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Discussion Starter #1
As I'm getting back into playing shape, obviously one of the things I'm working on is vibrato (particularly trying to get something that meaty, fast Hodges vibrato). I'm starting to get it across most of the horn, however I'm finding it incredibly difficult to get ANY sort of vibrato at all once I hit the palm keys (case in point, the High E in his performance of I Got It Bad. I'm getting the bend, but he finishes off on a vibrato that I'm just not pulling off). Part of it is that I'm already juggling building a strong enough embouchure to hit the notes, not biting to cheat them, AND make the necessary adjustments to keep them in tune. Between those three, trying to add vibrato on top either ends up scuppering the whole shebang, or I just don't get any modulation at all.

Anyone have suggestions on how to approach vibrato up there? I use my jaw for vibrato down in the middle and lower register.
 

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If you are "biting" more to produce the palm key notes that would make it harder to do the jaw (lip) vibrato. I would practice scales up to that note and back down in half notes trying to keep the vibrato constant the entire time. In classical playing I learned to keep the vibrato wide and full sounding on the highest tones by listening to Marcel Mule. It is almost like an opera singer approaches the notes at the top of their range with a big fat sound---not a wimpy one. There is nothing that helps more than turning up the volume and playing along with the player you are trying to emulate.
 

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If you can't raise the pitch on those notes then definitely biting.
Centered pitch means that put the mpc where you can bend up and down on all pitches.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah, I'm making an effort NOT to bite, (this was an ongoing problem I had before I stopped playing about 15 years ago) it's just taking a lot of concentration on what I'm doing with my embouchure.
 

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Well, the first thing you need to be able to do is to play from the top to the bottom of the horn without vibrato, getting a good full sound over the full dynamic range, and without biting. Get that sorted and your vibrato on the upper notes will sort itself.

My guess is that you're using too hard a reed and not applying the right voicing to those higher notes - but I am not in the same room with you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
As far as hardware, right now I'm playing a Rico Jazz Select 3S on a Personaline S6 (I may be switching to a Great Neck 4 soon). Currently using an Optimum with the two bars, but I've got an Echobrass (plastic plate) on backorder.
 

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Learn to do vibrato while whistling. The same thing happens with proper vibrato on the sax - its in the embouchure, not the jaw. Now, there is a jaw vibrato where you do sort of a 'lip trill' like the trumpet player. On sax, you finger A2 or Bb 2 but use the 'false' fingering. Now play it hard and do the jaw to make it go to a lower harmonic and back and forth. Some of these things are almost impossible to explain to someone who doesn't really know anything.
Whatever, hopefully you are doing long tones to build your embouchure (BTW, you don't really have an embouchure yet or you could easily do this thing you're asking about) so once you learn how to do vibrato, you can add it to your regimen of long tones practice. Try not to over-do the long tones especially at first. 5 minutes a session is enough at first. What you're trying to do with long tones is simply play the note soft and then louder while maintaining the pitch. Use a tuner so you don't fool yourself. Start soft and slowly build up, then slowly fade.
 

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Jaw vibrato is appropriate for the high notes too. To eliminate biting or weak embouchure control, try starting on middle D using a double lip embouchure as an oboist would do. Work up chromatically, slowly, pausing and be sure you can play to a high F using straight tone. If you can't do this, the embouchure is not controllable. Once biting is eliminated as a suspect, you can then work on the upper register vibrato. Keep in mind the higher the pitch, the less resistance there is to the air stream which is what makes it more difficult to use vibrato. The vibrato width is considerable more narrow, like a violin or flute. Hope it helps.
 

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Yeah, I'm making an effort NOT to bite, (this was an ongoing problem I had before I stopped playing about 15 years ago) it's just taking a lot of concentration on what I'm doing with my embouchure.
How to not bite when playing the saxophone.
- Think of opening your teeth more when you play.
- Try to develop the sensation of the jaw and lower teeth pulling down at the same time the lower lip is pushing up to meet the reed.
- Imagine you are blowing down toward your thumb.
- Put more emphasis on the "OO" muscles pushing in at the corners.
- Play the mouthpiece + neck keeping the teeth open. It should produce an Ab concert if you are not biting or pinching. Check regularly.
 

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This may not be all that helpful to the OP's situation, but I'm trying to remember back to how I 'learned' vibrato. I don't really remember it being any kind of problem to just do it. The real challenge was in breaking the habit of over-using it and learn to play a perfectly steady, in tune, note with no vibrato. From there it's a matter of learning to control the vibrato and use it effectively, only when you want to add it. I like using it on occasion to finish a note that is held for a couple of beats or more.
 

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If you USED to bite, and are still struggling with biting, then my guess (and it's just a guess!) is that you are using too firm an embouchure. Try pushing in the mouthpiece some so that you play a little sharp, especially in the second register, then play in tune - in order to do this you will have to have a relaxed (but solid) embouchure.

Another thing to check is to "tune" your horn to itself. Play B2 (middle line B) and "slur" to the same note, but played fingering low B. Try not to move your embouchure or change your oral cavity voicing in any way. Check to see if the normal B2 (LH index finger) and long B2 are in tune with each other. Often (especially people who bite ...) the normal B2 is flat compared to the long B2. Push your mouthpiece in until they are in tune. Now, play in tune (with recordings, or a drone, or a keyboard etc.) with the mouthpiece in that position.
 

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If you USED to bite, and are still struggling with biting, then my guess (and it's just a guess!) is that you are using too firm an embouchure. Try pushing in the mouthpiece some so that you play a little sharp, especially in the second register, then play in tune - in order to do this you will have to have a relaxed (but solid) embouchure.

Another thing to check is to "tune" your horn to itself. Play B2 (middle line B) and "slur" to the same note, but played fingering low B. Try not to move your embouchure or change your oral cavity voicing in any way. Check to see if the normal B2 (LH index finger) and long B2 are in tune with each other. Often (especially people who bite ...) the normal B2 is flat compared to the long B2. Push your mouthpiece in until they are in tune. Now, play in tune (with recordings, or a drone, or a keyboard etc.) with the mouthpiece in that position.
+1
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Theoretically there is no difference whether vibrato is on low notes or high notes. If it is a problem with high notes then I’d go back to basics and work on those notes without vibrato.

This would be basic long note practice gradually working up to the high notes.

The main thing for me about vibrato is controlling it, ie you can play different speeds and depths as well as turning it on and off smoothly.

My main exercise to learning vibrato involves starting it extreeeemely slowly, so slow it is just a bend not s vibrato

See:
https://tamingthesaxophone.com/saxophone-vibrato

There is also a database there of different players’ vibratos with sound files
 
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