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hey everybody. Please somebody reassure me becuase I'm feeling so despondent about this. I can't control the squeaking! I'm worried that I might just have the wrong haped mouth. Does anybody know whether your mouth/lip/teeth can actually affect the quality of the sound? I have quite thin lips (therefore less cushioning and air can escape more easily??) and front teeth that stick out a bit (crooked teeth - bad grip on mouthpiece??) The squeaks seems worse when I try to take in more mouthpiece, and when I try to play softly. My teacher tells me to 'smile more' - but this seems to make squeaks worse too!
Any advice would be brilliant. Thanks guys xxx
 

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IMO..It's your embrouchure not your mouth. You can make it work.
Try getting you lip rolled out a little more and smile less.
Smile and flat chin is kind of a Larry Teal thing I believe.
Another school of thought is Joe Allard's, who was clear about controlling the reed from below with a flat lip supported by the teeth. Do not try to "grip" the mouthpiece from the top. Hurts your sound and also puts bite marks on the mouthpiece which I believe is an indication of incorrect embrouchure. The teeth control the reed with a cushion of lip covering them. The mouth corners are not tight. Trying to hard and tightening the corners to control the reed will cause problems.
Smile and the chin flattens. Frown and it bunches up. Have a look at the thread that has all the embrouchure pictures. How many are smiling/flat chin? How many are bunched?
 

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Is your teacher a clarinet player?

I hate to disagree with your teacher, but don't smile.
In fact, drop your jaw, and think round and push in from the sides, like saying 'oh'. Blow warm air, like making fog on a windowpane, and think blowing down, toward your left thumb.

Try taking your mouthpiece off the horn, blow it and try to tune to an 'A' concert if alto, and 'G' concert if you're playing tenor.

Jbtsax will probably be here soon, and he will have some great suggestions also.
 

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bailey said:
hey everybody. Please somebody reassure me becuase I'm feeling so despondent about this. I can't control the squeaking! I'm worried that I might just have the wrong haped mouth.
I don't know how long you have been playing, but I think everyone goes through a period of this (I know I sure did). Just keep practicing and one day you will hardly remember what it was like to have an uncontrolled squeak.

ps: I agree with the others wrt the embouchure issue. The smile isn't the generally accepted approach for the sax.
 

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Pgraves said:
IMO..It's your embrouchure not your mouth. You can make it work.
Try getting you lip rolled out a little more and smile less.
Smile and flat chin is kind of a Larry Teal thing I believe.
Another school of thought is Joe Allard's, who was clear about controlling the reed from below with a flat lip supported by the teeth. Do not try to "grip" the mouthpiece from the top. Hurts your sound and also puts bite marks on the mouthpiece which I believe is an indication of incorrect embrouchure. The teeth control the reed with a cushion of lip covering them. The mouth corners are not tight. Trying to hard and tightening the corners to control the reed will cause problems.
Smile and the chin flattens. Frown and it bunches up. Have a look at the thread that has all the embrouchure pictures. How many are smiling/flat chin? How many are bunched?
Smile and flat chin is NOT a Larry Teal thing. 'Embouchure wheel' is.

I recommend 'The Art of Saxophone Playing' by Larry Teal for all beginning sax players.
 

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The problem you are experiencing might include "biting" into the reed by not allowing it to vibrate freely or the reed not seated properly on the mouthpiece. Your embouchre might be too tight. Your reed may be too soft and you could try a harder reed to control squeaking. Professional musicians can be heard "squeaking" sometimes. In their case, though, it is most likely due to them consciously making the effort to not go flat on some notes.
 

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Sometimes squeaks can come from leaky pads and mouthpeice/reed combinations.

Just and FYI.
 

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hakukani said:
Smile and flat chin is NOT a Larry Teal thing. 'Embouchure wheel' is.

I recommend 'The Art of Saxophone Playing' by Larry Teal for all beginning sax players.
It's been years since I looked at that book. Perhaps the "smile" wasn't in the book. I do remember working to develop the "embrouchure wheel" idea. But the embrouchure wheel and the flat chin seem to go together. Can you have a "embrouchure wheel" and a bunched chin? When I try to have a "embrouchure wheel" my chin flattens right out. I know the Teal vs Allard topic has been given it's time on the forum and there are adherents on both sides.
Personally, I went with the Allard approach. I studied with him and in one of my first lessons he was very clear about his differences with Larry Teal's method.
 

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I met and spoke with Larry Teal, and have studied with one of his students (John Sampen). My whole opinion of the Allard/Teal thing, is they are two different methods to get to basically the same place.

It seems to me that Allard was a bit crusty (at least about Teal), or at least some of his students were/are.

It seems funny to me that there is a controversy at all, given that there are successful and wonderful sounding sax players using both approaches.

Teal's approach was, IMO, a reaction at the time about clarinet players teaching saxophone players an embouchure approach that works well with clarinet, but not so well with saxophone. Most private teachers (not master teachers--just private teachers) in the 40s, 50s, and 60s were primarily clarinet players. Teal's method gave a way to correct many of these problems.
 

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Are you playing a Lawton or Sugal mouthpiece? Notorious "chirpers". Don't worry too much. I heard Michael Brecker let our some god-awful squeals. It happens to the best of us!
 

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What kind of mouthpiece/reed combination are you using?
 

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Other factors to consider

Has the reed been soaked enough prior to playing?
Drop your jaws some
Reed might not be properly balanced or may just be a bad reed...change your reed
Try the pop test.
 

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hakukani said:
Jbtsax will probably be here soon, and he will have some great suggestions also.
Hakukani, am I that predictable? Thanks for the compliment.:) :)

Squeaking is primarily caused by one side of the reed being free to vibrate while the other side is not. Players with uneven top teeth can often benefit by using a thick mouthpiece patch on top of the mouthpiece. Uneven teeth can cause the player to unconsciously rotate the mouthpiece slightly causing the lower teeth (jaw) to bite down more on one side of the reed than the other.

I like Hakukani's idea that the roundness of the embouchure taught by Larry Teal was a response to the flat chin-bottom lip stretched thin embouchure taught by the clarinetists to their saxophone students.

In my concept the best way to visualize the difference between the clarinet embouchure and the sax is this:

To form both the sax and the clarinet embouchure, the player says "EE" with the muscles at the corners of the mouth pulling out, and then says "EU" using another set of muscles to push the corners in at the same time creating a "tug-o-war" in the (obicularis oris) ring of muscles around the mouth.

In the clarinet embouchure the tug-o-war is a tie. The result is a flat chin and a lower lip that is stretched tight and thin over the bottom teeth.

In the saxophone embouchure the "EE" muscles keep pulling out, but the stronger "OO' muscles win the tug-o-war. This results in the chin still pulling downward but it is neither perfectly flat nor bunched merely sort of in between. The lower lip is slightly taut but is relaxed enough to provide a wider cushion for the reed than on the clarinet.

To solve a squeaking problem:
-make sure your mouthpiece and reed are ok, have your teacher or a better player try them out (clean and disinfect afterwards, of course)
-use a mouthpiece patch and find the best spot to put the top teeth on the mouthpiece, this link can help http://www.brucepearsonmusic.com/article/SaxEmbouchure.htm
-play long tones on just the mouthpiece and neck "tone producer"---play the pitch Ab concert for alto, E concert for tenor.
-concentrate on keeping a strong, steady stream of air, and focus on feeling the bottom lip press evenly against both sides of the reed.
-if your bottom lip is quite thin you may need to roll a bit more of the lip back over the bottom teeth to provide more of a cushion for the reed.
-when you can play long tones and tongued notes (don't move the jaw) on the "tone producer", then try long tones on the whole saxophone.

Good luck. Hope some if this is useful.

John
 

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Discussion Starter #14
thank you

Thanks everyone, these replies are incredibly helpful. I have a Yamaha standard mouthpiece(came with student model sax, I'm using pretty soft reeds (1.5 - 2). My teacher IS a clarinettist! I'll try out your suggestions. Thanks so much!
 
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