Sax School Facebook Live #6 9th July 2018

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Show Notes

This week we talk about posture, embouchure, and much more!


News from Sax School:

This week we had a Sax School Masterclass in the member’s area. It’s available to watch in Sax School now.

Over on the YouTube channel there’s a new lesson about finding new inspiration for blues lines, and Nigel looks at a solo from David “Fathead” Newman. Here’s the link: New YouTube lesson

Plus – did you know the answer to our David “Fathead” Newman quiz question?


Posture – Is it better to stand or sit whilst playing the saxophone?

Nigel explained it doesn’t really matter whether you stand or sit to play – the important thing is posture. So whether you are standing or sitting, make sure your back is straight, your shoulders are relaxed and you are holding your sax so there’s no extra pressure on any part of your body. Try practising in front of a mirror to check you look relaxed and natural.

Some players prefer to use a sax holder instead of a neck strap, for more comfortable playing, particularly if you have neck or back problems. Review of Jazz Labs Sax Holder

If your back and your neck are relaxed, and your posture is right, the air can flow out more easily, and you are wasting less energy, so you can focus on getting a great sound.


I’ve suddenly started squeaking – what’s going on?

If you’re new to saxophone and suddenly you start squeaking, it can be really frustrating. Nigel explained that there are a few things you can check that will probably solve it.

  • Reed: If you’re using a cane reed, it could be worn or warped so it’s not sealing properly. Try adjusting or changing your reed.
  • Embouchure: When you’ve been playing for a few weeks, the muscles in your face will develop and change, and this affects your embouchure. Take some time check the position of your lip and how much mouthpiece is in your mouth, make sure you have a good cushion for your reed, and a nice round seal with your lips, and check your posture is right.


Mouthpieces – Is it okay to use two different mouthpieces?

Nigel usually recommends a single mouthpiece so that your embouchure gets used to it. But as your playing progresses it’s quite common to use different mouthpieces for different jobs. A big band mouthpiece might not produce the right sound for classical playing, and vice versa. However, you need to be prepared to spend equal amounts of time on each mouthpiece in your practice, to develop a good sound on both. Otherwise, switching between mouthpieces can affect your control and intonation.


How much does smoking affect sax playing?

Nigel explained that he has never smoked, and likes to stay fit because playing the sax takes a lot of air! Just like having good posture, keeping fit will help your playing and smoking could hold you back.


Classical Saxophone – Is it important to check out the classical repertoire?

Young British player Jess Gillam has been in the headlines over recent weeks. She won an award at the Classic Brits, and is the first saxophonist to be signed to Decca Classics. Jess is a great advocate for the classical saxophone.

So should we all be trying classical music in our practice? Nigel explained that classical players have a lot of great qualities in their playing that we can all learn from whatever our style of playing – attention to detail with tone, intonation and technique, for example. Including some classical melodies and studies in your practice can be really beneficial and give you a great foundation of skills for the rest of your playing.

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