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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, I've been playing alto for over a year, but also love the tenor, as I've posted before. I decided to continue to focus on alto, but I try to spend some time working on the tenor -- going through my scales, etc, and trying to get a good tone. My problem is that I'm only 5'3 and I have a short reach. If I position
the horn properly (mouthpiece to mouth) I find that my right hand is really stretched all the way out and it can be a bit awkward. Is it a matter of just getting used to the bigger horn or are there ways to make it ergonomically more comfortable?
 

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When you say "short reach" i'm presuming you mean the span of your hand when extended? I can't see that even at 5'3'' how the distances involved could cause you not to be able to reach the RH/LH thumb positions comfortably (??) I think that different tenor key layout/ ergos do extend both hands differently. It might be worth trying a few different horns to see if there's a difference. It might be worth it, especially if you start to find that overextending your hands is painful at all.
 

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First, one of the fastest tenor players in the business is Johnny Griffin and he's a short guy. I've got a 6th grade student smaller than you who does fine with the tenor and I play in wind ensemble with an excellent, short tenor player. So the good news is that it is workable, don't get discouraged.

Which horn is the tenor, the Martin or PM? I don't really know Martins but the ergos on the PM are modern and should be standard.

Maybe I missed it, but where is the sax, in front of you or on the side? It makes a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Actually the tenor is a Yamaha YTS-23. I play with it to the side. I'm renting it so it's the only tenor I've tried.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
RootyTootoot said:
When you say "short reach" i'm presuming you mean the span of your hand when extended? I can't see that even at 5'3'' how the distances involved could cause you not to be able to reach the RH/LH thumb positions comfortably (??) I think that different tenor key layout/ ergos do extend both hands differently. It might be worth trying a few different horns to see if there's a difference. It might be worth it, especially if you start to find that overextending your hands is painful at all.

Actually it's not my hand, it's my arm. My right arm is completely extended, and it's uncomfortable after only a short time.
 

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NU2SAX said:
Actually it's not my hand, it's my arm. My right arm is completely extended, and it's uncomfortable after only a short time.
I actually think this may be more about playing position and neckstrap adjustment, then. Have you tried letting the horn hang to the right of your body rather than having it in front? That might help. Take as little weight as possible on the right thumb and forearm.

Edit: sorry, posted too quickly. you're already down the side. hmm.. give me a minute..

Bit later: I'm still struggling with what you mean by "right arm completely extended". I'm only 5'7'' and the only way i could get my right arm anywhere near complete extension is by completely loosening off the neck strap and pushing the sax away from me. But then i'm nowhere near the mouthpiece! Maybe someone who has specific experience with the Yamaha tenor and the best way to set it up would be the best person to deal with this. If noone chimes in i'd experiment with neck strap adjustment and sax neck/body alignment to find a more comfortable position. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Rooty, 5'7 and 5'3 are a pretty significant difference, especially since I'm female. So the length of my arm and fingers means probably a good couple of inches. If I adjust the neck strap too much I'm almost playing slightly chin up, but my arm/hand position is a bit more comfortable. I may try a couple of other tenors just to see the difference. I would assume though that a student model would be fairly user friendly, i.e. for younger and therefore smaller players.
 

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NU2SAX said:
I would assume though that a student model would be fairly user friendly, i.e. for younger and therefore smaller players.
Yes, exactly. Now for the words you didn't want to hear: "Do you have a teacher?" Failing that, someone in the shop you hired the sax from should be able to give advice assuming there's someone who plays. It's actually a quite difficult problem to give advice on without being physically present. A half-decent teacher would be able to help you in minutes because he/she'd be able to see exactly what the situation is and how it's affecting you.
 

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I agree with toot. =)

Do you know who has exprience in sax? Seek their advice. I believe it could be just a posture issue. =)

Or you can try a few horns to see if you have that same problem.

Selmer USA bari is slightly bigger and I do have problems trying to play the lower octaves at times. Probably its how the thumbrest is positioned.

I do not have problems with a yani or yamaha.
 

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Actually it's not my hand, it's my arm. My right arm is completely extended, and it's uncomfortable after only a short time.
How about trying some strengthening exercises; you needn't be able to bench press 300 pounds or anything, just twenty minutes a day of stretching with a five pound weight might work. It will take time though, and commitment.
 

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NU2SAX said:
Actually it's not my hand, it's my arm. My right arm is completely extended, and it's uncomfortable after only a short time.
I would think this would be quite uncomfortable as you would have to bend at the wrist rather than the elbow. Unless you can get the sax up higher by shortening the strap, I don't see how you can correct this.
 

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I believe that Sanborn plays alto for the same reason.
 

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I do have a teacher, but I've only been taking the alto. The tenor I'm just working on some basics with. Maybe I will take it along next time and let him see
what I'm doing. There's probably a solution.

Thanks all for the suggestions.
 

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NU2SAX said:
I do have a teacher, but I've only been taking the alto. The tenor I'm just working on some basics with. Maybe I will take it along next time and let him see
what I'm doing. There's probably a solution.
Very good idea. However, failing that, can you have someone snap a photo of you in your playing position and post that here? Perhaps that would reveal why you're having problems; I play regularly with other women musicians, and I've never met anyone who couldn't actually *reach* the hand positions on the bigger horns.

-Leanne
 

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Discussion Starter #15
bari_sax_diva said:
Very good idea. However, failing that, can you have someone snap a photo of you in your playing position and post that here? Perhaps that would reveal why you're having problems; I play regularly with other women musicians, and I've never met anyone who couldn't actually *reach* the hand positions on the bigger horns.

-Leanne
I can try to get a pic. I actually can reach the hand position but I find I'm stretching a bit. I tried again today and realized that my elbow is very slightly bent and my trouble is a bit more depressing the low (C) key with my pinky.
 

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the advise of acquiring some specifical tuition with regards to playing position is indeed sound, but I doubt that you, even with perhaps limited alto experience, wouldn't have worked out a comfortable position.

Do you use a tight strap position? Is the strap perhaps to loose? Could you improve things if the strap ring would be lowered (hence pulling up the whole horn )? Could the thumb support be re-designed and lowered?

There are many technicians specialized in realizing ergonomics changes, they would be a whole lot more experienced in solving this type of problem than a teacher (they have to deal with people with major physical challenges at times, I'm sure this isn't one of those cases...), if the problem is the reach of the right pinky they can change the keys position by extending them.
 

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Just a wierd thought...when seated, are you angling the tenor so the bottom of the sax is considerably behind the top and the bow even with, or slightly behind, your rump?
 

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I think I can relate you what you are saying. Because of a bad back some days I can only play with proper posture. Although my arm can reach, my back can't turn to play the way you play for long periods of time, with the sax to the side. My interm solution was to find a table and play standing up with the sax directly infront of me. I later figured out that I could straddle a bench and find a box the right height as well with the sax in front. I used to lean against a wall sitting on the bench with my sax leaning slightly left against a table and the bottem of the sax resting on a box so I balanced it but did hold much weight.


If your body type allows, there are harnesses that carry the weight of the sax on the shoulders . There is also a small device called a Codera that attaches to the sax that allows the sax to be played front and center perfectly balanced to your center of gravity instead of you leaning into the saxophones center of gravity.

Go to www.codera.com click on Wind Instruments and Tools, then click Products then click ADDjust Balancer. It will show with photographs how it works.

I use a Codera with a Gemini Harness and can play as long as I want, and be relaxed.
 
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