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Discussion Starter #1
So what gives? My colleagues told me: "SOTW is a great resource for sax info. All the members are friendly, knowledgeable, and always jumping at the chance to share an opinion, and give advice. Extremely helpful group of people."

So being a brass player-band director, I ask a simple question, giving an open window for you all to voice an opinion, and all I get is a slew of curious views, with no replies. Could someone PLEASE take a moment and offer some suggestions? I would hope you guys would be thankful that someone's trying to educate and develop future sax students CORRECTLY instead of just going through the motions that a lot of directors do. The question was posed before, but here it is again below. It sure would be nice to hear from some people.

from previous post:

"I'm a band director looking to create a better warm-up/exercise routine for my concert bands and jazz ensembles. As a brass player, I'm well versed in the brass-specific needs of my students (lip slurs, buzz exercises, etc.). I'm trying to educate myself about the SPECIFIC needs that are unique to my sax students. I'm obviously aware of the benefit of long tones, scales, etc, etc. In terms of aspects that benefit all wind instruments, I'm already covered. Can anyone educate me as to what sax-specific needs are needing to be addressed and what exercises to create to address those needs for my sax students? I teach beginners, middle school, and high school students, so I don't want to leave anyone out. Much appreciation!!"
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Saxus Envious Curmudgeon
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Scoleo, as a "real" member, I would advise that you need to use the search function on the site and you can find a wealth of information already posted. I am sure that is the reason no one has responded right away.

Welcome to the site!:)
 

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I sort of thought you had it covered with 'long tones and scales'.

Can you give me a better idea on what you see as lacking in the saxophone students that you have?

BTW, welcome to SOTW.
 

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Well, I usually start out with the chromatic scale: low Bb to Altissimo G (the second one) with a variety of slur-tongue patterns. Then I move to the major scales around the cycle of fourths, or in chromatic. Then I move to the harmonic minor in the same.

The about all I do for warm-up exercises. Sometime I'll work on long tones, or a slow etude for tone production. I usually hit some overtones at some point, but don't exhaust myself on them.

For younger students, I think the chromatic scale up to THE TOP of the horn (that means high F#), long tone and overtones are the best to start out on. this give makes you hit every note, and work on tone production and filling out the tonal characteristics of the horn (via over tones). As with brass players, be weary of over done long tone exercises, they can kill the chops for the rest of the rehearsal.
 

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scoleo said:
My colleagues told me: "SOTW is a great resource for sax info. All the members are friendly, knowledgeable, and always jumping at the chance to share an opinion, and give advice. Extremely helpful group of people."
scoleo -
What your colleagues told you is definitely true.
I'm sorry no one has as yet responded positively to your post. Many of us, including myself, are inexperienced sax players, and choose to defer any advice-giving to the more experienced, mature members of SOTW. Randall's suggestion is sound advice, which you will see over and over again if you frequent the SOTW in the future. Try using the search engine, but check back here as well, because many members may have unique experience that is not covered in previous postings. Have patience, you will get answers.:)
 

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Wow! These guys are so fast they got in before I even had a chance to post my response. See? I told you there would be answers.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hello Hakukani,

It's not that I'm having specific problems with my sax section. I'm looking for something to put in place as a regular routine that addresses specific sax needs. Example: Brass players "buzz" on their mouthpiece. As a result they need specific exercises to develop the muscles that perform this action. We address it with "lip slurs" and "moutpiece sirens". Obviously this is completely foreign to sax players since they don't use their embouchures in this fashion. I'm looking for anything that indigenous to sax only. Maybe there are certain fingerings that sax players are notoriously weal at, or perhaps an exercise to develop a specific concern that the sax embouchure demands. Since I'm not a sax a sax player, I wouldn't know how to term what I'm looking for. I just thought that since you all are sax players, you might know problems that are unique to your instrument. Does this help?
 

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Try looking up the Phil Barone posts on tone. Although there was some disagreement and discussion, I think you can get a lot from reading what was posted.

My recommendations...

Long tones, focusing especially on matching tone in all registers. The lowest notes should have the same resonance and body as the highest.

Harmonic/overtone studies. These can be done similarly to brass lip slurs, although younger students will not be as flexible on saxophone as younger students can be on brass instruments.

Maybe look into the Rascher book

Hope this helps!
 

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scoleo,

Greetings & welcome.

Yesterday you posted the same thread in three different sub-forums.

Sometimes things don't move quickly here, sometime they do,
sometimes they never die & you wish they would. Multiple posts
probably add to the delay.

Good luck.

rabbit
 

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scoleo said:
Hello Hakukani,

It's not that I'm having specific problems with my sax section. I'm looking for something to put in place as a regular routine that addresses specific sax needs. Example: Brass players "buzz" on their mouthpiece. As a result they need specific exercises to develop the muscles that perform this action. We address it with "lip slurs" and "moutpiece sirens". Obviously this is completely foreign to sax players since they don't use their embouchures in this fashion. I'm looking for anything that indigenous to sax only. Maybe there are certain fingerings that sax players are notoriously weal at, or perhaps an exercise to develop a specific concern that the sax embouchure demands. Since I'm not a sax a sax player, I wouldn't know how to term what I'm looking for. I just thought that since you all are sax players, you might know problems that are unique to your instrument. Does this help?
Right offhand, I'd say that taking the mouthpiece off the instrument and blowing a certain pitch may help with tone.

For alto-mouthpiece alone should be 'A'
for tenor- mouthpiece alone should be 'G'

I think Bruce Pearson addresses many of these ideas in his band method.
 

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Full range chromatic scales to identify anything sticking is all I can come up with beyond the standard musical warmups which apply to all instruments. Saxes have few keys which are notorious for becoming sticky - G# and low C# - if maintenance is lacking. Seems to me clarinets have a couple sticky notes too. I do the same warmups regardless of the instrument I'm playing, not counting snare drum and other non pitched percussion.
 

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If you have sax playing students that do not have a skilled and wise private teacher, there are a number of things to check for.

1. Reeds that do not match the mouthpiece, or a mouthpiece that is just no good. As a brass player I'm sure it is easy enough to stick your mouthpiece in, play the kid's horn, and make sure everything is ok; and to wash the kid's mouthpiece out, play it, and make sure everything is ok. Not so with a saxophone. The combination is a lot more complicated and individual, from beginners through the professional level.

So I have a few questions of you here. In your next band rehearsal, find out what makes and models of saxophones the kids are playing, how many of each type there are, what mouthpieces they are using, and what reeds they are using on that mouthpiece. Yes, each specific kid. then report back to us. This will be a HUGE help, and could actually serve as an ongoing dialogue to help improve the saxophone section in your band; but if your attitude is snappy and impatient as before, you are going to be met with the like in return! Please be patient with us, and we will be patient with you. Saxophone playing is a terribly complicated endeavor and it takes a lot of patience and knowledge to even begin to understand it and address its most common problems.

2. Good posture, hand position, breath support, embouchure, etc. I suggest that you purchase a copy of Larry Teal's "The Art of Saxophone Playing", and read the resources here on the SotW main page about basics and the embouchure. If your students are using strange-looking embouchures or something that doesn't gel with what you read on the site, come back to us and tell us what's going on, and try to offer the student suggestions. In the most simplified manner, the embouchure is much like sucking one's thumb.

3. Check the instruments for leaks. Inevitably there are going to be a lot of pads that aren't sealing and you might mistake this for inability. The majority of beginners have no idea how to tell the difference between their instrument being in poor shape and their own inexperience: one is often mistaken for the other. Have the instruments gone over by a good repair tech. Maybe call in a local tech one day to check over the instruments right there (well worth the $$ in saved frustration from your section!) and also maybe study up yourself so that you can tell the difference between a leaking instrument and one that is in good condition.

Not necessarily in that order, either. All of these are of equal importance for you right now. Get these problems out of the way and let us help you by providing more information. Then just about any warmup you can come up with will be good for the kids.

I like to use scales played slowly, in harmony, maybe two stacked thirds so that you start with a major triad. My students love it, too. In group lessons of three or four they really enjoy being able to hear the "waves" when things are out of tune and hearing the sound fill out when they adjust and are able to play the chord in tune. It's a wonderful feeling for a youngster! Saxophone is a notoriously difficult instrument to tune for beginners so I think this is the weakness you should tackle. In warmups strive at all times to have them play together and to blend by supporting their sound. As a brass player I imagine you shouldn't have a ton of difficulty picking up the saxophone with a few months of practice; in terms of musculature and breath support the saxophone is a toy compared to a trumpet. Learn it! This will give you greater perspective of not only the sax but of all woodwinds and the nature of breath support on reed instruments. This you can then communicate to the students through a powerful demonstration, which is much more lasting than reading from a textbook or what you heard on this forum could ever prove to be.

Also something you need to understand is that woodwind players, with the exception perhaps of flute players, do not have internationally standard facial warmup exercises like lip slurs and mouthpiece buzzing. The closest one can come to this is mouthpiece-only practice, which I have never done and frankly don't understand the need for. Most woodwind players stress long tones and exercises that strive to achieve tonal consistency throughout the register of the instrument. For flute players this usually means octave slurs, chromatic long tones in groups of three or four notes, and overtones. These exercises for whatever reason are considered much more "advanced" for saxophone players but I'd recommend trying some octave slurs and chromatic long tones to get started, introducing overtones later (they are relatively more difficult to produce on a sax than on a trumpet or a flute).

Good luck and stay in touch!! ;)
 

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Actually sirens make some sense on a sax mouthpiece, too. Pitch control and muscle building are the obvious benefits.
I've heard that when Jackie McLean's son wanted to learn sax, he wasn't allowed to play anything but the mouthpiece at first, at least until the squawks started making Mr. McLean crazy.
 

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saintsday said:
I've heard that when Jackie McLean's son wanted to learn sax, he wasn't allowed to play anything but the mouthpiece at first, at least until the squawks started making Mr. McLean crazy.
I hope in my next life I come back as Jackie Mcleans son. What a mountain of a man with a wealth of knowledge. God rests his weary soul.
 

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I have taught WW techniques at a college an U and I think the main problems with most sax students is that they need to have some direction as far as the mouthpiece, reed and making sure the horn is working. I would advise finding a sax player at a U or another band director who could come in twice a month and work the section. It would help give them a start before any exercises are given. As a WW person, I would realllllly need a brass guy to help me out!
 

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Dear Sir, I am also looking for "the Real Members of Sax on the Web". I have acquired a large cage and a heavy duty trolley to place it on. Perhaps we could colaborate?:) ;)
 

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Warm up routines? Here's what I see in both jazz and concert bands:
1. Stick a reed in your mouth while assembling the sax.
2. Check to make sure no pads are stuck (as Carl H mentions).
3. Place the reed on the mouthpiece. Blow some bell notes. Frown and
readjust the reed on the mouthpiece.
4. Play notes throughout the range of the sax, with empasis on altissimo
and bell notes.
5. Play a few snippets of melodies.
Sax embouchures take less preparation and warmup than brass; once the reed is ready, the keys unstuck and fingers limbered the sax players are good to go.
 

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RootyTootoot said:
Dear Sir, I am also looking for "the Real Members of Sax on the Web". I have acquired a large cage and a heavy duty trolley to place it on. Perhaps we could colaborate?:) ;)
Lol
 

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saintsday said:
I've heard that when Jackie McLean's son wanted to learn sax, he wasn't allowed to play anything but the mouthpiece at first, at least until the squawks started making Mr. McLean crazy.
Joe Viola did this same thing with several first year Berklee students. I would show up to my lesson and hear nothing but mouthpiece music. Glad I didn't have to do that. A whole SEMESTER! Man, that's rough.
 

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RootyTootoot said:
Dear Sir, I am also looking for "the Real Members of Sax on the Web". I have acquired a large cage and a heavy duty trolley to place it on. Perhaps we could colaborate?:) ;)
We do have the expurgated version (by Edmund Welles).
 
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