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Playing without Teeth

tommy24a

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Is it possible to play the saxophone with no teeth? I know it's a strange question but I need to know. Thank you!
 

jbtsax

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Possibly with a "double lip" embouchure, but it would be very difficult.
 

Dr G

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There are so few people in that situation that any feedback will be questionable - others without teeth may have different sensitivity. You just need to try it to see whether you are comfortable.

The good news is that there should be very little biting when using a proper saxophone embouchure (in contrast to a clarinet embouchure).

Your oral cavity will be different due to the change in gap at the front of the mouth, so I suggest you compensate with a tall beak on the mouthpiece. You can certainly apply soft cushions to the top of the beak as well.
 

greenstripe

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Funny enough my teacher mentioned teaching some senior citizens who had no teeth in my lesson earlier this evening - he was saying that they often played flat due to reduced pressure - but it's nothing that can't be adjusted for
 

Dr G

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Funny enough my teacher mentioned teaching some senior citizens who had no teeth in my lesson earlier this evening - he was saying that they often played flat due to reduced pressure - but it's nothing that can't be adjusted for

Is your teacher a clarinet player?

For the saxophone, it is easy enough to adjust the mouthpiece position once you have determined how to form a consistent embouchure. Many (most?) use an embouchure that Jerry Bergonzi describes and demonstrates as the "No Embouchure" embouchure.
 

jonf

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Betelgeuse
Is it possible to play the saxophone with no teeth? I know it's a strange question but I need to know. Thank you!
Depends on what you mean. If you mean no teeth but wearing dentures, yes, it's possible. I seem to recall John Coltrane had no natural teeth. Playing with no teeth and no dentures would be a lot more difficult. I have some insight into this, as I am missing lots of teeth, including the entire lower front row. I play using an upper and lower dental plate, and I adjusted to it pretty quickly.
 

Dr G

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Yes, he plays clarinet and alto/tenor saxophone

Thanks. I was wondering whether he uses more pressure for his saxophone embouchure because he is biased by his clarinet embouchure.
 

David Roach

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London
I think @aldevis plays with little or no tooth pressure. He has encouraged me to try it, especially since I started to have problems with one of my front teeth, but it's a big leap and a lot of work if you've been used to using quite a bit of pressure, as indeed I have on soprano.
But I reckon anything is possible if you do enough practice and give yourself plenty time to adjust.
 

Jimmymack

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It's certainly possible, I've tried it a few times and it can be done quite successfully but that's still with a full set of teeth which probably still gives some support. I remember reading about Coltrane telling Miles he had to get his teeth fixed and Miles tried to dissuade him as he was worried that it would ruin his tone so I'm guessing he had a lot of gaps although it's hard to see it from photos so he must have had some.
 

Doktat

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While experimenting with Jaime Anderson’s description of a goldfish-like embouchure which definitely had a dramatic effect on my tone, I found myself playing long tones with my upper lip curled back under my teeth and I liked my tone until my upper lip began hurting me. So I moved back to my front teeth resting on the mouthpiece with my front lip moved back out front. Surprisingly I have found that I can now control my tendency to bite the mouthpiece and my tone has improved dramatically. Check out Anderson’s YouTube video entitled “Blow Like A Goldfish.”
 
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