Overlooking Steps Can Hurt Your Tone
Back in December we began this 3 part series on the embouchure. The purpose was not to go through every step of the embouchure; we have done that in the free lessons. Instead, we are focusing on a few points that are sometimes overlooked, or not understood by the beginner.
This is completely understandable! There are multiple steps in creating a solid embouchure, and it can be easy to forget a few of those steps – especially if you’ve never played a musical instrument in your life!
The First Problem
In the last post, we covered the amount of pressure we should add to the reed. We also provided a little test to identify if you’re adding enough pressure to the reed or not. You can click here to check it out.
Once you’ve set your embouchure (especially if you’re now adding more pressure), be sure to tune your instrument. When we begin to add more pressure to the reed, the saxophone’s pitch rises. If you remove pressure, the pitch goes down.
Now that we have reed pressure covered, let’s talk about the next item that will help you improve your tone: Jaw movement.
Should I Move My Jaw or Keep it Still?
Popular styles of playing require jaw movement in order to play within that genre. There are also styles where you don’t move your jaw at all. So to answer the question: We do both!
Keeping It Locked In
Here at LearnSaxophoneOnline.com we begin with keeping the jaw still. Why? If you begin with a moving jaw, it can be extremely difficult to stop when needed. However, if you become comfortable from the beginning, applying the stationary jaw approach, it’s very easy to add movement later. We also find that as a beginner, you’ll sound better sooner when keeping the jaw still.
Choose Your Own Saxophone Adventure
Here’s a fun post (in the style of Choose Your Own Adventure), that will get you on the right track for keeping your jaw still.
Click Here to lock in your embouchure
If you follow this approach you’ll benefit in the following ways:
- Gain a fuller tone faster
- Notes will pop out easier
- It will be easier to play in tune
- You’ll enjoy your tone sooner!
Keeping It Low
The last point I would like to cover is another part of playing that doesn’t come naturally. Yet, this is so important: Play with low (or warm) air all the time.
What does this mean? Basically, whether you are playing high notes or low notes, your air (and inside your mouth) should feel like you’re playing low notes. Here’s what I teach my students:
- Play a low D
- Hold it until it sound it’s best
- Keep playing and observe what your air and the inside of your feels like
- Take another breath
- Play the low D again, immediately applying your observations
- Play a D major scale 2 octaves (D E F# G A B C# D E F# G A B C# D)
- Keep the low air going the whole time
What were your results? Let me know how it worked for you in our comment section below.
If you apply these 3 items…
- Correct pressure on reed
- Don’t move the jaw while playing
- Always use low air
… your tone will greatly improve. In fact, you may be surprised how quickly your tone develops.
Remember, you don’t need to fix everything in one day either. Spend a little time everyday on each item, and you’ll notice a difference within a week. Some people even notice a difference immediately. It’s worth a try…right?
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