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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm just a beginer, on my tenth week.

Mostly I can practice for about 30 minutes before my bottom lip starts to give out.

The last couple of days, I have noticed that my lip was tiring after about 15 minutes. Man, that was worrying me. :(

Tonight, after about 10 minutes, I was ready to quit for the night.

Accidently my mouth position changed. The mouth piece was angling more upward in my mouth and the notes became easier to blow, and the bottom lip felt refreshed, if thats possible.

I continued to play for another 30 minutes without my bottom lip blowing out on me. Also I noticed with the change that I needed less pressure in the embrochure. :)

Before the change, I believe that the neck of the crook was coming straight into my mouth at about a 90% angle to the face.

I hope this new position is correct, what do the rest of you think about the angle of the mouthpiece in the mouth.
 

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The mouthpiece should tilt down very slightly from a 90 degree angle to the face. To find the correct mouthpiece angle do the following:

1. Sit erect on the front half of a chair with the head straight.
2. Letting the neckstrap support the entire weight of the saxophone balance the sax with your 2 thumbs
3. Push the bell of the sax forward so that the body of the sax is just behind the right knee
4. Keeping the sax in this position adjust the length of the neckstrap so the tip of the mouthpiece touches the curve above your chin
5. Then tilt the head down slightly to allow the mouthpiece to go into the mouth
 

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Before the change, I believe that the neck of the crook was coming straight into my mouth at about a 90% angle to the face.

I hope this new position is correct, what do the rest of you think about the angle of the mouthpiece in the mouth.
I favour a close to a 90 degree angle. An upward angle is tending more towards a clarinet embouchure.

My advice (after speaking to your teacher about this) is to work on your embouchure and breath support instead.
 

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I'm going to presume we're talking alto. I have certainly noticed that a number of well-known players (eg Sanborn, also classical players eg John Harle - clips can be found on youtube) angle the mp in the way you seem to be describing (?? what sort of angle are we talking about??) So I would be hesitant to say that what you are doing is definitely "wrong". However, I think an important word here could be "refreshed". Changing position may have just allowed you to employ different muscles to those that were fatigued so it felt easier. Speak to your teacher about all this. (IMO)
 

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I'm going to presume we're talking alto. I have certainly noticed that a number of well-known players (eg Sanborn, also classical players eg John Harle - clips can be found on youtube) angle the mp in the way you seem to be describing
That is very true. My pint was that angling it down is OK as technique if that works for the sound you want etc., but is int advisable as a way to cure issues that could possibly be cured by embouchure. Only a teacher will really know, it's not usually possible to diagnose such things over the internet
 

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All too often beginning players will try to compensate for lack of muscle strength in the embouchure by tilting the mouthpiece down like a "lever" using the top teeth as a "fulcrum" to force the reed down against the lower lip over the bottom teeth. Definitely for a player starting out the slightly below 90 degrees works the best. When you learn to play as well as Sanborn, then you can play any way you want to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the replys everyone.

I didn't think about the change in position, that would allow different Lip muscles to support the embrochure. I just thought I found the magically right mpc position. I'm learning more as the weeks pass.

George
 

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I wonder how Sanborn played the sax until he was good enough to do what he wanted?
 

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I wonder how Sanborn played the sax until he was good enough to do what he wanted?
Sanborn's playing position is partially caused by shorter arms caused by Polio. (You notice he NEVER plays tenor?).

Also, if you look closely, you'll discover that his horn isn't as high as it appears. His head is very straight, and the mouthpiece isn't really at an extreme angle. J-E Kelly is the one with the really odd angle.
 

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I have been able to find info that Sanborn did suffer from polio as a child but i cannot find any at all that his arms are affected in any permanent way. So I am saying I am somewhat sceptical that "Sanborn's playing position is partially caused by shorter arms caused by Polio". As for the angle this clip will allow anyone to judge for themselves: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4pqc1_david-sanborn-with-eric-clapton-mar_music
 

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...and yet, in this picture he doesn't look at all like the angle is extreme:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Sanborn
That's true. Quite possibly this is something that has varied a bit at various times in his career, I'm not sure. I think the most telling angle to look at is from the side, though, and in a clip rather than a still. I suppose it's possible that a still might just capture a fleeting moment when he's lifting the sax before going back to his "default" position (??) John Harle's position is considerably more extreme than David Sanborn's:

 

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Teaching young saxophonists to play with their mouthpiece at the same angle as a clarinet because John Harle plays that way makes as much sense as teaching young trumpet students to puff their cheeks because that is the way Dizzy Gillespie plays. It is not a matter of being pedantic, it is a matter of being practical.
 

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Teaching young saxophonists to play with their mouthpiece at the same angle as a clarinet because John Harle plays that way makes as much sense as teaching young trumpet students to puff their cheeks because that is the way Dizzy Gillespie plays
That is probably why noone has suggested it.
 

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Sanborn is not the greatest technique wise that I've heard but he plays in a certain way and has an excellent sense of what note to play at what time, also he plays the upper stack and heading off into the Altissimo range in a bit of a Tenor way to me especially with blues scales and he seems to be able to put a fair bit of air through the horn.
I think his mouthpiece playing angle might not be that important compared to other things, but it might play some sort of role in his sound.

I think a lot of his sound is coming from the Dukoff and a sweet focused sounding Mark VI that he found so he gets this sort of bittersweet thing going with the Dukoff being mostly the bitter part and the Mark VI being mostly the sweet part.

I say all this because I have a Couesnon Alto that has a pretty focused and sweet tone and when it's matched with a Dukoff it gets this bittersweet thing a bit like Sanborn.
I also have a Mark VI Alto that doesn't have the focus and sweetness of the Couesnon but I suppose some Mark VI's will, luck of the draw and all that.

Notice how Sanborn is so attached to his particular Mark VI, so it must have something different tonewise than other Mark VI's he has tried and judging from his tone I think it probably has a focused sweet sound.

Of course I could be wrong.
 

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I thought you were being sarcastic with this statement implying that students should be able to play any way they want. Sorry if I misinterpreted your meaning.
I suppose I was being a little sarcastic but I certainly don't think students should be allowed to play any way they want. As a serious question, I do actually wonder about how far it is the teacher's role to make sure the student is orthodox. I'm guessing (I may be totally wrong) that Sanborn played the sax that way long before he was a famous or even (perhaps) a good player. So should his teacher have corrected him? I think there are different approaches to teaching and to learning that work well for different people. That's just my view. I know very well that in some pedagogical traditions there is little scope for discussion or uncertainty and that works well.
 

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Sanborn studied Classical at some place I can't remember with a well known teacher that I also can't remember, aha I remembered it, Hemke it was.

I've seen Dave play with the sax pointing upward quite a bit as well, I think, playing some blues on Letterman ages ago.
 

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I think there are different approaches to teaching and to learning that work well for different people. That's just my view.
I not only agree, I think that being able to recognize, adapt to, and nurture, each individual's own learning styles and innate abilities is what makes a teacher great. Anyone can "teach" a rigid and dogmatic approach. But that approach doesn't work for many, and doesn't bring out the best in most. I'm glad that someone didn't get in the way of what works best for Sanborn.
 

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The teaching method that is I use is called cognitive apprenticeship. From Wikipedia:
Modeling

Modeling is when an expert, usually a teacher, within the cognitive domain or subject area demonstrates a task explicitly so that novices, usually a student, can experience and build a conceptual model of the task at hand. For example, a math teacher might write out explicit steps and work through a problem aloud, demonstrating her heuristics and procedural knowledge. Modeling can include modeling of expert performance or processes in the world.

Coaching

Coaching involves observing novice task performance and offering feedback and hints to sculpt the novice's performance to that of an expert's. The expert oversees the novice's tasks and may structure the task accordingly to assist in the novice's development.

Scaffolding

Scaffolding is the act of putting into place strategies and methods to support the student's learning. These supports can be teaching manipulatives, activities, and group work. The teacher may have to execute parts of the task that the student is not yet able to do. This requires the teacher to have the skill to analyze and assess student abilities in the moment.

Articulation

Articulation includes "any method of getting students to articulate their knowledge, reasoning, or problem-solving process in a domain" (p. 482) [1]. Three types of articulation are inquiry teaching, thinking aloud, and critical student role. Through inquiry teaching (Collins & Stevens, 1982), teachers ask students a series of questions that allows them to refine and restate their learned knowledge and to form explicit conceptual models. Thinking aloud requires students to articulate their thoughts while solving problems. Students assuming a critical role monitor others in cooperative activities and draw conclusions based on the problem-solving activities. Articulation is described by McLellan [8] as consisting of two aspects: separating component knowledge and skills to learn them more effectively and, more common verbalizing or demonstrating knowledge and thinking processes in order to expose and clarify them.

Reflection

Reflection allows students to "compare their own problem-solving processes with those of an expert, another student, and ultimately, an internal cognitive model of expertise" (p. 483) [1]. A technique for reflection could be to examine the past performances of both expert and novice and to highlight similarities and differences. The goal of reflection is for students to look back and analyze their performances with a desire for understanding and improvement towards the behavior of an expert.

Exploration

Exploration involves giving students room to problem solve on their own and teaching students exploration strategies. The former requires the teacher to slowly withdraw the use of supports and scaffolds not only in problem solving methods, but problem setting methods as well. The latter requires the teacher to show students how to explore, research, and develop hypothesis. Exploration allows the student to frame interesting problems within the domain for themselves and then take the initiative to solve these problems.
If the student is a beginner, there would be much more modeling and coaching. That would mean, for me, that a sax student would learn to play in a conventional manner. Later, as the student gains skills (through scaffolding and articulation), the student would reflect and explore. If, in those explorations, a student would find that an extreme position worked form them to improve an aspect of their playing, then they would make those adjustments. BUT, the student would work in a conventional manner for a LONG time before deciding that an extreme position would work.
 
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