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Discussion Starter #1
Well 4 months after getting my alto I found a teacher and have put aside a few dollars for some lessons.

In the 4 months I have taught myself to read music, just the basic stuff, know most of the fingering for the straight forward keys and can play a few songs badly, I have worked on my embouchure and breathing and can use 2 1/5 reeds without to many squeaks.

I am really bad at timing so bad that most of the songs I play don't resemble the original and my breathing still is not right, hard to explain but I seem to have too much breath, I need to let it out to get more in, I guess it is like holding your breath and then having the urge to let it all out for the new air to come in, and the problem seems worse when I try to play quietly because less air is coming out.

So with these problems in hand I headed off to have my first lesson, my teacher is a music teacher giving lessons in vocals, piano and violin, plays the clarinet and has taught sax before. I first off play a G to tune my sax to a keyboard, after a few adjustments to the mpc on the neck my teacher was happy, told me my attack was really good and that I was very loud, this I already know :), asked if I could play quieter PLEASE and informed me they hate the alto its so harsh, tenor is a much better sax.

For 4 months I have been on a 2 1/5 rico or vandoran and now I am being asked to go to a 1 1/5, ok I am the student so I use it, man it turned my sax into a party whistle, and now I squeak every second note, I make it know politely that I sound ok on 2 1/5, but no I have to use the 1 1/5, I am told to take less mpc, that there must be to much reed vibration.

I was then also asked if I could take out the screws on my ligature and put them in from the other side :? what, why, I ask , and I am shown a picture that shows the screws coming from the other side of that particular ligature :shock: , you gotta be having me on, I say that the ligature only has tread on one side so no they will not screw in from the other side.

Ok so now I play G, good still in in tune I get the thumbs up, A seems ok, B I am told it is out of tune and to move my bottom lip to correct it, I ask if I move the lip won't the other notes I played in tune be out of tune, I am told no I have to know which notes I play out of tune and move my lip only for those notes ?

I played 5 or 6 lines of notes, with bad timing lol, and then, oh the half hour is up we are out of time, pack up your sax, dry your reed and we will get a time for next week.

I am sure my teacher will be able to help with my timing, so I will be there next week, I just hope I can play quieter, as alto's are so harsh lol, I think I heard something said about a mute, maybe thats me :) I have been called worse.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
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I don't understand your teacher. To start : I would stay with 2.5 reeds, defenitely. They give you a lot better tone and control, and it seems as if you have enough chops to handle them. Especially on alto.

Second : you should be able to play every note in tune without moving your lips. What could happen, is that you start biting when you go up. Or you loosen up your embouchure so your note gets out of tune. Unless you have a really old sax, there you can indeed have that problem. But NOT on a new one.

Third : if your teacher really did tell you to screw them in on the other side; find a teacher that actually knows something about saxophones and plays them as well. Your teacher doesn't really look like helping you learning it right.

My idea, I might have missed a deeper goal in all the comments though.
 

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Even if your B is slightly off tune, I don't think one of the first things you should learn is how to correct it. Timing is a much more important step in learning than nuancing your notes to get them just right.
 

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ditto on above comments. The sax teacher compares a picture of a ligature to yours and correlates that simply because they are both double screw that they should be the same and assumes they are the same lig. Does the teach actually play sax ??

either way, I'd look for another teacher

and don't get me started on the alto being harsh, taking in less mpc, softer reed, et all

btw, buy a metronome and start using it to force your timing while you are looking for a new teacher
 

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WOW!!!

The ligature thing is just plain wrong. How will it tighten if the screws are not going into anything, thats just plain common sense.

The reed thing...strange. Unless you are playing some huge tip opening, or are struggling horribly with a 2.5 that makes little sense. Reed choice will depend on the mouthpiece for sure. You might have more control and be able to play quieter with a softer reed initially, but you have to figure it out how to play soft on the right reed for your mouthpiece anyway, and a 1.5 is not going to be right unless you have a .100 tip or something, in which case a change of mouthpiece for a beginner makes more sense than a change of reed anyway?

Fine tuning nuances I think is an odd thing to teach in a first lesson when the basics of rhythm have not been mastered yet. (nearly) All saxes have tuning nuances and peculiarities, but learning anything but a standard embouchure at this point to compensate for them is getting way ahead of yourself.

The lig thing is the biggest worry...unless they are playing a joke at your expense I would be a seriously worried about the teachers credentials! The comment about the Alto vs Tenor was also rather unprofessional too IMO.
 

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Find a different teacher FAST. Preferably one that specializes in sax. If you're not sure where to look,,, Ask your local High School band director or better yet, email the head of the sax department at your closest University. There are many sax majors that are willing to take on a student for extra spending money.

In the mean time, get a metronome. A cheap one that will fit in your case is perfect. Practice whole notes at 60 beats per minute to start, then go to 1/2 notes followed by 1/4, and 1/8th. When you can play these in time with the metronome, bump it up a little and start the process all over again. I have my students practice scales while using this method tongue the first time through the scale, slur the second. Timing improves while getting scale work out of the way. Great 10 minute warm up!!! Then move on to your favorite song. Start slow with the metronome if you need. In no time things will be sounding like they should.

Don't worry about tuning during your practice time. As you build your chops intonation will improve. Use your ear!!!! Find your sound. If you still want to check intonation get a cheap tuner that will fit alongside your metronome in your sax case.

You've just had your first lesson with Bandmommy! Best of Luck to you!!!
 

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bandmommy said:
You've just had your first lesson with Bandmommy! Best of Luck to you!!!
Perfect.
 

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Bandmommy, will you marry me? :D
 

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This is all a bit weird. Are you sure the thing about the lig wasn't a suggestion about reversing the lig on the m/p so the screws are on the opposite side to the reed? Even if the teacher has never played sax at all (only clarinet) he could never make a mistake about the screws like that. As a general rule I would say that (certainly, for a beginner) it's a mistake to go with a teacher who cannot/will not demonstrate technique to you on your instrument. So I'm with the "get a new teacher" posse unless you have totally misrepresented the teacher/pupil relationship in this case. All the best.
 

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Bandmommy, will you marry me?

I'm sorry, but I have to decline on your 'proposal'. Bandmommy is already married. 22 years to the same poor man.
Check out my thread Botched repad, Vulgar tech in sax repair, and you'll see what I mean!!
 

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Forum Contributor 2016, The official SOTW Little S
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That's just amazing. Obviously that lady hasn't played a day in her life to tell you that your ligature was on the wrong way. If that was me, that comment about the alto would of already had me walking out the door.
 

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Any teacher that would tell you that the alto is less favorable than the tenor is an incompetent idiot. Don't got to any more lessons with this "teacher" and find a teacher that is an actual sax teacher.

Your lips should remain in the same position up and down the range of the horn, and who cares which way the ligature is screwed on as long as it is holding the reed down properly. As for the 1.5 reeds, thats BS.
Stick with the 2.5s, you'll be fine.

This person is taking you for a ride, he obviously has no knowledge of how to properly play or teach the sax.
 

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Just a quick question about the lig screws - and it's an innocent one 'cause I don't know you and can't see your horn. But is it possible that you've got the ligature on backwards? If it was a standard lig whose screws usually come out of the right side but you've got the lig on backwards, then the screws would be on the "wrong" side.
 

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they probably teach physics badly and thought it'd be fun to teach themselves the basics of sax, use their understanding of physics to try and advacne in tone production AND get a tenner per half an hour.

day light robbery

good point though, Gary,
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I know how passionate everyone is about the sax and that having lessons is a major part of the learning curve, and that is why I was very careful not exaggerate my experiences at my first lesson.

The ligature is a black plastic one with two screws, it fits my yamaha 4C, it is larger at one end and can only slip over the mpc one way, if the ligature is mounted so the screws are on top then they point to the right as it goes in to the mouth, if you have the screws to the bottom then they will be pointing to the left.

Sometimes when the screws are loosened off to much the treads get caught in the sleeve, this happened when she first tried to put the ligature on my mpc, the reason she was doing it was because she said I had the reed to far forward, that you should be able to see a small bit of the mpc when looking straight down, I had been placing fixing the reed flush with the tip.

So as she was putting the ligature on she unscrewed the first screw too far and it fell out, I could see she was a bit nervous, her fingers where shaking a bit, I thought I was supposed to be the nervous one, she handed it to me and told me to put it back together, and thats when she asked me to put the screw in from the other side, I'm sorry but this is as true as I am sitting here typing this to you.

She doesn't own a sax, she said she plays the clarinet, and I guess to be fair to her she did tell me she won't be able to make me the best sax player ever but will be able to get me playing well, I jokingly replied as long as I can play well enough so my family doesn't leave the room when I enter :)

Now I guess the biggest problem is that I know of no one else that can teach me, you guys have been my teacher for the past 4 months, oh and by the way thanks you all have done a great job :D .

I guess I will just have to keep looking I was hoping to find someone close to me, but maybe I am just going to have to travel to find someone.

Thanks for your comments and support.

Tony
 

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Have you ever heard/seen her play clarinet, Tony?
 

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It still sounds weird. What's clear is that you have no confidence at all in her as a teacher. On the whole, if she isn't able to demonstrate basic technique to you, she's shaking with nerves and you're feeling like you're dealing with a complete incompetent i'd say your course is clear: Get a new teacher - it's the best for both of you. But make a polite excuse rather than telling her she's a dead loss. I sense that you're quite annoyed about her lack of skills but I don't think you need to make your criticisms too explicit.
 

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Another vote for new teacher/teach yourself for now. Why anybody would dream of studying with someone who doesn't have a good reputation teaching their instrument, or who doesn't demonstrate fine playing of said instrument in the lessons is quite beyond my understanding.
 
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