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Emboucher, Focus and Tone/Timbre

#1
It's been about 2 weeks since I've started learning the alto sax (Yamaha YAS-575 "Allegro" w/Selmer Soloist C**, 2 1/2 Forestone Reed). I've played the Bb Clarinet for about 5 years. I've had to "loosen-up" a bit regarding my emboucher in order to play the lower register. I've noticed that the overtones, timbre and tone are much more sensitive to my actual throat, tongue and lip position. My teacher says to continue to experiment and find the combination that "sounds right" to me and the piece that I'm playing. Also, ..."that I will know and feel what's right" when it get's there.

I'm not totally inexperienced when it comes to music having had formal voice training. Singing in the tenor range, I know about focusing my voice for "head, throat and chest voice" depending on the range. Is this the case for the Sax? In this respect, the clarinet seemed easier to focus.
 
#2
I'm sure you already know, but the sax embouchure is not like the clarinet. For me the alto is not so much "looser" as "rounder", with the lower lip out more and the corners in more. Others probably have different opinions.
 

jbtsax

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#3
As a beginning band teacher for many years, I required students who wanted to play the saxophone to play the clarinet the first year. I won't go into the rationale behind this, but it worked very well in our band program. The students who were picked to switch to saxophone took a 3 week summer "changeover" class. These are the concepts that were taught in that class:

- The clarinet embouchure is produced by the "EE" and "OO" muscles creating a tug-o-war which ends in a draw forming a stretched lower lip and flat chin.

- The saxophone embouchure is the same tug-o-war, but the "OO" side dominates the "EE" side forming a more relaxed lower lip and a rounder chin.

- The clarinet has more resistance and is generally played with faster, colder air while the sax has less resistance and is played with warm air.

- On the clarinet you blow across the mouthpiece as it tilts down, while on the sax you blow directly into the mouthpiece which goes straight into the mouth.

- The clarinet plays at or near the top of its pitch (you can't lip up without the reed closing off), while the sax plays near the center of its pitch (can lip up and down).

One of the most common problems encountered was the student's subconsciously trying to recreate the resistance they were used to on the clarinet by tightening the throat. Another common problem was the tendency to take too little of the mouthpiece in the mouth and to tilt the mouthpiece down which is really a neckstrap issue. All of the students had to be reminded not to play with such a tight embouchure.

A good daily drill was to warm up on the mouthpiece and neck alone playing loud long tones Ab concert on the alto and E concert on the tenor. The students were taught to say "haup" as they took a big breath to open the throat and to blow with warm air directed toward their LH thumb. The neckstrap is best adjusted by balancing the sax in front using the neckstrap and both thumbs and adjusting the strap so that the mouthpiece touches the curve just above the chin. Then the head tilts down slightly to insert the mouthpiece into the mouth.
 
#4
As a beginning band teacher for many years, I required students who wanted to play the saxophone to play the clarinet the first year. I won't go into the rationale behind this, but it worked very well in our band program. The students who were picked to switch to saxophone took a 3 week summer "changeover" class. These are the concepts that were taught in that class:

- The clarinet embouchure is produced by the "EE" and "OO" muscles creating a tug-o-war which ends in a draw forming a stretched lower lip and flat chin.

- The saxophone embouchure is the same tug-o-war, but the "OO" side dominates the "EE" side forming a more relaxed lower lip and a rounder chin.

- The clarinet has more resistance and is generally played with faster, colder air while the sax has less resistance and is played with warm air.

- On the clarinet you blow across the mouthpiece as it tilts down, while on the sax you blow directly into the mouthpiece which goes straight into the mouth.

- The clarinet plays at or near the top of its pitch (you can't lip up without the reed closing off), while the sax plays near the center of its pitch (can lip up and down).

One of the most common problems encountered was the student's subconsciously trying to recreate the resistance they were used to on the clarinet by tightening the throat. Another common problem was the tendency to take too little of the mouthpiece in the mouth and to tilt the mouthpiece down which is really a neckstrap issue. All of the students had to be reminded not to play with such a tight embouchure.

A good daily drill was to warm up on the mouthpiece and neck alone playing loud long tones Ab concert on the alto and E concert on the tenor. The students were taught to say "haup" as they took a big breath to open the throat and to blow with warm air directed toward their LH thumb. The neckstrap is best adjusted by balancing the sax in front using the neckstrap and both thumbs and adjusting the strap so that the mouthpiece touches the curve just above the chin. Then the head tilts down slightly to insert the mouthpiece into the mouth.
Whoa...Outstanding...Thanks

I just tried your suggestions and they really helped.. I wish I lived a bit closer and would like to take a few lessons with you!!!
 
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