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Forum Contributor 2010-2017
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My teacher gave me the 'Dr Downing Saxophonists Technique Doctor' and I've been trying to adjust my embouchure accordingly but can't work out when it talks about the part of the lip to use (the bit where it changes from dark to light) where that is exactly and if my lip should be slight rolled out (or squashed down, using the very top) or slightly rolled in. I am so confused! I used to play with it rolled masses but have moved it out so it is rolled in less, but still squashes a bit in teeth. Any advice?
 

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This is a perennial topic that has been discussed to death on numerous previous threads. If you do a search you'll find all the varying opinions about it and probably have your questions answered, certainly a lot quicker and in more depth than through waiting for people to reinvent the wheel on this thread.
 

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I tend to disagree with rolling your lip back because it causes tension in your throat area, not enough for people to notice but enough to constrict your full capability to "voice" notes. I also find that when people fold their lips over they tend to push up with their jaw which is a no no in my book. Remember that support should come from the sides of your mouth - not from lifting the jaw.

I will agree with Chinux though the teacher that told me a similar thing said that embouchure shape should feel like when you say "EX"

all this aside - lots of people put their lip over their teeth, lots of people use lots of tension, and they sound great! so I will have to agree with Doug when he says do what ever feels good and sounds good. Playing saxophone shouldn't be stressful!
 

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I also agree that there need not be any agreement. Just different ways of playing.

The subject of the thread is "Should my lip...", well, there is no should or shouldn't IMO. It depends whose "rules" you want to or decide to follow.
 

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A good rule of thumb relates to endurance/fatigue. If you've been playing regularly, you should be able to play quite a while without a lot of discomfort or fatigue. If you're having problems with pain, discomfort, or fatigue you'll want to eliminate what's causing that, which is probably best addressed with your teacher.

Shawn
 

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The standard pedagogical approach taught by the majority of classical saxophone teachers is to push the lower lip inward just enough to cover the bottom teeth and provide a cushion to control the vibration of the reed. Larry Teal in The Art of Saxophone Playing describes it like this:

"The lower lip should be above the teeth, in a rolled position, but supported entirely by the chin muscles and aided by the compact position of the mouth corners, which, when drawn in, furnish a firmer cushion for control of the reed's vibrations."
 

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f you're paying for lessons you should try to do what your teacher advises and give it a chance. But in the long run you have to do what works for you.

Playing the saxophone is like so many things in life. You'll come across people who are adamant that only their way is valid and you'll come across people who advise you to find your own path, and all the shades in between. It's the sound that counts. How you achieve it is your business.
 

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What ever feels comfortable to you or what is getting the best sound . Their is no right or wrong only differences in teachings .
There's the answer.

After reading some of these threads, I decided to experiment a bit rolling my lip in, out, every which way. Guess what? I ended up right back where I started, with the lip rolled in a bit over my teeth. There's a certain place where it feels just right.

Regarding biting too much, that's something you control by....here it comes....not biting too much, regardless of where your lip is.
 

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A good rule of thumb relates to endurance/fatigue. If you've been playing regularly, you should be able to play quite a while without a lot of discomfort or fatigue. If you're having problems with pain, discomfort, or fatigue you'll want to eliminate what's causing that, which is probably best addressed with your teacher.

Shawn
Shawn makes an important point here. Aside from where your lip is or what you're doing with your embouchure, I find that problems related to pain, discomfort, and fatigue have more to do with whether or not I'm playing and practicing on a regular basis. If I keep practicing at least a couple of hours a day, I can do several 4-hour gigs in a row on succeeding nights with no problem. And I do play a lot on those gigs, so they'd be impossible to do without maintaining a regular playing/practice schedule.
 

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Definitely, OUT, using only a slight portion of the inner lip to work as a buffer between your teeth and the reed. How much will depend on each person's physical characteristics, but most people who play with the lip rolled all the way in create unnecessary tension in the embouchure and have a tone that sounds tensed and even pinched.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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If your lower lip is touching your toncils, then you may want to try a different method, but only if that's not working out for you. Conversely, if you struggle with drooling on yourself because your trying to use your sax as a proxy for kissing your mom, well, that might be a reason to change as well.

No right or wrong answer here. We all do it differently, successfuly.
 

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I would add that whichever one does make sure one doesn't end up biting the lower lip with one's teeth. Over time biting (that doesn't mean supporting) can cause nerve damage.
 

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So THAT's why I can't feel my lower lip. ;)

I do as above and say Fffff, then feel where my upper teeth hit my lower lip. That's all you need if you play with the lip in. It really depends on how thick your lower lip is. The lip has to dampen some of the reed's natural vibration, or you get squeaks.
 

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I would recommend a little reading. I like Larry Teal's "The Art of Playing the Saxophone" and his discussion of the saxophone embouchure. His embouchure style is comfortable for me, especially when doubling clarinet. Others prefer Joe Allard. I've never heard of Dr. Downing. There are excellent players from both schools of thought (Teal and Allard). Frankly, I wished I'd had Teal's book when I was a young student. It would have saved me a lot of confusion and helped me advance more quickly. The objective is to develop the facial muscles to support the reed and mouthpiece without the aid of the teeth and biting down. That takes time. Good Luck
 

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No offence to Larry, but I found that book to be a complete waste of money if you've been playing more than a year or two.
 
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