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10 mins of practice by a beginner.

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181
First sax video on my blog.... 10 mins of practice. *headbutts wall* It's terrible, I know. But I've only just started, lol.
 

trimmy

One day i will...
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10,273
Keep at it and don't rush it, it'll all come together :thumb: you do actually sound better when you slow it down :) the alto is my only experience with an instrument, i couldn't read music when i started which you have that advantage over most of us old timers.
As you say in your blog it'll be good to look back in a few months and see how much you have improved :thumb:

Keep at it
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Keep at it, it'll only get better. Take your time and relax. Good on you for posting such an early practice.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
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Well done, it will get better though sometimes it can feel like 2 steps forward and 1 back or even 1 step forward 2 back.

Enjoy it:)

Jx
 

andyjb

Member
Messages
152
Hi Fi,

I, like you have only just started and, like you, have also played another instrument. I have found it easier to practise scales by looking at the music, remembering the key signature and playing with no music. That way you focus on where the notes are on the sax rather than reading the music. Keep going girl....:thumb:

Andy
 

jbtsax

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8,011
I an a retired band teacher who taught beginners to play all of the band instruments for over 27 years. As such I really like to offer assistance to players starting out. Please don't take offense if I offer some constructive suggestions on tone quality and control of the sound.

1. Your embouchure is not yet firm enough to produce a "characteristic" saxophone sound.

There are two good ways to check the tightness of the embouchure muscles. One way is to play low A and then flick the neck octave open with your free hand. If the high A sounds flat the embouchure is too loose. If the note stays on high A before dropping down, the embouchure is too tight. If the note pops to a nice sounding and in tune high A momentarily and then drops back down, the embouchure is set at the correct tightness.

The other way is to play the mouthpiece and neck apart from the saxophone. The ideal input pitch of this "small saxophone" or "tone producer" as I call it is Ab Concert. The embouchure setting that produces that pitch produces a nice sound when accompanied by lots of air, and "locks in" the best intonation your sax is capable of producing.

There are several different styles of saxophone embouchures that work. The one I have found to be the best when starting beginning players is the Larry Teal ring of muscles around the mouthpiece. To do this one says "EE" "OO" with the muscles around of the mouth both pushing in and pulling out in opposition to one another making a tug-o-war. On saxophone the "OO" muscles win, but the "EE" muscles keep pulling out at the same time. The embouchure should feel like a big rubber band around the mouthpiece.


2. Your reed sounds too soft.

This is related to #1 since too soft a reed does not require a well developed embouchure to make a sound. Oftentimes when players try to play too soft a reed on saxophone or clarinet with the correct embouchure the reed closes off. For most mouthpieces suitable for students a #2 or #2 1/2 Rico or its equivalent is a good place to start. The often heard advice to start on a #1 1/2 because it is easy to make a sound is not a good idea in my experience. All a very soft reed does is encourage poor playing habits and delays the development of good muscle tone in the embouchure.

Besides listening for a "flabby" sound in the upper octave, beginning players can try the "pop" test to check the strength of the reed. To do this test you take the mouthpiece off, close the open end with your finger, and suck all the air out of the mouthpiece. When all the air is out, quickly pull the mouthpiece from the mouth, and monitor the time it takes for the reed to pop open. If it pops in a second or less, the reed has sufficient strength. If the reed takes over 1 second to pop, it is too soft.


3. Make sure you are placing the top teeth on the mouthpiece.

Some advanced players like to use what is called a "double lip" embouchure. This is not very common on saxophone, and is not a good idea for beginning players. On the alto the top teeth should press down about 5/8" in back of the tip. If it is uncomfortable to set the top teeth on the mouthpiece and play, I recommend getting a thick mouthpiece patch. It will not only make playing more comfortable, it will help your consistency by guiding your teeth to the same spot each time you play.


4. Let the neckstrap hold the weight of the saxophone.

From the video it looks as if you might be lifting the weight of the saxophone slightly when you play. Let the saxophone hang by the neckstrap and using your thumbs balance the sax in front of you. Keeping the head perfectly erect, see where the tip of the mouthpiece touches on your face when you tilt the sax toward your mouth. It should just touch the curve above your chin. To play just tilt the head downward slightly and the mouthpiece will go into the mouth at the correct angle.


5. Keep blowing lots of air when you play.

This is really the best part of the practice demonstrated on the video. Most players starting out don't use enough air. You are doing this quite well and should be complemented. The low notes coming out with a big full sound is evidence that you are blowing lots of air. The next step is to learn to control the sound using that much air which will give you a beautiful tone. Playing long tones is the most valuable exercise one can do when learning the saxophone.

I like to have my students play their mouthpiece and neck watching the second hand on a clock. They try to hold the tone 15, 20, 25, 30 seconds with a full tone and well controlled sound. Then they do the same exercise on the saxophone playing top line F (Ab concert) which sounds the same as the mouthpiece and neck. The better the mouthpiece and neck alone sounds, the better the whole saxophone will sound as this long tone exercise is practiced.


Good luck in your musical endeavors. Keep us apprised of your progress. It takes a lot of courage to do what you have done. Bravo for that.
 

Sunray

Well-Known Member
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1,708
I like the detailed and constructive remarks made in the post above ... :thumb:

Lots of thought and effort shines through ... :clapping:

Nice on jbtsax ...
 
Messages
181
Thank you very much JBT. :)

I will talk to my tutor on Friday about reed strength. I'm so sorry, but I don't know exactly what 'embouchre' is! I've been reading it a lot and, ok, it has something to do with the mouth but...... That's where it ends!

:D

I'll do another video in two months. So that'd make it the start of June. :)
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
All good advice to help you along.

I've been playing the saxophone on and off for 34 years and when I do practice
I still practice slow passages. You have to make sure the notes/keys are under your fingers
and you feel each and every note you hit. It's a fool proof method I assure you! Speed will come on it's own terms.

Additionally, a little trick to help strength your embouchure muscles.
Take a mouth full of water and create a small aperture or opening with your lips.
Now force the water out through this tiny opening. it will help. do it several times a day if you can.
Possibly when you're brushing your teeth in the morning or night, or both....

Whenever you catch yourself rushing immediately stop and take a breath and proceed slowly.

Best of luck!
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
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1,910
jbtsax;6889 [QUOTE said:
beginning players can try the "pop" test to check the strength of the reed. To do this test you take the mouthpiece off, close the open end with your finger, and suck all the air out of the mouthpiece. When all the air is out, quickly pull the mouthpiece from the mouth, and monitor the time it takes for the reed to pop open. If it pops in a second or less, the reed has sufficient strength. If the reed takes over 1 second to pop, it is too soft.
Very interesting, i never heard of this before, i just tried it on my mb11 with my usual fibracell no2 and found it dident pop for well over a second! is this a hard and fast rule though as i do feel comfortable on this set up?
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
........

Besides listening for a "flabby" sound in the upper octave, beginning players can try the "pop" test to check the strength of the reed. To do this test you take the mouthpiece off, close the open end with your finger, and suck all the air out of the mouthpiece. When all the air is out, quickly pull the mouthpiece from the mouth, and monitor the time it takes for the reed to pop open. If it pops in a second or less, the reed has sufficient strength. If the reed takes over 1 second to pop, it is too soft.

.....
Just tried that - mine popped instantly.......how can that be when I only use a very soft reed - a Jazz Select 2s which is equivalent to a 1.5 Rico Royal?:confused: (according to my Sax.co.uk chart)
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
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3,556
Well done so far. :welldone I think it took me weeks (and a change of teacher, mind!) to actually get a note out every time I tried. :w00t:

Related to the advice above... is your sax strap short enough?
You appear to be leaning forward to put the mouthpiece in your mouth, and when you take the sax out of your mouth, it all seems rather low to me. My 2nd (and current ) teacher made me stand with my heels against the skirting board, and my shoulders against the wall (ie nice and straight) then the adjust the neck strap so that you can pivot the mouthpiece nicely into your mouth using only your right thumb, no other fingers on the sax at all. I was surprised how high the sax needed to be. I placed a mark (with correction fluid) on my strap at the right height. Even now, if I have problems playing, I can guarantee that my neck strap has slipped loose!

And embouchure is indeed all to do with how your mouth fits around the mouthpiece. I was advised to imagine you are smiling with your lips together, but that the corners of your mouth pull towards your ear-lobes, not towards the corners of your eyes. Roll your bottom lip in a little over your bottom teeth, and then pop the mouth piece in between bottom lip and top teeth.

However, since you have a teacher, best to ask their advice.

And you're far braver than me, I didn't post any recordings for years :welldone
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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8,011
Just tried that - mine popped instantly.......how can that be when I only use a very soft reed - a Jazz Select 2s which is equivalent to a 1.5 Rico Royal?:confused: (according to my Sax.co.uk chart)
Mouthpieces vary considerably in tip opening and the length of the lay. Mouthpieces with a wider tip opening take softer reeds because of the increase in distance the reed moves when it vibrates. When the air is sucked out of a mouthpiece of this description, the reed must bend farther to close off at the tip creating a stronger "pull" to return to its straight position.

On pieces with a longer lay which often goes with a wider tip opening, more of the thick part of the reed is in the vibrating area thereby making the reed somewhat stiffer. Players take advantage of this principle by moving the reed slightly past the tip of the mouthpiece when they have a reed that is a bit too soft, and by lowering a reed slightly if it is a bit too hard.
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,030
Mouthpieces vary considerably in tip opening and the length of the lay. Mouthpieces with a wider tip opening take softer reeds because of the increase in distance the reed moves when it vibrates. When the air is sucked out of a mouthpiece of this description, the reed must bend farther to close off at the tip creating a stronger "pull" to return to its straight position.

On pieces with a longer lay which often goes with a wider tip opening, more of the thick part of the reed is in the vibrating area thereby making the reed somewhat stiffer. Players take advantage of this principle by moving the reed slightly past the tip of the mouthpiece when they have a reed that is a bit too soft, and by lowering a reed slightly if it is a bit too hard.
Ah that explains it! I'm using it on a B3 Rico Royal Graftonite. :thumb:
 
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