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Beginner New to tenor, but not so new to sax, and the pain!!

dave 645

A, A
Okay, so the pain is not so bad and I know the problem, what I want is a cure. I have played alto for 18 months or so, and had no jaw problems, but recently I bowed to GAS and bought a tenor, (yamaha 275 fwiw)

I find when playing the tenor I am forcing my lower jaw forward in order to create an embouchure that plays a sound I like. If I consciously try to relax my lower jaw, I am finding it very difficult to produce the notes.
After 15 or 20 minutes or so I start to cramp up in my jaws and have a deep pain.

I tend to play with the sax symmetrically down the middle of my body, but this is when I extend my lower jaw. In order to have the sax in my mouth, with a relaxed lower jaw, I have to have the sax body almost parallel to the floor and extended down and behind the right side of my body, I meanwhile am hunched over, body forwards but head stretching upwards. Not at all comfortable.

Please help.....
Hard to give a view at this distance, but I assume that you are standing when you play the tenor. Is your mouthpiece level with your mouth?

As for you third paragraph, it may be better to seek advice from a web forum for contortionists.
Thanks Kev. I was aware of relaxing, but will relax more tonight and see what happens.

Beckmesser, thanks too, actually I play sitting down, I'm lazy. Should I stand?
Seeing you are sitting down when you play, you will probably find that it would be more comfortable to have the tenor on your right. With the alto both positions are possible, but the tenor is just too big. Whether you stand or sit for practice depends to some extent on how you play when you perform. For example, it would seem unusual for a rock player to sit during the performance.
I think its definitely worth practicing standing (no, not practicing at standing!) - I find breathing and playing much easier whilst on my feet, and adjusting embouchure/mouthpiece position is less restricted.


So tonight I played tenor again and decided to put into practice the advice given earlier in the thread, ie stand up and soften the jaw/embouchure. There has been a significant decrease in my jaw pain. I stood for a half an hour or so, and relaxed the jaw. Very comfortable. Then, being of the lazy kind, I adopted my favourite position and sat. Again this was comfortable and playing well. I eventually returned to standing, simply because holding the tenor is more comfortable, to me, in a standing position.
So thanks for your help, and pyrografix, I am still practicing standing, hoping to let go of the sofa soon and start walking ;-)
Interesting point I prefer playing my Tenor Standing up, so I can move my body very slightly in time with the pulse, (not all over the place like some players) But of recent I have been playing with others in an ensemble and I am expected to sit down and play so I am persevering with doing so. Also in big bands its usual to play sitting unless doing a solo, so it does pay to get use to sitting and playing.
I find playing sitting very difficult. Messes up my breathing and the keys are much harder to get to. My son prefers to play his clarinet sitting down, but sounds much better when he plays it standing. I think it's breath control, like me.

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