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Beginner Possible to play quietly?

rsksmiles

New Member
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6
Hello,

I started playing the sax 12 years ago. I should be an experienced player by now but I stopped after a couple of years for personal reasons.

I have picked up my sax again with renewed enthusiasm, determined to master it. I started yesterday and immediately had trouble getting the lower notes (a-d) on the lower octave. I found that if I slurred into the notes I had no problem but trying to tongue the note would come out with a screech! I resolved this by using a rico #2.5 reed instead of a van doren v16 #3. Now I can get the notes reliably. I have ordered some rico #2s and will try them.

I hava a Yamaha yas25 alto sax and I have a yamaha 4c mouthpiece. I feel that I am breathing out very hard to generate a note and thus playing very loudly. I try to breathe from my diaphragm.

Is there a way to play quietly? Is it a setup thing? A breathing thing (probably)? Is it something that will come back with practice? I can't remember!

A problem I have is that I live in France and locally there are no sax teachers. In Luxembourg where I work there are but I do have a problem understanding them 'even if I am fluent in french).

Any ideas?

Robert

ps. I like the site and the forum. It has a nice feel to it.:welldone
 

Justin Chune

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Hello Robert,and a warm welcome to the cafe. Yes it is possible to play quietly. however, if your sax has been unplayed for ten years it probably needs a check-over to make sure that it is leak free. Softer reeds are the way to go, at least to begin with. I prefer Rico Royal #2 reeds all the time. A friend once asked me to play test a YAS 23 he was looking to buy and I couldn't believe how easily that instrument played. Do you know anyone who could play test your sax ?

Jim.
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
696
I n my own experience one plays much louder as a beginner than one has to. I am sure that once you are back in the swing of things, you will re-establish the control you used to have over your instrument. I wouldn't be too concerned about playing loudly, unless it leads you to discovering neighbours you never knew existed. But you can work on playing more softly. I used to settle on a note that was easy to play and then gradually decrease the airflow until the sound gave out. The mouthpiece/reed combination can obviously be a factor in that, for example, a wide tip opening and hard reed will require more air. In your case this doesn't seem to be the problem, and I would be disinclined to launch into changes.
 
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rsksmiles

New Member
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6
Thank you very much for the warm welcome and all the suggestions. I do know someone who can test it out I will try and get him to do so.
I seem to remember using rico 2s which is why I have ordered them.

Another thing is that I think I am fighting against a bad habit with the embouchure. My instructor had me bending my lips under my teeth. So my teeth never made contact with the mouth piece - this lead to my face muscles cramping within about 20 minutes.

As regards the noise, it is not the neighbours I am worried about - it is my wife!
 

Pete Thomas

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Another thing is that I think I am fighting against a bad habit with the embouchure. My instructor had me bending my lips under my teeth. So my teeth never made contact with the mouth piece - this lead to my face muscles cramping within about 20 minutes.
This is not necessarily a bad habit, but an embouchure not in fashion these days.

It's called a double lip embouchure and was used by some great players, John Coltrane and Le Allen to name a couple.
 
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rsksmiles

New Member
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6
This is not necessarily a bad habit, but an embouchure not in fashion these days.

It's called a double lip embouchure and was used by some great players, John Coltrane and Le Allen to name a couple.
Thanks Pete. I came home and tried and succeeded (at least according to my wife) in playing more quietly!

For the discrete tonguing - I guess that will come with practice.

I am trying to single embouche with the lower lip as cushion and upper teeth but my upper lip keeps sneaking in ... just perseverance and practice. At least I am now getting 2 and a bit octaves reasonably quietly.

BTW What did Stan Getz use (he is my all time hero with night rider being the favourite)??

Thanks again and I am sure I will be back again.

Rob
 
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rsksmiles

New Member
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6
Stan Getz used a saxophone for the most part.............;}

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
Guess I waltzed into that one ....
He also used a few imagination enhancing tools ;}
BTW Tom - I am a Brit living in France but has the Welsh/English language changed that much?
This week I do have been mainly starting my Grade 6 Jazz Trombone.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
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Skabertawe, South Wales
Hi There!

OK - Button Free Tenor Sax.;} Are you happy now?! Cafe Sax is the best place for cool, aspiring Jazz Trombonists in the UK - most brass websites can lack a little joy/humour/stimulation IMHO :blush:

Basically very little can go wrong with a 'bone - no reeds, no ligature, no side keys, no palm keys, no keys, no pads, no screws, no straps, no need to use fingers, and same range as a Baritone sax. Plays in same key as a guitar, bass & piano, so no transcribing either!:w00t:

Anyway I'll let you carry on with your own button laden, heavy piece of fancy metal and keep my fingers crossed for you.......

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
OK - Button Free Tenor Sax.;} Are you happy now?! Cafe Sax is the best place for cool, aspiring Jazz Trombonists in the UK - most brass websites can lack a little joy/humour/stimulation IMHO :blush:

Basically very little can go wrong with a 'bone - no reeds, no ligature, no side keys, no palm keys, no keys, no pads, no screws, no straps, no need to use fingers, and same range as a Baritone sax. Plays in same key as a guitar, bass & piano, so no transcribing either!:w00t:
Kind regards
Tom:cool:
Tom,
I recall having to get the slides straightened fairly regularly. When you play in a trad band, people will pick the trombone up by grasping the slide in one hand. Then there was the need to find the perfect lubricant for the slide and tuning slide, buying the mouthpieces and mutes cost me a damn sight more than buying and the occasional service on my tenor. Perhaps Griff shouldn't have done such a good job on my axe but that wouldn't have satisfied his craftsman's instinct.
 

Pete Thomas

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BTW What did Stan Getz use (he is my all time hero with night rider being the favourite)??
Not sure, but probably a single lip embouchure.

I'm working now at being able to use a double lip embouchure, it seems to be a bit of a struggle for me.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
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Just north of Munich
If you've got a moment do listen to "Fast Car" (Tracy Chapman) performed by Dennis Rollins - on his website, and possibly on YouTube.

Lovely stuff!
Kind regards
Tom:cool:
Done (and also listened to a lot of the rest). Have really enjoyed Tracey Chapman's music for a long time. And I'd never heard of the guy, so thanks for the heads up. Superb performer. Will make a point of trying to see him if he comes down this way.

But on the Trombone/sax thing: although I was joking above, there was an element of truth in my comment - for me there's a huge difference in the way I relate to the instruments' voices. The sax grabs me, I find it's almost irresistable, it's sound invokes an strong emotional response. But the trombone leaves me cold. No offense intended, but it doesn't speak to me the way a sax does. I guess it's the same as the difference between Keira Nightley and Cate Blanchet - both superb, each have bands of admirers, but we inevitably fall into one camp or another. Funny, of all the brasses, the french horn is my favourite, and I'm starting to approach a similar sound in the middle register on the tenor. Nothing like a sax at all. Go figure... I can't, I'm just listening to the way I sound, and trying to bring out more of the bits I like. But perhaps we should break this discussion inot a different thread.
 
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TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
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5,232
Location
Skabertawe, South Wales
Good morning, KG!

Agreed, that we are off message, and that the trombone sounds different to a sax. The trombone seems at home with Ska/Latin/Funk music particularly, and when a more brassy sound is called for. On the theme of playing quieter my learning/playing trombone has really improved my breath control on an actual Tenor Sax, as has a wider tip and softer reed. It is similar on trombone that you need to play a mouthpiece that is wide and deep enough to allow the lips to have an appropriate width and depth of expression to get high and low notes and give colour to the sound. Similarly with softer reeds on saxes if your breath control is quite good already.

Kind regards
Tom:cool:
 

Col9

Member
Messages
58
Location
Northants, UK
After reading this thread it seems I am using a double lip approach. It just seems natural to do so. I have tried the single lip but its a bit uncomfortable, and it seems to work for me OK. I'm sure I have mentioned it before but someone told me to "breath the low notes with an open throat and blow the high notes with a bit more focus. It seemed to help me play with more control.

Col.
 

Tartaruga

New Member
Messages
7
Hi,
of course a harder reed will force you to use more air and produce a louder sound. It also sounds like your sax may have some leaks so would be good to have it checked out, especially if you had it lying around for a while.
Regarding playing quietly, I found it's a bad idea, as it builds bad embouchure habits. You should always aim to have the fullest sound you can achieve. Of course, this causes a lot of problems if there are non-deaf people nearby :)
There are some sax mutes around that you can take into consideration, or you can find the nearest highway bridge and play under it - good luck
 

Andante cantabile

Senior Member
Messages
696
Regarding playing quietly, I found it's a bad idea, as it builds bad embouchure habits. You should always aim to have the fullest sound you can achieve. Of course, this causes a lot of problems if there are non-deaf people nearby :)
I am not sure that I quite agree with this. There is playing loud because the music requires it, and there is playing loud because one can't do otherwise. That is, control is not sufficient to allow varying levels of loudness. I don't understand either how playing softly could lead to a bad embouchure. Paerhaps you could tell us what you have in mind. A practical point that works against your view is that from quite an early stage printed music requires the player to distinguish at the very least between piano, mezzo-forte and forte. Clearly, composers, teachers and examiners would not lead the learner astray in this way.

Of course, if you are competing against a group of bass guitarists, you will want all the help you can get. A visit to the electronics shop might be a good idea.
 
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