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Mouthpiece exercise and mouthpiece silencer

jrintaha

Senior Member
Messages
283
I've had the Jazzlab tenor mouthpiece silencer for a couple of weeks (but for some reason didn't take it with me when we visited relatives for almost two weeks around Christmas...), and while it really feels like it's building my chops, I still can't really play any notes with it, at least not without slackening and tightening my embouchure a lot, which is exactly what you're not supposed to do.

I can get G5, G#5 and A5 (concert pitch) about comfortably, A#5 if I really pinch, F#5 if I really slacken my lips. Without the silencer, I can pretty easily go from E5 to B5, even more if I really slacken or pinch my embouchure. Am I doing something horribly wrong or does someone have similar experiences with the silencer?

Cheers,
Jori
 

fibracell

Senior Member
Messages
605
I do quite a lot of work on overtones and long notes, but nothing on the mpc alone, so I got one of these to help me get started - about 3 weeks ago.

I found it really hard at first, and found that you have to really use a lot of air with a firm embouchure. First couple of days I could only get A and A#. With more air support and a week later I could go from A# down to E or Eb. Now I can play A# down to C, but the lowest notes seem difficult - you have to use air support with open throat. I still find a couple a notes difficult - G and F#, and have to slide up to them. I'll give it time and see how it goes over the next few months..

I also found it easier to use the softest reed that I have on the mpc.
 

PaulM

Member
Messages
143
I still can't really play any notes with it, at least not without slackening and tightening my embouchure a lot, which is exactly what you're not supposed to do. Without the silencer, I can pretty easily go from E5 to B5, even more if I really slacken or pinch my embouchure. Am I doing something horribly wrong or does someone have similar experiences with the silencer?

Hello Jori, I got one for Christmas; so I've not had mine for long either. My experience is much the same as yours. I have clearly been doing mouthpiece exercises wrong from the outset. I can play an octave without the silencer, but only by slackening or tightening my embouchure. I now realise I need to employ my toungue, mouth shape and throat instead. Doing exercises this way very severely restricts the range I can get, but it is very early days.

I was skeptical that playing with the silencer would alter the resonant pitch of the mouthpiece - rather as it would if you placed a tube on the shank - but this isn't the case at all. Very clever. On the plus side, the added resistance of the silencer is doing wonders to the strength of my abdomenal muscles and diaphragm.
 

jrintaha

Senior Member
Messages
283
Thanks for the reply. So it's just difficult and needs more time. I was thinking I'm doing something wrong because I've never really done the mouthpiece exercises without the silencer, and could immediately go far lower than I could with the silencer. I'll just have to persist then.


Cheers,
Jori
 

Pete Thomas

Well-Known Member
Commercial Supporter
Messages
14,638
and while it really feels like it's building my chops, I still can't really play any notes with it, at least not without slackening and tightening my embouchure a lot, which is exactly what you're not supposed to do.

I'm unable to alter the pitch very much without slackening/tightening my embouchure. I wasn't aware that you are not supposed to do that.
 

jrintaha

Senior Member
Messages
283
I'm unable to alter the pitch very much without slackening/tightening my embouchure. I wasn't aware that you are not supposed to do that.

The mouthpiece exercise booklet and DVD supplied with the silencer goes through a lot of the same stuff as Shooshie's original text: http://www.bobrk.com/saxfaq/2.6.html, and it's mentioned there and in the silencer instructions that one should not rely on tightening or slackening to hit different notes. Perhaps it's just another school of thought. I can't really say if I've gained any better tone or intonation control from doing the exercises, but after 10-15 minutes with the silencer my facial muscles and diaphragm feel pretty sore, so at least it's training the muscles.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,937
I think this goes right back to the old embouchure arguments between Rascher and Teal and Allard.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,268
This instructional video by Randal Clark from Cannonball Inflections, Tone, and Bending Pitch gives a good explanation and demonstration of the use of the oral cavity to change notes without tightening or loosening the embouchure.

For those who have not heard Randal play. His bona fides can be heard in this recording: Who's Zat-Funk.

Acoustic scientists are just beginning to investigate what takes place "upstream" from the mouthpiece as it relates to saxophone performance. This study by Dr. Wolfe gives a fascinating look at what happens inside the oral cavity of a professional player.
 

jrintaha

Senior Member
Messages
283
Just an update on my progress with this.

I've been very lazy with the mouthpiece exercises even with the silencer. I've done them only 2-3 times a week, not always even that. But now after a month and a half, I've extended my range with the silencer to D#5-A#5, which is quite a bit more than the 3 semitones I could get initially. Without the silencer, I can almost do a full octave. I can also bend pitches with the full saxophone (as shown by mr. Clark in the video) much better now, and I can tune notes without tightening or slackening my embouchure, just adjusting the size of the oral cavity.

The mouthpiece silencer exercises have really given me an extra degree of awareness of what goes on inside the mouth, and I feel I've gained a lot of flexibility on the instrument. I can now wholeheartedly echo the words of my teacher about the mouthpiece exercise: the best 10 minutes you can spend every day towards improving your sax playing.

So with the silencer or without, I feel the mouthpiece exercise is really worth it.
 

fibracell

Senior Member
Messages
605
another short update....

I can play low B up to a Bb on the tenor silencer. I can't seem to get any lower or higher though. I sometimes try it without the silencer and I can play down to a Bb. I do some partial scales and intervals. I have found that my overtones have really improved and can play 8th overertone on low Bb and up to the 6th overtone on low B C and Db, on alto and tenor.
I also play a stiffer reed on the silencer so that you have to use the throat and tongue to change the pitch.
I don't believe using the silencer has anything to do with a Teal or Allard embouchure, but is more to do with training to use the oral cavity and tongue to change pitch and also do some important ear training to be able to pitch intervals etc.
 
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