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Hello, I have been trying to play with a more open throat on alto. I'm playing the school's Bundy (V16 A5-Medium Chamber) and I can't tell whether I'm doing it correctly. I usually start by singing the pitch I want to play and then play it and try to figure out what I'm doing or supposed to be doing. My band director said that I should feel no resistance and that's what I should look for.
I've been practicing with his advice in mind and I'd like to know what else I should look for or feel.
 

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The advice I give to students who have problems with the open throat concept is to learn to "growl". There are some discussions on this but I like to think of it more as a vocalized "hoooooo" rather than an "errrrrrrr". At any rate, I do think it is pretty diffcult to accomplish this vocalized air stream with a closed throat. Yawning also gives the student the feeling of the open throat and the concious control we actually do have over the diameter of the throat opening.
 

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I have focused on consciously raising my soft palette while playing and it has really opened up the higher register, and made altissimo more stable/fatter. As Souportwenty said up there, yawn and remember how that makes your throat feel... that's what you should be aiming for, imo.
 

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To conceptualize how an open throat feels

1. Sing "AHH" on the lowest note you can sing.
2. Do the first half of a yawn before the swallow reflex takes over.
3. Say "HOP" as you inhale and then blow warm air.

I have my young students practice until they can play a low Bb with a big fat beautiful tone, and then tell them to keep the same embouchure and throat throughout the range of the saxophone to high F.

(Before others pounce, I know that the palm key notes take a little different airstream and voicing, but I save that information for later when they have advanced enough to be playing literature that goes that high.)
 

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I believe an open throat just means being relaxed. When I was younger I went through a 2 month stage where I was trying the yawning thing and keeping my throat really open like I was yawning but the reality is that when you do this there is a ton of tension all over the place. Just yawn right now and see how much tension you have in your neck, upper palate and throat. I don't think it is healthy to play with that much tension all the time. I just teach my student to relax and the air should expand the throat naturally. That's my opinion anyways. I remember studying with Joe Viola at Berklee and he was always trying to get me to relax and let it flow.
 

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I believe an open throat just means being relaxed. When I was younger I went through a 2 month stage where I was trying the yawning thing and keeping my throat really open like I was yawning but the reality is that when you do this there is a ton of tension all over the place. Just yawn right now and see how much tension you have in your neck, upper palate and throat. I don't think it is healthy to play with that much tension all the time. I just teach my student to relax and the air should expand the throat naturally. That's my opinion anyways. I remember studying with Joe Viola at Berklee and he was always trying to get me to relax and let it flow.
I agree completely. I think the issue is that a lot of folks squeeze like they're trying to blow up a balloon. If you relax and blow from the gut through the instrument, rather than to the instrument, the throat should do what it needs to do and let the air flow.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Online Jazz Lessons and Books
New Lesson:
Making Sense of Jazz Improvisation
Lesson Series:
Introduction to the Blues
The Arpeggio Circle
Through the Keys
and more...
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
Rhythm Changes Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrT0Xw_y9d0
Rhythm Changes Lesson:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMOW7QAfpwo
 

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I believe an open throat just means being relaxed. When I was younger I went through a 2 month stage where I was trying the yawning thing and keeping my throat really open like I was yawning but the reality is that when you do this there is a ton of tension all over the place. Just yawn right now and see how much tension you have in your neck, upper palate and throat. I don't think it is healthy to play with that much tension all the time. I just teach my student to relax and the air should expand the throat naturally. That's my opinion anyways. I remember studying with Joe Viola at Berklee and he was always trying to get me to relax and let it flow.
I disagree completely. As the body prepares the yawn, the throat relaxes and opens. There is no tension until reflex kicks in. Think of when your doctor places the stethoscope on your back or chest and tells you to take several deep breaths. The feeling in you throat as you breathe this way is the concept one tries to achieve IMO.
 

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I disagree completely. As the body prepares the yawn, the throat relaxes and opens. There is no tension until reflex kicks in. Think of when your doctor places the stethoscope on your back or chest and tells you to take several deep breaths. The feeling in you throat as you breathe this way is the concept one tries to achieve IMO.
When the doctor puts a stethoscope on on my back and asks me to take a deep breath I don't yawn. That is a completely different action. Yawning has a lot of tension and right after you feel relaxed because that tension is gone.
 

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I believe an open throat just means being relaxed. When I was younger I went through a 2 month stage where I was trying the yawning thing and keeping my throat really open like I was yawning but the reality is that when you do this there is a ton of tension all over the place. Just yawn right now and see how much tension you have in your neck, upper palate and throat. I don't think it is healthy to play with that much tension all the time. I just teach my student to relax and the air should expand the throat naturally. That's my opinion anyways. I remember studying with Joe Viola at Berklee and he was always trying to get me to relax and let it flow.
+2 on that!

I think it's possible that people have over interpreted the 'open throat' concept. Just staying relaxed or thinking of your throat position as how you speak is the open position.

Try the 'AH' position and then start talking to a friend and hear how 'relaxed' that sounds. What is your larynx doing if you have that kind of tension while playing.

I wonder if the 'AH' position was a suggestion to stop a student from articulating with their throat sphincter and it became the gospel according to that person.
 

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Very interesting piece of advice from forum member tigerhobs:

"Take your thumb and and index finger and feel your throat. Keep it towards the top of your throat. Then put your thumb into your mouth and hold it like your would a mouthpiece. Practice expanding your throat without biting down on your thumb. It may look silly but it will help you control your throat better. Also, feel the bottom and middle of your throat and repeat. Move slowly so that you can feel the muscle move better and try to make the movement controlled. You should also feel the top and bottom at the same time once you have practiced. You should be able to control both separately to a slight degree (at least)."

http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showth...-tongue-position&p=13737&viewfull=1#post13737
 

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A good way to understand open throat is to understand the opposite: a closed throat, like when you cough.

It is possible to articulate with a sort of throat cough instead of your tongue, try this to see what the extreme closed throat is all about.

This means you are starting and stopping the airstream by using your throat as a valve, and this is what people often do for articulation when they aren't using their tongue.

Now with a throat that is open (in the relaxed/yawn position) the way to start and stop notes is with the tongue.

When your tongue is against the mouthpiece tip opening, no air can enter the mouthpiece, but your open throat and pressure from down below means there is air ready to go straight in as soon as you release your tongue.

So instead of pressure being below your throat, as it is when the throat is closed, the pressure is there right at the reed tip, ready and waiting.

This is one reason the open throat is a good thing.

One other concept to grasp is that it isn't the application of the tongue that starts a note, it's the wremoval of the tongue . Actively applying your tongue is what stops the note.
 

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People talk about saying "AHH" like you're singing the lowest note possible, and to me, when I do that, it's what I mean when I say "pretend you're yawning." Perhaps we mean the same thing. Anyway all I know is that when I play while saying "AHH" my tone opens waaaay up.
 

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To conceptualize how an open throat feels

1. Sing "AHH" on the lowest note you can sing.
2. Do the first half of a yawn before the swallow reflex takes over.
3. Say "HOP" as you inhale and then blow warm air.

I have my young students practice until they can play a low Bb with a big fat beautiful tone, and then tell them to keep the same embouchure and throat throughout the range of the saxophone to high F.

(Before others pounce, I know that the palm key notes take a little different airstream and voicing, but I save that information for later when they have advanced enough to be playing literature that goes that high.)
I believe an open throat just means being relaxed. When I was younger I went through a 2 month stage where I was trying the yawning thing and keeping my throat really open like I was yawning but the reality is that when you do this there is a ton of tension all over the place. Just yawn right now and see how much tension you have in your neck, upper palate and throat. I don't think it is healthy to play with that much tension all the time. I just teach my student to relax and the air should expand the throat naturally. That's my opinion anyways. I remember studying with Joe Viola at Berklee and he was always trying to get me to relax and let it flow.

I think the important thing to recognize is that a lot of times people learn to understand and implement the same concept in different ways. The concept I think should be established is that we are looking to play with a natural feeling, uninterrupted air stream. For a long time I taught the open throat concept using an "ahh" vocalization process. Recently, however, I read an intriguing post by a SOW member that equated the open throat with the shape you make when you fog a pair of glasses. That shape seemed to me to be a much more relaxed manner of achieving a similar throat shape. Since reading that post, I've used that manner as my teaching method. I don't know if there is really one method that is going to get all of my students to achieve this shape and maintain it as they play until it becomes the natural way of playing for them, but if I can get them to understand the shape they are looking to achieve, at least they have a goal. Of course, then there's the whole issue of becoming one with the breath, air-stream, embouchure, instrument, hands, mind, and soul.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Online Jazz Lessons and Books
New Lesson:
Making Sense of Jazz Improvisation
Lesson Series:
Introduction to the Blues
The Arpeggio Circle
Through the Keys
and more...
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
Rhythm Changes Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrT0Xw_y9d0
Rhythm Changes Lesson:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMOW7QAfpwo
 

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When the doctor puts a stethoscope on on my back and asks me to take a deep breath I don't yawn. That is a completely different action. Yawning has a lot of tension and right after you feel relaxed because that tension is gone.
I don't feel as if I have yet communicated to you that what I am referring to is THE VERY FIRST SENSATION OF THE YAWNING PROCESS BEFORE THE MUSCLES TENSE AND THE SWALLOW REFLEX TAKES PLACE. For me this is exactly the same relaxed open throat feeling as when the doctor asks me to take slow deep breaths.

If you still disagree, then we will have to agree to disagree (agreeably, of course). Maybe my physiology is different than yours.
 

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I think the important thing to recognize is that a lot of times people learn to understand and implement the same concept in different ways. The concept I think should be established is that we are looking to play with a natural feeling, uninterrupted air stream. For a long time I taught the open throat concept using an "ahh" vocalization process. Recently, however, I read an intriguing post by a SOW member that equated the open throat with the shape you make when you fog a pair of glasses. That shape seemed to me to be a much more relaxed manner of achieving a similar throat shape. Since reading that post, I've used that manner as my teaching method. I don't know if there is really one method that is going to get all of my students to achieve this shape and maintain it as they play until it becomes the natural way of playing for them, but if I can get them to understand the shape they are looking to achieve, at least they have a goal. Of course, then there's the whole issue of becoming one with the breath, air-stream, embouchure, instrument, hands, mind, and soul.

Randy
www.randyhunterjazz.com
Online Jazz Lessons and Books
New Lesson:
Making Sense of Jazz Improvisation
Lesson Series:
Introduction to the Blues
The Arpeggio Circle
Through the Keys
and more...
Lessons page: www.beginningsax.com/Jazz Improv Lessons.htm
Rhythm Changes Demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrT0Xw_y9d0
Rhythm Changes Lesson:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMOW7QAfpwo
Yes the "fog the glasses" sensation = "AHH" = "yawning" for me anyway, and yes, 3 different ways to describe the same kind of feeling IMO
 

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These talks about concepts are fine but they IMO miss the point which is the end result. Whatever you tell a student, he will have to re-interpret it his own way. Focus should be put on the end result. The discovery of the mechanics involved in tone production is one self discovery.
 

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Whatever you tell a student, he will have to re-interpret it his own way.
And whatever you tell the student should be geared to what will work best for that student. No rules, no dogma, just get to know the student and what is the best pedagogical psychology for that individual.

I knew a singing teacher who asked some of his students to image a banana in their throat to open it up. It worked for some but not others as you might imagine.
 

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I imagine trying to fit and cradle an egg in the back of my throat. That normally gives me the desired result.

I've heard about the 'yawn' suggestion, trying to play 'flat', widening the pitch window, blowing down into the bow (not into the neck)...each student will have to try and experiment and see which metaphor works best for them.
 
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