above shows what’s possible if you get to the point of being able to add embellishments. Beginners, of course, should start with just the melody and no fills.

“Do You Believe in Magic” by The Lovin’ Spoonful

Song year: 1965

The folk-rock flavors of “Do You Believe in Magic” were very characteristic of The Lovin’ Spoonful. The song has an easy vibe with lead guitar fills throughout, though in its time it was probably considered “heavy.”

It’s not a saxophone song specifically, but as is typical of the era, it was a foundation-setting piece that should prove very instructive to any new musicians. Learn the melody and take it from there.

“Sister Christian” by Night Ranger

Song year: 1983

Night Ranger was probably best known for attracting some of the best guitar talents in the business, be it Jeff Watson, Jack Blades, Brad Gillis, or Reb Beach. The guitar playing on their tracks was always a thing of marvel.

“Sister Christian” is more of a ballad than an adrenaline-pumping hard rocker, but of course, most bands in the genre had their power ballads too, like Def Leppard with “Hysteria” or Poison with “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.”

Anyway, while “Sister Christian” doesn’t feature the saxophone in any capacity, it does have a melody every saxophonist should study. The lyric “Sister Christian,” by the way, was chosen because it sounded good not because the song is about a nun or even necessarily a Christian.

“Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift

Song year: 2014

In her early days, Taylor Swift still had a clean-cut image. “Shake It Off” was a bit of a departure from her earlier country-pop efforts and shows more leanings toward percussion-heavy pop and hip-hop than anything else.

The music video still featured twerking and slightly revealing outfits, though, so “Innocent” probably isn’t a good descriptor here, though I would agree with “happy-go-lucky.”

The song is very straightforward from top to bottom. Instrumentation is minimal, and the riffs are barebones too. Easy. You can do it!

“How Deep is Your Love” by The Bee Gees

Song year: 1977

You can’t talk about disco without The Bee Gees. “How Deep Is Your Love” is a bit of a departure from songs like the dripping-with attitude “Stayin’ Alive” though. This one is more soft rock than disco.

“How Deep Is Your Love” is mostly electric keyboard and bass driven than anything else, though it includes strings and guitars too, as was typical of the time.

As a saxophonist, you’ll want to focus on learning the melody. Saxophone works very well with soft rock, ballads, easy listening, adult contemporary, or smooth jazz, as I’m sure you know.

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams

Song year: 2013

The neo-soul of “Happy” went off without a hitch in the early 10s. I must say I prefer it to most modern pop music, though I think it’s a far cry from the source material.

Either way, this Pharrell Williams song is largely driven by the drums, bass, vocals, and clapping, though there is a keyboard and guitar in there too.

Although there’s no saxophone in the original, it would fit very nicely. Again, focus on learning the melody and harmonies and you should have a lot of fun.

“Rolling in the Deep” by Adele

Song year: 2011

Starting around this time vocalists started slurring the end of phrases and it continues to this day. It’s very trendy. I don’t know about you, but it drives me nuts. It makes songs like these unlistenable to me.

Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” nevertheless, went on to become one of her biggest hits. This melodramatic piano-driven number isn’t a saxophone song. But there is still something you can pick up from it.

“All of Me” by John Legend

Song year: 2013

Thanks to its relatability, John Legend’s simple and dramatic R&B of “All of Me” would go on to become a big hit in 2013. Its verse is in a minor key and benefits from a “major lift” in the chorus. Legend doesn’t give himself much of a break on the vocals, so if nothing else his breathing technique is praiseworthy.

Oh yeah, and it’s a nice little melody to learn on the saxophone too.

“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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