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Hey all, it has been a while.

So since my last posts I have gotten much better but there is one thing I am still struggling with. I have a bad habit of loosening and tightening (through lips and jaw) my embouchure as I go up and down the sax. As some of you know, I am primarily a Bari player but recently (within the past month) I have begun lessons on the Alto to work on my control. My private teacher has me working on mouthpiece exercises and that is where I notice my bad habit the most. As I try to hit lower notes, I start lowering my jaw and loosening my embouchure which forces me to tighten up to be able to get back to the original pitch. I was wondering if anyone had tips or exercises to help me with this.

Background: I started off playing clarinet in 5th grade and switched to bari sax in 8th grade, I taught myself how to play which is the reason for the bad habits and I have been playing bari for 9 years. Everything I was taught in school was tighten or loosen the embouchure when we were tuning, not keeping the embouchure the same and altering my oral cavity which is the reason for the bad habit.

Thanks for the help!
 

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Hang a mirror on your wall, watch your jaw/mouth/face while you play. It will get better only if you focus on the problem you are trying to correct. Be diligent, hold yourself accountable, it will improve over time.
 

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Begin your practice routine by NOT playing something you have to think about much.

Think about that embouchure, and play whatever comes out of the horn. Songs or 12 bar blooz changes or something you know really well. Works for me!


dsm
 

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I don't want to encourage you to do something wrong, but embouchure movement is a reality. I've seen many great sax players and have noticed their whole face changing when they play. It's a dynamic condition, not a static one. I tried changing my face when I play but it still looks the same. Bada-bing! Seriously, let's say in a descending run you go from full blast down to a subtone on the bell tones - I guarantee you your embouchure is going to change. I guess I feel this way because mine is in a constant state of change. I like to emulate great players to amuse myself on gigs, and embouchure change is one of the things that has to be done to accomplish this. In other words, I subconsciously let the embouchure go where it wants to go to get what I'm hearing in my head. Plus I play all four horns on many gigs - you talk about embouchure change! How about opening on a number where I play bari, then the next one is a song on which I play soprano, and its cold. You must have a highly flexible and adaptable embouchure. :)
 

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No horn has every note 'perfectly' in tune. Some will require some embouchure adjustment one way or the other. Slight movement is normal.
If you are making a LARGE adjustment going from low to high... listen to your teacher and keep up with the exercises. Sooner or later you'll figure things out.
 

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mouthpiece exercises are great! sounds like you have a good teacher.

one thing i used to do is "trick" myself by pretending I was playing upwards, when I was going down, and vice versa. this way you can separate your embouchure movement from your finger movement then choose what works best for you.
 
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