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Bad embouchure = jaw and headaches

Lorraine

Member
Messages
36
Locality
Brighton, England
Hi all,

I've been playing since xmas on and off. (The Weltklang tenor with S90 mouthpiece) I can play for extended periods of time now and have been playing for one and a half to two hours per session lately. But now I notice I get some serious jawache and/or headaches, during and after playing.

I assume I am biting too hard, the problem is I am not sure why. I have about 4 different reeds which I rotate each practice, and hold the sax to my right as this is the most comfortable position to play in for me.
I thought the sax might be moving and I am using my facial muscles to hold it in place, but it seems to sit ok 'hands-free'.

I am certainly playing with more gusto - because I can - and tone and confidence are improving. I also play in my campervan at full belt (whereas in the flat I used to play quietly) but this always results in a headache afterwards.

I can't afford a teacher - so any advice given here appreciated - thanks.
Lorraine
 
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Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,688
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
You don't say which sax. Headache every time is a bit worrying. A little face ache after a long session is to be expected but nothing terrible. You shouldn't need to bite at all. Perhaps a more free blowing mouthpiece with less resistance so that there's less effort required. Sounds like you're going to do yourself a michief.
 

Lorraine

Member
Messages
36
Locality
Brighton, England
I am a bit of a biter - just noticed that I have bitten through the pad and marked the mouthpiece. S90 has quite a wide tip (I think) - and this is a new problem. Something to do with playing outside and being able to play louder, seems to be causing me to bite, but I don't notice it while playing and I'm consciously trying to keep my embouchure firm but loose. Must try harder!....
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Locality
Just north of Munich
What reed are you using - and what is tip opening - it'll either be a letter, or possibly a 3 digit number.
 

Andrew Sanders

Northern Commissioner for Caslm
Messages
2,770
Locality
Ilkley West Yorkshire
Hi Lorraine,
Could be chomping problems at the heart of it, but blasting it out in a campervan could be adding to the effect.
The sax is a loud instrument when weilded in anger. (My wife says she can feel her ears exploding when I'm at full tilt.>:))
The close environment of the van could be sending damaging sound waves to your ears. Stick some ear protection in and try to stop chewing the mouthpiece.
Hope you get to the bottom of the problem.
Andy
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Locality
Skabertawe, South Wales
What reed are you using - and what is tip opening - it'll either be a letter, or possibly a 3 digit number.

The S90 is between 1.70 & 2.00 mm - no bigger than 0.080" - very small indeed. Agree with Andy above!
 

Lorraine

Member
Messages
36
Locality
Brighton, England
What reed are you using - and what is tip opening - it'll either be a letter, or possibly a 3 digit number.

Thanks it's a 200 - reeds are Vandoren 2 and 2.5 and rico royale 2 and 2.5. I usually keep the van door open a bit - hadn't considered it would be too loud for my ears, but will keep an eye on that.
Played in the flat today for a couple of hours - finished at 8 but still have a thick head. I am thinking I must have picked up a bad habit when playing for longer periods of time.
 

ArtyLady

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,028
Locality
Essex
I've had this when I've used too hard a reed/too wide a tip opening from just the sheer force needed to blow air through - do you feel that you're having to blow very hard?
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,323
Locality
London
Please be careful, I had annoying problems in the past.
Biting might be the cause, but it doesn't seem you have an odd setup.

Maybe you protrude your jaw too much. This may put stress on the temporomandibular joint (the articulation near your ears, where the jaw meets the skull).
Pay attention to the angle your mouthpiece enters your mouth.


PS. I never thought that saxophone players might drive a van doren.
 

spike

Old Indian
Messages
2,357
Locality
Half way up a hill
Just a thought -
Had a student once with a headache problem when he practiced at home. I noticed he was playing with the neck strap too tight causing tension on the top teeth and probably the back of his neck. Slackening off the neck strap solved the problem.
 

tzadik

Member
Messages
371
Locality
Friulandia, Italy
Headaches can be caused also by bad oxygenation... (and obviously by tensions at differente levels: neck, jaw, upper part of the back).

Check out if you support correctly the air stream with your diaphragm.

A bad diaphragm breathing can bring to many problems.

----
Biting hard can come from a biting hard tendency or because biting hard you reduce the fuctional tip opening the mouthpiece so less air is needed to produce... sound.

This is the "perfect" embouchure: http://youtu.be/SwHrwIs_O-w (sorry for the italian subtitles).
If you can't produce sound with a natural embouchure... it means you don't have a proper air stream support

Then have a look here: http://books.google.it/books?id=OeRu0BWV5AgC&pg=PR4&lpg=PP1&ots=0n-0U5hewd&dq=larry+teal&hl=gb ... "embouchure" chapter, page 37.
 

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