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Beginner Smoothing the octave change

Rob Pealing

sax in a kayak (apprentice sax tamer)
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I have been making occasional recordings of myself to try and learn from. One of the more noticeable problems is the slight interruption/hesitation when changing octave, from the upper register to the lower is more noticeable (I think). Is getting this smooth and uninterrupted simply a matter of practice or are there any particular techniques that will help?
 

Veggie Dave

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Speaking as an inexperienced beginner, too (so anything I say is probably *%^&*($" ;) ) I found that I was constantly hesitating slightly when jumping between octaves, especially when descending, because I was desperately trying to make it smooth and not honk like a dying goose being eaten by a fox!

Although practise has obviously helped, I've found changing mouthpieces has helped massively as well. Every time I've bought a mpc with a larger opening than the previous one, the smother I've found the transition to be. And the smoother the transition, the less apprehensive I am of making the jump, Less apprehension means being more relaxed and more relaxed makes the transition smoother.

I'm not saying you need to buy another mpc, but rather the more comfortable you are with the sax, the easier it is. It just so happens that a mpc with a much bigger opening than I was using was something that really helped me feel more at one with my sax.

I've watched experienced players fly through the octaves so smoothly it makes your head spin. That's definitely practise and experience. ;)

One day...
 

jbtsax

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First of all do not tighten for the upper octave and loosen for the lower. Use exactly the same embouchure tension.
Mentally and physically blow the lower note as the upper note is sounding before the octave key is released. If the air and the oral cavity is set for the lower tone before it even sounds the transition will be faster and smoother.

Another thing to try is thinking "ee" on the high note and "ahh" on the lower one, and to do octave leaps with only the oral cavity without the octave key like playing harmonics.
 

kevgermany

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Get it smooth playing slowly, then gradually speed up making sure you get it smooth with each increase in tempo before going faster again.
 

Rob Pealing

sax in a kayak (apprentice sax tamer)
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1,125
Locality
Greenfield, Nova Scotia, Canada
First of all do not tighten for the upper octave and loosen for the lower. Use exactly the same embouchure tension.
.

I was hoping you would respond to this, thank you. Your supposition that I tighten my embouchure for the upper octave is correct and that, I suppose is why sometimes I release the octave key and the octave doesn't change.
I shall spend some time changing octaves and concentrate on not altering my embouchure.
 

jbtsax

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I was hoping you would respond to this, thank you. Your supposition that I tighten my embouchure for the upper octave is correct and that, I suppose is why sometimes I release the octave key and the octave doesn't change.
I shall spend some time changing octaves and concentrate on not altering my embouchure.
You're welcome. A neat test that I learned from The Art of Saxophone Playing by Larry Teal is to play a low A and have someone else flip the neck octave key open momentarily without you knowing when. If the note pops up to high A and stays there for a long time, the embouchure is too tight. If it goes up to a high A that sounds flat and flabby, your embouchure is too loose. If it goes up to a nice sounding high A and then quickly (not instantly) comes back down, your embouchure tension is just right.
 

Targa

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First of all do not tighten for the upper octave and loosen for the lower. Use exactly the same embouchure tension.
Mentally and physically blow the lower note as the upper note is sounding before the octave key is released. If the air and the oral cavity is set for the lower tone before it even sounds the transition will be faster and smoother.

Another thing to try is thinking "ee" on the high note and "ahh" on the lower one, and to do octave leaps with only the oral cavity without the octave key like playing harmonics.
I've just spent ten minutes trying that 'ee' 'ahh' 'ee' 'ahh' 'ee' 'ahh' 'ee' 'ahh' 'ee' 'ahh'.
I stopped when I realised I was making an ass of myself.
 

jbtsax

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I've just spent ten minutes trying that 'ee' 'ahh' 'ee' 'ahh' 'ee' 'ahh' 'ee' 'ahh' 'ee' 'ahh'.
I stopped when I realised I was making an ass of myself.
 

Rob Pealing

sax in a kayak (apprentice sax tamer)
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Greenfield, Nova Scotia, Canada
Thank you all for the help. 20 -30 mins concentration on some of the ideas you have given me has seen an improvement.

:thanks1:
 

Rob Pealing

sax in a kayak (apprentice sax tamer)
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1,125
Locality
Greenfield, Nova Scotia, Canada
Once again, thank you all for your help. A week of concentration for 5 to 10 mins a day on the things you suggested and using some of the long tone exercises that involve octave changes shown in Taming the Saxophone is producing noticeable improvement.
 
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