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Beginner Teeth and Tips...please

photoman

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OK, for my second beginner/dumb (take your pick) question of the day.

I saw a video tutorial that shows how to make the embrochure around the mouthpiece, by putting the bottom lip over the bottom teeth, resting the bottom lip under the reed, and then putting the top teeth on the mouthpiece, and closing the lips around it to make the embrochure.

Does that mean keeping the teeth on the top of the MP when I blow? I find this does change the note and sharpens it slightly - I'm definitely blowing flat - but it is causes a lot of vibration and is not as easy to play as letting the top teeth lift up. In fact I'm finding it near-impossible to keep the teeth on the MP.

I'm sure I have it wrong - and it's just a starting position. Your advice is welcome.

Stephen
 

Colin the Bear

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The very old school embouchure (early 20 century) was to wrap both lips over top and bottom teeth.

Most players these days, myself included, rest their top teeth on the mouthpiece. Try not to bite.

Mouthpiece patches are available in various thicknesses and materials to form a cushion.
 

Saxdiva

Older, wiser, should know better....
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There are differing opinions on embouchure, but the video tutorial is one of the most common. One of the best ways to counter the vibration is to use a mouthpiece patch, either just at the beginning until your embouchure improves or you can keep using them. They also protect your mouthpiece from teeth marks.

If your notes are generally flat, just push your mouthpiece a little further on to the cork. If it's one or two, once your embouchure strengthens this should sort itself out.
 

photoman

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Thanks Colin and Saxdiva

I had a quick try of both methods and I am finding the old school method Colin method a bit easier so far. I'll keep going with the teeth method, but I think I'll need some of the patches.

Stephen
 

MandyH

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I was going to mention mouthpiece patches too.
I have the thick black ones on all my mouthpieces - initially because I found the vibrations through my 2 top front teeth (which are both crowned) were really uncomfortable, but I've kept them on ever since, the same patch for 4 years - I obviously don't bite at all!

Also, somewhere I read / was told to imagine that you are sucking your thumb, just as far as the edge of the thumb nail at the quick.
That's pretty much the "lips over bottom teeth, top teeth on mouthpiece" position that you should adopt with the sax mouthpiece.
And you might want about 10-15 mm of mouthpiece inside your mouth (about to where the reed opens out from the mouthpiece when looking from the side)

Hope this makes some sense.

Sounds as though you are doing it right though - you don't force the teeth to stay on the mouthpiece, just rest them there.
 

Targa

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Your teeth will mark the m/p very quickly so if you want to keep it pristine before you can get patches put some insulating tape on it as a temporary measure.
 

jbtsax

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+1 for the mouthpiece patch. Find the location where the reed and mouthpiece come together and with your thumbnail make an indentation directly above that spot on the patch. Find that indentation with your top teeth every time you play to develop consistency in tone production.

I have taught scores of beginners to play the saxophone. I never had even one who after a short period of time failed to become accustomed to the feel of the top teeth on the mouthpiece. A couple of tips that may help:

- Feel as though you are blowing your airstream toward the LH thumb on the thumbrest.
- Press up slightly with the RH thumb in the thumbhook.
 

photoman

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+1 for the mouthpiece patch. Find the location where the reed and mouthpiece come together and with your thumbnail make an indentation directly above that spot on the patch. Find that indentation with your top teeth every time you play to develop consistency in tone production.

I have taught scores of beginners to play the saxophone. I never had even one who after a short period of time failed to become accustomed to the feel of the top teeth on the mouthpiece. A couple of tips that may help:

- Feel as though you are blowing your airstream toward the LH thumb on the thumbrest.
- Press up slightly with the RH thumb in the thumbhook.

This was very helpful thank you, I will try out some of these tips tomorrow - and thanks to the other forum members who have posted, too. It is all going in the "bank".

I actually have an issue with the RH thumb hook. I'm a "portly" chap - but not "obese", and the thumb hook (BW Phospher bronze AI alto) sticks in my belly and is already making playing uncomfortable. I am also finding that my thumb gets tired quickly and the thumb hook is not quite supporting the weight of the sax. I know I'm not the first person over 12 stone to play the sax, so I think it may be the positioning of the sax on the neck strap that is causing the problem.

Stephen
 
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Colin the Bear

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Let the sling take the weight. The thumb hook is a guide for the placement of your thumb. Adjust the crook/neck to get a comfortable angle and let the saxophone lie across your body. If it's uncomfortable, there's a better way. You should be able to play C# with no hands on the instrument. This from a 20 stone person.
 

wol916

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I believe a certain Charles Joseph Sax taped pins to his sons mouthpiece (clarinet) to prevent him from getting it too far into his mouth.
 

kevgermany

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I couldn't get used to teeth on the mouthpiece. But it's your choice. Takes longer to get the muscles built up for a teeth free embouchure. But stick with what works for you. Last thing you want to be doing is switching later.

Sax doesn't have to be in front, you can sling it to the side a little if you want, but watch the angle of the mouthpiece as it goes in your lips. Rotate the neck in the socket as needed, and twist the mouthpiece on the neck. You'll need to lean your head forwards as the sax goes back. This may help with the thumb.
 

MandyH

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Regarding sax neck strap length - my teacher made me stand with my heels against the skirting board, and my shoulders against the wall (ie stand up perfectly straight), then pull the neck strap up so that using only your right hand thumb, you should be able to tilt the sax so that the mouthpiece tip enters your mouth at the right height for playing.

You might adjust very slightly from there, but really your body should be pretty much vertical, without bending forwards or backwards. - raise your music stand to see the music if necessary (to start with, although eventually you'll need to lower the music stand if your audience is to see you!)

I painted a white mark on my neck strap where it should be. When I find playing uncomfortable, invariably I look down and the neck strap is not where it should be!

I should add that this exercise was only carried out the once by my teacher, she doesn't make me stand against the wall every lesson :)))
 
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Colin the Bear

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Being upright will help stop all sorts of problems developing. It helps to stop the mouthpiece flooding for one.
 

jbtsax

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I instruct my students the same as Mandy's teacher except the neckstrap is adjusted so that the tip of the mouthpiece touches the curve right above the chin. The player then tilts the head down slightly to let the mouthpiece enter the mouth. This helps to open the throat and reinforce the concept of the chin (and jaw) pulling down and away from the reed and not pushing up.
 
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photoman

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County Limerick Ireland
Being upright will help stop all sorts of problems developing. It helps to stop the mouthpiece flooding for one.

I already have that problem! Maybe my years of slouching are starting to show!

Stephen
 

photoman

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County Limerick Ireland
I instruct my students the same as Mandy's teacher except the neckstrap is adjusted so that the tip of the mouthpiece touches the curve right above the chin. The player than tilts the head down slightly to let the mouthpiece enter the mouth. This helps to open the throat and reinforce the concept of the chin (and jaw) pulling down and away from the reed and not pushing up.

Thank you - I thought my strap adjustment was a bit too high - the MP is right between my lips as it is, now. I'll try the slightly lower position.

Stephen
 

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