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New Dawn

Dawn2509

New Member
Messages
7
After many years wishing I could play the saxophone, I bought one on impulse last year. As I've previously played recorder, clarinet, piano and violin, I thought I'd be able to at least have a go. I can, and have managed to both play by ear and sight-read music. I'm really struggling with my lack of lung capacity! I'm particularly frustrated that I can't seem to play some of the lowest notes at all, but I'm not sure how much that is due to my lack of technique or the quality, or lack of, of my saxophone. which is a Gear4.

The annual family request for present ideas has arrived, so now I'm looking for useful suggestions, and will now search the forums for advice on a comfortable neck strap and a practical cleaning kit.

My dream is to be able to play blues and jazz. The reality is I'm entrenched in following rules and reading the music, following it precisely and using the harmony I learned for O level music. So far, the two aren't mixing ...

Dawn
 

VirusKiller

Member
Messages
449
Hi Dawn and welcome. I can't advise on your particular sax, but there are plenty here who can and will. The best thing is to stick at it: It will come in time.

I definitely think you should have someone check out your sax though as it's more than possible that you have a leak. Perhaps someone could buy you a couple of lessons for Xmas? That way, your teacher could check out your sax as well as your embouchure and breathing technique (though if you've played the clarinet to any reasonable level, I'm guessing these will probably be ok).
 

Sunray

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,708
Hey Hey Dawn ...

Welcome to the Cafe ...

You will get loads of suggestions and answers to your questions here ...

It's a good group of helpful and playful people, so have some fun here too ... ;}

To start you off:- Cleaning is an important and regular function after you have been playing, so I would suggest a selection of cleaning aids to help make this easy and quick...

Here is a good place to start - there are loads of good reading to help you get started ... :w00t:

Don't worry about the difficulties you mention ... It's normal and everything improves with plenty of practice and better technique ...
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
Subscriber
Messages
3,409
Hi Dawn

Welcome to the cafe,there are lots of handy cheap things you can ask for chrissy.You haven't said what you've already got but here are a few ideas
1) a better mouthpiece yamaha 4c always a good starter £35 ish
2) a pad saver long fluffy thing to put down the sax £14 ish
3) a chamy pull through to clean the sax after use
4) a neck pull through (as above)
5) various learning books with cd's
6) boxes of rico reeds 1.5 of various qualities (standard) (royal) (select)
7) sax stand HERCULES is a good one £15 to £20 I think
8) guest spot play along music books with cd's
9)anti gas pills to stop you buying everything sax related you see

I hope these idea's help you and enjoy your new sax journey....john
 

Dawn2509

New Member
Messages
7
Thank you for welcoming and replying so quickly, Sunray. Since my initial post, I've been reading through loads of threads here. I remember reading the link you suggested soon after I bought my sax: I think I'll suggest a 'make-it-yourself-swab' as a present for my impoverished student daughter :)

The inspiration for finally coming here was that I started singing lessons in October, nothing serious, it's even called Singing for Fun, but in last night's warm-up, the teacher commented that we can control our breathing for longer than when we started, so I unpacked my sax today and, sure enough, my breath control has improved!
 

Dawn2509

New Member
Messages
7
Hi John, thank you for welcoming me so soon, and the suggestions. I'm not doing too badly already, from your list, as the sax came with a pad saver. I'd also thought of asking for a decent mouthpiece, thanks for the Yamaha 4c suggestion. I bought several books on eBay, several with CD, as well as Pete's, of course! Except I kindly lent that to someone who I haven't seen since ... Reeds are ok, and my parents bought me a Stagg stand, which seems to be fine and made me much more enthusiastic about playing as I didn't have to keep unpacking it all every time.

Number 9) is probably the most useful item!

Right, back to playing 'Moon River', I was really quite pleased with the sound, and only made a couple of mistakes trying to find the notes (playing by ear, I don't have the music).

Dawn
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Messages
5,545
Welcome to the caff or New Dawn.

Had the same problem when I started with the low 'uns but Young Griff detected a G# leak so either see a tech or another sax player.

You'll get the hang of blues and jazz pretty soon, so in the meantime, ENJOY!
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi Dawn and welcome to the Cafe from the Skabertawe Horn Section. Great to have you on board.
Mouthpiece wise the 4 cheapest recommendations are:

1. Yamaha 4C - £30 @ various retailers
2. Rico Graftonite B5 - £15 ( www.rapidreeds.com )
3. Runyon 22 (5 or 6 facing) available in various colours - £30 @ www.sax.co.uk - my personal favourite of the 4.
4. Morgan Protone 5 or 6 - £25, from John Myatt.

For a handmade swab just make sure that the material is soft enough and absorbent enough, and does not fragment such that it might entangle with the sax mechanism.

I guess that we are assuming that you play alto - let us know if that is innaccurate. Breathwise an Alto should be an easy blow, though breathing from the diaphragm is important. Trumpet, Trombone and tenor Sax all require much more breath. It would be a good exercise to regularly play notes for as long as possible - say 20 secs, then increasing by 5 sec intervals just so that your focus is more intensely on your breathing which is key. Start with mid range notes - going up by a semi tone then down by a semitone - eg. B C Bb C# A D Ab Eb G E and so on. Very low notes do require more puff and good breath control. Only hold notes for 5 or 10 secs at a time, maybe playing down from D - such as D C# D C D B D Bb D B D C D C# D. The challenge of the low notes is getting familar with the sound of the note that you are expecting as well as the correct fingering - otherwise little or no sound can be the result.

Kind regards
Tom
 

Dawn2509

New Member
Messages
7
Hi Dawn and welcome. I can't advise on your particular sax, but there are plenty here who can and will. The best thing is to stick at it: It will come in time.

I definitely think you should have someone check out your sax though as it's more than possible that you have a leak. Perhaps someone could buy you a couple of lessons for Xmas? That way, your teacher could check out your sax as well as your embouchure and breathing technique (though if you've played the clarinet to any reasonable level, I'm guessing these will probably be ok).
Lessons is such a good idea for a present! Why didn't I think of that? A leak is definitely a possibility, then? I keep blaming myself rather than the instrument. Thank you for your response, very helpful.
 

Dawn2509

New Member
Messages
7
Welcome to the caff or New Dawn.

Had the same problem when I started with the low 'uns but Young Griff detected a G# leak so either see a tech or another sax player.

You'll get the hang of blues and jazz pretty soon, so in the meantime, ENJOY!
Hmm, definitely sounds as though I should get it checked. Now to find a local technician ...

Enjoyment ... a bit foreign to me, but I'd like to learn. I'm sure it's happened, occasionally, in the past. (been suffering from depression for nearly 7 years)
 

Dawn2509

New Member
Messages
7
Thanks, Tom, for the mouthpiece suggestions, and the exercises. My daughter was able to get a really good tone and length of note when she tried my sax - she plays the trumpet, so your comments make complete sense. My son played the flute, and didn't find it as easy as she did.

Yes, it's an alto.

I'm a bit puzzled, but assume it's just a case of practising, why when playing a piece sometimes I can hit the low notes without problems, but a bar later, having played higher ones, I lose them again, and end up hearing an octave higher. D seems to be the main culprit, but it does crop up more often than middle C or B, so I'm more aware of it. When it works, it's great!

Thanks again.
Dawn
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,419
Hi Dawn and welcome to the caff. Let's hope it really is a new dawn for you. Many of us have found playing the sax addictive and enjoyable.
You've got all the right prerequisites like having played recorder and clarinet. You'll also find that the blues and jazz stuff comes together with what you already know, given a bit of time. Assuming your sax has no leaks, or they are fixed, the low notes will come with practice.
Some lessons - if that's how you learn best - would be very good. There are some threads on here about neck straps. Personally I use a Rico one for alto that kind of shapes itself to your neck, is light and sturdy - and has a hook, not a clip: much better in my and others' opinon.
YC.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Welcome from me toooo.

The others have covered most things.

On the low notes, it's often reed related. Softer reeds speak better for low notes, but not for high ones. Other thing to watch is your embouchure. If it's too tight, you'll struggle to move lower, so consciously think about loosening up as you play. Too easy to tighten up for the high notes and then struggle lower. We probably all do it (or did it). Clarinettists are worse as the embouchure is tighter...
 

Taz

Busking Oracle
Messages
3,661
Hi Dawn and welcome to the wonderful world of sax! You've had some great advice so all I can add is relax and enjoy yourself (you will, honest)
 

Justin Chune

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,011
Hello Dawn, and a warm welcome. We all have problems with that D and the bell tones when we start out. It's a good idea to fit the mouthpiece to the neck before fitting the neck to the sax. Have fun.

Jim.
 

Rikki

Member
Messages
205
Hi Dawn,

Welcome to the cafe! At your stage going from altissimo to the lowest notes is always difficult as your emboucher has not developed for your setup enough. also as mentioned the tendency is to over tighten your mouth and dramatically change your mouthpiece position.

A good excercise I found was to alternate between middle C and bottom C, whilst keeping the mouthpiece in the same position. You will find out what reeds give you the best range, and will teach you to relax your emboucher more. as you get better aim to alternate between midddle B and bottom B, and finally the Bb's.

Regards and Best wishes Rikki
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Hello Dawn,

Welcome to the cafe. We are all here to help, and I'm sure with your background, things WILL!! get better.

Kind regards,
John.
 

Larn

Member
Messages
67
Hmm, definitely sounds as though I should get it checked. Now to find a local technician ...

Enjoyment ... a bit foreign to me, but I'd like to learn. I'm sure it's happened, occasionally, in the past. (been suffering from depression for nearly 7 years)
Hi Dawn and welcome (joking apart depression perfect for playing the blues)

Mark.
 

Sue

If at first you don't succeed try try try a Gin
Subscriber
Messages
2,360
Hi Dawn, you already have some great advice in this thread and plenty to think about! You mention breathing, yoga is fantastic for helping with breathing (if you can find time to do some basic stretches and balances). I found the best way to play jazz and blues ( and I ain't no expert!) is to listen to as much as you can. By listening to jazz, you will develop a true feel for the music as well as how the instruments interact. I wish you well on your journey.
Sue
 
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