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Beginner squeaking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on A

Kath

Member
Messages
119
Any advice folks? Generally my tone's getting better every day (though still not good - 6 weeks in) but the note that always seems to sound appalling as when I play A. Worse still, if I need to go from A to C to F then back to A it sounds terrible. I'm trying to get a grip on In the mood and doing sort of basically OK ish (by my standards so nowhere near good - just less terrible than I was!) I have so been battling doing long notes forever and concentrating on A but as yet, no success or real improvement. It just sounds weak and course. I also get squeeks between the F and the A but I guess this really is just more practice needed. If it is my embouchure - which I'm sure it is - what is it in particular that would effect this not and not so much any of the others? Thank you all - I know one of you might be able to give me some ideas. I am having lessons now so will ask my teacher next week but any thoughts in the meantime would be really really appreciated - thanx
 

dolphesque

New Member
Messages
15
Re: squeeking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on

I'm having a similar squeaking problem (been playing about 2 weeks now). My teacher says it's something to do with my embouchure because sometimes the notes come out fine but then sometimes the squeaking starts or accidentally going up an octave. I think it might be me constantly changing my embouchure e.g. sticking more or less mouthpiece in than I did about a second ago or putting more or less of my lip over my teeth. I also found that my embouchure was too tight on the last note of a phrase, like unintentionally tightening up before breathing in again.

I don't know if any of this helps but I feel your pain.
 

Kath

Member
Messages
119
Re: squeeking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on

that does help dolphesque - it's hard as a real beginner isn't it ? I do think it's worth the pain though - went to a sax club the other day day and was so inspired - to get that good has to be worth this pain!!
 

dolphesque

New Member
Messages
15
Re: squeeking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on

It is hard! But inspiration is good for driving us, I like to listen to 'Lonely Woman' and hope that one day I can get something that sounds as good as that tone for myself. Is a sax club like a group practice type-thing?
 

Kath

Member
Messages
119
Re: squeeking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on

The sax club was a sax band palying their sets - but they were there for chats in between sets so a really good inspiration. You meet the person who's played like you can only hope maybe one day you will, then chat to them and realise they sill have hassles with breathing, embouchure etc - seems it never really ends! It's a journey - not a destination. It's inspiring though - I donlt know why but experienced players still seem to really enjoy talking to novices! It's reassuring. I asked the sax player at the gig we were at what he would score himself out of 10 - and he still said only 6!! Maybe we never get better than 6/10 - it's just that the 6 of them is way better than the 6/10 for me!!!!
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
8,013
Re: squeeking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on

I advise my students to use a thick mouthpiece patch and make a groove with their thumbnail where the top teeth should go. It really helps to put the mouthpiece in exactly the same spot inside the mouth each time you play. Another tip is to make sure the neck strap is exactly the same length every time you play. Even a slight difference in the length changes the angle the mouthpiece goes into the mouth. If you are getting inconsistent results when you play, look for things that you might be changing such as reed placement on the mouthpiece or tightening and loosening the embouchure.

I remember struggling with "In The Mood" when I was a beginning player. Make sure you are rocking the thumb forward and back on the octave key as you go to the F in the phrase. Lifting the thumb and putting it back down will hang you up like crazy. Be sure to use the 1 - 1 Bb when the pattern changes in the 5th bar. Good luck. Hope these ideas help.
 

Kath

Member
Messages
119
Re: squeeking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on

Thank you jbtsax - the groove in the mouthpiece is a really good tip - will certainly try that one
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Re: squeeking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on

You may need to take more mouthpiece in to get a more solid sound - up to a cm. or so! Glad you enjoyed Jazzland (I assume).

Kind regards
Tom
 

Kath

Member
Messages
119
Re: squeeking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on

Good point Tom - I'll try that . . . and actually it was cafejazz in cardiff - I only realised after we'd booked the hotel for the full Valentine's night thing that it would have been so much easier to go to jazzland! Oli and his crew were fabulous though - and the street buskers the next day were great too - despite walking through Cardiff to the car park with a hangover and too much luggage for an overnight stay!!! Inspired me to get to grips with In the mood! Still amazes me that those of you who so know what they're ding have the time to encourage people like me - thank you
 

Kath

Member
Messages
119
Re: squeeking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on

sorry - doing, not ding! - typo's!!
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Re: squeeking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on

Never been to Cafe Jazz - just been to Dempsey's in Cardiff, which is fun. In March Milestones are at Jazzland, playing "Kind of Blue" and other Miles Davis stuff. Do go along - I'll buy you a pint of Brains' Dark!

Kind regards
Tom
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
984
Re: squeeking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on

First I think you need to be certain that there's no technical issue with the sax (such as a leak) that's causing tone issues on the A.

Try blowing lots of long As. Experiment with your embouchure, and with how much mouthpiece you put in your mouth, and with the angle of the mouthpiece in your mouth. Try to figure out what it takes for you to blow a nice A.

If you can, then keep blowing them. Lots of long A's with nice tone.

If you can find a way to blow a good A then hopefully its not the sax and playing long good As will eventually make them come naturally every time.

Are you going from A in the lower register to the C and then F above with the octave key? If so are you then slurring back down to the A or re-tonguing the A? As a beginner you may need to re-tongue it as slurring down over the octave break may be a challenge at first. Try both ways, repeatedly and slowly.

These are just my thoughts, but I'm a beginner too and many here know better than me.
 

Kath

Member
Messages
119
Re: squeeking and generally awful switching from F to A - and generally bad sound on

That might be a good one then Tom - never could resist a pint!! (Now that's a true Northern lass for you!)
 
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