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Beginner Frustrated with squeaking

ozjett

New Member
Messages
8
HI All
I have being playing now for about 4 weeks now with mixed results but one frustrating thing that happens is that while I and with my teacher (only 30 minutes a week) things go well but as soon as I get home I have all sorts of problems, Mostly with squeaking but also I find I some times have to blown much harder to get a sound.

I know I have not given much information but any help or sympathy will be appreciated.
 

saxplorer

Senior Member
Messages
878
Locality
Surrey, UK
Hi Ozjett

Not sure I can give much help, but I can understand how frustrating that must be.

I suppose the obvious thing to do, you have done already: think about what you do differently at the teacher's that is different to what you do at home.

I'm assuming you set up the sax in the same way - reed placement etc etc. It would normally work the other way, but is it possible that at home you are "trying too hard"? Or perhaps at home you have anxieties about disturbing people, or being interrupted? I have found that things work best when you are relaxed.

Then I suppose one should think about what you are trying to do. If you are trying to play the dots on a piece of music, there's an awful lot to think about. Maybe put the music aside and just enjoy making a sound or two. Relax.

Just some thoughts, may be completely off the mark for your situation, but stick with it. It's going to be a great journey for you.
 

BUMNOTE

Senior Member
Messages
610
Locality
Wolverhampton West Midlands
Hi,Four weeks is a short time so dont worry too much.When you practice at home just try and relax if things go wrong,cause if you keep on trying and it goes wrong,you get more frustrated and may make it worse.Practice things you can do,like long notes etc,and each time they sound better,remember how you played them.its just time and practice,but you will improve.Bumnote.
 

Fraser Jarvis

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,917
The important thing to remember is practice your stuff at home on the same day as your lesson, that way you are less likely to forget something or do something differently from what you've been taught.
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,069
Locality
Berkshire, UK
All very good advice. I have been playing a short time - after a thirty year break! - and get as frustrated as you. I have done all of the above (as suggested) and it works! It just takes time, practice and a little of testing out reeds and mouthpieces. Tell your teacher your frustrations as well.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,788
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
As saxplorer said, reed placement is critical. Make sure the reed is absolutely straight and aligned with the tip of the mouthpiece. Holding the mouthpiece up at eye level and looking straight at the reed, you should see just a thin thread of the black of the mouthpiece showing. Ligature screws should be "snug" to hold the reed firmly in place.

Most beginners tend to wander with the top teeth on the top of the mouthpiece. Putting the top teeth in the same place each time you blow is also critical to uniform tone production. Using the method in this article by Bruce Pearson find when the top teeth should go on the mouthpiece. Then get a rubber mouthpiece patch for the top of your mouthpiece and make a groove with your thumbnail to mark that location. Practice putting your top teeth in that spot each time you play.

The angle of the mouthpiece is also critical to consistency in tone production. Sitting or standing straight balance the sax using your two thumbs letting the neckstrap hold the entire weight of the saxophone. Adjust the length of the neckstrap so that the tip of the mouthpiece touches in the groove just above your chin. Then tilt the head down slightly to allow the mouthpiece to enter the mouth. Set the neckstrap at exactly this length each time you play.

Oftentimes squeaking is caused by moving the jaw or chin when you tongue notes. This generally indicates that too much of the tongue is moving too far inside the mouth. Practice saying tu-tu-tu-tu-tu looking into a mirror moving just the end of the tongue the shortest distance possible. Then with your saxophone tongue the note B using the same tongue motion against the tip of the reed. Hold your hand that is free under your jaw and see if you feel any movement. Keep experimenting till you can no longer feel movement with your hand or see movement in the mirror.

Please forgive me for going on like this, I am an "old fart" retired music teacher and can't help pontificating when a beginner asks for help. I don't mean to come across as a "know-it-all". I am just sharing what has worked for my students with similar problems.:old:
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,215
Locality
Skabertawe, South Wales
Potentially a reed issue. Reeds will squeak if they are dry, so make sure you wet them for a minute or so (whole of reed, not just tip).

The embouchure issue may be that your lips aren't closing completely on the mouthpiece. Also make sure you take enough of the mouthpiece in when blowing - about 0.5" or so - there should be a sweet spot which feels just right.

Finally, do find ways of relaxing before playing - you may be tensing up and tightening your embouchure, leading to sound problems and air leakage.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,927
Locality
Just north of Munich
One thing that struck me was the differences between home and at the teacher's. Are the music stands at the same heights? Do you sit/stand at both? are you equally relaxed in both locations?
 

Saxdiva

Older, wiser, should know better....
Messages
533
Locality
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
Not sure I can help as I'm pretty new - but you have my sympathy!

Just keep working on it and it will come together before you know it. Then you'll get frustrated about something else about your playing....

If you can, it helps to record yourself when you practice. It will be good when you hear yourself improve and it may help your teacher to help you if he can hear what is happening.

Good Luck and keep at it!
 

gregerhillman

Member
Messages
52
Locality
Sweden
HI All
I have being playing now for about 4 weeks now with mixed results but one frustrating thing that happens is that while I and with my teacher (only 30 minutes a week) things go well but as soon as I get home I have all sorts of problems, Mostly with squeaking but also I find I some times have to blown much harder to get a sound.

I know I have not given much information but any help or sympathy will be appreciated.

Hey!

The reason for your sound problems are a combination of several things.

1. Reeds - are you taking care of them?
2. Position of mouthpiece inside your mouth.
3. Holding the sax in the right angle, sitting down or standing up.
4. Using sufficient support of air

And the list goes on.

Regarding the reeds try this:

Make sure it's wet before you apply it to the mouthpiece.
Also, is the reed flat or wavy?
A wavy reed will make it harder to make it vibrate, which means its harder to play.

Quick tip for flattening wavy reeds:

Put the wet tip ( wavy part) on the flat surface of the mouthpiece and push down on it with one of your thumbs.
Keep the reassure on for about 10 seconds and then, while keeping the pressure on, pull the reed out using your other hand.

Look at the reed still wavy? Repeat the process.

If you need help with the that squeaking I invite your o look at my video lessons at http://SaxophoneHub.com
There's a free sign up and instant access to those videos. Start with the "the right mouthpiece position"-video.
(I've edited this post to correct the video name)

I hope that helps you.

Play On!
//Greger
 
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jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,788
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I don't see a video entitled "how to position the mouthpiece" in the Silver Membership Lessons. There is one called "The right mouthpiece position" that you have to purchase the Gold Membership to view. There is nothing I can see about embouchure in the first 10 videos available at no charge in the Silver Membership.

I teach my students that the first thing they should do is take a couple of reeds out and wet it in their mouth for just a few seconds. Then put them back in the La Voz reed guard and assemble their instrument. By the time the instrument is ready, the reeds have absorbed the correct amount of moisture and are perfectly flat and ready to play when they're pulled out of the Reed Guard.
 

gregerhillman

Member
Messages
52
Locality
Sweden
Hey, thanks for checking out the website!
It's always good to get fresh eyes on the site both from students and teachers, so thank you.

You're right about the exacte title name: it's "The right mouthpiece position" and it IS available for free in the silver membership.

OZJETT:
If you decide to check out the videos I suggest you start with the Module #3 videos.
"The right mouthpiece position" and "practice with neck and mouthpiece"

Good luck and PLAY ON!
//Greger
 
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jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,788
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
The website today is markedly different from the one I viewed yesterday. :confused:

I watched "the right mouthpiece position" completely through. At 6:48 you say, "There's no way you can get as good of a saxophone sound if you do that, fold your lower lip".

As a point of clarification, are you instructing beginning players not to cover the lower teeth with the lip at all?
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
1,019
Locality
Worcestershire
Forgive me if someone else has already suggested this (if so I didn't spot it) but how do the rooms compare that you play in with your tutor and at home?

For instance is there a noticable difference in size and echo/reverberation?

A small room may be easier to fill with sound. A room with little in the way of furniture, particularly soft furnishings may give a subtle but pleasing echo and feel like the horn is giving more.

On the other hand rooms that are large or deadened may seem harder to fill and make you subconsciously blow harder causing you to squeak until you have a stronger embouchure, and yet still seem to give you a thinner and less pleasing tone despite your efforts.

This can be yet another possible factor to add to all the others I'm afraid.

I get the opposite problem to you. I play in a fairly large kitchen diner without soft furnishings at home and I guess there's a subtle echo that although I don't really notice it its enough to be something I miss when I play at my tutor's and always feel I have a weaker tone and volume there.
 
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gregerhillman

Member
Messages
52
Locality
Sweden
The website today is markedly different from the one I viewed yesterday. :confused:

I watched "the right mouthpiece position" completely through. At 6:48 you say, "There's no way you can get as good of a saxophone sound if you do that, fold your lower lip".

As a point of clarification, are you instructing beginning players not to cover the lower teeth with the lip at all?


I appreciate the feedback!

Regarding my Sax School at SaxophoneHub.com, I've recently made the entire site responsive.
That means that you can view it on your Phone or Tablet, just as easily as on your computer.
It actually adjusts after which device your on. (If you want to check it out go to http://saxophonehub.com and grab the bottom right corner of your browser window and make the windos smaller.)

I'm doing some tweaks and I think you saw a cached version of the site. That's why things looked different when you went back.
The material has actually been expanded within the Free Silver membership, so that my students can get a better feel for the Gold membership as well.

Regarding your question about the specific video, I'm going to IM you about that, simply because the readers of this post has most likely not watched that video yet and there for wouldn't know what we are discussing.

Have a great day and PLAY ON!
//Greger
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,788
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
What we are discussing is your response to my question "are you instructing beginning players not to cover the lower teeth with the lip at all?" You responded to me in a personal message that yes that is the case. I see no need for secrecy because others wouldn't know what we are discussing.

Playing a saxophone or clarinet with the lower lip in front of the lower teeth requires a great deal more muscular strength and control since the chin muscles are no longer in a position to support the lower lip. It is for that reason that I would strongly disagree with that approach for a beginning player regardless of the style of music. Allowing the chin muscles to support the embouchure by covering the lower teeth with a portion of the lower lip does not necessarily close off or choke the sound when it is done properly.

The expression "folding the bottom lip over the teeth" is a misnomer. It implies most or all of the lower lip pulled back inside the mouth. Of course that will choke off the sound. I have never heard of anyone who plays that way. The vast majority of players roll just enough of the lower lip to cover the tops of the teeth. That position with a sensation of the teeth apart and the jaw pulling downward and away from the reed and the chin muscles firm to support the lower lip against the reed is used successfully by players in all styles of music.

Obviously that "lip out" embouchure works for you to produce your concept of sound. That's great. Kenny G plays with the mouthpiece off to the side of his mouth. That embouchure apparently works for him. Does that mean we should teach beginning players to play with the mouthpiece off to the side of their mouth? My point is that telling beginning players there is no way they can get a good sound by covering the bottom teeth with the lip is simply not true. As a music educator for over 30 years, I take the teaching thing very seriously and I am concerned when there is what I perceive to be "misinformation" directed at players just starting their playing experience.

I also have a concern as a member on this forum where folks share their experience and help one another for free when there are those who show up clearly having a financial motive attached to their giving advice and sending members to their website. There I've said my piece and I'm getting down from my soapbox.
 

gregerhillman

Member
Messages
52
Locality
Sweden
What we are discussing is your response to my question "are you instructing beginning players not to cover the lower teeth with the lip at all?" You responded to me in a personal message that yes that is the case. I see no need for secrecy because others wouldn't know what we are discussing.

Playing a saxophone or clarinet with the lower lip in front of the lower teeth requires a great deal more muscular strength and control since the chin muscles are no longer in a position to support the lower lip. It is for that reason that I would strongly disagree with that approach for a beginning player regardless of the style of music. Allowing the chin muscles to support the embouchure by covering the lower teeth with a portion of the lower lip does not necessarily close off or choke the sound when it is done properly.

The expression "folding the bottom lip over the teeth" is a misnomer. It implies most or all of the lower lip pulled back inside the mouth. Of course that will choke off the sound. I have never heard of anyone who plays that way. The vast majority of players roll just enough of the lower lip to cover the tops of the teeth. That position with a sensation of the teeth apart and the jaw pulling downward and away from the reed and the chin muscles firm to support the lower lip against the reed is used successfully by players in all styles of music.

Obviously that "lip out" embouchure works for you to produce your concept of sound. That's great. Kenny G plays with the mouthpiece off to the side of his mouth. That embouchure apparently works for him. Does that mean we should teach beginning players to play with the mouthpiece off to the side of their mouth? My point is that telling beginning players there is no way they can get a good sound by covering the bottom teeth with the lip is simply not true. As a music educator for over 30 years, I take the teaching thing very seriously and I am concerned when there is what I perceive to be "misinformation" directed at players just starting their playing experience.

I also have a concern as a member on this forum where folks share their experience and help one another for free when there are those who show up clearly having a financial motive attached to their giving advice and sending members to their website. There I've said my piece and I'm getting down from my soapbox.


hey, jbtsax!

Your entitled to your opinion just as I am.

I've taught many sax players, who are enjoying there saxophone just fine.
I think that you really got hung up on one line I said in the video.

Anyway, that's the way I teach and it's been working well for more than 10 years.
Your way is probably working well for you, so that's great.

I also help my students outside of the videos in one on one calls, if they need more assistance.


As far as the concern about any financial motive goes.....

I can't see how I can make it any more clear than disclosing I have a free Silver and a premium Gold membership on my site.
The video I've been referring to is FREE.
It is available without any charge what so ever.
You do not have to pay or leave any credit card information to access it.
So.... It's FREE!

I respect your opinion about what got this conversation started, which actually had to do with playing the saxophone.

However, The fact that you insinuate that I am not serious about helping and teaching is just..... Well, sad.....
You can't possibly think you know me and my teaching from watching one video, right?

Well, I think that sums it up for me.

I'll go back to commenting and helping the students who want's my help.
In the end, it's up to them to choose what and who's advice to follow.
And as far as I know there isn't just "one set of rules" for playing the sax....
or, maybe I missed the memo....

I wish you many more great years of teaching the saxophone!
We obviously disagree on things and that's fine by me.

Have a great day!

Play On!
//Greger
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,069
Locality
Berkshire, UK
I am enjoying this debate. Advice from two professionals that I can attempt/try. Keep it constructive and look forward to more input. It appears to me that it is difficult to teach emboucher. Is that right?
 

gregerhillman

Member
Messages
52
Locality
Sweden
I am enjoying this debate. Advice from two professionals that I can attempt/try. Keep it constructive and look forward to more input. It appears to me that it is difficult to teach emboucher. Is that right?

Hey ProfJames, I'm glad your enjoying it.

Well, as you can read here, there are two very distinct opinions of how it could be done. Let's give it a while and I'm sure we can get a few more guys comment with other ways to do it.

Most of the time it can take a while for a beginner to get the hang of the concept and actually get control over the mouthpiece. As long as you keep it fun and inspiring as well as educational I think your on the right track.

I do call - response phrases with my students, using just the neck and mouthpiece, so that they can focus on just the mouth position and airflow. I think it's a good complement to practicing using the whole saxophone.

If you want to try it out, I'd suggest you do it infront of a mirror. That way you can visually see what happens as you play, making you aware of what your doing.

Play On!
//Greger
 

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