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Beginner New Alto Player

TinyDragon

New Member
Messages
11
Hi Guys,

Im just beginning my sax journey :w00t: and have been teaching my self for around 2 weeks now.

I didn't have a clue what i was buying and now worry ive not made good choices as there is no way i can afford to buy anything else. I love my sax and hoped you all could tell me if what i have is going to help or hinder my learning.

My sax is a Bauhaus-WALSTEIN Alto Saxophone (2 tone not that matters for sound i know but i just love the look of them (^_^) I have a yam 4c mouth and ive been using a rico 2 reed but im about to buy some reeds and so could use some advise on what to get for a beginner..

I will try and upload a short piece so u guys can see if im on track .. I can't afford a teacher and so i have the following help guides/books

Pete's DVD (Jools Holland introduces The Saxaphone)
Essential Elements 2000 + dvd/cd
Scales and Arpeggios for saxaphone
saxaphone fingering chart
Dip in - graded alto sax solos


Is there anything i should get to help or just continue with what i have? I know not having a teacher is not ideal to start with but at this point in time i just can't afford one .. Children come first etc etc .. But i really didn't want to /couldnt wait any longer to get going .

Finding it hard to get a comfortable postion for my mouth but i guess thats due to needing to condition my lip to playing. Also im unsure how far on should i push my mouth piece and how tight etc the reed should be done ... sorry for the daft questions :confused:

Thx for reading and i look forward to joining this community (^_^)
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,553
Hi there tiny dragon and welcome to the cafe.
I know I can't answer all your questions, but what I read is good so far - you are doing well.
I have seen the Bauhaus Walstein mentioned here many times as a good sax, so I think you have chosen wisely. I have also seen the Yam 4C mentioned here as a good mouthpiece, so another good choice on your part.
As for getting the mouthpiece comfortable in the mouth - I'll try to describe what I'd, I'm sure others will also be along with good advice.
Firstly, you'll need to get the sax up high enough so that when resting comfortably on the sling, and pivoting only with the right thumb, the mouthpiece pops centrally into your mouth, resting on your bottom lip - I have always been surprised at how high up the sax needs to be - my teacher got me standing with my feet against the skirting board and shoulders on the wall to achieve this too - ie no slouching to play standing (I've never played sitting)
I am assuming you've got the reed in the right place on the mouthpiece - the top of the reed level with the top of the mouthpiece, the ligature on tight enough and on the non-carved piece of the reed. Also the reed needs a good suck before you put it on, to get it well wet to start with.
A number 2 Rico should be OK for a beginner. I started on a Rico 1.5, but now play a Rico Royal 2.5.
When you put the mouthpiece in your mouth, it should go about 1-1.5cm or so inside your lip. Your bottom lip should be rolled in a little, so the line that marks the edge of your lip is about on the top edge of your bottom teeth, and the reed then rests on that line about at the point where the reed starts to separate from the mouthpiece (if you see what I mean). Top teeth then rest gently directly onto the top of the mouthpiece.
I have a thick rubber pad on the top of my mouthpiece as I found the low notes were reverberating through my skull! It also meant the mouthpiece stays still rather than sliding around.
When you go to blow, imagine yourself smiling at the reed, and don't puff your cheeks out. This should give you a good embouchure.
I have one of the dip in books, and find it really good for practicing and building my embouchure.
I appreciate what you've said about affording lessons, but if you could manage a couple now, and be sure of having the correct technique early on, it will save you lots of grief in the long run as you won't need to correct long established bad habits later.
In the meantime, enjoy.
I've been playing nearly 2 years and absolutely love it :D
 

Sunray

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,708
Hey there TinyDragon ...

Glad you made it to the Cafe ...

Sounds to me [I am also a beginner] like you have made a good start ...

There is loads of hints, tips and downright good advice given freely in this place, so hold on for a great ride mate ...

Regarding reeds ... there are loads of choices and if you wanted to it wouldn't be hard to spend the weeks food money to start a collection of them ....

But ...

There is no real need to get loads of different make or strengths ...

Just use what you have unless there is a real need to get others ...

Personally - I stick with 2 or 2.5 [Usually Rico Royals] which seem to play OK for me ...;}

I would also avoid other mouthpieces for a while as the one you have should be good for now ...

More experienced members will be along anytime soon to give you their views ...

As you say mate - feed the kids not the urge to buy stuff ... :w00t:

:))) uʍop ǝpısdn uo pɐǝɥ ɹnoʎ ʇoƃ ǝʌɐɥ noʎ ˙˙˙ sıɥʇ pɐǝɹ uɐɔ noʎ ɟı - sd
 
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kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
We learn all our lives...

Welcome

Sax/MPC are good.

Reed is good. Stick to it until you get problems. Look at mivong up half a strength at a time if you have problems with higher notes, otherwise leave it as is for now.

Good stuff from Mandy about the strap and so on.

How far on to push the mouthpiece - at this stage it doesn't matter too much, but it helps to get it right as you'll learn to recognise pitch better - a cheap tuner for about 10-15 pounds will do the trick, but don't worry too much until you can blow a note at a constant pitch - tuner will tell you this. Your alto is in Eb, so when you finger a C, the alto plays an Eb. And tune to that. So finger a C, blow and if it's flat (too low) push the mouthpiece on more, pull it out a bit if it's too high.

How far in the mouth - start with the top teeth about 10-15mm onto the mouthpiece. But be prepared to experiment, as tone and playability are affected a lot. You'll soon get used to it.

Books - Larry Teal's the art of the Saxophone is a must. And a good teach yourself book. Such as O'Neills Jazz method or Look, Listen, Learn by DeHaske. The teach yourself books help by introducing structure in your learning and you'll find you make good progress working through them.
 
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TinyDragon

New Member
Messages
11
Thank you for all the good advise and warm welcome.

some structure to my practise would be great as right now i find my self jumping in and out of the books i have skipping from thing to thing.

Not really knowing at what stage i should be doing what !

I really wish i knew someone near to me that played just so i could get some feedback , i feel so frustrated about my tone. I know that will come with time but i like to get things right ! and when i can't it plays on my mind!

I feel relieved that my sax/mp are good choices for a beginner , as i do love my sax and if im going to be spending alot of time with it i want to be in love with it... hahaha my hubby will be getting jealous!!

Thx again all (^_^)
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
Hi TD and welcome to the cafe. You've had some great advice so far and all of it good, well done guy's. As to knowing someone near you, were in the world are you, maybe you live close enough to another cafe member to meet up and have a session together..... hold on.... I think I may be having an idea...... need to lie down....
 

TinyDragon

New Member
Messages
11
Hi TD and welcome to the cafe. You've had some great advice so far and all of it good, well done guy's. As to knowing someone near you, were in the world are you, maybe you live close enough to another cafe member to meet up and have a session together..... hold on.... I think I may be having an idea...... need to lie down....
LOL .. Im in the midlands (shropshire) Bridgnorth area.

A lie down .. now there's a plan !!
 

MartinL

Member
Messages
366
You're very near to me if you fancy a meet up, chat or even play. Also you may want to have a look at our website, we are a small brass/wind band near you. you could drop in at one of our Christmas gigs or practice sessions for a look, we are at Penkridge market this friday.
Welcome to the forum, I'm sure you'll get a lot from playing sax, i know i do and i'm far from being an expert.

www.bridgtown-concert-band.com
 

TinyDragon

New Member
Messages
11
You're very near to me if you fancy a meet up, chat or even play. Also you may want to have a look at our website, we are a small brass/wind band near you. you could drop in at one of our Christmas gigs or practice sessions for a look, we are at Penkridge market this friday.
Welcome to the forum, I'm sure you'll get a lot from playing sax, i know i do and i'm far from being an expert.

www.bridgtown-concert-band.com
Thank you very much , i Dont think i can make it this weekend but i appreciate your offer and may take you up on it when i am in a better postion to make arrangements (^_^) I took a look at your website i like the mp3 files v nice :)

I look forward to one day meeting u .... could u pm me with times/places u will be ?
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Hello TD and welcome to the cafe.

As has been said, good choice of equipment!
Remember, one step at a time (information overload is the worst scenario). Scales and arpeggios are the building blocks.

Good luck,
John.
 
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MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,553
I pass through Bridgenorth once a month - on my way to take my daughter to GB squad Archery training at Lilleshall.
It's possible at some point we could co-ordinate a Sunday early afternoon, before I have to collect her at 3:15pm.
 

TinyDragon

New Member
Messages
11
I pass through Bridgenorth once a month - on my way to take my daughter to GB squad Archery training at Lilleshall.
It's possible at some point we could co-ordinate a Sunday early afternoon, before I have to collect her at 3:15pm.
That would be great , thank you so much , everyone has been so helpful; and kind ! Im so glad ive found you all !! >> sending u a pm !
 

TinyDragon

New Member
Messages
11
New question >>

I read somewhere that playing the recorder would help with learning the sax ! Do you think this helps at all .. I always wanted to learn recorder at school but never got the chance, been trying to get my daughter to play but so far she resists lol
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Subscriber
Messages
3,553
Very similar fingering - I learnt the descant recorder for about 6 years. Picking up the basics on the Alto was relatively easy - almost identical fingering for the basic notes and I could already read the treble clef, so simple tunes were fairly easy, if a little squeaky at times :)))
 

Nick Cook

Member
Messages
861
Hi TinyDragon,

I decided to take up the sax when I reached 50, but never having had any musical inclination in the past, I was a bit wary of spending loads of money on a sax if I wasn't going to get on with the learning music side of it. So...I bought a recorder and a kid's learning book and after a month or so, decided to go ahead with the sax.

(Haven't touched the recorder since though!!!)
 

TinyDragon

New Member
Messages
11
Hi TinyDragon,

I decided to take up the sax when I reached 50, but never having had any musical inclination in the past, I was a bit wary of spending loads of money on a sax if I wasn't going to get on with the learning music side of it. So...I bought a recorder and a kid's learning book and after a month or so, decided to go ahead with the sax.

(Haven't touched the recorder since though!!!)
But do you think it helped you in any way?
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi There!

If you want a more organised practice session try and have 3/4 15 minute sessions. An example might be.

1. 15 minute warm up - practice some long notes - up to 10 seconds or so per note - start at something like G below the octave, playing up and down alternatively G A G F G B G E G C G D G D G . Make your own patterns up, maybe using some scales, such as C Major, G Major, and so on D Major. Set yourself the aim of learning a new scale each week. Also concentrate on making the notes sound as nice as possible.

2. 15 minutes learning one tune - listening to it if you have a CD, then playing it. Practice certain phrases, or parts of the piece. Play the scale notes and learn the scale and the arpeggio (1 3 5 7).

3. 15 minutes. Using a scale of your choice just make up a short tune of 5/6 notes - in no particular order. Get used to using the scale notes in a different order to normal (1 3 5 7 5 5 or 1 5 3 7 5 3 5 for example).

4. 15 minutes. Learn a different tune as above - getting used to the notes, practising any phrases from the CD. Just stick with 2 tunes in total for a few weeks. Only add a new one when you feel you can play them from memory.

Hope that this helps. Taking a break is really good, so you don't tire too easily.
Kind regards
Tom
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Hi again TD,

The sax is a natural progression from the recorder. However, once you can play the scale of "C" fairly comfortably on sax, there won't be much of an advantage reverting to the recorder. Having said that, the recorder tuition books are aimed at children and because of their simple tunes, might well be of use to you on sax.
If you are struggling with playing notes on sax, then learning the recorder first should build confidence.

Good luck,
John.
 
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Nick Cook

Member
Messages
861
But do you think it helped you in any way?
It did help me at the time, but like Johnboy says, once you've got a sax there's not much point in going back to the recorder unless you're having problems with the actual playing of the sax. I only got the recorder to learn how to read and play music, not because I particularly wanted to play the recorder.
 
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