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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys, I have tried every technique in the world to stop biting but I just can't prevent my lower lip from pushing up when going into the upper register. I know that the support is supposed to come from the muscles on the side of the mouth but I just can't seem to get them to work properly. Even when I do, my lower jaw is still pushing up causing my lip to get sore. I am really concentrating on blowing with my diaphragm which has helped a little bit but not enough. I don't know what else to do and I know my tone will never develop in the upper register as long as I keep doing this.
 

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I overcame this, so can you.

First question is, what is your current mouthpiece and reed setup?
 

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Drop your reed strength by 2.
As soon as you start to bite that soft reed will clamp shut. 😉
 

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V16 T55 and Java Red 2.5 reeds
This is what I did as a start. It requires you to take three steps backward in order to jump ahead.

1. Drop to a size 2
2. Get a mirror on your wall

Do long tones for weeks while watching your face in the mirror. Focus on breathing from the diaphragm and blow with ZERO tension anywhere but the diaphragm. The embouchure serves to only keep air from escaping around the mouthpiece. Set a metronome to 60 and play the entire range of the horn from ppp to fff then back to ppp for each note (12 beats each note).

If you do this every day you should notice a difference starting in a few weeks. It will feel like a major step back but don't get hung up on that. Feel free to PM me to discuss.
 

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Practice bending pitch down and up.
If you can't bend up (even a little) then you have not centered your embouchure and you are biting, especially if the mpc is pulled out.
 

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Roll bottom lip out to neutral position. That did the trick for me.

[put thumb in mouth as if you were sucking your thumb
remove thumb and replace with mpc
blow]
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This is what I did as a start. It requires you to take three steps backward in order to jump ahead.

1. Drop to a size 2
2. Get a mirror on your wall

Do long tones for weeks while watching your face in the mirror. Focus on breathing from the diaphragm and blow with ZERO tension anywhere but the diaphragm. The embouchure serves to only keep air from escaping around the mouthpiece. Set a metronome to 60 and play the entire range of the horn from ppp to fff then back to ppp for each note (12 beats each note).

If you do this every day you should notice a difference starting in a few weeks. It will feel like a major step back but don't get hung up on that. Feel free to PM me to discuss.
Awesome, I will start tomorrow.
 

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Awesome, I will start tomorrow.
Forgot to mention what the mirror is for. Do the longtones while watching your jaw for the butting movement or any other facial tension. This whole process requires major self-policing because you're undoing a habit.
 

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This seems to be a common problem on saxophone. The goal is to develop the feeling of the jaw and chin pulling down away from the mouthpiece at the same time the lower lip pushes up to contact the reed. Thinking of "opening the teeth" when you play can help. To "unlearn" the habit of tightening or biting when you go to the upper register requires practicing keeping the same embouchure throughout the range of the saxophone from low Bb to high F. The attached file shows an exercise I use with my students to work on the "one embouchure concept". As you go from one register to the next, the voicing and the speed of the air does change, but the tightness of the embouchure does not. In tone production the more work that is done by the airstream, the less work the embouchure needs to do---especially in the higher register.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
This seems to be a common problem on saxophone. The goal is to develop the feeling of the jaw and chin pulling down away from the mouthpiece at the same time the lower lip pushes up to contact the reed. Thinking of "opening the teeth" when you play can help. To "unlearn" the habit of tightening or biting when you go to the upper register requires practicing keeping the same embouchure throughout the range of the saxophone from low Bb to high F. The attached file shows an exercise I use with my students to work on the "one embouchure concept". As you go from one register to the next, the voicing and the speed of the air does change, but the tightness of the embouchure does not. In tone production the more work that is done by the airstream, the less work the embouchure needs to do---especially in the higher register.
So, do I want to drop my jaw as far as I can and push up with the lower lip throughout the entire range of the horn?
 

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I remember going to a Dick Oatts clinic where he talked about pushing the mouthpiece all the way in, and then practice playing in tune with a tuner even though you're tuned way sharp. This helped me a lot, and I (mostly) push all my mouthpieces all the way in on all my horns now. If I get a little out of shape, or the reed is a little hard, I might back it off, but not often.
 

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I remember going to a Dick Oatts clinic where he talked about pushing the mouthpiece all the way in, and then practice playing in tune with a tuner even though you're tuned way sharp. This helped me a lot, and I (mostly) push all my mouthpieces all the way in on all my horns now. If I get a little out of shape, or the reed is a little hard, I might back it off, but not often.
I like this approach. Similar to the idea of putting your mouthpiece in the correct spot and loosening up to play everything a semi or whole tone flat.
The thing that worked best for me was thinking about it a lot less and playing with other people (once I wrapped my head around the whole concept of playing in tune that is...)
 

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I remember going to a Dick Oatts clinic where he talked about pushing the mouthpiece all the way in, and then practice playing in tune with a tuner even though you're tuned way sharp. This helped me a lot, and I (mostly) push all my mouthpieces all the way in on all my horns now. If I get a little out of shape, or the reed is a little hard, I might back it off, but not often.
I have noticed that without trying anything my mouthpiece position has gone in considerably over the last couple years. I think it may be from playing bass sax where you have to relax the embouchure and overall oral structure just to get the thing to play at all.
 

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Biting is an effort to trying to control the mp and embouchure. I strongly suggest you try an oboe embouchure-that is, a double lip where the top teeth are covered by the upper lip. You absolutely cannot bite with this formation. Make sure you keep an "O" formation with the lips. Start in the middle range on F2 for instance and work your way down slowly, resting as needed. Then work upwards. Take a few days to do this. You will be amazed at the size of your tone with double lip. Gradually work back to upper teeth on the mp and recreate the same full tone. 2-3 weeks maybe necessary but it well worth it. Worked with my students for over 40 years of teaching.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Biting is an effort to trying to control the mp and embouchure. I strongly suggest you try an oboe embouchure-that is, a double lip where the top teeth are covered by the upper lip. You absolutely cannot bite with this formation. Make sure you keep an "O" formation with the lips. Start in the middle range on F2 for instance and work your way down slowly, resting as needed. Then work upwards. Take a few days to do this. You will be amazed at the size of your tone with double lip. Gradually work back to upper teeth on the mp and recreate the same full tone. 2-3 weeks maybe necessary but it well worth it. Worked with my students for over 40 years of teaching.
So to do this embouchure, you would no longer roll out the lower lip then correct?
 

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I didn't 'take steps back' when I had this problem, though I'm sure it'd help. I read Larry Teal's book, The Art of Saxophone Playing, and he goes on a lot about proper embouchure which really helped me see what all was supposed to go on as far as classical embouchure. As far as biting, exercising your chin muscles by simply pushing your top and bottom lips together as much as you can for as long as you can is a really good way to develop those muscles.
 

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So, do I want to drop my jaw as far as I can and push up with the lower lip throughout the entire range of the horn?
Basically yes. In the embouchure described by Larry Teal in "The Art Saxophone Playing" the muscles around the mouth support the lower lip pressing against the reed to control the tone. The lower lip "rests" upon and slightly covers the lower teeth, but the teeth do not "bite" into the lower lip to press it against the reed. As I understand it the Allard approach espouses relaxing the corners and using the upward pressure of the jaw.
 
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