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Discussion Starter #1
I have to move when I play, practice or perform live. Nothing fancy, just a rhythmic bobbing about and the odd grind! I noticed that I move more than colleagues, but I do seem to get away with it.

My theory is it's both helpful in keeping time, and a good idea to alleviate neck or shoulder strain. Possibly a throwback to my marching band days!?

Any thoughts on the benefits or drawbacks of movement while playing sax?
 

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I taught myself to play more "expressively" by raising and lowering my elbows while playing a slow piece. That came to an end abruptly when after a recital my teacher remarked that I "looked like a seagull trying to take off". :) I know that many virtuoso players use various amounts of body movement when they play, but for me I have decided to drop the "choreography" and let the music convey the expression.
 

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Thanks for these archived threads. Interesting stuff, though nobody seems to mention stiffness etc. I suppose i'm relieved on 2 levels, as I perform with a band it is absolutely right to move if I feel it, and wouldn't look out of place (probably the opposite holds), and secondly since most of my movements emanate from the abdomen and hip area I also feel vindicated that I am at least keeping the sax still.

Phrasing is a good point, too, and I think this is where bodily movement can really help. Some of the comments in the thread seemed to deny that air is pushed from the diaphragm. If I need to complete a phrase with strength i will harness the bellows by literally moving as such, up on tiptoes and push down! The phrase is much more important than my dignity.

I shudder to think about what my eyebrows look like!
 

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These days there's no excuse for not having audio/video of every gig. This will provide you with the answers you want on all visual and aural aspects of your performance. I'm one of those who is constantly moving but I play dance/party music. If nothing else I sway from side to side. When you watch your video you'll probably be embarrassed and swear to not do certain things ever again. :) Its the same with playing, but do bear in mind that we are our own worst critics. I have seen many/most jazz players standing very still - certainly not dancing around. I find this kind of creepy but not surprising in today's climate of absolute conformity in jazz. Its worse than the schools of symphonic playing - you are forbidden to do or play anything that might engender more of an emotional than cerebral response from the listener. In my world its always all emotion. When there's a player who breaks the mold and evokes emotional and cerebral response in the listener, you are looking at what we call a 'Great'.
 

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There is nothing wrong with gettin' down. In a symphonic setting, I could see it as a distraction maybe, but if for a casual audience, I say give them what they came for-- a show!

"I know a dance that ain't got no steps; gonna let the music move me around"
 

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My flute teacher (classical) discourages much movement- I guess it could affect time negatively, but it seems like it could also be helpful. It's very distracting for me not to move at all actually, but it definitely differs depending on the genre/atmosphere for sure. There's nothing more fun than having a few "steps" to groove with a couple of other horn players in an R&B band!
 

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It all depends, watch the youtube video of Roxy Music's Jealous guy and how relaxed and laid back he is or else, there is an Eddie Money picture where he is leaning against a door frame. I've seen and heard both extreme ends of the spectrum from almost sleepwalking posture to extreme agitation and there was no difference in the quality of the music, as long as you don't hit somebody else or interfere with what they are doing. It's the same thing with some guitar players and it can be extremely annoying when you constantly have to dodge their "attacks". The good thing is that as a sax player you can't really get into the facial contortionism that some guitar players embrace - I mostly find it inversely correlated to the quality of their music...
 

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Wish I could find a video I saw a few weeks ago. Someone was demonstrating how to play with more emotion by moving the head side to side while waving the instrument around. He did it in a mocking way. I can't remember if it was a sax or a clarinet or maybe a soprano sax. I've spent/wasted the last half hour looking for it but gave up. It was pretty funny. I'll post a link if I can find it but I'm done looking for now. It's raining out so no golf today. Maybe I should practice sax. Maybe.,
 

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My past teachers at uni, Jazz and Classical alike, discouraged planned movement e.g. I will rise here to express the music or keep time with my body. Trying to keep time with your body proves inconsistent and can mess up embouchure.

However, natural movement was encouraged e.g. I sway with my arms playing classical and tend to look like I'm boxing when playing jazz. I do not plan it, I do not notice I am doing it, the music moves me so. So long as it does not prevent me from playing beautifully.
 

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I move the same way you do. It helps my back issues and it looks good on stage. I see performers stiff like sticks and the look is terrible. As long as what you do seems natural and not forced I like it. I will almost dance when I'm walking the crowd on a long solo . I figure if I cant dance to the music who can?
Thanks for these archived threads. Interesting stuff, though nobody seems to mention stiffness etc. I suppose i'm relieved on 2 levels, as I perform with a band it is absolutely right to move if I feel it, and wouldn't look out of place (probably the opposite holds), and secondly since most of my movements emanate from the abdomen and hip area I also feel vindicated that I am at least keeping the sax still.

Phrasing is a good point, too, and I think this is where bodily movement can really help. Some of the comments in the thread seemed to deny that air is pushed from the diaphragm. If I need to complete a phrase with strength i will harness the bellows by literally moving as such, up on tiptoes and push down! The phrase is much more important than my dignity.

I shudder to think about what my eyebrows look like!
 

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Wish I could find a video I saw a few weeks ago. Someone was demonstrating how to play with more emotion by moving the head side to side while waving the instrument around. He did it in a mocking way. I can't remember if it was a sax or a clarinet or maybe a soprano sax. I've spent/wasted the last half hour looking for it but gave up. It was pretty funny. I'll post a link if I can find it but I'm done looking for now. It's raining out so no golf today. Maybe I should practice sax. Maybe.,
You mean this one?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5twANQ7S050
 

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I taught myself to play more "expressively" by raising and lowering my elbows while playing a slow piece. That came to an end abruptly when after a recital my teacher remarked that I "looked like a seagull trying to take off". :) I know that many virtuoso players use various amounts of body movement when they play, but for me I have decided to drop the "choreography" and let the music convey the expression.
Too funny :)
 

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I practice mostly by improvising along music I like. By involving my whole body I find much better flow where more technical aspects of playing just come out fine without overthinking. Like breathing at correct spots to always have good air reserves (which means better tone too), better finger-air coordination, it's easier to stay on beat etc. Even purely musical ideas come out better. But I'm not much of an arm flailer and dance more with my feet anyway - might as well have a sax to have something for my hands to do and appear normal.
 

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There are a number of issues, each of which requires a separate consideration.
1. We are talking about jazz and improvisation, and not about the interpretation of written notes in classical music.
2. External manifestations of bodily language is a completely individual matter, and here by force cannot be imposed on anyone.
3. The body language expresses primarily a groove, and this happens to everyone without exception. External excessive manifestations of musical phrasing can be directed more to the sight than to the ear. In the case of classical pianists , performing f.e. Chopin's music in this way, I nicknamed "To play the swans".
4. In the process of improvisation, the preliminary gesture undoubtedly influences the subsequent phrase — the movement of the body in space is continued in the flow of the melody. I do not know if anyone has investigated this phenomenon (in improvisation), but the connection definitely exists .
 

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... When there's a player who breaks the mold and evokes emotional and cerebral response in the listener, you are looking at what we call a 'Great'.
+1
 
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