High F# At last!

Tony K

I can now get high F# (3rd register) on my tenor (...mostly). I can't tell you how frustrating a journey this has been, particularly for my for my family, so I wanted to share. I could get high F# by walking up from Octave + palm D to F#, although sometimes that was still a little hit & miss, but playing a high F# from the start or getting there from a lower note was elusive and just resulted in a nasty honk.

The following works with any of the fingerings I tried below for F#
1) Octave + all palm keys + side key 1+ F# key
2) Octave + Front F + C + F# key ( I've mostly been using)
3) Octave + Front F + Side key 3 + F# key
3) Octave + Front F + Side key 3 + F (key 4) - a bit more difficult but usually in tune

I'd been watching YouTube videos about Altissimo and knew that something wasn't right about either tongue position, throat or soft palate but I couldn't find what. I tried singing the note to a tuner to get the voicing (not pleasant as I have a deepish voice) but it didn't seem to help. Nothing worked for me so I started pulling stupid faces. I found that if I grinned really hard, F# popped out more consistently. Through playing around a bit more, I learned that using the muscles at the back of my head, just behind my ears, was effecting a change to the back of my throat / soft palate. (Makes your ears raise). Having worked on it I now don't need to grin at the front of my face so I'm not biting - or looking quite so stupid.

When I nail it I can feel a bit back pressure in the back of my throat and soft palate. I found that practicing overtones really helps that throat area learn how to create that pressure. I'm not saying I need to blow hard, in fact I can get there by starting softly too. I'm refining it though long tones now to get it in tune - I'm often a bit sharp but getting there.

For context, I'm using a HR Theo Wanne Slant Sig 2 (8) with Java Red 2.5. This also works on my 10mFan Chameleon 7** and is also much easier on my 10mFan 8* Showtime. I also have a [metal] Jody Jazz DV Chigago 7* but find that a bit harder. I find myself reaching for the TW SS2 when I'm practicing as it best suits the confines of my tiny spare room so my embouchure is more used to it.

Hope this helps someone else. Keep safe.


Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Congratulations on finding the "taste" of that note that works. :) A useful trick I learned from Dr. Ray Smith saxophone instructor at BYU is to "play on the air stream". That simply means to: 1) hear the pitch in your mind, 2) blow an airstream having that pitch like an airy sounding whistle, and 3) play the note with the same airstream, tongue position, and oral cavity. This is also effective on flute and brass instruments.


Another suggestion (temporary), is to articulate a 'kaa' sound rather than 'taa' tonguing. Can help with higher notes.

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