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Embouchure Obstacles

Hey! This is my first visit to the forums, which I came across browsing during a sectional, unfortunately with a problem I'm looking to find help for.

I'm a junior in high school, and on my second year of playing bari sax in jazz band/symphonic band and contrabass clarinet in the school wind ensemble... odd combination, right?
:emoji_astonished:

My embouchure is really starting to struggle to keep up with these two drastically different instruments. Bari sax is my instrument of concentration, and I'd really like to continue to develop my skills on that instrument while staying constant on contrabass clarinet (this is my last year playing it). Anyone out there with tips on how to make transferring between these two easier?
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Administrator
I double on (sop, alto, tenor, bari and bass) sax and (sop, alto, bass, and countrabass) clarinet. When I suddenly started having problems moving from instrument to instrument, it was recommended that I use the same strength reed on all my instruments. Boy did that work well for me!

I now use #3 on everything except the bass sax and contrabass clarinet. On those two I use Legere Standards (2 3/4) reeds. I could have done my fav #2.5 reeds, but I tend to blow them out (they get too soft) in a 2 to 3 hour gig. YMMV, do some experimenting to see what is right for you.

I'd love to hear [MENTION=151]Merlin[/MENTION] address this. He plays *all* the instruments. :)
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
Long tones. Practice long tones on all your instruments everyday. Even if you do nothing else, do 5 to 10 minutes of long tones on each of your horns daily to develop your chops and then to maintain them.

I play clarinet--badly--bass clarinet--much better, and all saxophones from soprano through bass--my primary instrument. There is no way that I could keep my chops current on all my horns by playing them even an hour every day. Luckily I don't need to.

Here's a link to a long tone exercise that takes about 5 minutes or so. Do it every day, on EACH instrument you have. (I'm talking saxophones here, you mentioned somewhere that you play alto and bari.) People who play different voices of saxophones need to think of each horn as a different instrument, and not just a larger/smaller version of a horn they already play. That's the only way to develop a proper tone and 100% spot-on intonation for each voice of horn. It will also allow you to develop a tone that you that is uniquely yours after you have developed your tonal concept. All of this starts with long tones with each voice of sax.

Clarinet is no different. Long tones are imperative for it as well. I haven't yet had a chance to develop this pivot around middle C concept for clarinet. I was planning on doing that soon. Your post just prompted me get working on that in the next few days. I'll update this post once I get it done.
 
Long tones. Practice long tones on all your instruments everyday. Even if you do nothing else, do 5 to 10 minutes of long tones on each of your horns daily to develop your chops and then to maintain them.

I play clarinet--badly--bass clarinet--much better, and all saxophones from soprano through bass--my primary instrument. There is no way that I could keep my chops current on all my horns by playing them even an hour every day. Luckily I don't need to.

Here's a link to a long tone exercise that takes about 5 minutes or so. Do it every day, on EACH instrument you have. (I'm talking saxophones here, you mentioned somewhere that you play alto and bari.) People who play different voices of saxophones need to think of each horn as a different instrument, and not just a larger/smaller version of a horn they already play. That's the only way to develop a proper tone and 100% spot-on intonation for each voice of horn. It will also allow you to develop a tone that you that is uniquely yours after you have developed your tonal concept. All of this starts with long tones with each voice of sax.

Clarinet is no different. Long tones are imperative for it as well. I haven't yet had a chance to develop this pivot around middle C concept for clarinet. I was planning on doing that soon. Your post just prompted me get working on that in the next few days. I'll update this post once I get it done.
Thank you so much! I'll try the exercise out tomorrow morning when I get to the band room! Long tones are a low instrument's best friend, eh? ;)
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
I did get a chance to write out the long tone exercise that I use on clarinets.

It is basically the same one I use on sax, but adapted for the different range of the clarinet. (Note, you'll notice that I put the range down to low Eb, since that's the range of most bass clarinets, and take it to B, just above the staff.) If you have a clarinet that is only keyed to low E, you would just stop on the pair of notes (G/A#) before that. If on the other hand, you have a low C bass, you can always go lower--and higher--if you so choose--but why would you?

The sax pivot around middle C doesn't cover go the entire range either. Really, the point is simply to get you used to how your notes sound relative to each other, and to combine that with a long tones exercise that can be done in about 5 or so minutes.

Hope you find it helpful.
 

Merlin

Content Expert/Moderator
Staff member
CE/Moderator
I double on (sop, alto, tenor, bari and bass) sax and (sop, alto, bass, and countrabass) clarinet. When I suddenly started having problems moving from instrument to instrument, it was recommended that I use the same strength reed on all my instruments. Boy did that work well for me!

I now use #3 on everything except the bass sax and contrabass clarinet. On those two I use Legere Standards (2 3/4) reeds. I could have done my fav #2.5 reeds, but I tend to blow them out (they get too soft) in a 2 to 3 hour gig. YMMV, do some experimenting to see what is right for you.

I'd love to hear @Merlin address this. He plays *all* the instruments. :)
I just got a shipment of Legeres, and have now dialed in my tenor setup, so I feel I can answer this.

All of my commercial setups on sax have pretty much the same numbered strength reed on them now.

Vandoren S25 on sop, with a Legere Signature 2.75
Meyer NY 6 on alto, with a Legere Signature 2.75, or a Jody Jazz HR 6 with a 2.5
Jody Jazz HR 7 on tenor with a Legere Signature 2.75
Yanagisawa 9 on bari - HR with Legere Sig 2.75, or metal with a Legere Sig 2.5

On the clarinets, I used the Euro cut Sig, either 3 or 3.25, depending on the mp and the task. My bass likes a 2.75 with the Grabner LB mp, and I just put a 3.25 on my contra with the Selmer D mp.
 
I just got a shipment of Legeres, and have now dialed in my tenor setup, so I feel I can answer this.

All of my commercial setups on sax have pretty much the same numbered strength reed on them now.

Vandoren S25 on sop, with a Legere Signature 2.75
Meyer NY 6 on alto, with a Legere Signature 2.75, or a Jody Jazz HR 6 with a 2.5
Jody Jazz HR 7 on tenor with a Legere Signature 2.75
Yanagisawa 9 on bari - HR with Legere Sig 2.75, or metal with a Legere Sig 2.5

On the clarinets, I used the Euro cut Sig, either 3 or 3.25, depending on the mp and the task. My bass likes a 2.75 with the Grabner LB mp, and I just put a 3.25 on my contra with the Selmer D mp.
Not a cheap investment. But once you are set, it stays that way for a long time.
 
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