All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
Tutorials

Beginner Embouchure good days bad days normal?

ChrisC

Member
Messages
44
Folks,

I know I have only been playing the sax for a couple of days but day 1 was great and I could get a nice sound from just the neck and played some simple tunes on the full instrument. Today - i could hardly get a sound out of the thing and just couldn't get my embouchure close...

Im guessing thats normal - but boy is it frustrating.

Is it normal to have good days / bad days as a matter of course?

Its several decades since i "started" a new instrument...
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
It gets better. As you develop your technique and your embouchure muscles (and learn breath control and.....) everything becomes more reliable. You still have better and worse days, but the bad days are never so bad that you can't play at all (barring illness or problems with the horn).
 

Littlewailer

Member
Messages
133
You're building muscles in your face by working them out via playing. It's just like any exercise. The muscles get broken down and build back up stronger. IN the time that takes though the muscles get tired. Leave it for too long and they go out of shape. So playing every day for a little while and building up from there is very important.

Power through. You'll become a champion weight lifter in no time.
 

TheCureFan

Member
Messages
207
Normal I'd say. When I first started every other practice was bad. Have now been playing about 3 or so months and I'm down to 1 bad practice a week. I can usually tell within a few minutes if it's going to bad, in these cases I just put the sax away for the day and do something else and try not to linger on it (a couple of times at the start I'd try to play through the bad times and just made it worse). Then come back the next day afresh and eager to continue the learning process and put the bad session behind you.

Regardless of good or bad times just enjoy the journey. I love it and wish I'd taken it up earlier in my life.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,312
Folks,

I know I have only been playing the sax for a couple of days but day 1 was great and I could get a nice sound from just the neck and played some simple tunes on the full instrument. Today - i could hardly get a sound out of the thing and just couldn't get my embouchure close...

Im guessing thats normal - but boy is it frustrating.

Is it normal to have good days / bad days as a matter of course?

Its several decades since i "started" a new instrument...
I've been playing along,long time and if i miss a few days i can tell on my old chops.Remember your mouth,lips are muscles and they need worked all the time.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Good comments above. Just like to add - relax! The harder you try the worse it'll get.
 

TimboSax

Deputy junior apprentice 2nd class
Subscriber
Messages
811
Can't comment for sax yet, but it's the same for guitar. And it's not just when you're learning. Some days you play and it's perfect, the sounds are there, the chops are there, everything. Next day you can come back, same gear, same chops, and it sounds different, the magic's not there.

But you know it'll be there next time, so you keep coming back
 

MellowD

Lost In Theory
Messages
544
Remember your mouth,lips are muscles and they need worked all the time.
This is why women find the process so much simpler - there I said it! ha ha

Seriously, did you learn to drive? Bet you found you had good days and bad days while learning, until it became quite natural. Then you go away for two weeks holiday without driving, and you get back behind the wheel to find it all feels so very strange and make a couple of small blunders. This is the same kind of learning curve. No need to beat yourself up about it, just carry on.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,003
Learning any new skill is awkward at first. Until the learner gets used to how things should feel when done correctly there can be a lot of trial and error in trying to recreate the last successful attempt(s). Of course the best scenario is to work with an experienced teacher who can listen and observe to keep you on the right track. Realistically this is not always possible, but there are some concrete things that a beginning player can do that will help.

1. Find a reed strength that is not too hard to blow and stay with that brand and strength of reed.
2. Make sure you wet the reed sufficiently that the tip area is completely flat.
3. Be meticulous about putting the reed in exactly the same position on the mouthpiece each time you play.
4. Practice long tones with a tuner on the mouthpiece and neck alone every day. E concert tenor, Ab concert alto.
5. Follow that with long tones with the same pitch on the instrument F#2 on tenor, F 2 on alto.
6. Use a mouthpiece patch with a groove for the top teeth in order to be consistent with the mouthpiece placement in the mouth.
7. Determine the perfect length for the neckstrap and tie a knot below the sliding mechanism to keep the length constant.
8. Hold the sax in exactly the same position either sitting or standing every time you play.
9. Make sure the neck is rotated to exactly the same spot each time you play.
10. Make sure the mouthpiece is in the same position and orientation on the neck every time you play.
 

llamedos

Senior Member
Messages
431
In my experience over a variety of instruments and speaking purely as an amateur, yes, there are good days and not so good days and bad days. What's more there is a tendency to unpredictability. In other words a really good day comes as a nice surprise and if the next day turns out to be bad the disappointment is all the more traumatic and makes me wonder why I bother!

The obvious answer is to blunder on regardless and you'll get there in the end. It's all part of being human and part of life's rich tapestry.

Keep believing and keep blowing.

Dave
 

ChrisC

Member
Messages
44
Thanks to all. I was mildly surprised that all of a sudden I couldn't do anything. Playing long notes on the mouthpiece/ neck makes good sense.
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
Good comments above. Just like to add - relax! The harder you try the worse it'll get.

Ditto to that

also diito to jbt`s advice

Consistency is the key make sure youre setup is the same each time
but vary your playing excercises a little so your not playing the same each day as a begginer .do them in reverse every otherday.
or mix them up. After your warm up of course.
Its like exercising aerobics one day and weight training the next.
but most of all relax into the fun and excitement of it all
Youre now on a journey that could be years and years long and the destination is not important only the roads that lead there.
Regards
Allansto.
 

ChrisC

Member
Messages
44
A better day today...
I tried a few other reeds all 1.5 or 2 (just to see what the difference was) and discovered that one of the 1.5's I could barely blow at all and that one of the 2's seemed louder than the other one (although perhaps it was me).

Also discovered that I could make a horrible squeak by changing where my mouth was on the mouth piece... learning :)

My wife just came in and said - did you know you have been doing that for a hour? Whoops, I only meant to do it for 15 minutes but I guess my daughters lesson on how to breath (she plays the flute) has helped.

...but it would account for why my lip feels fizzy :D

Cheers for the support guys...
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,312
I think some people are straying from the thread title here and going on to the overall playing thing here.To get back to the main question your embouchure the more you play the better it will be,get.Yes theres good,bad days in any kind of music and any thing else then theres reeds and other things but the main factor here is you got to put the time in.Your mouth,lips are muscles and need to be strong and you need to work out,find your sweet spot on them so the more you play,work on them they will get stronger and thats a huge factor here.All great sax players have bad days trying to play ,make music but they can still blow with a great strong full sound hence work on your chops which in the end are your main voice.Its not how fast or how many notes you can play but what your sound,tone is like for me.Really strive to building up your own voice.Your body will be thinking whats this big chunk of metal here i've got to blow and hold but the more you do it the more natural it is.
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
A better day today...
I tried a few other reeds all 1.5 or 2 (just to see what the difference was) and discovered that one of the 1.5's I could barely blow at all and that one of the 2's seemed louder than the other one (although perhaps it was me).

Also discovered that I could make a horrible squeak by changing where my mouth was on the mouth piece... learning :)

My wife just came in and said - did you know you have been doing that for a hour? Whoops, I only meant to do it for 15 minutes but I guess my daughters lesson on how to breath (she plays the flute) has helped.

...but it would account for why my lip feels fizzy :D

Cheers for the support guys...
Gee i hope your wife intends on encouraging you at some point other wise get a new one ( wife that is).
Allansto:))):))):)))
 

ChrisC

Member
Messages
44
Yuh - having been forced to upgrade from a previous wife many years ago - I can vouch for the expense.

My wife is a good girl and pretty supportive of most of the mad cap things I get into - I think I will hang on to her :)
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Good days, bad days.

Ask any motor acing fan of any maturity, what was special about entry number 722 in the 1955 Mille Miglia?

Simple answer, Mercedes Benz 300SLR, driven by Stirling Moss, bog rolled by ex World Sidecar Champion Passenger Jenks and they won.

One year later the same crew in a Maserati 450, when Maserati were following Colin Chapman's "light, triangulated space frame" theme. Their first effort, the Typo 161 was built around the engine and they forgot to leave a removable strut to get it out. Continuing with the "add lightness" mantra, they drilled holes in nearly everything. First turn requiring firm braking and the brake pedal snapped and they did not get round.

Good days, bad days are part of the Homo sapiens scene but think, wouldn't life be boring without it?
 
Saxholder Pro
Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom