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Tonight I will play a community band concert [email protected] 1 1/2 hr typical concert band stuff, followed by a 45 minutes set of big band music. I will play first alto on both. Predicted temperatures today are @100 degrees and I expect will still be well into the 90's by the time we play at 7 PM. I've played outdoors many times, but never at this extreme of heat. Can you help me anticipate what pitfalls I can expect from my sax in terms of tuning, intonation, squeaks, etc. and what adjustments I can make to compensate. Should I expect to have to change reeds midstream one or more times? (I use different mpc and reed for big band). Any other tips and suggestions will be greatly appreciated. We have already been forwarned to drink plenty of water, both today and during the concert.
Thanks.
Ruth
 

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I live in Phoenix, where the heat is far more extreme than in NC, and there is often almost no humidity. In my experience, there is less to fear re bad effects for the horn than for yourself. In hot weather, for me at least, once the horn is warmed up and in tune, it's pretty stable. Can't say the same for me. I know they've already told you this, but yes: drink water.

As a side note, I find the Francois Louis smart cap useful in this climate: it's very very dry here, and when my horn is on the stand during a break, even with a good mouthpiece cap on, the reed dries out very rapidly. The smart cap has a little patch inside that you can dampen, and it keeps the reed in good shape. This is likely less of an issue where you are: I'm from the South and know humidity :D.
 

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I played a concert in Palm Springs in a Wenger band trailer/stage in a July and it was 120 degrees on stage !!!!!!!!!

- eat light but eat something before the gig
- bring plenty of water
- if you're modest, consider what your clothes will look like (through) wet
- if optional, wear loose clothing - nothing tight around the waist
- bring a hand towel
- expect the pitch to go up and don't fight it
- if applicable, wear a cap, bring sun glasses, sun block
- musically, what reedsplinter said

p.s. - let us know how it went, OK?
 

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I've never played concert in such weather, but I've marched in it, which can only be more physically demanding.

I've found that my horn almost thrives in such weather, and have very little negative effects there, it's you that you have to worry about. Does the community band have a uniform, or are you allowed to wear whatever you want? If so, shorts and a hawaiian shirt work well! (don't forget the sunglasses!)

If you do any soloing work where you'll be standing up, make sure your legs and knees stay nice and loose. If they don't, your blood flow will cut off and you'll pass out (happens all the time in the best of weather, but I see it happen a lot more in the heat). I hope you're playing in the shade, it makes a tremendous difference.

Most of all, just use common sense. If you start to get lightheaded, STOP PLAYING. I've seen many a good player think they can beat the weather through pure toughness, only to collapse on top of their $3k instrument. And it happens very very quickly. In some cases you have a couple seconds of lightheadedness before you pass out, in others (depends on your age, size, physical appearance, etc) you have no warning and you simply fall over. Work out a signal you can use with the other sax players if you have to back out for a couple of minutes. Find a volunteer you can flag down to bring you more water if you need it.

Sometimes in the heat my hands will get quite sweaty and they'll slip all over the keys. It's a good idea to have a cloth of sorts that you can do a quick wipe-down of the horn with. After playing, I would do another, more thorough, wipe-down immediately! If left on, the sweat can really eat at your horn.
 

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It was about 90+ when we played our July 4th show (on July 3rd actually). Some things to have with you... Bring bug spray as some are attracted by your exhaling. Bring teflon tape to help keep your mouthpiece on better if it expands or you need to pull it out far. Drink fluids before you start playing and feeling hot. If you wait, it maybe too late. Bring a battery operated fan to use if needed. Lastly, bring enough cash for a cold beer afterwards :)

Enjoy
 

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Grumps and tj reminded me, and this is just a side comment if anyone wants to respond. Since many orchestras and bands here are tuned to 442 (I tune mine to 440), if we ever play in weather that plays havoc with the pitch going up, I don't even bother with it. Instead of everybody pulling out, which in principle can also mess with the relative intonation of each instrument, I just retune the band to 442.
 

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Hat and dark glasses can be a help too. Keep hydrated during the day and keep your electrolytes up - drink gatorade or similar. If you need to double on clarinet - GOOD LUCK! They get weird sitting out in the sun. If you have a click barrel, use it. If you have synthetic reeds, use them too, on clarinet and sax.

Battery operated fans are good if you can manage one. I have one which I can hitch on a band front. Keeps a small breeze aimed at me which helps quite a bit. Just don't play in to the fan.
 

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Carl H. said:
Just don't play in to the fan.
I used to practice in my bedroom, and above me was a ceiling fan. You never would have guessed it, but the 5-6 feet worth of distance between me and the fan wasn't enough, I'd always get that robotic warbly sound and have to turn off the fan. When I first realized it, it took me a while before I figured out what the problem was!
 

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The same thing happens to me if I forget to turn off the ceiling fan in my practice room, or don't want to -- in Phoenix it's an issue! I recognized the cause at once when it first started happening: years of playing with B3s and leslie speakers made the effect apparent.

But: Altoruth, as you can see, 99% of the discussion is about the effect of heat on the player, not on the horn. Saxophones, unlike clarinets, don't mind the head much, unless you're actually playing on the sun.

Extreme cold is much more problematic. I used to live in Vermont.
 

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Reedsplinter said:
Extreme cold is much more problematic. I used to live in Vermont.
oh yes...the cold... I've marched in ice, sleet, and snow, and I swear more than once my fingers have frozen to the horn. Oh, and pitch...haha, I never brought out a tuner, but I'd be really curious what notes were actually coming out of my horn. The air really condenses inside the horn too, and you get considerably more liquid than you normally would inside it.
 

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rs1sensen said:
oh yes...the cold... I've marched in ice, sleet, and snow, and I swear more than once my fingers have frozen to the horn. Oh, and pitch...haha, I never brought out a tuner, but I'd be really curious what notes were actually coming out of my horn. The air really condenses inside the horn too, and you get considerably more liquid than you normally would inside it.
Furthermore, the horn never stabilizes. You blow into it and warm it up, but when you stop it cools down: even if you had a tuner in your shako, it wouldn't give the same reading twice.
 

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AltoRuth:

As others have already said, you shouldn't have too much trouble with the heat as far as your horn goes. I've spent many a sweltering day and night blowing my horn. Sometime I believe I sound best when the temp is over 90 degrees.

But be sure to stay well hydrated. At least for me, I sweat just about all the time where ever I play. So fluid loss is a big deal. Drink lots of water before and during your performance.
 

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rs1sensen said:
oh yes...the cold... I've marched in ice, sleet, and snow, and I swear more than once my fingers have frozen to the horn. Oh, and pitch...haha, I never brought out a tuner, but I'd be really curious what notes were actually coming out of my horn. The air really condenses inside the horn too, and you get considerably more liquid than you normally would inside it.
Pitch matters in a marching band?;)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
thanks

Thanks, y'all, for your suggestions and for your concern for my "person", as well as for the sax. I'm reassured that the "instrument" that is most apt to give me a problem is me, and will take the precautions as suggested. Hats off to those of you who endure marching band---I'm long past that, and have no wish to repeat the experience in hot or in cold weather.

Coincidentally, earlier today I had to run an errand to Wal-Mart and happened across something called an "Aqua Cool", which consists of a necktie @ 2 ft. long, 2 inches across, with a center pocket or channel in which is a substance which, when placed in water, absorbs many times its weight in water, filling the channel with a gel like substance. (I suspect that this is the same stuff that is in the local garden center for incorporation into the potting soil for potted plants to help decrease the frequency of watering) This necktie is then tied around the neck, with the gel-filled channel on the back of the neck. This is to have a cooling effect for as long as it takes the substance evaporate off the water, said to be as much as 3 or 4 days. Refrigerating the tie (but not freezing it) before using is said to enhance the effect. I promptly bought several, with the intention of prepping them and passing them around to the director and a few other "favored" band members for a test run tonight. I now have a bunch of these in my 'frig all ready for tonight's concert. Have any of you used these things, and with what result?
The available "designs" leave a great deal to be desired, but hey, we're a pretty informal group anyhow. Our "uniform" consists of a blue polo shirt with the band logo and whatever else we want to wear. I'll report back on the outcome of this test run.
Thanks again.
Ruth
 

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Say -- you could put that cold necktie thingie inside your horn, like a pad saver; that'll cool it right down!
 

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AltoRuth said:
Have any of you used these things, and with what result?
I would say an ice-filled cooler at your side and a couple'a brews hanging from your neck would have the same effect. :D



hakukani said:
Pitch matters in a marching band?
Sure. The way the band director pitches his program to the school board. :twisted:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
gary said:
I would say an ice-filled cooler at your side and a couple'a brews hanging from your neck would have the same effect. :D
QUOTE]

I like the concept, Gary, but, sadly, the park where we are playing does not allow alcohol:(
 
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