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Beginner Embouchure

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
I have become a little confused on what is the correct embrochure so
I will write down what I understand and invite any seasoned experts to
help where I am wrong.
First of all I positiion my sax with the neck strap so that the mouthpiece
is directly in front of my mouth and the sax is not at my side but closer to my Knee
(if sitting)twisting the mouth piece horizontal with my mouth.
Then I fold my bottom lip over my bottom teeth and rest the mouthpiece on the bottom lip
I then position my top teeth about 15-20 mm in from the front edge on top of the mouthpiece
next i close the top lip down to form a seal.
Now I raise my top teeth off the mouthpiece just a little so they are not touching the mouthpiece and apply outward smiley type Pressure to my mouth.
Emrochure ready, I now blow and play at will.
I reach all my beginer notes with good tone until my lips tire and I can no longer
maintain enough pressure to give me a nice tone or I squark too much on g.

First
Should my teeth be on the mouthpiece or not
Second
Do i need to roll my bottom lip over the lower teeth or are there some players who dont and why ?
Three
am i on the right track
Yes I do have a teacher who is young, but is majoring in clarinet, he plays sax I dont know how experienced he is on sax, he has confused the issue of emrochure by getting me to try different things.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
There's a good section on this in Larry Teal's The Art of the Saxophone. It includes excellent exercises to develop the embouchure, which'll help you play longer as well as helping you develop control.

What you're doing is good, but most people have their top teeth touching the mouthpiece. If it suits you better to keep them off the mouthpiece (known as double lip embouchure), then do so but expect people to criticise and tell you you're doing it wrong. Also you don't smile outwards as you would with a flute, but squeeze in from the sides as well (think frowning or pursing the lips). Side support and keeping your cheeks in is important and you'll find later that a lot of problems come from not doing this.

Experiment with how much mouthpiece you take in, it can make a difference.

Later you'll probably want to start moving your bottom lip out from over your teeth. Before this happens, be careful you don't start biting into your lip by squeezing too hard with your jaw muscles. Rolling the bottom lip out helps a lot with controlling/improving the tone and gives you more/better control over the reed. Rolling it over the bottom teeth is an easy way of supporting the reed while you're developing the embouchure muscles.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi there!

The only adjustment I'd make would be to remove the Saxophone and insert a Bassoon - the embouchure you describe is more suited to that or other 'Double reed' instruments,such as an Oboe.

As Kev says, it isa lot about gradually developing you embouchure and the muscles in that part of your mouth so that you do have a comfortable, but also firm grip on the mouthpiece. It is good to get the placement right so that your mouthpiece is at the right level for your lips - I find a soprano sax requires quite precise placement to produce a good sound without minor leaks, and air escaping. Do think "frown" not "smile, so that the sides of your mouth are almost sellotaped to the mouthpiece. If you don't use one already do use a mouthpiece patch so that your teeth can rest comfortably on the top of the mouthpiece without biting in to it - hence using your to lip as a shock absorber is unnecessary. Once your bottom lip is a little stronger you will not need your bottom teeth to support it. You will also then have a more flexible grip of the mouthpiece which will help your playing and allow you to add some colour to your sound, as Kev says.

You may also find it helpful by adjusting the neck of the sax slightly to get the right angle for your own comfort, as we are all different and some adjustment can be really useful.

Kind regards
Tom
 

Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
First
Should my teeth be on the mouthpiece or not
Second
Do i need to roll my bottom lip over the lower teeth or are there some players who dont and why ?
Three
am i on the right track
Yes I do have a teacher who is young, but is majoring in clarinet, he plays sax I dont know how experienced he is on sax, he has confused the issue of emrochure by getting me to try different things.

Teeth on top of the mouthpiece is by far the most common way. The double embouchure you describe is less common but also works.
second, you don't need to roll bottom lip under, it should cuhsion the reed and be between the teeth and reed, but in a relaxed, natural place, not particularly rolled in or out.
No "smiley type pressure". This sort of thing can work on clarinet, much less so on sax. Don't sweat the pressure, you only need enough to keep the air from leaking out. The more pressure you use, the more you restrict the reed, and the less sound you get.

Sounds like you may be taking in too much mouthpiece unless you have a big overbite. Most of the time, your bottom lip should be around where the reed starts to separate from the mouthpiece. Top teeth go wherever they end up with the bottom lip where it should be.

Hope that helps.
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,561
Somewhere I read that if you imagine putting on lip-stick (or lip-salve) to your lower lip, that is the sort of shape your lower lip should be making before placing the mouthpiece onto it. So when you tighten up your lower lip it's as if you're pulling the corners of your mouth backwards more towards your earlobes rather than upwards in a smile.
My teacher also said that when you roll your lower lip over your teeth, your teeth should be in line with the line that marks that edge of your lower lip (so the line between red lip and the normal flesh of your face) once you place the mouthpiece on your bottom lip.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
When I had my first trumpet lesson as an 11yo I was told that to produce the correct buzz on the mouthpiece I had to imagine that there was a piece of tobacco stuck on my lower lip - weird, especially as I had not even starting smoking by then.......:shocked:

Kind regards
Tom;}
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
Subscriber
Messages
8,992
Somewhere I read that if you imagine putting on lip-stick (or lip-salve) to your lower lip,.

So remember, Gentlemen, when returning home and your wife notices traces of lippy take out your mouthpiece and claim you have been practising your embouchure.
 

GsySaxMan

Member
Messages
91
The website is just a start Nick, along with Larry Teal it's worth doing some research on Joe Allard and thinking about what they both had to offer.

Just my two cents worth.

Cheers,
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,993
Fair enough. But I suspect most people aren't interested in that amount of analysis. Most just want to play.

Anyway, why is Mr Allard flavour of the month at the moment? I guess it's probably one of those internet things.

Possibly the most useful thing to take away from all that guff is this, "Allard believed strongly that there was more than one appropriate way to approach the saxophone." But try to ignore that he then goes on to rubbish Teal. ;}
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
So stop faffing around online and actually play your saxophone; then you might learn something, and get somewhere..............:shocked::w00t:;}

But if Coltrane had had a computer his music would have been a lot more approachable, and not as intensely personal and self-indulgent as it might have been. He would have been more able to communicate with others, and his improvising would have been of more interest to others......................
:sax: :gathering::gathering:
 

Staxman

New Member
Messages
8
I still dip into Larry Teal to remind me of the fundementals when I know I'm getting sloppy - I like the idea of putting on a mask. Remember to listen to your results - if you sound great then job done - although the double lip thing sounds tough. We all have different facial/throat/lung/diaphragm anatomy - which is why we all talk with a unique sound - find an emboucher that works and stick with it.
 

SaxyMalcolm

Member
Messages
77
I have become a little confused on what is the correct embrochure so
I will write down what I understand and invite any seasoned experts to
help where I am wrong.
First of all I positiion my sax with the neck strap so that the mouthpiece
is directly in front of my mouth and the sax is not at my side but closer to my Knee
(if sitting)twisting the mouth piece horizontal with my mouth.
Then I fold my bottom lip over my bottom teeth and rest the mouthpiece on the bottom lip
I then position my top teeth about 15-20 mm in from the front edge on top of the mouthpiece
next i close the top lip down to form a seal.
Now I raise my top teeth off the mouthpiece just a little so they are not touching the mouthpiece and apply outward smiley type Pressure to my mouth.
Emrochure ready, I now blow and play at will.
I reach all my beginer notes with good tone until my lips tire and I can no longer
maintain enough pressure to give me a nice tone or I squark too much on g.

First
Should my teeth be on the mouthpiece or not
Second
Do i need to roll my bottom lip over the lower teeth or are there some players who dont and why ?
Three
am i on the right track
Yes I do have a teacher who is young, but is majoring in clarinet, he plays sax I dont know how experienced he is on sax, he has confused the issue of emrochure by getting me to try different things.

Although it is very difficult to advise when I can't see what you are doing here are some points you may want to think about:

Saxophone embouchure should be more of an OOO or YOU shape than a clarinet smiling one, try sucking your thumb like a baby would and feel your top teeth resting on the top of your thumb, relax your top lip and think about the shape of your bottom lip pointing forward but still being supported by your bottom teeth (A little bit of lip over your teeth is fine). Try singing or humming a scale(with your thumb still in your gob), you should notice that when you go down to the lowest note that you can sing/humm you cover your thumb with your lower lip more and your jaw moves back, when you sing up to your top note you should feel your lip uncover and your jaw pushes forward. I know this might sound daft but I have found it to be the easiest way for students to feel/understand what their embouchure is doing. Try keeping the same shape and practice this on your horn, also think about holding the reed with your bottom lip rather than pinching the sides. A softish reed will be better until you get the hang of it. If you have time do read about Joe Allard's pedagogy, he was the master of saxophone technique.

M
 

SaxyMalcolm

Member
Messages
77
Fair enough. But I suspect most people aren't interested in that amount of analysis. Most just want to play.

Anyway, why is Mr Allard flavour of the month at the moment? I guess it's probably one of those internet things.

Possibly the most useful thing to take away from all that guff is this, "Allard believed strongly that there was more than one appropriate way to approach the saxophone." But try to ignore that he then goes on to rubbish Teal. ;}

I don't think he rubbished him Nick, he just didn't agree with Teals way of thinking?
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
Thanks alot
this was the best advice I recieved about my problem
It worked well so far
I will be practicing this method as it seems to have gone a long way towards
eliminating my squark
regards Allansto
 

Rogerb

Member
Messages
764
And, with respect, if you are 'Googling', you are more likely to find what you want if you spell "embouchure" correctly :)
 

allansto

Senior Member
Messages
471
Thanks Roger
Spelling is normally a strong suite but I sometimes lack a little in attention to minor detail.
In this case not a good idea !
Allansto
 
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