Playing saxophone aside- tenor and bariton. How did I prevent back pains?

Quite often we have to play saxophones like tenor and bariton on our right side. I will share my experience and what have I done about it!

Turning the body to the right side has  a slight inconvenience: the body feels uncomfortable after a while (it means the body turns too much on the right side because of the harness or big saxophone or reason X) and therefore it also affects DIRECTLY on your back problems, especially if you play in long term  these (tenor/bariton) instruments. What are the solutions that I have found for me?
First I tried with Neotech harness, but I felt always uncomfortable when I was sitting. Also I didn’t like  being tightly held against my chest. It teared so tensely to the right side when I was sitting and it turned my body too much to the right, that it was “I realized NOT healthy to my back anyway” – so I needed STILL to go to see physiotherapist. He explained me, that shoulders and hips: they are like a box I need to keep straight and NOT TO TURN.
Every movement that is rotation to your back is bad for discs and makes a lot of tension on the nervs that are between! Which I have felt of course.  Trust me, you won’t gonna like it! All My back pain came from not respecting that simple advice – “keep the shoulders- hips straightforward, do not bend them”!. And I thank him until today, as I am teaching everybody how to prevent back pains while we play saxophone!

Next step I bought: review Freeneck Harness

I will never suggest to play tenor-bariton-bass saxophones to play with neck strap, this will cause long term problems that are invisible many many years!!!! This ends up putting quite a bit of lateral pressure on your neck, all you can do, is to find what changes your life  for a while.
From the front, the Free Neck looks just like a standard neck strap.

I have compared in this video different harnesses I have used, click here!

 freeneck is one of  the most expensive harness I’d seen,  it’s  close to €135 at Thomann Germany e-store.
The harness itself comes in 3 parts.  The main bit is a normal looking neck strap string and hook from which projects a pair of long metal rods which extend down your back.
The end of these then connect into a pocket on a separate belt which clips around your waist (picture on the right).
Pocket is behind.  

The back of the neck has a metal plate , in the middle you have screws you need to adjust (picture on the left).
They come  across the width of your column vertebral/back which runs down the length of your spine.
You wear a belt around your waist, more around your hips I should precise, it has a pocket that is  part of the harness and you put the bottom of the rods tuck into the pocket. The rod length is adjustable, as is the cord that the hook is on.
The HOOK  has a “spacer” on the chord, so rather than the cord coming straight to the hook, it goes through a spacer, which keeps the cords about 10cm apart and carries away also the heaviness of the saxophone, really good invention.
So you can place the sax anywhere you like, as you could with a normal sax neck strap – to the right, out in front, or between your legs.
I used it for a while only for bariton and tenor, well, also on bass saxophone and then I realized that I like to play also on alto and soprano.
The same thing happened to Jazzlab Saxholder, although I do feel more haight on my shoulders with that compare to freeneck! Go and try if you see someone has, ONLY TRYING  ON will tell you what is for you the best. Please you are welcome to share your experiences.
How did I prevent back pains while playing tenor, bariton or bass saxophones?
Two principles:
1. I do play a lot in sitting, BUT tenor I keep saxophone straight forward also in sitting, I just found the position if I push the right leg more aside, It suits for me and therefore I DO NOT CAUSE  any back pains while playing tenor. When I can, I stand up for a while and play, because it is huge gratitude to my back! In case of course baryton and basse I place them aside, but still keeping shoulders-hips as straight as possible.
2. Keep it balanced, sit and stand up regularly. Do some exercises and especially bendings for arms and shoulders and back!
Harnesses packing problems!!!
For tenor sax it was always difficult to take Freeneck separately with my sax case, then notes, stands etc, and therefore I started to use Vandoren Harness, which has exactly the same principles as Freeneck, but Vandoren Harness I can pack together so little, that it goes to the belly of sax easily.

Review Vandoren Harness

Freeneck goes easily to the baryton and bass sax belly. And is really good to play the heavy instruments. Good value for the money. With jazzlab saxholder I can pack well into the case that has not saxophone shape, but when travelling, I take Vandoren Harness with me.
Vandoren Saxophone Harness IS  a great option for those having neck issues from standard straps, and those looking for a better harness.

Every sax harness is designed with the same basic principal; remove weight and stress from the neck by shifting it to the shoulders or hips.I believe that anybody with neck or back issues would benefit from trying out this harness.

The Vandoren Harness  takes away the pressure of the chest area and centers  partial  weight to the hips and along the waste and on shoulder pads. Behind the back you have two telescopic support to adjust the length (lengthen or shorten as you like) you need for you and combines with the hooks on your shoulder pads. The chest is totally free from that bound feeling. The waist is familiar pants and belts in normal clothing, and there is no feeling of stress from the harness strap at the waste at all. I love the adjustment space around the waste. when you stop playing you can simlpy detache remaining elastic ribbon to the hook and you feel comfortable while not playing. The harness looks beautiful on you. Look up the video here!

Larger saxophones will never feel weightless because they are just big and heavy. But, to take  the weight shift away from the neck is always a great choice, and the shoulders are a much stronger area of the human body with less concern for damage than a neck might be, with the central nervous system/column vertebral running though it. Getting the harness into proper adjustment is important, and each player will find a combination that will work best for his or her shape. Setting it up for alto or tenor or bariton is easy, it takes a little more experimentation with the bariton because it is so much heavier.

I like the fact that it can be worn under a coat, and it looks jut like a standard sax strap at that point. Some clothes cover the harness to be completely invisible!

The vandoren harness works well, sitting or standing, it keeps straight even shoulders-hips position, because the V-shape strap shortens from one side and lengthen from the other side!!!!

 

vandoren harness is my favorite

while playing aside!

With a long  strap and flexible hook in front of you, you can comfortably use a playing position in front of the body, or off to the side. The backside braces are hard but flexible plastic and sitting with the harness on really comfortable than I first though it might be. This harness will encourage to have a  better posture, since the center of gravity seems to rest on the shoulder pads, holding them forward and fighting the traditional slouch so many sax players have.

Purchase Vandoren Harness here on Amazon

Purchase Neotech Harness here on Amazon

Purchase Neotech Super Harness here on Amazon

Purchase BG Harness for Boys here on Amazon

Purchase BG Harness for Girls here on Amazon

Purchase Jazzlab saxholder here on Amazon

Please, you are welcome to share your eperiences! Thank you!

review jazzlab saxholder, best harness available, best harness for saxophone tenor, best harness for saxophone alto

Jazzlab Saxholder – my absolute favorite since the beginning of 2017!

Why I choosed jazzlab saxholder?

First – the curiosity, because when you are teacher for some time (me 17 years), you need to have to be aware of ALL the neckstrap or harness materials available on the market.

I have faced myself neck problem, I’ve been playing with normal neck strap, that comes with a new saxophone. And it is so wrong to play with it , column vertebral is suffering so much and unfortunately it takes years to understand that the damage is done invisible way. Can you fix it? NO, no and no. Bones, nerves, discs of column vertebral are damaged forever. You can recover, but it is gonna cost you! And yet it is so easy to AVOID THAT PROBLEM in the future!

neck strapThe saxophonist Chris Condon just shared on Facebook his “bad surprise”, that he has been playing 20+ years with the neck strap and wakes up one day (now we are july 2018, so he posted on june 2018!!!) and he could not feel the fingers of one hand, neither hold up things! We should not damage the health because of saxophone! We can prevent it!

Read More

Why should I go to Summer Academy?

I have been thinking, why we are at first place against to go to Summer Camps or in music world in Summer Academies. Maybe the word camping or something else is somehow misused?
But the world goes more and more looking the screens and still the ACTUAL WORLD REMAINS OUTSIDE OF THE SCREENS. In Summer Academies we are all communicating through music and our souls are singing and those who are sitting in audience are sharing with us these intimate moments, like Paul McCartney song “Yesterday” in orchestral version and saxophone solo starts 2:15, for those who are interested to listen to!
Playing in wind orchestra or string orchestra is completely different experience, all those colours your ear is able to discover and distinguish, this is FEELING, nobody can explain intellectually what you feel, because it is the chemistry and it is wonderful to experience. So go for it!

 

The pieces you can play? For example Mozart, and his 25th symphony 1st part is like rockmusic frm 18th century!!! Listen and watch here!

Amazing Grace by Saxophone Ensemble, watch here!

Live and Let Die of L. and P. mcCartney, watch here!

And all kinds of little ensembles, like quartet, sextet “Amazing Grace“…..it s all about hierarchie in the music, solo versus chorus, tuning and the balance in the chords – in those tiny details are hidden necessary things to be able to perform big saxophone choir for exemple Alain Crepin “Nuits blanches/ White nights“. I do promote this wonderful piece, that exist also alto/tenorsax and piano version.

And hey…. video: Let’s twist again like we did last summer! See you beside the sea, like we performed on that video!

Traveling with saxophone(s)!

When we travel by car, we can take as much things as we want to with us, just make sure, that instrument case does not lie on the BOTTOM of the things and it does not MOVE too much, especially on the case of saxophone. Place it well amongst the things!

Traveling by plane is a challenge, but I can share what have I done.

Traveling with tenorsaxophone, I take the so called flightcase (Selmer, BAM, SKB has a good one, it is  soft material and also the hard flightcases), it has the shape of the saxophone and usually there has not been problems. But it is crucial to understand, that there are little planes versus big planes and that’s why YOU NEED TO KNOW before, which plane will be! Once, when I checked in at Paris airport, they start to interrogate, that mesures do not fit… etc and I was with soprano!!! So I told, I ve been traveling 15 years and I never had problems and as I have looked, that the airplane is big, so even for guitarplayer it should be ok…..it worked and actually it is true. Usually you have no problem with soprano, at least the case of straight soprano looks similar to violin case.

But the conciousness about musical instruments has not approved with the time!

When I was traveling tenorsaxophone with normal case, I mean not in a saxophone shape, airbaltic company charged me for special price 60 euros and I could carry it on the plane. So if you don’t have a saxophone shape flightcase, then you should count on for extra money (continue to read!).

Traveling with two saxophone,

I have wrapped alto in a hard cover suitcase between the clothes, nothing happened and theN tenor I took on the plane with  (F)lightcase – ON THE SHAPE OF SAXOPHONE!

Of course I did put all documents inside the saxophone, no other bag is taken to the plane!

ALWAYS take out for travel the screwdrivers and all stuff you need for reparation your saxophone, because in the security of the airport, they look at it as a suspicious stuff, so they just take it away!!!!!
ALWAYS close all open pads with cork material, do it just like you received a new saxophone, if you still remember, all open pads and even C# and G# were closed with cork material. Then you have no worries about pads regulation problems, if that had accured during the traveling!
ALWAYS control before leaving an airport, if you had to give away your saxophone down with other suitcases, so when you arrive to the destination airpot (and I presume you have done insurance also!) then YOU OPEN AND CONTOL IMMEDIATELY there the condition of your saxophone. If something has happened during the travel, you can complain and ask for to repair it. Do you imagine yourself looking for a saxophone reparation in a country you barely know? Maybe you will not have even time for that?

Traveling with bariton I had such experiences:

Either you ask a bariton from the destination you are traveling, somebody has to have a bariton? It has worked.
You can buy a ticket for your bari saxophone separately and on the plane you sit next to it!

Third option is to close all open pads with cork and sticker them with the tape if needed. Then buy a LOT OF “FRAGILE” stickers and put ALLOVER on your saxophone, Otherwise you know…..they will damage.

We musicians are aware of the different suitcases for instruments, but airport craft NEVER.
Just think forward everything. All them worked well with me!

ALTO:

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Purchase fantastic BAM alto saxophone Cabin Case here on Amazon

Purchase BAM NEW Trekking Alto saxophone case here on Amazon

TENOR:

Purchase fantastic BAM tenor saxophone Cabin Case LA DEFENSE  here on Amazon

Purchase fantastic BAM tenorsaxophone Cabin Case Standard here on Amazon

Purchase Softpack BAM tenorsaxophone case here on Amazon

BARITON:

Purchase SKB Flightcase for Bariton saxophone here on Amazon

Purchase fantastic quality BAM bariton case (France) here on Amazon

Hope my experiences had served you, and please comment and share yours also! Thank You!

How to clean well Your saxophone?

We often see in the shops various materials for cleaning woodwind instruments. But the trueth is, that all these instruments are very very different and what is suitable for flute, DO NOT suit for saxophone unfortunately. We can find swabs that are meant to be in multipurpose.
I have given some tips on this video, how to clean and what I have been using last 20+ years.

The right care taking of your saxophone hygiene is better for your health and for maintaining your saxophone in a good manner, to last it longer, to serve you and audience really well.
I point out some important things: wash your mouthpiece after every other playing if you don’ t want to do it every time. Also after that desinfect with the sterisol liquid specially made for mouthpieces. Keeps your immunitary system under the control!

Materials: brushes are not useful, because it doesn ‘t dry out the condence of salive that remains inside after we finish playing saxophone! I recommend only Yamaha cleaning swab and also Vandoren, Selmer, Buffet swabs. Yamaha swabs are easy to find in any shops, others harder to find. Why do I recommend this? Because first we need to dry out well inside of the saxophone and the tissue/material should not leave fibers inside of the saxophone body!!!!!!!

Maintenance of saxophone includes this: every year you change the oil (flasks, screws etc), Reparation “master” will wash ALL, that has left from salive and of course regulation of pads and cocks. After that your saxophone is fantastic to play, no noise around your playing. It is a real pleasure, like after the SPA care!

Hope you found it useful, please feel free to comment your experiences, i would be happy to know about.

Double tonguing

In music studies we are one moment THERE, where you have to study faster tonguing, because normal tonguing is never fast enough! And therefore we use effectively this technic.

After a “panic attack” we realize that we need a “quick course” in double tonguing. Unfortunately there are no “miracle” exercises, becuse new things take time to establish. And you can not learn to double tongue overnight! Focus every day a little bit of concentrated practice time and you will be impressing your friends and family with your ability to double tongue soon enough.

FIRST-It’s impossible to develop good double tonguing skills without stabilizing REGULAR SINGLE tonguing. The following simple exercises will improve single tongue accuracy and speed UP developing your double tonguing.

It is important to understand the different feeling on your throat-tongue movement with following syllabes: Dah-gah versus Tah-kah! the last syllabe is cutting more the sound and is not helping really!
These syllables are used in double tonguing. Most students prefer dah-gah, since it is smoother in different registers and duration of the notes sounds equal-which is the ULTIMATE GOAL! It is less “out pomping/cutting” (the sound flow) and easier to keep the steady air column of flowing with Dah-gah syllabes than with tah-kah. Tah-kah can be used better in accented style when needed. Usually you need to start with dah-gah and eventually we practice after Tah-Kah syllabes also. Very important is the STEADY AIR SUPPORT, otherwise you will have wholes between the notes.

Preliminary exercises: make exercises without instrument first, to get used to the FEELING on your throat. sAY the syllabes.

Whispering loudly “gaa or I do Guh” over and over , please notice where the postition of your tongue inside the mouth. Try to bring the point of tongue to contact with the roof of your mouth as far forward as possible. In woodwind instrument playing we often do notpay attention to the position of the tongue inside of the mouth, but I do assure, that once you start to analyse it, You will get tricks done quickly on your instrument!

Whisper “gaa or guh” into your instrument, or mouthpiece-neck and keep embouchure normally and support with air REALLY WELL Gah-syllabes. Eventually bite the lips together and let the sound to come. Do not worry about tone quality at first. This may take several attempts before you are comfortable and using the “gah” syllabe at the same time with Dah.
Say “I dug-a-hole” quickly several times. Then extend to “I dug-a-dug-a-hole,” and “I dug-a-dug-a-dug-a-hole”. Practice many times singing in good legato singing, especially not chopped singing way and start on a note G, A or B or C – combine different rhythm patterns and go on to improve the speed.

Gradually increase the speed and go as fast as you can. In order to reach a tempo that is necessary to achieve, you must constantly try to move forward on tempo. Practice this exercise at least several weeks.

I LOVE TO SAY THAT: It is crucial to practice the following exercises with a metronome.

Duh-Duh-Duh-Duh/Duh-Guh-Duh-Guh/the aim is not to change the sound of Duh and Guh, it must not be different!
First in one note these syllabes and in tempo 60, 68, 72 etc, keep rising the tempo. And then in to different notes, then in chronatic scale and in a piece where you need to use it.
Also use in triples: Duh-Guh-Duh, Duh-Guh-Duh and of course work together with metronome.
As the music is the art of sound, listen always please your sound and articulations carefully and record yourself. This is the best method to work and to improve.

And you need just download application: Mobile metronome and choose “high sound” click – electronic beat, it is best to hear over saxophone timber.

Here is a video!

After becoming familiar with the exercise on one note, move to 2 notes and go on. After increase the register and practice all major and minor scales double tongued with four notes per pitch, two notes per pitch, and then one note per pitch. Many books contain exercises and etudes for double tonguing. Triple tonguing is really just a variation of double tonguing.
SO LET’S GET TO WORK!

What about the posture?

The NATURAL posture of a human being!

When we put to SEARH GOOGLE the word “POSTURE” – we get a lot of pictures about good and bad postures!
It is not about playing on a musical instrument, where the posture is really important. Ergonomic posture is necessary to follow also in everydays life. And of course when we teach a child, we need to correct the posture behind the instrument ALL THE TIME, CONSTANTLY!

I repeat often, playing the instrument should not “disable your posture” – it is crucial to look after it by yourself alos, not only a teacher.
So different saxophone straps are need to be used on different ages, on a different body type and it is fantastic, that we have a lot of choice! I should post the videos about them. I promise i will load them soon on Youtube Channel.

What about your surrounding crew?
We as TOP musicians are often compared to sportsmen/women, because music teacher/coach is 5 in one! what do I mean? When I coach and make individual lessons, I have found myself quite often in a position of being psychologue (where is your focus, how strong is your self esteem, how you develop your mindset skills), making training program (instrumental as well keeping up sports activity) per day to per hour or even longer period, choosing different level of tasks/repertory, analysing the results of my program, making adjustments on instrumental develop or psychological development and stretching out the stressful muscles, what do you eat to keep fit. This is different about top sportsmen, they have team around them, everyone has their role: mindset is TOO important (psychologue or other?)-without mental toughness all is lost quite soon (sorry, but this is absolutely true), masseur for stretching, coach makes the program and controls how everything goes. They are always under professional supervision and it is very detailed! Coaches are very well educated on bodies ergonomical movements and they are so competent to teach it!

But in music teacher’s life – we do ALL OF THAT! Haven’t you thought about it?
Finally coming back to posture, which is only one parameter of many many things to follow on your pupils or students, in order to be able to form/grow top musician from little child or a young person that comes to study. In instrumental playing we work mentally and physically at the same time, there is a lot of pressure when we go on stage AND on that period where we prepare for that performance. We FEEL more that we can explain! The experience gives me a lot of data to recognise when something is hindering development! That is why there are already doctors specialised for musicians and their problems!

The posture affects positively or negatively, will you be the virtuose on your instrument or not?????!!!! There are teachers who say, you have not worked enough hours to be able to become virtuose. But I can share other, in my experience and I do encourage you to think and pay attention to your posture, then your hands become more relaxed and your tehcnic skills are improveing really fast!

The pupil is your camrade (to teacher), a friend, the relationship is horizontal and cooperation through music is established of course through music, there are no vertical relationship, at least NOT GOOD ONES, I don’t buy it. Take a time to go and visite physiotherapist and look together some typical posture problems while you are playing YOUR instrument. Ergonomic means – change the environment (the position of instrument), do not change the body!!!! Body stands straight and free, do not fit it!

1. Overload muscles – problem of soft tissues, muscles give information to nerves, bad blood circulation, skin overload (the jaw on violin players!) and so on.
2. Overcrowding – after practicing you are too tired, or in pain. This is first thing to notice, that you need water or to do stretching in order to avoid overcrowding.
3. Misuse of posture – Injuries and the consequences, that we are dealing after years and years of playing and with the result of misusing the posture.

Who teaches who? – Constantly learning and transmiting what you know and how you got there!

The idea of talking on this subject has a good point on existential point of view. Do we need music teachers or mentors and are they needed? Would be Google enough good place for a knowledge? Different applications should help us providing this and that: metronomes, tuners, iReal for jazzplayers, piano in one octave etc.

Other thing is that young people are/shall not choosing/choose to be a music teachers:
1. Probably one main reason is responsability of the children/adults you are guiding. You grow together form year to year and you become ONE in a moment or another.
2. Probably young teachers feel the difficulties to explain and how they achieved actual instrumental level they are on that moment and feeling incapable to explain and analyse how they arrived here- is a crucial point on teaching process.
3. Not as highly paid, when we talk about different schools and countries. The salary mentality is more and more project based. Contracts might be short term and music teacher situation finds itself: having 4 different jobs in 4 little towns around – in little children music schools. Other thing is to teach in Music College or in a Facutly of music – but those kind of jobs are well taken.
4. The music education needs a long path: developing instrumental skills to a professional level is often 15 years minimum, developing personality, developing temper, to achieve to play freely under the pressure situations (on the stage) – this is called: performing art (not quite the same on painting art-form!), developing emotional balance on yourself and transmitting it through your instrument – interpretation, developing to differentiate all the heritage of music – centuries of traditions and culture – through that magical music we are trying to make live again and again all these momments! This ia a LONG study process – and to transmit all – takes a courage and a lot of responsability!

So, I can share, why did I choose to be a music teacher?

First, I concentrated to be a soloist. i just love to play instrument, in my case the saxophones! Although i finished children music school on piano and I do play occasionally piano, but not in a professional level. But as it is in a life, the possibilities to play in a group of jazz/popo/classic whatever, are not usually longlasting. They keep changing or people don’t get much around any more, people travel etc.
Being on the stage I started to have admireres, you know those eyes that look on you and say “I would like to play like you” or “I like to learn quickly Henri Mancini piece “Panther Rose”….. or Poirot’s film theme – whatever the reason is, the soloist they have heard has INSPIRED! This I noticed and I kept in my mind. Never stop playing, even when you lack of a time!!!! Unfortuantely many many teachers do not actively play their instrument in a good level, even after graduating school.

One main reason I choosed to be a music teacher – IS – my passion is music and all the heritage that comes with all that wonderful field!
Can we live without music? Everywhere I go, I hear people listen to music. And thank you for you guys, we share the love about music. This is principle value for all of our lives!

Légère Reeds

Are You Ready to Go Synthetic?

Légère Reeds LTD, has become one of the most popular synthetic reeds on the market nowadays.
More and more saxophonists have made the switch to Légère due to the many common problems and inconsistencies they have faced while dealing with traditional cane reeds. I have tried various Forestone and FiberReed and few other synthetic reed brands in the past but have actually not had the chance to test the Légère Signature Series reeds so far. I will be providing a product overview on the Légère Signature Series reeds for all type of saxophones as well as my overall thoughts.

Product Overview
Many players who play Légère, tend to prefer the Signature Series reeds, which produce a warm and rich tone across all registers. The Signature Series reeds are made from a stiffer material and are cut thinner than the Classic reeds. “These attributes make the Signature Series reeds more flexible across the tip which results in a full spectrum of overtones and a beautiful sound with minimal effort.” Regardless of which cut you choose, you will always receive the same Légère quality and the durability that Légère has come to be known for. All Légère reeds are offered also in quarter strengths and are available for soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone.

Légère Signature Series – What I noticed!!!
Tenor & Alto & Soprano & Bariton: I typically play between a 2.5 to 3.5 strength cane reed across various brands (Vandoren, D’Addario, Gonzales etc.). I found when test playing the 2, 2.1/4, 2.5, 2.3/4, and 3 strength Légère Signature Series reeds, that number 2 strength played the best with jazz mouthpieces on tenor Vandoren T35 or Jody Jazz Giant (8 and 7), number 3 and 3,5 reeds played best with Classical mouthpieces like Selmer S90/180, SelmerSD20, Selmer Conceptand on tenor. For classical alto saxophone mouthpieces like Vandoren AL 3, AL4 and Selmer Concept was best number 3 or 3,5 strength and Selmer S90/180 number 3,5 strength and Jody jazz HR 8* with number 3 strentgh.

In terms of responsiveness, I found Légère Signature Series reeds were very free-blowing from top to bottom and incredibly easy to play in the altissimo register even more, that I have found on traditional cane reeds. Sonically, I liked the sound of the Légère Signature Series reeds played a little bit brighter in the low, mid and high register compared to my traditional cane reeds!!! And the sound was more spread rather than focused and although the Légère Signature Series reeds sounded very close to traditional cane, there were various timbres and high overtones on my sound throughout all register that were not as present compared to traditional cane – and I did like it! The Légère Signature Series reeds did not feel like cane when first playing, but after playing for a few minutes, it felt comfortable on all 4 different type of saxophones.

Final Conclusion
I highly recommend trying synthetic reeds in general even if traditional cane is your preference because it’s valuable to understand how these reeds play in comparison. When testing the Légère Signature Series reeds, I strongly recommend that you play one for a whole practice session and over a few days so you can make a decision whether the synthetic reeds work for you or if traditional cane is still your preference. Personally, I am not a traditional cane purists, I PREFER NOW Légère Signature Series reeds amongst other synthetic reeds being offered on the market nowadays. I would still recommend TRYING out various synthetic reeds BUT in case of an emergency, this reed will save you.

What is your experience with Légère and other synthetic reeds?

How to choose the strength of a plastic reed?

Légère Reeds have the same strength value as you were using the canned or wooden reeds. But you have a variety of quarters and threequarters!

ALTISSIMO REGISTER – HOW TO ACHIEVE?

Altissimo Register – how to achieve?

What is the Altissimo Register?

The altissimo register on the saxophone is above F#3 (the palm key F#). There is no real limit to how high the altissimo range goes, although D8 is the highest I’ve seen any fingering chart go up to. There are plenty of fingerings to altissimo register for different type of saxophones. First look up always, eitrher you are looking them to alto, tenor, soprano or bariton saxophone!!!

Altissimo register is a capricous one! You do need a lot of patience to develop and persistance to maintain it! Just keep working and working and develop the throat to be flexible, because it is all about mastering vocal tract!

How to improve the control of this challenging register?

Altissimo register requires a great control of allover the instrument before you start to deal with. When you are being able to “eek” out an altissimo note – it is quite a bit more difficult than playing a single note within the saxophone’s normal range. If you haven’t got a solid basic skills necessary to obtain good tone on the notes below altissimo, especially on the sidekeys THEN forget about it, it’s too soon for altissimo.

The reed and mouthpiece combination is also important. With soft reed it ain’t gonna happen! Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all setup that guarantees high notes, so this is one of those things you might need to be EXTREMELY PATIENT, especially if you find yourself struggling and having smallest amount of progress. Please keep going, be persistant! this register needs vocal tract work muscles development and therefore it is necessary you keep “EEEKING” those strange sounds!!!ok! the work of vocal tract is entirely important, because note is high and you need muscles to keep it in a high register, like singing a really high note! And at the same time you need to give it the “throat space” to resonate and to maintain the note! So the good book to start overtonesz and developing vocal tract work is Eugene Rousseau HIGHTONES, it is very efficient and just keep doing exercises!

Importance of OVERTONES

You will not find a single book or tutorial videos on the subject of studying altissimo register that doesn’t cover the practice of OVERTONES. In fact, the altissimo register is nothing more than upper partials (like overtones) of lower notes, so there really is no distinction. Altissimo simply refers to the very top overtones on the saxophone. Altissimo register requires also very subtle control of the embouchure, shape of the inner: mouth, tongue, and throat (and with a throat muscles we are holding them on a necessary height, therefore is highly essential the flexibility of a vocal tract work). Add the fact that each altissimo note has several different fingerings SO there is no set-up fingering like in a lower register, that’ll get you to those high notes. The correct manipulation of those hard-to-control throat muscles must be guided by your EAR, so blindly fingering and blowing is not an option here – HEAR NOTES BEFORE you play it!

AIR

Support all altissimo register notes with a solid stream of air. Especially in the case of altissimo it really isn’t optional, it is MUST DO! Make sure that you’re supporting your sound with the muscles in your diaphragm, which is located right below your ribcage. Increasing the speed of the air is important as well. On the sax, if you “yawn” – then position of your tongue back and high creating yawning effect and lifting up the soft palette (which is the upper part of a vocal tract), creating suc conditions – the air will move faster and cause the reed to pop into altssimo mode of vibrations.

Grab one of the great books on the topic of altissimo.

Excellent practice books always make for a great shortcut in musical improvement as we’re pushed into playing things completely out of our self-defined comfort zones. Here are 3 classics you may want to check out by yourself:

1) Top Tones for Saxophone – Sigurd Rascher, published by Carl Fischer
2) Saxophone High Tones: A Systematic Approach to the Extension of the Range of All the Saxophones: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Baritone
3) Ted Nash’s Studies in High Harmonics