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Tongue position while play with tongue

RienButter

Member
Messages
35
Hi all,

After a 6 month break I finally picked-up my sax again, played well over 2 years before.

Unfortunatly, some old bad habits are starting to slowly returning as well. Problem is that I bite when I play the higher notes towards the palm keys.

The question I have is abt oral shape and the tongue placement when playing with the octave? What does need to change to give that focussed sound up there? Right now I rais the back of my tongue a bit to get the notes out because if I dont do that I will bite to get higher.

I really dont know if this is the right way to it and I dont want to study a bad habit.

Could Someone give me some advice on the subject?

I play on a Selmer SA80-II tenor Saxophone with a 5C ebonite Otto Link mp and 2.5 rigotti jazz reeds.
 

Veggie Dave

Sax Worker
Messages
3,145
I would assume that it's a relaxation issue. Really relax your embouchure when you tune your sax and then play your favourite songs relatively quietly. You should find that your high notes are now sharp (possibly painfully so) because you're used to biting in that octave.

The only way you will now be able to play the upper register in tune is to relax your embouchure, and that will stop you biting.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
12,930
You'll learn a lot about you embouchure by playing tunes and scales on just the mouthpiece. Changing the shape and size of the oral cavity is directly transferable to the assembled instrument.

When playing high notes, think low. No need to tighten the embouchure. Let the saxophone do the work. Open the throat. Think of your toes and let it happen.

Practicing overtones will help too.

If the reed has gone flabby or is too soft in the first place, high notes will be a struggle.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
7,879
It is important to use faster air as you go into the higher range of the instrument the same as on flute, and the brass instruments. Raising the back of the tongue to more of an "EE" position helps to accelerate the air stream. I have found that the upper range also requires more "breath support" which I prefer to call "pressurized air". I recall one of my teachers saying "the more work you do with the air stream, the less work the embouchure will be required to do".

One of the ways to keep the embouchure "firm" without "biting" is to emphasize the pressure against the sides of the reed by the corners pushing in as if saying "OO". Another tendency that some players have is to relax for the low register and tighten for the high. The standard pedagogy for saxophone is that the same embouchure is used for every note from low Bb to high F. (I do confess to "biting" a bit to play the palm key notes on soprano.) The attached exercise below is one I used with my students to work on keeping the embouchure the same throughout the range of the saxophone. In this exercise the only change going higher should be the speed of the air.
 

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Morph

New Member
Messages
20
I think Tongue position is a really important topic, I'd be really interested in other's opinions.

Here's my 2 cents for what it's worth:

For many years, I played with a "flat" tongue position... I believed this is was what people were referring to as an "open throat", and thought it would lead to a bigger, and fuller sound. My sound was fine, but I think it was much harder work than it needed to be.

I now play with higher, angled tongue position. I keep my throat relaxed but my tongue is in an "EEEEE" position (instead of an AAAH sound), or maybe a "Y" sound, as in the word "yes", is a better way of describing the tongue position. See how you find it - I believe it speeds up the air flow making tone production noticeably easier.

Here is a relevant except from John Harle's The Saxophone "At rest, or when talking normally, your tongue feels large in your mouth, and the side of your tongue are wide at the back, anchored to your top mid-back teeth. This creates a relaxed and efficient use of breath whilst talking. The same principle applies to saxophone playing. Habitually compression your tongue downwards (creating a large space behind the reed), will cause you breath to slow down and causes instability in sound and intonation. Making a big space in your mouth will not create a big sound, it will create a small sound. Keeping the tongue high and wide at the back stops a feeling of tension in the throat".
 

Morph

New Member
Messages
20
I didn't see the above posts, I 100% agree RE breath support and overtone practice!

If saxophone playing is like lifting furniture (...stay with me here) then using your diaphragm is a bit like using your legs to lift. And Playing the sax with no breath support would be like lifting a sofa just from your back (no a great idea!!). The diaphragm is a very large muscles, let it do "the work" and not your throat/embouchure etc.
 
OP
RienButter

RienButter

Member
Messages
35
Thats some great advice, Thanx everyone! Very happy with the pdf.

So it won’t be a bad idea to keep the angled tongue position for those higher palm keys? If i dont do it then they wont even come out.. just a honking sound.

I see nearly every post mentions the corner of the mouth. I honestly dont pay that much attention to it. Its not that I have air escaping or something but further then being a seal that’s about it
 
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