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Discussion Starter #1
In his thread about SOTWers who play Soprano exclusively, tomsch noted that after practicing soprano for a solid six months, he found picking up tenor again for a sub gig easy. A couple of others seemed to echo this approach.

So, I'm interested in the opinions of SOTWers who play multiple saxes; does practicing mostly, or even exclusively, on the soprano provide benefits which translate to your other horns?
 

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Well, for starters, your practice won't be interrupted by as many admirers. :mrgreen:
 

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The benefits in my view are largely in the embouchure. My saying is an hour on soprano is equal to two hours on the tenor.
 

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My wife says that every hour I spend practising on my soprano is (to her) like a week on my alto, a month on my baritone and a year on my tenor...
 

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... does practicing mostly, or even exclusively, on the soprano provide benefits which translate to your other horns?
I think it does. as others have said, it will give you very strong “chops“ (embouchure). But, it’s only worth doing that if you really enjoy playing the soprano.
 

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SInce I play a straight soprano, I would say that practicing solely on soprano would lead to tendonitis in my right hand.

Soprano is significantly heavier than any other woodwind that doesn't always have a neckstrap support.
 

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SInce I play a straight soprano, I would say that practicing solely on soprano would lead to tendonitis in my right hand.

Soprano is significantly heavier than any other woodwind that doesn't always have a neckstrap support.
Why don't you just use a strap then?
 

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Why don't you just use a strap then?
Straps don't work well with straight sopranos. It doesn't really take the weight off the right thumb. The angle is all wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Good comments so far; thanks.

I think it does. as others have said, it will give you very strong “chops“ (embouchure). But, it’s only worth doing that if you really enjoy playing the soprano.
I recently joined a sax quartet playing the Soprano/Alto book. At the first rehearsal my soprano playing was woeful....it would not have surprised me not to be invited back. They did invite me back, however, as so playing soprano is now a priority. I'm finding that I enjoy it too. The book for the quartet ranges from Bach's "Art of the Fugue" to ragtime to jazz standards (many arranged by Lennie Niehaus) so it is fun. Also, I find myself attracted to Sidney Bechet, Bob Wilber, Olivier Franc, etc. In other words, players that Dave Dolson would love.

SInce I play a straight soprano, I would say that practicing solely on soprano would lead to tendonitis in my right hand.
I have a straight and a curvy and will mostly practice with the latter for exactly this reason.

Well, for starters, your practice won't be interrupted by as many admirers.
No kidding :bluewink:.
 

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I'm not sure practicing mostly on soprano helps tenor playing much other than strengthening embouchure muscles, because in terms of voicing in the mouth and throat, and airstream, they are worlds apart. Getting a good sound on soprano won't give you a good sound on tenor.

I've played mostly soprano for years now, and while play mostly soprano in my band and when I play out, I try to practice tenor often even though I don't play it that much in band settings. Going from soprano to alto doesn't seem that different really, but going from soprano to tenor really feels like a different world. I have to consciously open and loosen everything embouchure-wise for tenor, and diaphragm support/airstream control is completely different for tenor.

Soprano is focused and intense for both airstream and embouchure. The way I think of it is, just like the sax is a cone starting at the mouthpiece outside my body, there's also a cone starting at the mouthpiece inside my body. For soprano it's small and tight, not tons of air moving but at higher pressure. For tenor it's big and wide, with lower pressure but much more air volume. So much more air moving at a lower pressure means smooth, steady diaphragm support is super important.

I have no idea if "pressure" as I'm using it here is actually a lot higher or lower in fact, but that's certainly how it feels.
 

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Bob, you’re a baritone traitor! Seriously, I think practicing soprano has helped me with embouchure strength and fine pitch control, and breath support too. Although don’t think I could practice it exclusively without losing some baritone chos, especially volume. For me, it seems like the best practice distribution for all horns is mostly baritone, a little soprano, followed by very little alto and tenor.

If I had a bass and a place to play one, i’m sure that would all go straight out the window.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
BH9 - Ouch:twisted:

You know that I LOVE playing the Baritone, however, my only gigs now are Alto and Soprano....and my Soprano playing is pretty weak and needs a lot of work. Hahhh
 

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SInce I play a straight soprano, I would say that practicing solely on soprano would lead to tendonitis in my right hand.

Soprano is significantly heavier than any other woodwind that doesn't always have a neckstrap support.
I have the opposite problem. Both my hands are arthritic. But it's my left that bothers me more with soprano. My thumb being bent in that "clarinet" position gets painful after any length of time.
I do use a neck strap. My horn is a one piece straight soprano with a curved neck, which is comfortable for the most part, except for the left hand.
 

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Seems to me that if you're only practicing soprano and then you're playing tenor or baritone that you run the risk of playing those instruments with a pinched overly tight embouchure and little delicate soprano-sized breaths.

For me I feel the other way; that the baritone helps alto and tenor more than they help the baritone. However, the degree of fine pitch control needed on soprano is so much less forgiving that I can't get away with just picking it up and playing; so I have to practice soprano if I'm going to be performing on it.
 

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Straps don't work well with straight sopranos. It doesn't really take the weight off the right thumb. The angle is all wrong.
Best thing I've found is to hold it straight out, so at least the weight of the horn is being taken by your right thumb in a direction of greater strength. But even then my right thumb gets sore.
 

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I don't feel any advantage practicing soprano over my other horns. Since I play mostly alto the change or tightness of my embouchure is not that big a difference. I will say this though, if I play tenor for a long period of time my alto and soprano feel like toys in my hands.
 

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I share the concerns of losing the airstream that I have on tenor. I move a lot of air, and the soprano feels constipated in comparison, even though I have a fairly open setup (Phil-Tone Sapphire .070, Borgani Jubilee).
 

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My wife says that every hour I spend practising on my soprano is (to her) like a week on my alto, a month on my baritone and a year on my tenor...
Yes, this is the message I get too. Probably even stronger, because she doesn’t want to hear the soprano when she’s home. It’s probably about the soprano tone. I think it was Walther Beasley who said that soprano is a very delicate instrument that you shouldn’t “over-blow”. It was made to play beautiful melodies and it should not be used for the same purposes that alto and tenor.

I do think that the soprano playing helps my bari and alto playing. It improves the mouthpiece control and even the overall tone control. It can be painful for the right hand thumb. My straight soprano (SML) doesn’t even have a hook for strap. When I play it sitting, I place the horn on my my leg for extra support.
 

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Why don't you just use a strap then?
Straps don't work well with straight sopranos. It doesn't really take the weight off the right thumb. The angle is all wrong.
Now, I don't play so much soprano but when I do the strap helps a lot. I'm probably angling the sax way too much down though...
 

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I've been playing a lot these days, and never truly had a regular practice routine. So when I have to practice, it's generally to learn a new song for a gig. So in that spirit of laziness, sometimes if I have to learn a tune I'm gonna play tenor on, I'll just get out my soprano as it's easier to set up and put away.
 
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