SYOS

Beginner Holding an Alto

MandyH

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This might seem like a really strange question, especially as I have been playing for 16 months, but how should you hold an Alto sax when playing it?
I tend to rest the bottom of mine just right of the centre of my body. I always play standing up, and it seems to rest there quite happily, but in photos I've seen of alto players, they seem to have it further around to the side.
My first sax teacher always taught me sitting down, and so I played with it around to my right hand side. However, I changed teachers because I couldn't get on with him, and my current teacher has only ever taught me standing up.
Also, are you supposed to push the sax away from your body, to push the mouthpiece up onto the top teeth? With the sax resting where it does, I never push it away from me, and when I have tried, I don't feel that it's very stable.
Am I doing something wrong? Or storing up problems for later?
Just curious really :)
 

rudjarl

Senile Member. Scandinavian Ambassadour of CaSLM
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Hi Mandy,
there is only one right way to hold and play an Alto sax; the one you feel comfortable with at any given time. You will know the limit when you are no longer able to produce a nice sound :)

Just play and be happy
rudjarl
 

AlanU

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Enfield, North London
Hello Mandy, as rudjarl has said 'comfortable' is good.
I introduced a chap I work with to playing Saxophone about a year ago. He's an intelligent bloke and a guitarist of about forty years experience.
It was only a few weeks ago, when I saw him put his alto together, that I realised that he had not twigged that the crook and thumbhook should be in line!

Against the body is fine, and stable.
The carriage (sling/strap) should be adjusted so that the mouthpiece is at the right height for you. You shouldn't have to lift the instrument with your thumb. Nor should you have to crane your neck up or down. Think about how comfortable your neck and shoulders feel, and adjust the height accordingly.

For me, sitting works either to the right or between my legs, but I'm a bloke, you may not want to sit like that.
Playing while standing will help with your breathing though.

Good luck
 

kevgermany

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I introduced a chap I work with to playing Saxophone about a year ago. He's an intelligent bloke and a guitarist of about forty years experience.
It was only a few weeks ago, when I saw him put his alto together, that I realised that he had not twigged that the crook and thumbhook should be in line!
I always put mine together out of line - works better for me...

Mandy, What I'm finding with the tenor is that left palm keys are difficult if the sax isn't held quite right. There's a part in Larry Teal's 'The Art of the Saxophone' where he talks about holding, how your fingers should sit and so on. If I'd done what he said, I'd not be having to adjust now.

So I'd go with whatever's comfortable, but make sure you're ont building problems - like makingt he palm keys hard to use.
 

Pete Thomas

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No need to push it away, especially to force any kind of embouchure.

It's impossible to say the exact place an alto might rest vertically, as it depends on your height, but horizontally I think about 3 inches right of the centre of your body might be appropriate while standing.
 
OP
MandyH

MandyH

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Thanks all. I don't have a problem getting to the palm keys - left or right. I adjust the neck sling so the tip of the mouth piece sits on my bottom lip before I start to play. I find if I adjust it any higher the mouthpiece seems to finish up too far into my mouth and I can't hit notes, any lower and I seem to need to bend to reach the mouthpiece, then my neck starts to hurt.
I guess the idea that "if it feels comfortable then it's in the right place" makes sense.

As always some great advice. Thanks.
 
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