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Back playing saxophone after laryngitis, some teething issues

Magnus077

Member
Messages
38
Hello all. I'm a couple of months back playing after having minor laryngitis for several weeks. The issues playing that were caused by the laryngitis itself have all but left, however there are some classic readjustment issues that arose and remain after returning to playing. I would be grateful if some fellow players here could share some experiences or advice that could help me address these.

The worst complication is a general absence of stamina after just being out of the swing of things, so to speak. I am unable to breathe and control my airflow to allow me to play complete phrases. Most of the time, I can barely hold out for more than two full bars of any moderately paced piece. Tied in with this is the lack of any real 'oopmh' to the sound - for instance, at a practice lately, the tenor sax (me) had the melody for a few bars (it was a band arrangement of 'What A Wonderful World'), our bandmaster was calling to me, "Blow it out!", he was saying, but I couldn't. I physically couldn't. What he was looking for, it just wasn't there. Couple these issues with chronic jaw/mouth fatigue, and rather than enjoying playing, it becomes a slog. I'm guessing that just practicing long and hard enough would be enough to get back to form, but I'm busy lately so that hasn't happened. So should I just find time play for as long as it takes to readjust?

There are one or two 'miscellaneous' problems that have been plaguing me for a while, even before I was ill. Periodically during playing (every 10mins or so), the contact surfaces of the reed and mouthpiece become essentially waterlogged, resulting in a quite 'woolly' sound and feel (apologies for lack of a better adjective). I need to remove the reed from the mouthpiece and dry both with a cloth. The mouthpiece is a fairly inexpensive polycarbonate one I've been using for around 18 months. It's served me well until now, but given that most polymers inherently degrade over time (in other words, the mouthpiece's shape may actually have deformed slightly), maybe it's time to retire it and upgrade to a professional grade mouthpiece? Or perhaps I should try some synthetic reeds as well?

Thanking everyone in advance.
 

Veggie Dave

Sax Worker
Messages
3,202
The stamina should return. Laryngitis gives the lungs a good kicking that can take a while to get over.

Regarding the waterlogged reed - keep your head/sax up while playing. Leaning forward, for example to read the music, allows the moisture from your mouth easier access to the mouthpiece and reed, Also, avoid hot drinks just before or while you're playing. If my experimenting on this problem recently is anything to by, hot drinks make your breath hotter, which increases condensation, and seems to make your saliva thicker/more likely to waterlog the reed.

Since I stopped drinking tea/coffee just before or while playing I've noticed a huge difference in the amount of moisture affecting the reed and sax as a whole.
 

Magnus077

Member
Messages
38
Thanks Dave. Now that you mention it, positioning is likely the culprit, and it could be, I think, as a result of one of two things:

1. The strap eye on my saxophone is positioned such that my neckstrap must be fully tightened in order to have the instrument close enough to me to be able to play (which is rather leant over).
2. My strap is too short.

Given that most straps these days are probably made to be a generic fit for all saxophones, I'm inclined to think it's just the nature of the design of my saxophone (it's very old, at least ~50yrs), and I've played other tenors with the same strap, and it's not an issue with them. So, in that case, I'll see if I can track down a longer strap.

Thanks again!
 

randulo

Living the dream
Subscriber
Messages
5,329
There are some physical exercises you can do away from the instrument. When I first started playing I developed my muscles faster, I think using these. Saxophone Embouchure

The two that helped me were holding a pen in the mouth like a cigarette, keeping it straight. Doing this a few times a day for several minutes strengthens the lips. The second is to pucker up the lips as tight as possible for a few seconds, then do the opposite position, a wide smile and hold for a few seconds.

I use the JazzLabs shoulder harness, I don't like the weight on my neck, even the alto.
 

Ivan

Undecided
Subscriber
Messages
7,525
The strap eye on my saxophone is positioned such that my neckstrap must be fully tightened...
Good grief

Are you strangling yourself??.

Pop an orange in your mouth and you're on the way to being a Member of Parliament
 

Magnus077

Member
Messages
38
Thanks for the link to the embouchure article, looks to be quite useful. :thumbs:

I have seen something similar to the exercise described, perhaps it is identical?:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4d2gpRysZY


Yes, to be quite honest, mobility is quite limited with it tightened fully, but not such that I can't breathe at all :D. Hopefully a different strap will provide the solution.
 
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