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I've always read that when playing saxophone, your chin should be flat.
I've noticed lately, however, that my chin is bunched up. Instead of being flat, I can see it bunch up into a little circle with wrinkles in it, like this: http://www.drjazz.com/conf/Detroit2005/DJF05IMG_8693.jpg

Is this inherently bad? I've tried to fix it, but I can't seem to play well without my chin scrunching up into that general shape. I can form it, but once I start to play, it bunches up.
How can i fix this, if it's a problem?
 

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The saxophone embouchure does not have the extreme flat chin shape of the clarinet embouchure, nor is the chin bunched up excessively. It is somewhere in between. The best way to describe the saxophone embouchure is to start with the clarinet embouchure. The "EE" muscles pull the corners of the mouth outward, and the "OO" (like saying you) muscles push in at the same time creating a tug of war that ends in a tie. The result is a lower lip stretched hard and thin and a very flat chin. The saxophone embouchure starts like the clarinet with the "EE" "OO" tug of war, but the "OO's" predominate with the "EE's" still pulling out. The result of this is a lower lip that is more relaxed to serve as a cushion for the reed, and a chin that although feeling like it is pulling down, is more relaxed than the clarinet chin.

The secret to not "biting" excessively when playing the saxophone, is to develop the sensation of the jaw and chin pulling downward as the lower lip pushes up to meet the reed. The real exertion in the embouchure as taught by Larry Teal in the book "The Art of Saxophone Playing" is the corners pushing in toward the sides of the reed.

There will probably be those who jump in to discuss the "Allard Embouchure" which is a different approach than taught by Teal. My view is that if someone is on SOTW asking about what the shape of the chin should be, they are not yet ready for the tone production techniques taught by Joe Allard to his very advanced students.

The simple answer to your question is: "No the chin does not need to be perfectly flat, but it should not be bunched up excessively either".
 

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I teach my young/all students the Allard method they just don't know it. The funny thing is - if they haven't been told by someone how to play with the "EE, OO" face they just do Allard's method naturally. I'm not being a jackass about this, and being contrary. I know the Teal style of playing works for a majority of players on this board. In my teaching practice it just happens that way. If they have never played the horn and I don't say anything about embouchure and complicate everything with descriptions about where the lip should be and what the corners of their face 'should' do they just do it. However, I do show them how to breath, move air through the horn, and take enough mouthpiece for the reed to vibrate. Everything else eventually falls into place or is a refinement from the idea of breathing.
 

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Bunched chin is OK!

Google some pics of Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Zoot Sims. You'll see some seriously bunched chins.

My first teacher was a Teal student and had a great tone. Ironically, he played with a bunched chin.

I suggest that you go with what comes naturally to you. My own experience is that as we get older, our embouchures become more personal. If you are getting good results, then go with it.
 

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I teach my young/all students the Allard method they just don't know it. The funny thing is - if they haven't been told by someone how to play with the "EE, OO" face they just do Allard's method naturally. I'm not being a jackass about this, and being contrary. I know the Teal style of playing works for a majority of players on this board. In my teaching practice it just happens that way. If they have never played the horn and I don't say anything about embouchure and complicate everything with descriptions about where the lip should be and what the corners of their face 'should' do they just do it. However, I do show them how to breath, move air through the horn, and take enough mouthpiece for the reed to vibrate. Everything else eventually falls into place or is a refinement from the idea of breathing.
It seems to me that having students learn the saxophone embouchure by the "discovery method" would waste a great deal of instructional time that could be spent on other aspects of playing. My rationale for giving the students accurate and detailed instruction on how to produce a tone from the first experience with the saxophone includes:

- The vast majority of students play with a controlled, characteristic sound by the end of the first lesson.
- There are no bad habits that need to be corrected later such as:
  • puffing the cheeks
  • not putting the top teeth on the mouthpiece,
  • putting too much of the lower lip over the teeth,
  • not putting the lip over the bottom teeth,
  • biting into the lower lip,
  • taking too much of the mouthpiece into the mouth,
  • not taking enough mouthpiece into the mouth,
  • putting the mouthpiece into the mouth at the wrong angle

- The student develops an accurate concept of the sound of the instrument from the very beginning and does not become accustomed to poor tone and intonation.
- Hearing the student make a pleasing sound at first instead of "sounding like a beginner", the parent's are more encouraging and supportive of the student's musical experience.
- Good tone production right from the start enables the teaching of intonation sooner rather than later.

I'm not saying everyone has to teach the same way. I am making the case for why I chose the method of teaching that I use. In my view, passing the love and enjoyment of playing music to the younger generation is tremendously important and I strongly believe that every student deserves to be given the greatest possible chance of success.
 

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It seems to me that having students learn the saxophone embouchure by the "discovery method" would waste a great deal of instructional time that could be spent on other aspects of playing. My rationale for giving the students accurate and detailed instruction on how to produce a tone from the first experience with the saxophone includes:

- The vast majority of students play with a controlled, characteristic sound by the end of the first lesson.
- There are no bad habits that need to be corrected later such as:
  • puffing the cheeks
  • not putting the top teeth on the mouthpiece,
  • putting too much of the lower lip over the teeth,
  • not putting the lip over the bottom teeth,
  • biting into the lower lip,
  • taking too much of the mouthpiece into the mouth,
  • not taking enough mouthpiece into the mouth,
  • putting the mouthpiece into the mouth at the wrong angle

- The student develops an accurate concept of the sound of the instrument from the very beginning and does not become accustomed to poor tone and intonation.
- Hearing the student make a pleasing sound at first instead of "sounding like a beginner", the parent's are more encouraging and supportive of the student's musical experience.
- Good tone production right from the start enables the teaching of intonation sooner rather than later.

I'm not saying everyone has to teach the same way. I am making the case for why I chose the method of teaching that I use. In my view, passing the love and enjoyment of playing music to the younger generation is tremendously important and I strongly believe that every student deserves to be given the greatest possible chance of success.
I apologize if I struck a nerve with you, as that was not my intention. I was not saying that the Teal method was wrong or that you are an ineffectual teacher. Accurate and detailed instruction is what all good teachers want to impart to their students. The point I disagree with, is your assertion that Allard's ideas can only be taught to advanced students.

Oh, I should also say that I too would not encourage the bad habits you extensively list, and direction or correction is provided, however, discovery or experimentation isn't discouraged since that is how students learn. Hope that makes sense - again apologies all 'round.
 

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There is no need to apologize, we simply disagree on using the "discovery method" to find a workable embouchure and good tone production habits. Accurate and detailed instruction is what all good teachers do impart to their students in my opinion. If something else works for you more power to you.
 

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There is no need to apologize, we simply disagree on using the "discovery method" to find a workable embouchure and good tone production habits. Accurate and detailed instruction is what all good teachers do impart to their students in my opinion. If something else works for you more power to you.
I don't think there is a single way to day it. I slightly puff my cheeks and I have no almost no lip over my teeth and I'm doing fine
 

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There is no need to apologize, we simply disagree on using the "discovery method" to find a workable embouchure and good tone production habits. Accurate and detailed instruction is what all good teachers do impart to their students in my opinion. If something else works for you more power to you.
Good grief. Be well.
 

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Who are these people with the crummy embouchures? I've never heard of this "Web De Vión" guy...
:faceinpalm: :mrgreen:

Just a bunch of forgotten amateurs from back in the day. They all followed the then popular "Web De Vion" embouchure style before Teal and Allard acquired semi-god status when jazz started to be taught to white kids in college. :twisted:
 

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Putting up a group of pictures showing famous jazz player's embouchures does not make a valid case for teaching a beginning player to play like that from the beginning. I have studied both jazz and classical playing and do things with my embouchure while playing jazz to produce the stylistic colorings inherent in that style that I would never do while playing music in a classical style. Conversely it would be just as inappropriate to play jazz with the controlled consistent embouchure used for classical playing.

I ask you. Would you show saxophone student this picture and teach him to play out of the side of his mouth?



Would you show a beginning trumpet student this picture and teach him to puff his cheeks when he plays?



Would you show a beginning flute player this picture and say . . . . . . oh never mind, you get the idea. :mrgreen:

 

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But, seriously, whatever works. Ease of playing and quality of tone should be what you focus on not a one size fits all concept.
 

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Teaching proper fundamentals from the beginning is what works in all endeavors, not just playing the saxophone. It provides a foundation and a framework for later variations unique to the individual participant. My argument is not the invalid one, it is based upon years and years of teaching students to play the saxophone.
 

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Teaching proper fundamentals from the beginning is what works in all endeavors, not just playing the saxophone. It provides a foundation and a framework for later variations unique to the individual participant. My argument is not the invalid one, it is based upon years and years of teaching students to play the saxophone.
Just out of curiosity, what would your lesson plan be for the very first lesson with a total beginner?
 

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Teaching proper fundamentals from the beginning is what works in all endeavors, not just playing the saxophone. It provides a foundation and a framework for later variations unique to the individual participant. My argument is not the invalid one, it is based upon years and years of teaching students to play the saxophone.
Man, you really need to get yourself a sense of humor... :shock:
 

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My recommendation is to just grow a goatee. Then your chin can do whatever it wants to make good sound.

But seriously, are there basic modifications prescribed in the "Teal" or "Allard" methods for different physiologies? Mouths, lips, tongues, teeth, throats, nasal cavities all vary pretty significantly between people, and it would seem that any given person might run into significant problems with one or the other out of the gates.

I'd never heard of either of these methods until I came to this board, and from reading it, I suppose I "organically" developed an embouchure that is neither of these, and in fact if I try to do the Teal embouchure my teeth seem to get in the way. I also can't tongue the way people recommend it - the tip of my tongue would be so far back I'd choke if it was going to hit the tip of the mpc. And no, I don't take in all that much mpc. Sure sure, some may say my embouchure is all messed up, but the tone is the one thing in my playing I'm pretty happy with. It's everything else that's a mess.

Not trying to be provocative here, just wondering if there's a "second layer" to some of these "standard" approaches that include modifiers for physiology?

Pete
 

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My recommendation is to just grow a goatee. Then your chin can do whatever it wants to make good sound.
Been working for me for a while. But it's not so much a true goatee as a wizard beard rat's nest coming out of my chin.
 
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