Re: Intermediate Questions
Being a good sight reader is really about having the skills to call on when your on the fly. The three things that will help you the most are knowing your scales, being able to count and clap rhythms confidently and accuratly, and having a good sense musical phrasing and style. Know, at least, your major, minor, and chromatic scales. If you have the scales under your fingers well, you're not struggling with the notes when you're reading. To practice reading rhythms, get any old piece of music and write out the counts. Practice counting and clapping them together. This will allow you to be able to immediatly recognize and play rhythms when you first see them. Never give up an opportunity to be musical. Playing the notes and rhythms is only half of sight reading. Be confident when your sight reading. Don't back off on your air or constrict the reed, this will only kill your tone and make everything harder for you. If you get these basic skills down, sight reading will become very easy and naturally.
As far as intermediate saxes, there are several notable brands. Yanagisawa's 901 model is considered a intermediate horn, but it is priced and plays like a professional model. The Selmer La Voix is very good also. The Yamaha 475 is a bright horn but is very sturdy, so it makes it great for marching band. I've heard pretty good things about Jupiter's and Buffet's intermediate horns. Intermediate saxes range in price from $1600(ish) to the $3000(ish) Yanagisawa. If you don't want to pay that kind of money, Woodwind & Brasswind makes a very nice horn for the money. It's priced at around $900.
If your serious about playing saxophone, I'd recommend a professional horn. If you don't plan on playing the saxophone much or at all after high school, a intermediate horn is the way to go. Buying a intermediate horn now then upgrading to a pro horn in college or later will only be more money spent down the road.
Used saxes you cant really generalize with in pricing. It really depends on the horn.
Hope that helps.