Beginner Playing Alto & Tenor

Messages
13
Location
Harlow Essex
#21
I’ve played tenor and clarinets all my life, with long intervals between, but keep on coming back to them. Played in lots of bands, swing, jazz, large bands, small bands, the lot in my younger days, not so much in recent times. Played for over 60 years now and counting. Must be mad, but have just bought a second hand YAS 62 mk 1, so a new learning curve. Haven’t got my hands on it yet, as it’s with Dawkes for major service. Can’t wait till mid-Jan when I get it back. Am I in for a surprise?
 
Messages
13
Location
Harlow Essex
#22
I've only been playing tenor for about a year, after many years of alto. I prefer the tenor, but am more proficient on alto--at least I was until recently. I played an alto gig Friday night, after practising tenor almost exclusively for months. My air flow has improved due to the tenor, but my alto embouchure has weakened. At the show, my reed closed up during solos, and I squeaked a few times. That night, I was a failed altoist.

I don't think the audience really noticed. People don't really get the sax. Still, from now on, I'll be spending more time on alto.
 

Alice

Psychedelic
Subscriber
Messages
4,970
Location
Kent
#24
The post above is attributed to me, but I didn’t write it. I’m only recently joined, so I must have done something wrong. In which case, I’m really sorry for any confusion caused.
It’s nothing :) You must have touched “reply” by accident underneath that post and then pressed “Post reply” which sent it to the thread. It’s a good way to respond to a particular post/member as their post appears and your comment goes underneath.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
404
Location
New Mexico, US
#25
Can someone clue me in on an "alto embouchure" vs. a tenor one ? I mean, I do not consciously approach the two horns differently in that respect.

Seems to work for me....
 

QWales

Senior Member
Messages
652
Location
S. Wales
#27
I've mostly avoided the tenor because I've always thought it would put me on the path to being a "Jack of all trades and master of none". Not that I'm ever likely to be a master but aren't you having to retrain your ear and then doesn't that throw you off just slightly when you switch back?
 
Messages
13
Location
Harlow Essex
#28
Most big band sax players, alto or tenor, are expected to switch from sax to clarinet on occasion, even during the playing of one arrangement, which requires an even bigger adjustment of embouchure than tenor to alto. But it seems to happen unconsciously, without really thinking about it, which is I think what JayeNM is saying.
Don’t be afraid to switch from alto to tenor, for it’s a relatively easy switch, and can enhance the sax playing enjoyment greatly, as some music seems to lend itself naturally to one instrument or the other.
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
404
Location
New Mexico, US
#29
Most big band sax players, alto or tenor, are expected to switch from sax to clarinet on occasion, even during the playing of one arrangement, which requires an even bigger adjustment of embouchure than tenor to alto. But it seems to happen unconsciously, without really thinking about it, which is I think what JayeNM is saying.
Don’t be afraid to switch from alto to tenor, for it’s a relatively easy switch, and can enhance the sax playing enjoyment greatly, as some music seems to lend itself naturally to one instrument or the other.
Yes, that is what I am saying...I seriously make no 'effort' to blow nicely/'correctly' on one horn or the other...this is why the existence of a distinction has surprised me a bit....
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,057
Location
West Midlands
#30
I don't think there is much difference technique wise between alto and tenor, if anything i might just take in more mouthpiece on tenor and push a bit more air in, I play 80% alto and find its not difficult to move to tenor or soprano.
 

saxyjt

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,416
Location
France
#31
I've mostly avoided the tenor because I've always thought it would put me on the path to being a "Jack of all trades and master of none". Not that I'm ever likely to be a master but aren't you having to retrain your ear and then doesn't that throw you off just slightly when you switch back?
I've accepted the fact that I'm a "Jack of all trades and master of none".

The good news is that, although it took me many years, I'm now far more comfortable switching between alto, tenor, soprano and baritone. I haven't really defined a schedule to practice each and everyone of them in turn, but I guess I should. I tend to have periods when I play one more than the others. But I like to vary. Just as I enjoy a glass of Bordeaux one day, a glass of Burgundy another and a Bandol some other time. I don't really have a preference. They all taste different and I like it that way!
 
Messages
49
Location
Canada
#32
I also take more mouthpiece in on tenor, and roll my lower lip out a bit more. My alto embouchure is usually a little less relaxed (for better or worse), and my airstream more focused.

I remember reading a quote from Paul Desmond somewhere in which he talked about rolling his lower lip over his teeth, as one does on clarinet. But it's all very personal: what works for one player might not work for another.
 

QWales

Senior Member
Messages
652
Location
S. Wales
#38
Most Jazz players don’t.
Everywhere I've just checked, people "who look like they know what they are talking about" say the lip acts as a cushion between the reed and the teeth(as I thought). If this is correct and you don't have larger than average lips, surely you are folding your lip back over your teeth?
 
Top Bottom