Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Saxophone Basics - How to produce a sound on the saxophone mouthpiece

How to produce a sound on the saxophone mouthpiece

[Have you read attaching reed to mouthpiece? Make sure to do so before continuing with this post.]
Now that your reed is secured by the ligature to the mouthpiece, you are ready you learn how to produce a on the mouthpiece.
I always teach my students to play on the mouthpiece first, before trying it on the saxophone. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, it is important to get the 'correct' embouchure (mouth position on mouthpiece) from the beginning. I put correct in inverted commas because everybody has a different shape mouth, teeth, lips etc, and so what is the optimum position for one person, may not be the same for another. However, for the purposes of this post, I will describe to you a general 'correct' position. Please consult your teacher if you are unsure of what is the best embouchure for you. The second reason to play on the mouthpiece only, is that you are able to learn how to control the pitch using your throat and little adjusting of the embouchure. If you can do this from early on in your playing, it will help you tremendously down the line when you need to learn to control the pitch on the instrument.

Things gs to consider before making a sound:
1. Make sure that your reed is still moist from when you assembled it onto the mouthpiece. You may way to lick the outside part of the reed before attempting to make a sound. (I know that this may sound gross, but if the reed is too dry, it won't vibrate properly). Make sure that the reed is underneath the mouthpiece, so that it will press against your bottom lip.
2. Place your top teeth about one third of the way onto the top of the mouthpiece. Gently bring your bottom lip towards the reed.
This can be a crucial move that people get incorrect. It is important that your bottom teeth do not touch the reed. In order for this to happen your lip needs to cover your teeth. Be careful not to roll your lip too far over your bottom teeth, as you do not want to bite your lip. The best way I can discribe it, is to press your bottom lip against your teeth. Now it makes sense that everyone has different sized lips and different shape/position of the teeth. So be aware to have the fleshy part of your lip on the reed (not the chin skin). Make sure that your lip is not pulled too tightly.
3. Make sure that your tongue is out of the way, take a big breath and blow!
Don't squeeze your lips too hard, because the air needs to go between the reed and the mouthpiece while it is vibrating. So if you squeeze too hard, you will just clamp down the reed against the mouthpiece, and nothing is 'gonna happen!
4. You should have produced a 'duck sound'. If not, take a little more of the mouthpiece in your mouth and try again.
Keep working on the mouthpiece buzzing until your bottom lip stops tingling.

Well done! You have made the first step to playing the saxophone.

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