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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I have a few questions regarding saxophone technique (I play tenor):

a) What is the correct way to do long tones? Right now I am just playing notes from all registers (usually a low Bb, a G and a G an octave above that), holding them for about 4-6 measures at andante speed approx. (haven't changed the batteries in my metronome) and trying to subtly alter my embouchure and breath support to get clear and full notes but I find it a bit difficult to know exactly what I should do to improve my tone. Should I remember precisely what my mouth felt like when I got a good sounding note and practice playing like that until it becomes natural, or just keep playing long tones until it clicks? I'm not sure what to listen for really; sometimes I'm just playing the notes because I don't know what kind of thought process I should follow.

b) I'm having trouble tonguing. I find it a bit awkward to have constant air pressure in my mouth when tonguing say eighth notes at 80 bpm. I'm getting into the bad habit of stopping the airstream after each tongued note, at least when I'm playing staccato. I'm find it a bit difficult to keep blowing constantly and thinking about both stopping the reed and allowing it to vibrate, and moving my fingers at the same time. For some reason "coughing" slightly makes the tonguing seem much more natural, but this is wrong technique as far as I know. Any tips? On that note, is it necessary to use the tip of your tongue on the tip of the reed? It cuts a bit into my tongue and I find it uncomfortable to play this way. Is pretty close to the top acceptable?

c) This is related to the "sax in a hot climate" topic. In that topic I said I was going as an exchange student to Paraguay and wanted to take my saxophone with me, and as you probably know Paraguay is both hot and humid. People in that topic mentioned that you should refrain from putting your sax in the case after playing & cleaning until the day after. Does that mean I should leave it on a stand only for the first few days of staying there until it's adjusted or just every time I play. If I play basically every day, should I leave it on a stand at all times?

Thanks in advance.
 

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A) Well, I try to hold a note for 8 seconds.

There are different ways of long tones, you could start off at pp<ff>pp for each notes.

The way I do it is, play a note with the best tone possible, and hold it, and I play it a couple of more times if I don't like how I played that note.

Sometimes I try playing the note with the best tone as possible at different dynamic levels and sustain it from there.

Listening is what is the point of long tones here.



B) I don't want to confuse you on tonguing, but you don't have to tongue with the the tip of your tongue on the tip of the reed.

The curve of your tongue will do fine in most cases.

Using different syllables for tonguing could make a difference too.

You could experiment with them, like the Dee syllable.



C) I live in a hot climate as well, but I can't really help you there.

I always leave my sax in my case after I finish practicing.
 

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this longtone method whipped my embrochure and diaphragm into shape, fast.
my teacher taught me to warm up with longtones in thirds, going up the scale as far as you can go. play evenly in one breath, start from low c, to e, then back to c- dynamics from piano build up to forte then transition back to piano. then repeat with d to f to d, piano-forte-piano. etc etc, each set in one breath, as long as you can (but even), in the best tone. it really made my embrochure stronger and steadier.
 

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I've heard that long tones work best in the lower register, so I do G# on down.
the hard ones are on the higher register... do a lot or workout on that, as piano as possible and always trying to have a fuller sound. Try no to oscillate the pitch.
 

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I think the leaving the horn out thing is aimed at letting it dry thoroughly. In a highly humid climate, it will take longer for all the moisture to evaporate.
If you are playing at night, then leaving it out overnight (while you are asleep anyway) makes sense. Otherwise, I'd just let it sit for an hour or so and check it for moisture... once it is good and dry... back in the case. :dontknow:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think the leaving the horn out thing is aimed at letting it dry thoroughly. In a highly humid climate, it will take longer for all the moisture to evaporate.
If you are playing at night, then leaving it out overnight (while you are asleep anyway) makes sense. Otherwise, I'd just let it sit for an hour or so and check it for moisture... once it is good and dry... back in the case. :dontknow:
Makes sense; thanks. On that note, do you think a Sax body saver would be a good purchase? I already bought a neck saver by accident as I thought (and the store guy apparently) that it was used to clean the neck (as opposed to a cloth). I've read that people find them unnecessary, but I'd think they'd come in handy in humid environments.
 

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Many around here say they just are a means of holding moisture against the pads. Makes sense if the pad saver is good and damp, its fibers protrude into the tone holes and make contact with closed pads. It is supposed to wick the moisture away, implying that the moisture works its way to the center, but then I think, "How the heck does the moisture know which way to travel along the fibers?"

All that said, I do have one but I don't leave it in the horn. I swab with the old fashioned rag on a string first, then run the pad saver in and work the keys to try to get any clinging moisture on the pads onto the pad saver. Then I pull it out of the horn and let everything air dry a while longer. Once the pad saver seems dry to the touch and inside the horn seems good and dry, I put the horn in the case with the pad saver nestled along side. So far, so good.
 

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Many around here say they just are a means of holding moisture against the pads. Makes sense if the pad saver is good and damp, its fibers protrude into the tone holes and make contact with closed pads. It is supposed to wick the moisture away, implying that the moisture works its way to the center, but then I think, "How the heck does the moisture know which way to travel along the fibers?"

...
Moisture gets pulled from the wet part to the dry part of the fiber until the moisture is evenly distributed along the length of the fiber. This has the added benefit of increasing the surface area of moisture exposed to air so it can evaporate more quickly.
 
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