Tutorials

Beginner Advice on embouchure, please

Philly123

Member
Messages
188
Location
South Wales
Hello, well I'm coming along - up to lesson 5 in A Tune A Day. I'm sort of getting to learn the notes, albeit a bit fumbly. However, I'm still struggling with my embouchure. It seems not matter how I start, I end up with my bottom sticking in very tightly to the inside of my bottom lip. I find it very painful and can only practice for about 15 minutes before I really can't bear the pain any longer. Is this something I will get used to in time, or am I doing something very very wrong?

I've tried to find a website or somewhere which my show me clearly but I've not been successful yet. Does anyone know any?
 

rudjarl

Senile Member. Scandinavian Ambassadour of CaSLM
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Location
Løten, Norway
Hi Philly,
it will get better over time :)

Ehh, I expect it's your lower teeth that is sticking tightly to the inside of your bottom lip, not your bottom.:shocked:

It is quite normal that it hurts quite a bit. But as you practice, you will be able to play for ever longer periods without any pain. You are doing just great. It is important not to overdo the practise.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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A different point - get hold of Larry Teals The art of the Saxophone from Amazon, or anouther on-line retailer. Do the embouchure exercises in there. You'll get some strange looks..... But it works. Your teeth shouldn't be biting/cutting into the back of your lip. But you do need the muscles developing to use the lips for embouchure and not teeth.
 

Little My

Practice makes better.
Messages
396
Location
Wiltshire, UK.
I read something a while back that likened the embouchure to sucking a thumb - ie the lower lip is turned out slightly. I switched to this and am finding that playing is easier and more comfortable. It does take a while to build the muscles, but they do come.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
695
I have found that getting a good embouchure is a long-term project. You reach a point where you are quite comfortable with what you have got. Then you tackle a different kind of music (e.g. more staccato, larger intervals, etc.), and you realise that further work is required. Over time you will knock the sharp edges out.
 

visionari1

Senior Member
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1,606
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Out in the Countryside of Nelson NZ
You will find that it is not necessary to fold the bottom lip in. Many players from Coltrane down had this type off embroshure, it may take a little time to adjust but in the long run you will find it easier and better. This was advised at a Jamie Aebersold workshop I went to in 2004 & have been playing with the bottom lip not rolled under since then.
Cheers
Jimu
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,232
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
You must have a very flexible body..............;}

Embouchure does take time, as said above. You may need to play with a softer reed for a bit, or make sure you have a mouthpiece with a narrower tip opening. The other thing you could try would be a get hold of a trumpet mouthpiece and build your lip muscles by making buzzing noises on that for a few minutes each day - I can send you one if you PM me with your details (no charge, obviously...). I started off on both instruments at roughly the same time and it helped me develop a strong embouchure quite quickly. Point is that you cannot get a sound out of a trumpet mouthpiece if you curl your lips inward - so a very good exercise.

Tension can also influence tightening your embouchure when you play. Depends on whether you have a CD with your Tune a Day book so that you can hear how pieces should sound - it would certainly help your playing in that way - to play a piece without a sense of how it could/should sound - timing etc. can only add to any tension you might experience.

It does sound like a few minutes each day consciously practising long notes (up to 8 beats at a time) with the different embouchure would help instill some discipline into your playing, so that you won't just go back to what you usually do - a gradual retraining.

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Location
Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom
I read something a while back that likened the embouchure to sucking a thumb - ie the lower lip is turned out slightly. I switched to this and am finding that playing is easier and more comfortable. It does take a while to build the muscles, but they do come.
I agree, and Kev and Rick are right too - the embouchure in 'Tune a Day' is very classical and old-fashioned. If that's the style you want to play then that's fine - sure it'll be sore on your lip to start with, but you will with time learn a bit of restraint, and dare I say your chops will toughen up a bit! This was my experience as a kid with a clarinet.

If you're more up for modern, brash, loud playing, you will ideally need to work on the lip-out embouchure, I've never looked back (though my clarinet playing has perhaps suffered a bit).
Rick's second video is a bit more useful for you than his first if you want to get the wider jazz/pop tone, since it shows you a comparison of how he does this. As he says though, everyone's mouth is different, and so therefore everyone's embouchure is different too. This is where a real life teacher can help no end, since they can see what you're doing both right and wrong (if anything).

Good luck,

Nick
 
OP
Philly123

Philly123

Member
Messages
188
Location
South Wales
I've had a look at Rick's video and I've had a quick try of the 'lip-out' embouchure. At the moment I can't produce any sort of decent sound with it, but it certainly feels better - much less painful! I'll continue practicing, and I'm sure I'll improve with time.

In the meantime I've gone and bought myself a mechanical metronome, as I thought it might help with my timing (and my daughter has started to learn the piano, so it should be useful for her also). It's very attractive, pyramid shape. But .... I don't know how to set it or use it! (haven't got the instructions). Anyone know? Its got a guage down the middle with lots of markings on it but I can't work out how they relate to the timing on the music score, eg. 4/4, 3/4. Any advice would be much appreciated.
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
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The Athens of The North
You just set the weight to the beats per minute that you want, and that's it. I have an electronic one that can do all of the time signatures and ring a bell on the first beat of the bar followed by the clicks.

Jim.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Just north of Munich
I love those old mechanical metronomes, but as Jim says, there's no time signature to indicate the eginning of the bar like you can with an electonic one. There's also no volume control. But a big advantage is that you can see the movement, which can be difficult or impossible on an electonic one.

Lip out embouchure won't really work until you get enough lip strength - you're relying on the lip muscles to do all the work of holding the lip of the teeth, whereas a lip in allows you to support the lip with the teeth/jaw (bad long term, but good for getting going). It's a bit of a chicken and egg situation, which is where the exercises come in. Where you don't want to be is locked in to a playing style that relies on the teeth digging into/cutting the lower lip. Also the lip out style requires more from you in terms of lip control placement than a lip in style.
 
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TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,232
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
Hi Philly!

There should be a little metal spike on the side of the metronome by the winder. If you pull it out you should see "2I3I4I5I6" or similar. You just need to pull it out until it shows the number of beats that you want per bar and it will click after every so many beats per bar. For 6/8 time you will need to set it at 2/4 time counting 123 223 on the 2 beats (some metronomes may not have this feature...). Also make sure you wind it from time to time.

I have both mechanical and electronic one but only use the electronic one - the mechanical one sits on the piano and is used by female members of the household (4 play the piano!) Many electronic ones also have a built in tuner so you can check the accuracy of notes, and can check notes in C, Bb, Eb and so on

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,982
Location
Just north of Munich
Hi Philly!

There should be a little metal spike on the side of the metronome by the winder. If you pull it out you should see "2I3I4I5I6" or similar. You just need to pull it out until it shows the number of beats that you want per bar and it will click after every so many beats per bar. For 6/8 time you will need to set it at 2/4 time counting 123 223 on the 2 beats (some metronomes may not have this feature...). Also make sure you wind it from time to time.
Wow - I learnt something. Have never seen one with this feature. Thanks Tom.
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
Location
Leeds
Lip in, lip out -- isn't your problem (although I think lip out is best). Problem is you're biting way too much. Embochure shouldn't do much more than keep air from leaking out.

Try this:
Play 5 minutes or so on the mouthpiece alone every day. With a double embochure (upper lip between teeth and mouthpiece). Slur as low and high as you go. Try to play a scale, melodies, whatever. Do this with your embochure loose enough there is no pain. Then carry on with whatever else you're working on.

Hope that helps.
Morgan

Sent from my HTC Desire using Tapatalk
 

Little My

Practice makes better.
Messages
396
Location
Wiltshire, UK.
A couple of other things that come to mind... Is your sling adjusted right so that it's carrying the weight of the sax? Just in case you're trying to cling on with your teeth. The other thing is what kind of mouthpiece came with your sax? Specifically what size is it (I think there should be numbers/letters/stars on it somewhere to indicate this). I used to be dreadful with biting on the top of the mouthpiece, then switched to a less open mouthpiece when I restarted and hey presto no biting. It could well be that this isn't the issue at all for you but it's something to be aware of.
 
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