All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians
SYOS

Beginner Funky fingers.

What

Member
Messages
314
Well after switching to a new lesson book and reading a bit further in "the art of saxophone playing" I realized that my left hand was positioned wrong. It described the thumb as being across the thumb rest, I took this to mean horizontal, but it looks now like the thumb should be vertical. This does help with reaching certain keys, but now my thumb keeps wanting to push on the sax when I go from C or move from G to A to C and my fingers slip out of place and tend to want to spread out. Outside of practice fingering any suggestions that might help me improve on this?

Thanks everybody.
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
Subscriber
Messages
8,892
I'd reckon my left thumb is about 30deg above horizontal, vertical is just impossible.
Although the exact position could depend on the size of your hands or ergonomics of sax.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
A lot depends on the shape of the octave key and your hand/body size. Vertical thumb brings the palm closer to the palm keys. Most modern saxes have an octave key that goes around the left thumb rest so you can play with the thumb close to horizontal if needed. What's probably more important is the way your fingers sit on the keys and how your palm covers the palm keys. If the palm keys are a bit low with a horizontal thumb, you can always make up 'risers' to bring them closer to the palm.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,002
It is quite common for inexperienced saxophone players to try to hold the saxophone with their fingers on the keys. The fingers are for playing the sax, not holding it. The entire weight of the sax whether standing or sitting should be borne by the neck strap (unless playing alto with the sax sitting in the lap).

The points that "stabilize" the sax are:
- the RH thumb in the thumb hook
- the LH thumb on the thumb pad
- the top teeth on top of the mouthpiece

To develop the feel of "holding" the sax correctly:
- Stand up and push the sax forward while balancing it with your two thumbs using the neck strap as the fulcrum.
- Adjust the neck strap so that the tip of the mouthpiece touches in the curve above the chin keeping the head straight.
- Place the mouthpiece in the mouth pressing down with the top teeth.

The sax should feel stable with just the thumbs and top teeth making contact with the saxophone. The same exercise can be done seated as well. Playing the note C# (all the keys open) as a long tone in your warm up will reinforce this holding position.

It is also important that the ribcage be held high with the shoulders relaxed (like a table cloth hanging down the sides of a table) while keeping the wrists relaxed as well.
 

What

Member
Messages
314
I might have to try further adjustment of the neck strap to help prevent me from attempting to support the weight of the sax with the fingers, and working out what position gives me optimal reach, accuracy and comfort while playing. So much to learn and workout, thank you all for the help. If I ever can play at a level where anybody gives a damn how I learned, this forum will get a huge thank you.
 

What

Member
Messages
314
Just let us know where to send the bill. :)
Will do :). I adjusted the neck strap in the way you suggest, and have spent a few practice sessions keeping my fingers in check (pressing buttons not pushing brass) and things are much better. I was only using my teeth before as part of my embouchure and not as a way to steady the sax, now that they are helping keep the sax in place it's helped my sound a lot. I feel like i've jumped a week in progress all of a sudden.

Thanks a lot. Your advice is always top notch.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,069
Books are good for getting you going but everyone is built differently. Place your fingers practicaly and comfortably.

Good advice above. Try not to knock your teeth out or split your lip while dancing round the practice room thumbs and mouth only ;}
 

What

Member
Messages
314
Books are good for getting you going but everyone is built differently. Place your fingers practicaly and comfortably.

Good advice above. Try not to knock your teeth out or split your lip while dancing round the practice room thumbs and mouth only ;}
I will try my best. Got any good stories I can tell my co-workers if I do? Like I was fighting a rare wild bear or a bank robber or something along those lines?

I must be a bit obsessed. I know I still need to work on my funky fingers, but I am happier to know what is wrong so that I can overcome it with practice and good advice from all of you. I love it.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I will try my best. Got any good stories I can tell my co-workers if I do? Like I was fighting a rare wild bear or a bank robber or something along those lines?
Just tell em it was a heavy sax session with a soprano and mispronounce the sax slightly. Then refuse to say more and grin insanely....
 

What

Member
Messages
314
Just tell em it was a heavy sax session with a soprano and mispronounce the sax slightly. Then refuse to say more and grin insanely....
Well I do say when I leave work that I am going home for some rough sax.

Good news is today my fingers are staying where I want them too, save for my fancy wine glass pinky when I am practicing E. So long as I keep doing what I was doing I should be okay. Now to work on my embouchure which is causing a bit of wobbles in certain notes, "ooo" "eee" time.
 

daveysaxboy

Big ruff Geordie bendy metal blower
Messages
3,312
Well I do say when I leave work that I am going home for some rough sax.

Good news is today my fingers are staying where I want them too, save for my fancy wine glass pinky when I am practicing E. So long as I keep doing what I was doing I should be okay. Now to work on my embouchure which is causing a bit of wobbles in certain notes, "ooo" "eee" time.
Every day before you blow just stand very relaxed and place your finger pads so there just touching the pearls.Start on Csharp to C,C sharp to B,etc etc over and over but very slowy at 1st,try and keep the distance as close as you can,then B to A etc etc,try this over the hole sax.It might sound boring but repition is the key to learning anything well.Do this kind of thing on your scales or a riff thats hard.It will be hard at 1st but this will give you loads back in time,and remember a relaxed person will sound relaxed.The strange lump of metal that feels soooo odd now will 1 day be just like your 3rd arm.Practise the above and in no time you will start to forget about that heavy metal thing and you will be at 1.
 

What

Member
Messages
314
Thanks that does help a lot. I am using it on my new notes before I begin the long notes and articulation in my daily practice. I did use the technique in the previous riffs I was learning while reading the notes, or playing the backing tracks. Makes a world of difference.
 
Saxholder Pro

Members online

Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom