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Hi there,

I posted a little while ago about a problem where I was hitting the overtone rather than the fundamental when playing low G and low F#. Thanks to the advice here I had my sax checked out and all seems ok there so it must be me.

I'm finding the problem doesn't occur when I first start playing but after about 15 to 20 mins. Could it be that after 20 mins my embouchure is tired and that causes me to bite and hence create the problem with these notes?

The other thing I am wondering is if it could be an air support thing. I find (particularly on those notes) that if I begin the note slowly (or weakly?) the note begins playing on the octave up and then drops back to the fundamental once more air support is there. So could my air support be tired after 20 mins of playing?

I've been playing for about 4 months now, on and off about every second night. Any further advice on this continuing problem would be greatly appreciated!

Best always
Greg.

PS. I tried mouthpiece only and was able to get Db albeit it in a wavering sort of way. So I thought that was an indicator that my embouchure pressure was ok on a sop mouthpiece.
 

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that d flat is your core tone frequency on the soprano. try mouthpiece only for a week with the goal to hold that d flat soft and gradually crescendo to loud and back down, then blow your horn.you will notice a tremendous difference in your tone and control.
 

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Since noone else is offering anything,,,,The fact that you're playing an octave up, without meaning to, you are either biting or focusing your airstream very tight. The main reason, I think, for biting, is too soft a reed. If you think you can move up in reed strength, try that.
 

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Yes, tired embouchure muscles (especially at the corners of the mouth) can certainly cause a player to overcompensate with the jaw muscles in an attempt to control the reed. The solution, of course, is to practice long tones every day and to rest when the mouth muscles feel tired. Larry Teal's smile-whistle 50X exercise can help build the muscle tone more quickly. Another exercise from Donald Sinta is to hold a soda straw in the center of your lips as you watch t.v. etc. to build the embouchure strength.

One more thought.....At what angle does the mouthpiece go into your mouth when you play your soprano? For most players on the straight neck soprano, the head is tilted down slightly and the mouthpiece goes straight into the mouth or tilted down ever so slightly. Another thing that you might be experiencing when you play is that when your arms get tired you unconsciously let the bell of the soprano drop causing more pressure on the bottom lip as the sax behaves like a lever with the top teeth acting as the fulcrum. A similar effect happens to beginning flute players who commonly play flat after they have been playing a while as their right arm gets tired and they drop their elbow causing the flute headjoint to roll in. Good luck. Hope some of these ideas help.

John
 

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Discussion Starter #5
saxxsymbol, thanks! Glad to hear playing mouthpiece only is worth its while. It's a little painful to the ears on sop. :)

chknbon, thanks, yes I'm trying some harder reeds, but also trying to focus on making sure I don't bite in the first place.

John, always appreciate your advice, many thanks. I have the Teal book so will take a look again at those exercises. I think it's interesting you mention position in the mouth. I do tend to have my head tilted down but after reading what you've said I think I might be holding the sax a little wrong so I will try that. One interesting thing here is that I just bought a neckstrap to try. I can see it can easily cause me to end up holding in the wrong place, but I can also see it has a steadying affect so if I can get it adjusted right it might help me to be and stay in the right position.

At least I have lots of things to try now. Many thanks for your advice. I'm sure this will get me headed in the right direction.

Best regards
Greg.
 

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Hi Greg,

You may also end up with air leaking out of the corners of your mouth when the embouchure is tired. Like John mentioned, practice long tones exercises to build strength in the embouchure. Also try taking a five minute break when the embouchure gets tired. This will allow the muscles to rejuvinate enough to practice more...you guessed it...long toes (or anything else you desire.

By the way, I've got an embouchure article with some long tone exercises located on the "Free Stuff" page of my web site.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
 
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