Beginner Whooshing when starting to practice

Theresa

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Dublin, Ireland
Excuse the thread title but that's how I describe it. Sometimes when I start practicing (now I'm only playing a week and a bit) the only noise I get is air whooshing through the mouthpiece.

Eventually after a couple of tries I'll manage to get sounds as opposed to whooshing and I'm grand.

Is this due to my not being comfortable at all with both the right embouchere and breathing technique? I've started breathing exercises on taming the sax, but today could have cheerfully thrown the instrument down the stairs :) (compounded by having a good day yesterday)

And yes I'm impatient at times!

Thanks
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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Here’s something to try:
When you start your practice, try putting the mouthpiece on the neck, but not putting the neck on the body of the saxophone.
Then blow so that you get a good steady tone.
Once you have a good tone, put the neck on the body, and blow exactly the same way.
 

Keep Blowing

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Excuse the thread title but that's how I describe it. Sometimes when I start practicing (now I'm only playing a week and a bit) the only noise I get is air whooshing through the mouthpiece.

Eventually after a couple of tries I'll manage to get sounds as opposed to whooshing and I'm grand.

Is this due to my not being comfortable at all with both the right embouchere and breathing technique? I've started breathing exercises on taming the sax, but today could have cheerfully thrown the instrument down the stairs :) (compounded by having a good day yesterday)

And yes I'm impatient at times!

Thanks
Could be just that your Reed isn't quite positioned correctly, or it's a bit dry or it's gone a little out of shape on the end bit,.
 

Saxlicker

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I'd say its a natural experience.....
Eventually it will just go away and leave you alone and to a certain extent you'll never really understand what changed.
Though largely it will be a combination of air support, embouchure, muscle memory that sneak up on the pesky whooshing just by practising.:old:
 

jbtsax

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Usually just hearing air instead of a tone means the embouchure isn't firm enough, the air doesn't have enough speed and pressure, or the reed is too hard.

You might try these suggestions by Bruce Pearson "The Saxophone Embouchure" Playing a pitch on the mouthpiece alone can be difficult for someone just starting out. I agree with Nigeld's suggestion to play just the mouthpiece and neck to work on tone production. On this "tone producer" blow lots of air and try to get the biggest and nicest sound you can. I like to have my students play long tones watching the second hand on a clock. Start with trying to hold a tone 15 seconds and work up from there. With the mouthpiece in the right spot, usually about halfway on the cork, the "tone producer" alone should sound an Ab concert on alto sax which is the same as F with the octave key, or E concert on the tenor sax which is the same as F#.

A #2 reed is a good strength to start on, and when the embouchure muscles begin to develop (1 to 2 weeks) then move up to a 2 1/2. Good luck and keep us up to date on your progress.
 

randulo

Playing saxophone 21 months - 2.4% of my life
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The suggestion to put the mouthpiece on the neck, make sure the reed is adjusted properly, and get a note from that assemblage is a good one. I do that every time I put the saxophone together in the morning. I blow a note and hold it for a bit. Then I vary the pitch to exercise the embouchure. I find it's a relaxing way to start. I may be crazy, though. One thing not mentioned is the angle of the mouthpiece in the mouth. It's not hard to have the neck or mouthpiece adjusted wrong so it isn't going in at the proper angle. And if the reed isn't straight on the mouthpiece it will also affect the sound, although not with whooshing, more like a "dusty" sound. Some players, according to a teacher, have used that trick to get a certain sound.
 
OP
T

Theresa

New Member
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12
Location
Dublin, Ireland
Guys

Thanks for the advice. My sax is kept downstairs and I practice upstairs so now enroute to the practice room I do the mouthpiece note.

Don't know if it's being distracted or whatever but this has really helped me and the whooshing is much lessened. Practice is so much more enjoyable.

Thanks again
 
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T

Theresa

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Location
Dublin, Ireland
Just to follow up on this my embouchere problems continue. In a normal octave e.g. c major scale I have what I can only describe as air escaping when I play that scale.

This weekend I tried g major and was concentrating on hitting the high notes past c2 (forgive the crappy terminology) that I did not have this problem with the air.

I'm using a vandoren 1.5 reed and the sheer effort to hit higher notes occupies me.

Anyone got any theories here? I've one but I'll hold off for now
 

Carter

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London
High(er) notes take time. I've been playing for about 2.5 years and still am a little flat (i.e. not perfect) on the high register. I'm not quite sure whta you mean by air escaping, but I would concentrate on the middle ranges before jumping up higher. Long tones are key to do this in order to develop your embouchre. Best of luck!
 

Greg Strange

Well-Known Member
What mouthpiece are you using? I assume you are playing something like a Yamaha 4C and not a Meyer 8M. Try a using a slightly harder reed like a Vandoren 2 or try a Rico / A'ddario 2. Rico / Addario reeds tend to be a bit softer than Vandoren. Experiment with different reeds as some reeds for some unknown reason work better on certain mouthpieces (most likely due to the shape of a person's oral cavity) To develop your embouchure start your practice session with some long tones - C Major Scale at 60 bpm, 4 beats to the bar for starters and work your way up from there - 5 minutes per day.

Is your saxophone a brand new instrument or a second hand one and has been serviced recently? Nothing worst than trying to learn a musical instrument that is not working properly...


Greg S.
 

Pete Effamy

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Hampshire
Usually just hearing air instead of a tone means the embouchure isn't firm enough
This is the most likely explanation, though others could be plausible. If you could post a video showing your embouchure we'd be able to diagnose easily.

Mouthpiece

How much mouthpiece you put in your mouth has a big effect as well as the jaw position - forward and back and pressure on the reed. Take a look at the reed on the mouthpiece sideways on. Notice where the mouthpiece starts to move away from the reed and create the opening. You must not be either on, or beyond this point. Being on it will create an excessively harsh sound and beyond will likely just squeak. Just back from this point is fine though some players are nearer the tip. This is harder to start off with though as it requires embouchure and air to be absolutely correct otherwise the sound will be really weedy so I don't advocate it.

Sling

Make sure it is adjusted so that when you raise the sax it comes straight to your lips without you dropping your head. In other words - stand with good upright, relaxed posture. From here, you bring the sax up and you're ready to play. Bending your head downwards a TINY bit would be fine. If too much, then the jaw and lip positions are very compromised.

Jaw

Needs to be about halfway forward, not relaxed and all the way back. Get this part right along with how much mouthpiece you put in your mouth and the lip part matters less as far as getting the note to sound.

Lip

Try not to tuck too much lip over the reed though, as merely putting the mouthpiece onto your lip will squash a bit more over the teeth - so holding your lip inwards against your bottom teeth, and slightly above will result in a little lip going over the teeth when you contact the mouthpiece - that's almost too much information though and I'm sure that what you're doing in this area already isn't the cause of your woes.

Air

I'm sure you've read up on breathing and controlling the airstream from lower down and using the muscles around the core. But, let's just think about how much pressure or airspeed that feels like in practice - imagine a birthday cake with a candle: you need to blow as if 12" or 18" away from the candle, and just enough to bend the flame over consistently, but not to blow it out (you're not the big bad wolf trying to blow the piggies houses down!). This should give enough air for a decent healthy-sounding note if Jaw and lip are correct, and you are using a soft reed as you say like a 1.5.

With major problems, I would stick to the notes B (1st finger RH, not bottom B) and walk down without tonguing through A and G. Get these right first, at least you know you've got things going. Solve the 'whooshing' first and then branch out to a bigger range. Tbh though, 10 days of playing is nothing - even the best players still practice long notes along with all the other basics of technique. We're all different, and get stuck on certain bits and have no problems with others. The key is practice of course, but (certainly at this stage) it is best served by "little but often" rather than huge slugs of your day. Your embouchure will tire quickly, so don't go beyond what you can handle. The crux is producing the notes every time you try them, so maybe try 10 mins on these first three notes and then make a cup of tea. Come back to it to see if it's still there. Gradually increase your range on the sax and the time that you practice. Don't ever think that if you can only spare 10 mins it's not worth it.

A video will still be the best!

Good luck

P
 

Terrytoolpath

Member
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123
Location
Rugby
forgive me if Its been said already but have you got the reed fitted correctly to the mouthpiece, that is with the tip of the reed exactly level with the tip of the mouthpiece as well as in the middle side to side of the mouthpiece

Terry
 
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