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PPT Mouthpieces

Upper register workouts

eldavo

New Member
Messages
8
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Howdy,

I've lost some confidence in my upper register (anything in the upper octave and up) playing after continuing to fight biting, pitchiness and thinness.

Therefore, I either have to (A) do more practice targeted at this part of my playing, or (B) concede defeat on this mouthpiece and move to something a little less open.

I'd like to do A first, even though I have other mouthpieces there tempting me.

So, the common suggestions to improve in this area are to do long tones/drones, slow ballads in the range you want to work on, overtones, tone matching, lower to upper octave tuning matching, playing along with records.

I have the Top Tones for saxophone book, whose exercises I can incorporate into my practice.

Does anyone know of any good workouts up there that they would like to share, be they exercises or songs to play along with?

Cheers,

Dave
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,996
Location
Burnley bb9 9dn
You don't say how long you've been playing or what instrument, so advice is a bit general.

I wouldn't fight a mouthpiece. One that plays smoothly top to bottom is the one you should be playing. This may change over time as your chops develop and change.

The size of the tip opening isn't a measure of your ability or machismo.
 

jbtsax

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Café Supporter
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8,480
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
Some tips I learned to keep from biting in the upper register are:

- pressing down a bit more with the top teeth---it seems to loosen the jaw
- pushing up with the RH thumb in the thumb hook---aids the first suggestion
- blowing faster, colder air in the upper register---the embouchure doesn't have to work as hard if the air is doing most of the work
- consciously working to "open the teeth" more as I play

My way of checking to see if I am biting is to play the mouthpiece and neck or mouthpiece alone.
 

thesaxman71

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,687
here is a good practice tool, use the link i send you to practice octaves from low to high, play each note at least 2 bars long
e.g. low E for 2 bars then middle E for 2 bars then high left palm E for 2 bars, start on low Bb and repeat the process going up in semitones over the drum metronome link, the link just makes the tedious routine of long note practice less boring to do and it gradually increases in speed over a 10 minute time period
have fun!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Effd4NvoACw
 

eldavo

New Member
Messages
8
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Colin, it's tenor, I played in school, then a little after then stopped (was never all that good, and I think - but am not sure - I had these bad habits back then.)
I'm probably coming close to 4 years back playing again.

jbtsax and thesaxman71, I will give those suggestions a go, they seem quite sensible!

Cheers,

Dave
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,996
Location
Burnley bb9 9dn
I'm no teacher and had 2 clarinet lessons but have played for over 30 years. Just to let you know where I'm coming from.

I'm guessing from your original post, that you know what the problem is.

Four years is long enough to have chops enough to play so if you're biting to get the high notes then in my opinion it's the wrong mp/reeed set up for you.

We get the body we're given and can only make the best of it. My ambition is to be the best I can be. It may not be world class but it's my best and I enjoy it.

Lots of practice, four or more hours a day, for six months or so may get your chops into the sort of shape that they can deal with anything but that's not practical for most of us.

Many players pick a mouthpiece aiming at a certain sound and struggle on with it. Other players will pick an expensive piece believing that the money spent will give them a quality sound and it doesn't.

You will see players aiming at a wide tip opening with as hard reed as they can get, as if it's some sort of measure of ability or a mark of progress.

In truth the right mouthpiece on the right instrument with the right reed is a pleasure to play top to bottom and will encourage play and practice just for the thrill of it and once you're practicing, everything else will follow.

You don't have to spend vast amounts of money and if you buy second hand and look after the piece you can put it back on the market and it will cost you very little.

It took me quite a while to find my tenor piece and a little longer to find the right reed to go with it.

Don't struggle. It shouldn't be hard. Maybe a few lessons with a good teacher could point you in the right direction. Not everyone can self teach.


I may be completely wrong. Only you can decide. Good Luck.
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
Howdy,

I've lost some confidence in my upper register (anything in the upper octave and up) playing after continuing to fight biting, pitchiness and thinness.

Therefore, I either have to (A) do more practice targeted at this part of my playing, or (B) concede defeat on this mouthpiece and move to something a little less open.

I'd like to do A first, even though I have other mouthpieces there tempting me.

So, the common suggestions to improve in this area are to do long tones/drones, slow ballads in the range you want to work on, overtones, tone matching, lower to upper octave tuning matching, playing along with records.

I have the Top Tones for saxophone book, whose exercises I can incorporate into my practice.

Does anyone know of any good workouts up there that they would like to share, be they exercises or songs to play along with?

Cheers,

Dave

Sounds to me that you need a more open tip and a softer reed. A good ex. For opening the top reg. LONG FIFTHS ie. C. G. C. G. C.....C#...G#. .. etc played slowly, but played fast good for flexibility. It's also a good idea to buy a top of the range MP that suits you as they are hand finished and they do what it says on the tin. The reason you don't find many on eBay. If poss but S/H and you can always sell it on without losing a bomb. But difficult to find.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,480
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
or stick with the current mouthpiece and go up on the reed strength.

I think that is a good first step, sometimes a harder reed will stop biting

My experience has been exactly the opposite. A harder reed works the embouchure muscles more and tires them more quickly resulting in the use of the jaw to compensate ie. "biting". A softer reed does not tax the embouchure as much and actually closes off when the player starts to "bite".

This is why players who start up after a break usually go to a softer reed for a while until the embouchure muscles get their strength back and then go back to their regular strength reed again. There is no substitute for long tones at all dynamic levels and in all registers of the sax to develop embouchure strength and control.

Ultimately it is the strength of the embouchure muscles around the mouth that eliminate the need to "bite" while producing a good tone quality in the upper register. The tips I gave in my first post on this subject are just things that will help along the way as the muscle tone develops.
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,069
Location
Berkshire, UK
JBT - I have been using a 1.5 Legere by mistake on my alto and have stuck with it because it feels like I am developing a stronger embouchre. When I switch to sop with a 2.5 reed it sounds and feels so easy. Carry on like this or change? What do you recommend?
 

Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
My experience has been exactly the opposite. A harder reed works the embouchure muscles more and tires them more quickly resulting in the use of the jaw to compensate ie. "biting". A softer reed does not tax the embouchure as much and actually closes off when the player starts to "bite".

This is why players who start up after a break usually go to a softer reed for a while until the embouchure muscles get their strength back and then go back to their regular strength reed again. There is no substitute for long tones at all dynamic levels and in all registers of the sax to develop embouchure strength and control.

Ultimately it is the strength of the embouchure muscles around the mouth that eliminate the need to "bite" while producing a good tone quality in the upper register. The tips I gave in my first post on this subject are just things that will help along the way as the muscle tone develops.

Try this. With a softer than normal reed, play pp on long notes the range of the instrument, chances are you will have a sore bottom lip by the time you get to top F#. Ie biting, repeat with a stronger reed with a bit of spring, hey presto. No sore bottom lip.
 

thesaxman71

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,687
There is no substitute for long tones at all dynamic levels and in all registers of the sax to develop embouchure strength and control.
I 100% agree!


so Eldavo i suggest (again) follow my advice i stated above (in #4), simple but very effective.
 
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Jamesmac

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,872
My experience has been exactly the opposite. A harder reed works the embouchure muscles more and tires them more quickly resulting in the use of the jaw to compensate ie. "biting". A softer reed does not tax the embouchure as much and actually closes off when the player starts to "bite".

This is why players who start up after a break usually go to a softer reed for a while until the embouchure muscles get their strength back and then go back to their regular strength reed again. There is no substitute for long tones at all dynamic levels and in all registers of the sax to develop embouchure strength and control.

Ultimately it is the strength of the embouchure muscles around the mouth that eliminate the need to "bite" while producing a good tone quality in the upper register. The tips I gave in my first post on this subject are just things that will help along the way as the muscle tone develops.


John....let me have your thoughts on the soft reed. PP experiment. I would like to hear what you find yourself.....thanks
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,480
Location
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
JBT - I have been using a 1.5 Legere by mistake on my alto and have stuck with it because it feels like I am developing a stronger embouchre. When I switch to sop with a 2.5 reed it sounds and feels so easy. Carry on like this or change? What do you recommend?

I hesitate to give advice such as this without hearing the tone quality, knowing how long a person has played, and knowing the mouthpiece tip opening and facing. I will say this. For me it is a personal preference as to how much resistance I want to blow against. Some reeds sound good, but make me work too hard with the air and embouchure.

I try to find the reed strength that responds well in the low register, produces a good sound in the high register, and doesn't bust my chops when I am playing a ballad. I have tried a the set-ups of a few colleagues of mine who prefer a much stiffer reed than I do, and they sound great. Some I have tried are more in line with my reed preference, and they sound great as well. If the notes high G and above sound like a kazoo on your alto with a 1.5 reed, I would try a strength or two harder, but again it is a personal preference.

Some players make a lot of money sounding like a kazoo on steroids in the currently popular styles. >:)
 

eldavo

New Member
Messages
8
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Four years is long enough to have chops enough to play so if you're biting to get the high notes then in my opinion it's the wrong mp/reeed set up for you.

Lots of practice, four or more hours a day, for six months or so may get your chops into the sort of shape that they can deal with anything but that's not practical for most of us.

Many players pick a mouthpiece aiming at a certain sound and struggle on with it. Other players will pick an expensive piece believing that the money spent will give them a quality sound and it doesn't.

You will see players aiming at a wide tip opening with as hard reed as they can get, as if it's some sort of measure of ability or a mark of progress.

In truth the right mouthpiece on the right instrument with the right reed is a pleasure to play top to bottom and will encourage play and practice just for the thrill of it and once you're practicing, everything else will follow.

You don't have to spend vast amounts of money and if you buy second hand and look after the piece you can put it back on the market and it will cost you very little.

It took me quite a while to find my tenor piece and a little longer to find the right reed to go with it.

Don't struggle. It shouldn't be hard. Maybe a few lessons with a good teacher could point you in the right direction. Not everyone can self teach.

I may be completely wrong. Only you can decide. Good Luck.

Colin, I appreciate your thoughts and perspective, but I still do not want to give up on the mouthpiece just yet, for a few reasons that I think are important.
(a) I think I exhibit the problem on most mouthpieces, and most sizes of saxes even ones with significantly smaller tip openings
(b) it is a habit that I had in high school, and since playing again I have continued the habit.
(c) I don't mind my lower register tone in general
(d) I am still doing gigs, so going a drastically different mouthpiece may make my overall playing less reliable in the short term.

My current practice routine (small which it may be) has been geared mainly towards simple II-V-I exercises and scales and not much towards upper register stuff or tone in general. That's why I would like to try some exercises on the current mouthpiece. If I try the exercises and have no results in 3 months, then it is a fair sign that the mouthpiece is not fit for me, and I will move to something else.

Sounds to me that you need a more open tip and a softer reed. A good ex. For opening the top reg. LONG FIFTHS ie. C. G. C. G. C.....C#...G#. .. etc played slowly, but played fast good for flexibility. It's also a good idea to buy a top of the range MP that suits you as they are hand finished and they do what it says on the tin. The reason you don't find many on eBay. If poss but S/H and you can always sell it on without losing a bomb. But difficult to find.

I'll add that to the list of exercises to try, thanks James!

or stick with the current mouthpiece and go up on the reed strength.

Long story, but I was playing RJS 3M, realised I was biting and bringing the reed down so the mouthpiece was more closed, so I have been progressively moving down until now, where I am at RJS 2M / Rico 2.5. I believe I don't squash the reed down as much as I used to with the softer reeds, so that is progress. I also believe I get more volume in general now out of the MP than I did back in the 3M days.


so Eldavo i suggest (again) follow my advice i stated above (in #4), simple but very effective.

I already acknowledged your exercise, does that mean I have to add it to the list again? ;)

===============

In summary, I want to try to focus on exercises to work out the embouchure to help further avoid my biting habit and give me reasonable control and tone up there, at dynamic levels other than flat-out. I'll be trying all the ones suggested so far a go, and am willing to try others that are suggested.

Time duration: 3 mths for reevaluation.
Fixed items: Vandoren V16 T9, at 0.116" tip opening.
Variable items:
- Reeds, Currently trialling RJS 2M and Rico unfiled 2.5, but have some new softer and harder reeds to experiment.
- top teeth pressure "pressing down a bit more with the top teeth---it seems to loosen the jaw"
- RH thumb pressure "pushing up with the RH thumb in the thumb hook---aids the first suggestion"
- blowing faster, colder air in the upper register "the embouchure doesn't have to work as hard if the air is doing most of the work"
- consciously working to "open the teeth" more as I play

Exercises:
- Bb1,Bb2,Bb3 - B1,B2,B3 etc to drum track
- Long fifths C2-G2, C#2-G#2 etc.
- Top tones book tone matching

Cheers,

Dave
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,996
Location
Burnley bb9 9dn
I've just listened to your playing on the botm thread and you're a more accomplished player than comes across on this thread.

Long practice or playing sessions will correct any biting you feel you have as your embouchure gets tired and you find an economic embouchure. A bit like how marathon runners don't flap about like sprinters.

I feel my tone and technique improve after a week or so of busking. 4 or 5 days, on the bounce, playing a four hour set really works the chops. Recommended.
 

eldavo

New Member
Messages
8
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Thanks Colin, sure don't feel all that accomplished at the moment. Here's a fairly recent example of the high register problems, unfortunately interspersed with 8 minutes of repetitive drivel (though it attempts to be soulful drivel :p )

http://db.tt/fPMe6D9D

Cheers,

Dave
 

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