Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 20 of 28 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I am a clarinet player in high school, and have been in the marching band for 2 years. This summer I am switching to Bari Sax for Marching Band. I have a few questions.

First Off, I am a 5'6, 150 girl (I am a softball catcher)I am pretty tough(kind of.) So, would you reccomend a Harness or a Neckstrap for me. Because of the design, I would not be able to wear the harness over my uniform, but I have not yet asked my director if I can wear it over.

Secondly, would it screw things up if i wore a harness for practice and neckstrap for performance.

Thirdly, are there any tips you could give me to help me in this area.I am by no means an expert or novice, really below a beginner and could use any tips.

Thank You! I willl gladly accept any and all advice.:TGNCHK:
 

·
Über Geek, Forum Contributor 2010 Distinguished SO
Joined
·
3,841 Posts
Do you know yet what kind of horn they're going to have you using? I'm a 5'6" girl and was a softball catcher, and I *always* use a harness to play my Yamaha baritone--those are REALLY heavy horns. If you're going to play something similar, I'd just get a harness and use it from day one. It will probably feel weird for a while, but once you get used to it your back and shoulders will thank you.

All this being said, if you asked my opinion on marching baritone sax, I'd say: 1) don't, especially if your band likes parades, and 2) if you must, see if there's a low Bb horn you can use. I own a low-Bb Mark VI that is light enough for me to play with a neckstrap, and if I went insane and wanted to march somewhere with a horn that's probably the one I'd do it with. But my high school/college bands were more parade-focused (I am a veteran of four Rose Parades), so there's no way on EARTH I would have chose baritone sax for any of that. Tenor was bad enough.

Finally, pay attention to your hands/wrists if you're going to do this--holding a bari sax in front of you looks cool, but is pretty tough on the hands. That's why I rarely play R&B gigs anymore.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009
Joined
·
3,292 Posts
. . . would you reccomend a Harness or a Neckstrap for me.
Harness. Dude, I'm a 6'3'' adult man, and I use a harness. Baris are just too darn uncomfortable on a strap. Its not about being "tough"....

.Secondly, would it screw things up if i wore a harness for practice and neckstrap for performance.
Nope, no problem.

Thirdly, are there any tips you could give me to help me in this area.I am by no means an expert or novice, really below a beginner and could use any tips.

Thank You! I willl gladly accept any and all advice.:TGNCHK:
Advice:
1. Don't march bari. Sorry, that's just not fun.
2. If you ignore #1, get a M5 rico metalite mouthpiece. Big sound, easy blowing.
3. Get a low Bb horn, not low A. BIG weight difference
4. Repeat advice #1
5. RELAX your embouchure. Huge difference between clarinet and bari. You need to be barely holding that mouthpiece in your mouth. Seriously. Just enough pressure to keep it mostly stable.
6. Take A LOT more mouthpiece than feels normal. Eat that thing. It'll sound crude and feel worse for a day or two, then it'll normalize.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
304 Posts
I'm a 5'4" guy and I use a harness for everything - big band gigs where I spend the whole time sitting except for the occasional solo, and combo gigs where I'm standing the whole time. There's absolutely no need to switch between a harness and a neckstrap, and it really doesn't take long to get used to a harness at all.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,022 Posts
Find a harness you like and stick with it unless it's unfit for some purpose like holding the horn out front. If that happens, do what you have to. I won't stand with a bari unless I can take ALL the weight off of me, forget about marching it. I've marched a C-mel rather than a tenor to shed some weight, transposing everything on the fly. (I'll probably do it again the next time I get that call, since either nobody noticed or nobody cared.)

The more energy you expend lugging it around is that much less you can put into playing it. Don't be a hero.

I can only guess at the weight difference between a low A and a low Bb, but I only have one (low A) so it gets the call by default.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,022 Posts
I've never really "marched", just kind of wander along the road or sidewalk whilst playing in the occasional informal outdoor event, and I'm sure that's less stressful. I'm also fairly tall. That said, I don't think a Bb bari is that bad.

Anyway, I think you have to try a harness to know if it's going to work for you. The one I tried didn't work for me, that's for sure. If it's good, it's probably the ideal thing. I use a neck strap, with its own neoprene pad, and I don't think it's too bad. Something else you can try is a shoulder sling, tied to the body above your left hand and below your right hand. That can be excellent support, if it works, and takes only some "climbing rope" (nylon strap), maybe a buckle to adjust length, needle & thread, and a couple big zip ties.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
16 Posts
Sarana, I am in the exact same situation as you. I'm a clarinet/Tenor Sax/Bassoon player who had marched Clarinet for a year, and now this year my new band director was told that I can play all the woodwinds, so he gave me the bari sax and said here, you march with it, thanks. I can't march with a low Bb horn because the music were playing calls for low A a ton in the first movement. I'm thinking I'm going to get a harness. I know the Bari Sax player that just graduated ended up having back problems from marching bari with the neck strap.. Clarinet is so easy to march with, I beleive its the easiest to march with..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
280 Posts
When I was marching Bari in 7th and 9th grade I was using very uncomfortable neckstraps (AKA, no padding whatsoever) but in 9th there was another playing Bari and he had a nice padded neckstrap. I recall he had wanted to get the harness.

I was about 5'1" back then.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
491 Posts
I've marched bari for 3 years now on pretty long parades and here is what I think:
1. Use a harness. I use BG with metal snap hook.
2. Get an easy blowing mouthpiece. It's bad enough marching the bari to have a hard blowing piece. You will need the air to carry the horn around :)
3. Exercise a lot. Seriously. Condition your body. It will be easier if you are in good shape.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
860 Posts
MyMartinTenor has nailed it down. I'm even a little smaller than you, saranna, but I've done martial arts for the last 25 years. I have marched bari for the last couple of years. It's no fun at all - luckily, I'll finally be able to switch to marching alto next season.

If you have to march a bigger sax, march tenor, if you're sensible, switch to alto.

Harness is the way to go except for alto (I recommend Zappatini Synthesis - free movement, excellent support, stable, yet light), as is the lightest sax you can get your hands on.

The main reason for bari being a dog to march is that you most probably will have to rest it on your right thigh, thus seriously impeding leg movement and coordination. Imagine your right leg being about 16 pounds heavier than your left! The shorter your torso (upper part of the body), the more acute this will become. Marching bari means limping by design... Of course, really big guys can rest it more or less at hip height - that should work a lot better.

Some big and strong people may be able to push out the bari in front of them easily like some of the alto players do, but I for one find it extremely tiring to do that - you need to march, coordinate, breath, blow and play with your right arm pushed out like a support beam (that doesn't help your agility, believe me). And it helps only partly in terms of movement - because the big instrument is prone to pendular motions when held this way that are hard to prevent and control. Imagine the thing tilting left or, worse, right while you're marching...

But, to be fair, a guy I know marches bari very successfully, he's not a lot taller than I am, but he's using a Selmer MKVI low Bb horn (instead of the SA80 I've got to use) - most of the times, he seems to be doing okay pushing it out in front of him...

M.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
I just finished the marching season on bari. I'm a pretty big guy, but I had to use the neckstrap. Yeah, it was uncomfortable, but the harness is not easily used while marching (at least in my case). It gets in the way of the uniform.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Marching bari is probably going to be a tough task for a while, but using a harness will help distribute the weight of the instrument. Plus if u have to use the neckstrap, Your body/neck will eventually get used to it. The low A bari is a pretty heavy horn and you should probably just use a harness and see how it goes, but i would lean towards a neckstrap. I know it will be alot of weight on your neck but its alot easier to deal with while marching.

-Selmer828
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
if you are marching bari, then use a harness for a little bit, but be careful. harnesses will break much easier than neck straps. also try using rico royal reeds, those are very easy to use, you dont have to break them in like vandorens. and try to stay in shape, im a fat bari player who is 5'10 and it SUCKS, but it is fun most of the time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
83 Posts
I would not dream of marching with the bari (I march with a clarinet), but I suppose you are big and strong.

If you use a neckstrap you can damage your neck and it will hurt for years, I can testify to that. Why can't you wear the harness under the uniform? I usually wear the harness under the uniform jacket, the band will play sitting or standing. Actually afer a while I will sit down anyway because a bari is so very one-sided. In the big band we are more casual, I wear a black T-shirt and a black cardigan, then the harness is hidden under the cardigan.

My harness has very thin straps, so I cut up an old rucksack and used the padded straps to make it more comfortable. The buckles tended to slip, especially when standing, so I sewed them in place, just means no-one else can use it.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,336 Posts
Marching bari is in the same category as marching bass clarinet and marching bassoon in my opinion. What is the point? Granted the bari has more volume than these other woodwinds, but the Tubas shouldn't need help on the bass line. Taking any large woodwind outside on the field, street, or in the bleachers is just asking for damage to the instrument. To me the potential harm to the instrument far outweighs its contribution to the "balance" of the ensemble.

I am retired band director who is now an instrument repair tech, so I have seen this issue from both sides of the repair counter. That said, if you must play the bari sax in parades, have someone drive you down the street behind the band in a golf cart so you can play sitting down in a way that is safe to both your body and the instrument.

:soapbox:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
250 Posts
Ah, im a pretty short and weak guy. I had an insanely hard time marching my bari. You eventually get used to it and the pain doesnt bother you as much.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,912 Posts
I marched Bari my first year of highschool. I find that while the harness helps with the weight, it also makes marching with proper technique (read: at very high speeds with lots of moves while looking intense/good doing it) much more difficult. I reccomend a neckstrap, but also be sure to stretch properly before practice, and to stretch during and after practice too. When you're building up the strength to march and play with the beast properly, you will be working muscles that aren't used to it. If they cool down too quickly at first then they will stiffen up, and believe me from experience that marching a show with a stiff neck is no fun at all!

In short, do this:

- Stretch! Before, during, and after rehearsal.

- Pay special attention to posture. Back alignment (no leaning back or forth, or to the side) and weight distribution between the front and back of your feet.

- Strength training. You will build up strength just by doing the activity, but even a couple times per week of weights will help immensely. This will also help you with...

- Horn angle. Try to get the thing as straight as you can. The bottom will always lean to your right a little, but the more you can get it out in front of you and vertical, the easier it is to march and easier it is on your neck. The stronger your arms and shoulders are, the easier it is to hold the thing properly, and thus easier to march, and thus again, less fatiguing over the long haul.

Lastly, the VERY BEST THING you could do for your marching band, is to switch to Tuba. Nobody is going to miss a Bari Sax, and every band can always use more Tubas.
 
1 - 20 of 28 Posts
Top