The position of the mouthpiece on your mouth
How important is the position of the teeth on your saxophone mouthpiece? Yes, it is very important! Music is the ART OF THE SOUND, so as you bite the mouthpiece, it is crucial to understand, that we produce the sound with REEDS! How far is important and how strong you NEED to bite? In my practice I have seen a lot of overbiting at first and then about a year when I have been really demanding, the ebouchure has established. The lip work is most important and not the jaw as on the clarinet playing!!!! Let me clarify the difference! Clarinet is placed mostly on the jaw on your mouth 45 degrees and saxophone is placed straight, 90 degrees and using lips muscles. In order to obtain light and not overbiting sound we need only lip muscles. How do you know when you are biting too much? We hear the narrow sound, tuning is awful and in different registers that you play!!!! To obtain good and light sound with good intonation we need to hold up the upper lip soft and upwards and the jaw straight down. Mosttuning work is done by the corners of the lip which in saxophone embouchure makes the most of the work. I do find difficult to write about a thing that we merely FEEL more than understand intellectually!You nedd to blow, make the sound in order to be able to correct the embouchure!
Dosation of the air and importance of breathing
Yes, wind instrument need air. Different phrases need different dosation of air. Breathing is also important for producing the sound. Right breathing is similar to singers, where vocal tract is working along in palying different registers, because it is all about SOUND. The saxophone is only your extension – I do repeat it often, we tend to manage always just on the moment of playing, but your work is with YOURSELF, your body. How you breath – next…..what sound comes out from your extension/saxophone? We need to practice the muscles that are between the open ribs, they create the space for DOWN part of the lungs – this kind of breathing leads to long phrases and you have big dynamic range as well very colourful sound. If you breathe with upper part of the lungs where the ribs are closed – the dynamic range is mostly just half loud, tuning is bad and you have a so called “tiny” sound colour, tiny sound in upper register and forced sound in low register. Music is the art of sound!
Be familiar with common articulation technics
In reading differents partitions, we need to have the articulation automatic habits. When slur start we should use soft attack, when we have not, the articulation is really concrete. Of course we have different publishing habits! In jazz and in barock music – they hardly note and we need to be aware of oral traditions and a lot of recordings help us with articulation use/traditions. In classical music we tend to note everything to the tinyest details and for classical saxophone we take a lot of articulations from violin and flute music. As saxophone is the youngest acoustic instrument and the last one before the electrical instruments came – we need to be the BRIDGE between both centuries!!!! Détaché=DU-DU-DU and Staccato and Staccatissimo (equal to violins pizzicato technic). The most difficult to obtain is Legato and to play slow notes in a beautiful sound and have a maximum use of air (using down-part of lungs) – all is under YOUR control!
Why the long notes?
Importance of long notes remains the same as for the beginners and for advanced saxophone players. So what is there so important, what is hidden inside? It is actually quite logic and simple. Our muscles and lungs need to operate every day, but the use of them in wind instrument as well as in sports remain the same – are we ingood shape or in bad shape? Is it 12 seconds or 42 seconds – who is in better shape? As well in breathing development we also train lips embouchure muscles to have a good dynamic range and perfect intonation. These tree basic and yet extremely important features in saxophone playing are so delicate to develop to obtain the steady sound, dynamic colours – all to serve rich variety of musical styles.