Breaking a bad habit

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I have been playing on and off for many years, and just come to realise or maybe just accepted, i have a really bad habit of tightening my embouchure when playing in the higher register.

Does anyone have any tips on how to break this habit, or can anyone recommend any exercises that may help.

Many thanks
Russ
 

Phil

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I have not tried it but some have suggested a really light setup so it closes up if you tense up.

It makes sense to me because when I play test really small tips I have to pay close attention or everything comes to screeching halt with normal strength reeds.
 
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I have not tried it but some have suggested a really light setup so it closes up if you tense up.

It makes sense to me because when I play test really small tips I have to pay close attention or everything comes to screeching halt with normal strength reeds.
Thanks @Phil i will give it a go, i do struggle to play small tip openings so there may be something in that
 

thomsax

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i have a really bad habit of tightening my embouchure when playing in the higher register.
Goes for me to. I can't go from B2 to F#3 and really honk the note without tighening my embouchure. No big deal for me. I learned how to deal with it and I practice to make it happen. Is it possible to play the high tones (loud) without tightening your embouchure?
 
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Goes for me to. I can't go from B2 to F#3 and really honk the note without tighening my embouchure. No big deal for me. I learned how to deal with it and I practice to make it happen. Is it possible to play the high tones (loud) without tightening your embouchure?
i need to tighten my embouchure to play the high notes loud.
 

Veggie Dave

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Same here. I haven't played a sax yet, though, that isn't flat if I don't. :confused2:

I'm not talking about biting here, but rather pulling in the sides of the mouth. This has confused me from pretty much day 1, in the same way I so often see (really brilliant professional) players moving their jaw backwards and forwards when playing, as this goes against (as far as I can tell) the adage of not changing your emboucher to play different notes.
 
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Same here. I haven't played a sax yet, though, that isn't flat if I don't. :confused2:

I'm not talking about biting here, but rather pulling in the sides of the mouth. This has confused me from pretty much day 1, in the same way I so often see (really brilliant professional) players moving their jaw backwards and forwards when playing, as this goes against (as far as I can tell) the adage of not changing your emboucher to play different notes.
i have been looking some at some Joe Allard stuff recently, the thing see people doing is playing overtones way up high with only slight changes to the embouchure, but i just can't get my head round it (or my throat and mouth).

i have also tried playing the mouthpiece on its own recently and have very little say in what it does, maybe that is an avenue to go down.
 

Veggie Dave

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i have also tried playing the mouthpiece on its own recently and have very little say in what it does, maybe that is an avenue to go down.
I saw so many comments about which note your mouthpiece should play but what no one ever mentions is the octave. It wasn't until a couple of months ago when Gilad Atzmon showed me what everyone was talking about that it finally clicked.
 

aldevis

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I have been playing on and off for many years, and just come to realise or maybe just accepted, i have a really bad habit of tightening my embouchure when playing in the higher register.

Does anyone have any tips on how to break this habit, or can anyone recommend any exercises that may help.

Many thanks
Russ
Very common issue.
First I would recommend an outstanding teacher spending a big deal of time finding with you the correct position on the mouthpiece on the cork.
Not as easy as it sounds.
This process may involve playing harmonics, to match the standard fingering with the harmonic on Bb2 C2 F3 G3 Bb3 C3, but again an experienced teacher is needed.

For example "Top Tones" by Rascher can worsen your issue if wrongly addressed.


i need to tighten my embouchure to play the high notes loud.
This sounds very wrong.
My first uninformed suggestion would be to push the mouthpiece in and try to play in tune with some backing track.
 

ellinas

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Try overtones exercises with a harder reed :). This is an advice from altissimo exercises. It promotes voicing. Also overtones teach where to tune the sax :) . It took me quite some time to realize this
 
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Very common issue.
First I would recommend an outstanding teacher spending a big deal of time finding with you the correct position on the mouthpiece on the cork.
Not as easy as it sounds.
This process may involve playing harmonics, to match the standard fingering with the harmonic on Bb2 C2 F3 G3 Bb3 C3, but again an experienced teacher is needed.

For example "Top Tones" by Rascher can worsen your issue if wrongly addressed.



This sounds very wrong.
My first uninformed suggestion would be to push the mouthpiece in and try to play in tune with some backing track.
Overall my Intonation isn't that bad, middle d is my only major issue
 
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Try overtones exercises with a harder reed :). This is an advice from altissimo exercises. It promotes voicing. Also overtones teach where to tune the sax :) . It took me quite some time to realize this
I can play some overtones quite comfortably and most are perfectly in tune, but I feel as though I am only using my embouchure to make it happen
 

altissimo

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Technique is a means to an end, not an end in itself..
Most of the 'rules' seem to come from classical saxophone methods and I don't listen to or play classical saxophone, so why be restricted by their methods? Would you go to a classical guitar teacher to learn to play the blues?
I'll take on board advice from anywhere, but if it doesn't work for me then I'll find another way

Personally I've never worried about any of this stuff about biting or how tight or loose my embouchure is, life's too short., I do what's necessary to get what I want out of the instrument - exactly how much pressure I apply with my lip and exactly where on the reed I apply it is crucial for altissimo and multiphonics.
All parameters are variable and open to experimentation in the cause of self expression, why limit yourself?
For me the embouchure is in a constant state of flux, shaping each note the way I want it. - classical players seem to want every note to sound the same, I want every note to have it's own individual personality, I'm a human being, not a sequencer.

One of my friends studied with Eugene Rousseau and asked him which techniques were considered legitimate. The reply was that "any technique is legitimate if it achieves the desired results" - the latter part of that sentence being crucial in that you have to understand clearly what results you desire.

I am of course a dangerous libertine with no regard for authority, so feel free to ignore any of the above
 

altissimo

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I can play some overtones quite comfortably and most are perfectly in tune, but I feel as though I am only using my embouchure to make it happen
I think that's the point, isn't it, learning to use your embouchure?
I never understood any of Rascher's "Top Tones" until after I learnt to play altissimo, his method isn't very clear - the same could be said for many saxophone books - I like Liebman's book, but it could be a lot better...
everything I've learnt has come from talking to and watching other musicians and figuring things out for myself - what works for me may not work for you, we're all different
 

aldevis

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Overall my Intonation isn't that bad, middle d is my only major issue
Middle D is intrinsecally out of tune on many saxophones.
You can play perfectly in tune with the mouthpiece in the wrong position.
If it is too out, you'll pinch the top notes
If it is too in, the "short" notes may become too bright
I never understood any of Rascher's "Top Tones" until after I learnt to play altissimo, his method isn't very clear - the same could be said for many saxophone books - I like Liebman's book, but it could be a lot better...
Indeed.
I seem to remember some good explanation on Taming the Saxophone
 
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