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Is it normal to feel exhausted after 10 minutes practice?


Senior Member
Isle of Skye
When you first start the Sax, is it usual to be exhausted, out of breath, and feeling like giving up after 10 minutes practice? I'm still like this after over a year of playing. Should it be relaxed playing the Sax or is it always hard work? If so I'm going back to guitar.:D
:welldone Think of how all that lung excercise is prolonging your life! ;}
Nope, that ain't natural. A couple of hours, maybe you'll be feeling like a rest, but that's more to do with embouchure and your neck. Sounds like it is to do with tension - just try to chill and relax. Something that will only come, I'm afraid, from persisting.....

Stick with it ;}
Perhaps your sax is hard to blow, you could try a softer reed,

Are you breathing out before breathing in?

In a passage you may tend to top up without exhaling. But any rest, make sure you breathe out before filling up again.
I have found that much depends on when I do my practice. My normal routine is to start at about 6 a.m. and to go on for two hours, often three. I would not be able to do the same in the late afternoon.

I practice both on the baritone and the tenor and allocate roughly equal time to them. Minimising physical effort is one of my aims. For example, getting a harness for the baritone made a big difference. No more shoulder strain. I also prefer soft reeds.

When I first began to practice (on an alto at that time), I felt thirty minutes at a time was quite enough. I don't think I ever felt exhausted after ten minutes. What I discovered, however, that if used what for me was a hard reed I had to put much more effort into playing.

Another thing: practicing pieces that are too difficult seems to increase greatly the required physical effort without compensating benefits.

I used to find I was out of breath when I got to the end of a piece but it was just control which of course improves with practice.
I found doing breathing exercise while watching tv helped. In for a count of five, hold for five, out for 10 while holding mouth in embouchure postion. Empty lungs comfortably but not completely. Then extend breathing out to 15 or 20.
Other times I might breathe in fully, hold for a long period without straining, then out completely emptying lungs two or three times.
This seemed to improve things, make your own exercises up anything is better than nothing.
The main thing to remember is there should be an equal number of in and out!
Here's my h'a'poth.

It still happnes occassionally, I just forget to breathe and run out of puff! This happens when I am really concentrating.

Other than that I never find I am tired from playing though some old hand injuries and general old age are causing some issues with my fingers which can sometimes ache after playing for a couple of hours.
I agree with Kev and Ian. I only get out of puff when I don't breathe in during a long passage.

Remember to breathe!!!

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