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Saxophones Adding a soprano as a beginner....

Shorty

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31
Hi all, I'm plugging away on the alto, which is going well, ...well enjoying a lot. I travel with work overnight quite a bit and miss the days that I don't have the sax with me; I do a bit of theory but it's not much fun. I couldn't easily carry my alto around with me but I could squeeze in a soprano I recon. Would this screw up my technique and learning with the alto or be beneficial ?
thanks
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
The sop is a whole new ball game. Playing it wouldn't screw anything up, apart from maybe your bank balance. The sop isn't a little alto. It has all its own issues. What about a clarinet?
 

BigMartin

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I would expect playing clarinet to mess with your alto playing more than the sop would (smiley, bitey clarinet embouchure instead of round, flexible sax one). I agree with Colin that it wouldn't mess up your alto playing, but it might not help as much as you'd think. Still , the fingering is the same, albeit with the fingers a bit closer together and curled round a bit more.
 

jbtsax

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My advice as a teacher is to master the tone production and control on one before adding others if you are serious about learning to play well. If you are just messing around playing for fun, then go for it.
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
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Berkshire, UK
I enjoy the alto and sop but find the tenor far more difficult. The sop is transportable and has helped me with the alto and my emboucher. I don't ever think I will "master" any instrument but I enjoy them very much.
 

BigMartin

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I enjoy the alto and sop but find the tenor far more difficult. The sop is transportable and has helped me with the alto and my emboucher. I don't ever think I will "master" any instrument but I enjoy them very much.
Inteteresting. I found tenor easiest right from the start, but I too enjoy them all.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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adding the sop will make you more flexible and less fussy about mouthpieces. It's helped me a lot.
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
I started on clarinet and moved to alto with no problems. I added the baritone next with few problems. I've tried tenor off and on for years but was never happy or comfortable. I tried again last year and it's coming now I've found a suitable mouthpiece. I added the sop last year and was surprised how little control I had. Again a suitable mouthpiece has made a big improvement but it's dodgy up at the top. I feel that each one adds something and by playing them all it makes each one more distinct and the differentiation makes me think more about which one I'm playing. I think playing them all has made me a better player. I'm still more at home on the alto though.
 

aaronrod

Member
Messages
42
Hi all, I'm plugging away on the alto, which is going well, ...well enjoying a lot. I travel with work overnight quite a bit and miss the days that I don't have the sax with me; I do a bit of theory but it's not much fun. I couldn't easily carry my alto around with me but I could squeeze in a soprano I recon. Would this screw up my technique and learning with the alto or be beneficial ?
thanks

If the issue is size and travelling ease, have you looked into molded cases? I've travelled a lot with my alto (in an SKB case) and never had any issues fitting it into the overhead compartment of every plane I've been on (including some smaller propjets). They are a lot easier to travel with than the traditional rectangular sax cases.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
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Minster On Sea
The saying goes.....jack of all

Yeah, like most old sayings, it's crap.

I much prefer, "jack of all trades or master of none". I long ago gave up the idea that I'd be the next Brecker or whatever (did I ever have it?) and settled on enjoying myself. So, if I fancied a baritone/tenor/alto I got one (I started with soprano). I don't care that I'm not a master of anything - I never intended to be. I like playing them all.
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
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12,069
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Berkshire, UK
Yeah, like most old sayings, it's crap.

I much prefer, "jack of all trades or master of none". I long ago gave up the idea that I'd be the next Brecker or whatever (did I ever have it?) and settled on enjoying myself. So, if I fancied a baritone/tenor/alto I got one (I started with soprano). I don't care that I'm not a master of anything - I never intended to be. I like playing them all.

Couldn't agree more! Great statement.
 

jbtsax

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My advice as a teacher is to master the tone production and control on one before adding others if you are serious about learning to play well. If you are just messing around playing for fun, then go for it.

To clarify what I said in an earlier post, mastering tone production and control on one size of saxophone does not mean learning to play at the level of Brecker or any other one in a million top artists of the saxophone. It simply means being able to control the tone and pitch from the bottom of the instrument to the top at all dynamic levels. It has nothing to do with technical mastery in one style of music or another. I can say from experience that once the tone production is mastered on one size of saxophone, it will come much more quickly and easily on each of the others. Spreading one's self too thin too soon results in sluggish improvement on all the instruments. There just isn't enough time in the day to devote sufficient practice to each.
 

Saxdiva

Older, wiser, should know better....
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533
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Burgess Hill, West Sussex
To clarify what I said in an earlier post, mastering tone production and control on one size of saxophone does not mean learning to play at the level of Brecker or any other one in a million top artists of the saxophone. It simply means being able to control the tone and pitch from the bottom of the instrument to the top at all dynamic levels. It has nothing to do with technical mastery in one style of music or another. I can say from experience that once the tone production is mastered on one size of saxophone, it will come much more quickly and easily on each of the others. Spreading one's self too thin too soon results in sluggish improvement on all the instruments. There just isn't enough time in the day to devote sufficient practice to each.

Completely agree. I will never be a master of any saxophone, but I do want to be the best I can be. Including mouthpiece exercises, and long tones, I practice for at least an hour a day on alto. I don't just don't to be able to knock out a tune. I want to do it really well. It's just a hobby, but I take it seriously as well as enjoying it.

To do that, I have time only for one. I dare say after quite a lot of practice, I will be able to transfer all the things I'm learning on throat, larynx and tongue position to influence my tone and add another sax type. But since I've settled on one, I have really noticed the difference.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
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I can say from experience that once the tone production is mastered on one size of saxophone, it will come much more quickly and easily on each of the others.

The difficulty, of course, is deciding when you think you've mastered it. I've been playing for 40 something years and I still think I'm getting better at it.
 

jrintaha

Senior Member
Messages
283
Locality
Helsinki, Finland
I've had a tenor for a year and a half. I've had an alto for a bit less than a year. I got my first soprano last week. I find the soprano a lot easier to play than either the tenor or the alto. I don't play the alto so often, so here's my quick first impressions with the sop vs tenor:

The sop is easier because:
There's less of a difference in tone and feel between the two octaves.
There's no dodgy octave G and G# warble to look out for.
The keywork is far easier to handle due to its size.
The low notes speak far more easily.
It's easier to play in tune because it's so flexible. On the tenor, I feel like I really have to fight the sax to get the couple of nasty notes in tune. On the soprano it just goes in tune as long as I concentrate on what note I'm going to play next - the adjustments needed are so small. I also love how easy it is to bend notes on the soprano.

The tenor is easier because:
The very highest notes, octave C and above, are much more difficult to get on the soprano, but then again they're so high-pitched that you don't really need them so often.
Clarinet thumb - a sling isn't very useful with a straight soprano. If you get a curly one, this is no issue.
 

HugoFirst

New Member
Messages
17
Locality
Melbourne Australia
I started on tenor (nearly 2 years) and now play Alto (12 months) and Baritone (1 month). Fitting in practice for all 3 can be challenging and I try to play a different horn for each practice session.
One thing that really helped me when 1st playing each horn was to listen to the great players as much as possible. At first the alto didn't sound right for me, a bit kazoo like. The Bb to Eb transition took a bit of time for my head to get around.
If you start playing Sop find a great sop player you like the sound of, and listen carefully.

Good luck
 

photoman

Daydream Believer
Messages
235
Locality
County Limerick Ireland
I was an official photographer at the Guinness Cork Jazz festival at the end of October, and I met and chatted with Courtney Pine - who happens to be the nicest saxophone player I've ever met (so far). Actually, I've only met 3 others.

I was telling him how I bought my first sax 3 months ago - an alto - at the ripe old age of 58, and then a tenor 4 weeks ago. And my my mate Cort gave me a "fist bump" (it's probably called somethng entirely different) and seemed genuinely pleased about my little adventure.

Feeling a a bit guilty, I then said "but I didn't get the Soprano yet" - and he replied, "there's no need, I would just stick with the alto and the tenor for now."

Wise words indeed, and bit of relief as I have a feeling the sound wouldn't really appeal to me. :thumb:
 
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