Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
7 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
I'm looking for advice on a problem I've been dealing with for a while. To begin, I suppose I'll tell you a little of my background to possibly help you to understand why I'm facing my current situation, which I'll explain. I'm a classical saxophonist and have been playing for about 13 years now and I double-lipped up until May 2015(I don't know how I got that far doing it either :p). While the change to single lip wasn't as difficult as expected, it seems a few other problems influenced by the double lip playing aren't as quick to go. I'm a performance major working on my undergrad degree and my teacher believes that my double-lipping caused me to take in far too much mouthpiece, and I agree, so she's been coaxing me to move back in small amounts over the past year. Overall the less mouthpiece journey has been great, better intonation, easier articulation, more flexible voicing, ect.
BUT (Cue dramatic motive:yikes!:) it seems moving back on the mouthpiece has activated something that I was doing all along with double-lipping. Jaw movement! My jaw goes out in the high register and back in for the mid and low register. My serious altissimo extending the past four months or so has made me truly aware that this is a huge problem because it was causing my jaw discomfort and fatigue, not pain, almost as if I was chewing an overcooked piece of steak, my jaw was just plain tired from playing just in the palm keys. My teacher really cracked down on me last semester in fear that I would develop TMJ.
So I've been REALLY trying to avoid pushing my jaw out to hit the palm keys and limited altissimo I have. Nothing seems to work.. when I try to keep my jaw in the same spot as an octave below the palm keys, the tone simply won't come out a lot of the time, others they do. It's embarrassing that as a performance major I'm having a problem which inhibits me to hitting a palm key F. Everything sounded fine until I've had to stop moving my jaw out. I cannot continue playing with a varying jaw position because it affects my tone color in phrases where the registers jump suddenly and doesn't sound smooth in lyrical passages that even go scalar up or down past the "jaw movement point" and because it is uncomfortable.
I'm terribly sorry for such a long post, I just need some opinions and advice because I honestly have no idea how to go about this situation. If anyone who reads this knows any good exercises for maintaining jaw placement for all registers, PLEASE share them! I've been doing octaves, but the F and F#, literally do not produce a sound, just a lower pitched tone of the series. Advice, opinions, exercises, really anything at this point, I'm desperate! :faceinpalm: I greatly appreciate you taking the time to read my cries for help and advice in advance! Thank you all!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,090 Posts
Sorry to hear about your troubles. I wonder if this is something that might be corrected via routine overtone practice. Perhaps you've been relying too much on your jaw rather than the multiplicity of things that are developed via overtone work, things such as proper breath/diaphragmatic support. I have yet to find any tonal issue that can't be improved with overtone practice (including inaccessible or unstable tones/notes - both altissimo and normal range).

Ben Britton's book is excellent for any level of experience and ability:

http://www.benbrittonjazz.com/completeapproach/toovertones/

Another great thing about overtone work is how little of it is required to pay dividends; you really only need to do a few minutes per session - and the results are quite literally instantaneous.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,632 Posts
An exercise I give my students is to rest your top teeth on your thumb, pretend it's a mouthpiece. Now breathe and just blow, no tension, no extra movement. Focus on just breathing and blowing strong air supported by your diaphragm. Do this until its second nature. Replace thumb with mouthpiece, repeat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
496 Posts
I like to practice long tones in pairs, meaning one held long note and slurring into another long held note. Notes that are closer together present few problems but as the intervals widen you’ll notice the tendency for the jaw to want to move. So rather than go to extremes too soon work on those intervals that are easier and gradually widen. As you notice problems (with jaw moving, pitch moving or notes breaking) concentrate on finding a stable embouchure that works for both notes so that you do not need to move your jaw. I find the most challenging intervals are the wide interval downward slurred notes across octaves. As for your high F not making sound, you may have to work towards that over time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,241 Posts
I believe the approved guidance for someone in your position is to rely on oral cavity "voicing" to make up for the pressure differentials you formerly were applying via your jaw movements. In other words, it's basically a trial-and-error process from now on.

My question, however, is whether you've considered trying another mouthpiece. Your combination of embouchure + jaw position + mouthpiece has changed dramatically. Perhaps a different mouthpiece would be a better match for your new approach to playing. I've found that classical mouthpieces differ in their ease of producing high notes. A more drastic version of this solution would be to try a new neck on your horn, but I wouldn't pursue that until all other solutions had been attempted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,918 Posts
I actually don't think that jaw movement per se is all that bad. __Excessive__ jaw movement is, but it's still a requirement occasionally. I mean if it's good enough for Dexter... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtuFaEzHJpM

This may also cause you to rethink taking in less mouthpiece.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
818 Posts
I actually don't think that jaw movement per se is all that bad. __Excessive__ jaw movement is, but it's still a requirement occasionally. I mean if it's good enough for Dexter... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtuFaEzHJpM

This may also cause you to rethink taking in less mouthpiece.
The problem is that the OP is a classical player and jaw movement isn't what you want at all with classical whereas with jazz, jaw movement is virtually a necessity, especially with subtone and other jazz techniques.

Redwood, try doing this exercise: starting with a high C, drop an octave to middle C and then go back up to high C whilst attempting to minimize jaw movement as much as possible....try watching yourself in a mirror whilst doing this exercise. Train your embouchure and air stream to remain constant without any change whatsoever when switching octaves. If you've got jaw movement, you'll likely hear some intonation changes as well and that's something to listen for. Continue to do the same exercise with descending chromatic intervals all the way down to middle D > low D > middle D. You should find that your jaw movement will significantly reduce over time...a couple of weeks of daily training will do wonders. Train yourself to switch octaves with the merest flip of the octave key and make sure you're not producing the "teenage boy voice blowout". I don't recommend trying to change octaves without using the octave key (i.e. using oral "voicing" and/or overblowing techniques) because that will inevitably lead to some jaw movement at this stage for you.

I know exactly what you're experiencing because it sounds like we've both been through the same phases in our saxophone development, albeit many years ago in my case. I double-lipped (not knowing this was "wrong") for most my high school years and when I got to Uni, my sax teacher (who wasn't on the audition panel) almost had a heart attack when I turned up for my first lesson and observed my embouchure. It took a LOT of work and self-discipline to change years of bad habits but eventually, I mastered both classical and jazz embouchure and was able to switch between both seamlessly. If you can correct the jaw movement, you'll likely have an advantage over many of your classical peers if they branch out into jazz because it's often very difficult for classical players to change their embouchure concepts and embrace jazz techniques. It'll be hard for you to change the "bad" habits for your classical playing but the upside is that you've got a great foundation for jazz embouchure :bluewink2:

I also recommend that you avoid, if possible, playing jazz/contemporary music for a considerable period of time when working through these issues otherwise you'll find yourself unconsciously dropping back into unwanted habits with your classical playing.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,202 Posts
Try playing a C minor triad starting on low C and going up to Eb, G,C etc. don't tongue and try to keep your jaw in the same basic position all the way up to palm Eb. Try to play it at a speed where you can do it all in one breath. Then do the same thing with D minor up to palm key F. It's kind of a variation on what EE NYC is saying. The object is to stay loose and in the same basic jaw position all the way up. Corners of the mouth in, jaw down and no biting. Relax. Try it as a warm up, it may help you, I know it works for me.
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top