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Hello forum,

this is my first post ever, so I hope I don't break any forum rule posting this here (and, of course, nice to meet you all). I searched for something similar but I didn't found anything, so I finally decided to post.

I got from santa (aka myself) a baritone saxofone, and in these five months I got from zero to at-least-you-can-do-some-scales-without-scaring-the-local-fauna-too-much.
The sax I got was the cheapest new one I could found online, and, while terrible regarding how it sounds, it still does its job as a cheap layman training machine - at least, I hope. I wrote that just to underline the fact that probably it's not my instrument's fault, even if probably it isn't helping me much either.

I realized I have a problem that I thought could be solved by more training, but apparently it isn't going away after a few months:
I can't do the C-D(high) legato, or, better, the switch from the lower octave to the high one, without squeaking like a dying pig. Man, listening to that it's more than daunting, it's ominous.

I can easily do a steccato on any scale, that is, if I interrupt the flow of air and move my tongue and embouchure to be ok for the new note, but I can't connect them like the others.

Weird thing is, if I try to do it while playing a song I know well (e.g. the saints in G) it's ok.

Is it a normal thing and, if it is, what kind of exercise(s) can I do to fix that?

Thank everyone who'll answer!
Ciao!
 

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A slight clarification needed: Are you talking about going from C2 to D2 (i.e., playing over "the break"), or from C3 to D3 (i.e., moving into the palm keys)?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
C2-D2 I guess (when you start pressing the octave key).
The high notes are not a problem for me: I know it may sound weird, but I used to play the harmonica for some years now, so I have a pretty decent throat and tongue control, and I actually had to "decrease" the amount of movements I do on the sax (on the harp you really have to bend the s**t out of that reeds, on the horn the slightiest thing changes everything :( ).
When I try to do a D1-D2 (jumping an octave) without using the octave key, so just using the tongue, it sounds fine.
Just the "switch", if that's the name, from low to high octave, using legato, doesn't work for me... :(
 

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A few lessons can work wonders. First of all, a teacher can play the sax and see if there is a mechanical problem or something related to the instrument or set up. Second, a teacher can watch and hear you play and can diagnose what you are doing that is giving those results, and help you to fix those issues. Good luck in your search.
 

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A few lessons can work wonders. First of all, a teacher can play the sax and see if there is a mechanical problem or something related to the instrument or set up. Second, a teacher can watch and hear you play and can diagnose what you are doing that is giving those results, and help you to fix those issues. Good luck in your search.
I see. I thought it could be a common problem, but apparently it's not.
I guess I'll have a couple lessons (and if I find time and money maybe more, obviously!).
 

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I see. I thought it could be a common problem, but apparently it's not.
I guess I'll have a couple lessons (and if I find time and money maybe more, obviously!).
Problems with the octave break, and many other things, especially in relation to embouchure, articulation, intonation, tone quality, etc, are very common for a beginner on the sax. That is why it's a good idea to get some instruction early on, as saxoclese says. These sorts of problems are very difficult to diagnose and correct without some in-person, individual attention.

Having said that, there are some excellent teachers on this forum who might be able to provide some good advice, so stay tuned. (But still get some in-person instruction, if at all possible)
 

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Is it a normal thing and, if it is, what kind of exercise(s) can I do to fix that?
Yes, it's a normal thing & there are a number reasons you could be having trouble (aside from mechanical issues, and with a cheap bari that is not out of consideration).

First consideration going from C2 - D2 is to just look at what is happening. I am assuming you are starting on a C fingered just the middle finger left hand. To move to D2, you have to close all the keys under your fingers except the pinkies and open the octave key with your thumb. So, you're moving 5 fingers and your thumb. This all has to be done in one fluid motion. The first thing you can practice is just the mechanical motion. You don't even need to be blowing the sax to do this. Just finger the notes until your motion is smooth. The weak link in this transition is the octave mechanism. You can finger the notes and watch the keys move. If the linkages are loose, or the key is sticky it can slow down the octave vent opening.

Another consideration moving from C2 - D2 is what is going on with the air column in the horn. When playing C2, only a few tone holes at the top of the horn are open. When you close down your fingers to go to D2, you're making a big change to the horn - especially on a bari. When you have your embouchure and air stream fully under control you can sound D2 without opening the octave vent. That is one reason long tone and overtone practice is so important.

One last thing - it is very normal for beginning players to bite down on the reed as they go up in pitch. This is a bad habit that can cause all kinds of problems. I can't know without physically observing if you are doing this. One reason to find a teacher or experienced player to sit with you for a few lessons.

You made an interesting choice starting on baritone. Some people may tell you to try a smaller horn, but I say go for what you've got. Good luck & best wishes!
 

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Hello forum,

this is my first post ever, so I hope I don't break any forum rule posting this here
It's against the rules to say it's your first post, so not a great start (only kidding!)


I wrote that just to underline the fact that probably it's not my instrument's fault, even if probably it isn't helping me much either.
It could easily be your instrument's fault, not because it's cheap but because it could need a bit of setting up aka tweaking. It's common for mail order horns to fgo out of whack in transit, this can cause slight lewakd where the pad closes on the toneholes and that can be a cause of squeaking. get a good technician check this before you go any further.
I can't do the C-D(high) legato, or, better, the switch from the lower octave to the high one, without squeaking like a dying pig.
See above


I can easily do a steccato on any scale, that is, if I interrupt the flow of air and move my tongue and embouchure to be ok for the new note, but I can't connect them like the others.
Hmmm, seems like you need a teacher to check what you are doing and how you are interrupting the air flow. You shouldn't necessarily change you embouchure for a new note. Also staccato is not meant to be connected - ther must be a gap between the notes which you create by moving your tongue on to the reed.


Is it a normal thing and, if it is, what kind of exercise(s) can I do to fix that?
Read more about articulation and tonguing:

https://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-articulation-tonguing
 

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First of all, this is a common problem. It's difficult to finger cleanly (moving 5 fingers and thumb at the same time), plus with the register change you are changing the vibration mode of the air column (from fundamental to first overtone). There are lots of exercises in the standard books (e.g. the DeVille Universal Method) that attack this very area.

Ideally you should not change your embouchure going over the break. Make sure that you are supporting the air very well - push out your belly when you blow to make sure that you are using your entire airway and are actually pushing the air out with your diaphragm, and not your chest or shoulder muscles.

Try slurring (that means playing with no tonguing) from D down to C, that will be easier, then once that is smooth, go the opposite way. Work on making the transition seamlessly at a slow tempo - like half notes at 60 BPM. Only when you can do this slowly with no squeaks or other sonic garbage should you speed up.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you all, all the suggestions and ideas were very useful, and I'll try to follow them all.
Unfortunately, just one or two days after I wrote the first post, and trying to play around the same notes, the key almost completely stopped playing, so now I'm 99% confident that it's something mechanical :(
I'll get the horn fixed and then I'll follow the unanimous suggestion of taking some lessons.
Thank you again!
 
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