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Coming out of the closet

GaryF

New Member
Messages
6
Location
Manchester
Hiya

I recently took up tenor sax after a 30 year hiatus with my clarinet. As in, I re-took up the clarinet about two years ago

Loving playing the tenor, but wow, those long notes are tricky down the register.

Anyhow, thanks for this and happy blowing!!

Gary
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
743
Location
New Mexico, US
You gotta adjust from a clarinet embouchure for sax. Clarinet embouchure doesn't work too well on a sax.

Also....be sure your horn is leak-free. So many times folks assume
'eh, it must be me' when they cannot get the horn to speak cleanly on certain notes...when in fact the horn has either pad or regulation leaks...or both.

Worth a trip to the tech just to have it checked out.

Good luck, and welcome !
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,776
Location
Manchester, UK
Hi Gary, and welcome from another Manchester resident (I take it that's Manchester, UK, rather than New Hampshire or any of the other Manchesters out there ;)).
Loving playing the tenor, but wow, those long notes are tricky down the register.
A couple of thoughts on that:
  1. Have you had your horn checked over for small air leaks?
  2. Have you tried softer reeds? The high notes need miore air support but the lower notes become more manageable.
  3. Tenor embouchure wants to be considerably looser thatn clarinet embouchure. Maybe experiment with lowering your jaw on the tenor, maintining the seal with the sides of the mouth.
(Edit: Jaye beat me to it as I was typing)
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
6,927
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
After you have had your sax checked out, this exercise I used to use with my students might help.

Play low G forte and then quickly slur down to low C and hold it as long as you can. Shape your throat as if singing "AHH" on the lowest note you can hit and blow warm air. Resist the tendency to relax the embouchure for the lowest notes for now. Later when you work on "subtone" that will change.

After you can sustain low C as a long tone at forte, repeat the exercise at mf, and then mp. Once you have learned the "taste of the note" (embouchure, air, and voicing) and can produce the note consistently, then try starting on the note itself.

Each size of saxophone has its own unique feel when playing the lowest notes in the range. Because you can do it on alto doesn't mean you can automatically do the same on tenor. For some reason the bari seems to be the easiest. When scientists use an "artificial" embouchure to play a saxophone for acoustic studies, the machine can be set to do nearly everything a human player can do---except play the lowest notes where the fundamental is weaker that then next two or three overtones. It takes the nuanced control of a human oral cavity to pull this off---something science has yet been able to replicate. Tonguing and fingering "Giant Steps" is relatively easy by comparison. :)

 

saxyjt

I have saxophone withdrawal symptoms
Subscriber
Messages
3,185
Location
France
Welcome to the café!

Playing low notes on a clarinet is very easy, even I can do it!

Tenor is a bit more challenging, but slurring from above should be easier. Of course, leaks can work against you big time!

Enjoy and see you soon.
 

GCinCT

Seeker of truth and beauty
Subscriber
Messages
989
Location
Oneonta, NY
Welcome to the Cafe. As you've already found out, there is lots of great advice here. Glad you've come back to the world's best instrument!
 
OP
GaryF

GaryF

New Member
Messages
6
Location
Manchester
You gotta adjust from a clarinet embouchure for sax. Clarinet embouchure doesn't work too well on a sax.

Also....be sure your horn is leak-free. So many times folks assume
'eh, it must be me' when they cannot get the horn to speak cleanly on certain notes...when in fact the horn has either pad or regulation leaks...or both.

Worth a trip to the tech just to have it checked out.

Good luck, and welcome !
Thanks, Jaye I'll get it to my local service centre - thanks for the welcome!
 
OP
GaryF

GaryF

New Member
Messages
6
Location
Manchester
Hi Gary, and welcome from another Manchester resident (I take it that's Manchester, UK, rather than New Hampshire or any of the other Manchesters out there ;)).

A couple of thoughts on that:
  1. Have you had your horn checked over for small air leaks?
  2. Have you tried softer reeds? The high notes need miore air support but the lower notes become more manageable.
  3. Tenor embouchure wants to be considerably looser thatn clarinet embouchure. Maybe experiment with lowering your jaw on the tenor, maintining the seal with the sides of the mouth.
(Edit: Jaye beat me to it as I was typing)
Definitely Manchester UK (well, Heywood, to be precise :cool: )
 
OP
GaryF

GaryF

New Member
Messages
6
Location
Manchester
After you have had your sax checked out, this exercise I used to use with my students might help.

Play low G forte and then quickly slur down to low C and hold it as long as you can. Shape your throat as if singing "AHH" on the lowest note you can hit and blow warm air. Resist the tendency to relax the embouchure for the lowest notes for now. Later when you work on "subtone" that will change.

After you can sustain low C as a long tone at forte, repeat the exercise at mf, and then mp. Once you have learned the "taste of the note" (embouchure, air, and voicing) and can produce the note consistently, then try starting on the note itself.

Each size of saxophone has its own unique feel when playing the lowest notes in the range. Because you can do it on alto doesn't mean you can automatically do the same on tenor. For some reason the bari seems to be the easiest. When scientists use an "artificial" embouchure to play a saxophone for acoustic studies, the machine can be set to do nearly everything a human player can do---except play the lowest notes where the fundamental is weaker that then next two or three overtones. It takes the nuanced control of a human oral cavity to pull this off---something science has yet been able to replicate. Tonguing and fingering "Giant Steps" is relatively easy by comparison. :)

Great advice and thanks for the assist on the exercise - that robot is a bit quick :)
Welcome to the café!

Playing low notes on a clarinet is very easy, even I can do it!

Tenor is a bit more challenging, but slurring from above should be easier. Of course, leaks can work against you big time!

Enjoy and see you soon.
Merci beacoup!
 
OP
GaryF

GaryF

New Member
Messages
6
Location
Manchester
Hi All. I forgot to say, a massive THANKYOU to all who advised I get my Sax checked out. Not only were some of the pads in need of replacement, some of the keywork was bent and needed reshaping, AND there was a screw missing from the mechanism holding in my G key!!

Shout out to Booths in Bolton for the amazing fix. Notes sound better, easier to get the low notes (esp with the above practicing techniques) and all round much better sound

Embouchure coming along nicely :cool: A58784D9-25E0-464E-8C42-02F9EEC7B965.jpeg
 

Alice

Psychedelic
Subscriber
Messages
5,262
Location
Kent
Welcome to the Café Gary. Was that your own sax from years ago or had you just bought it when you decided to take it up again?
 
OP
GaryF

GaryF

New Member
Messages
6
Location
Manchester
Welcome to the Café Gary. Was that your own sax from years ago or had you just bought it when you decided to take it up again?
Thanks Alice - I bought it about three years ago (VERY secondhand) off a shop I Manchester.

I had a Clarinet for years but never used it until about two years ago

The Concert Band I’m with needed a Tenor Sax deputy so I said I had one and it all sort of snowballed from there

I love it!!!
 
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