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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, another question if I may " actually thats a question within a question"
Sorry, okay when producing tones and tonguing the sound is there a trick or knack to making the tones sound fluid. When I go to youtube and listen to some people play the alto sax, they sound fluid almost like they are sluring all the notes. I know that there not sluring and actually producing the sound correctly but whats the trick. I hear my daughter play and she is definetly a individual note breather, and her song playing sounds forced and false. I thought when I played I had a smoothness flowing, because I can close my eyes and play the song and it feels like the notes are just flowing along almost like a slur. I commented to my wife that its hard to be critical of ones self when you really cant hear what your playing as a song, because all you here when your playing is how you play each note. So the wife bought for me today a digital recording device so that way one can be critical of there own sound, and I suck. When I listen to a playback of myself playing a complete song, all the notes sound individual and not fluid. Is there a fix for this apart from practice practice and again practice.
Recommendations will be greatly appreciated
Thanks
Steve
 

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long tones

You've probably heard a lot about long tones.

This exercise has many benefits.

One of them is a conceptual benefit.

Put your metronome on, let's say 40. Play all the notes on your horn for 8 beats, concentrating on making an even tone that's in-tune from beginning to end.

Do this for a few months and you will start to see that when you play a scale, or a song, it is just
like playing a long tone, only your are breaking up
the one long tone tone into different notes.

As someone else on the forum put it, it's like your lungs are the bags of a bagpipe that's pushing along no matter what notes you are playing.

Now, getting a good even tone takes a long time.
Years, in fact. I heard that Dexter played lots of long tone exercises throughout his career.

Also, if you haven't already, you should get a teacher. Tips like these on the Forum are helpful,
but unless you have a teacher, could develop bad habits.

As you and your daughter progress, you will come to realize that every more advanced aspect of music is just an embellishment on fundamental principles and techniques that you are starting to learn now.
 

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Get your daughter out of the breathing-every-note habit AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I've taught Middle School band for 11 years and this is a tough habit to break. I call my little students "Whoo-Birds" who do this. Not is a mean way but as a way to help them identify the problem. Every note has a puff of air with NO tongue use at all.
 

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Air support is for sure the first thing I noticed in my skills that needed improving and I'm no child. Well beyond those years I am afraid.
As others have stated, your daughters lungs must be filled like a bag pipe and maintaining proper air support from breath control from the diaphragm. Posture will help.
Once she can hold a proper flow of constant air pressure without gasping in between each note she will be able to lightly tongue the notes to control there start and finish. She should not keep the habit of "Fire place Bellows" like breathing per note.
Playing the sax is like singing and should be played in voiced phrases just as if you were in a choir. Ask her if she breaths between each word?
It is the same thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Oh yeh she knows shes doing it wrong, but she does the shoulder shrug ect attitude type thing shes 11 going on 30. I do however suffer that problem of the songs sounding very individual notey. I thought I had it down pat until I recorded myself, I was very let down with the result that I have achieved so far. I honestly thought I flowed the notes alot better than I had. Ill try and do it again tommorrow and record and upload to show you what I mean
Thanks
Steve
 

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Ah, now there is a better question, and only you can answer it; How do you make your daughter care about how she plays................
 

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Hello simso,
First off, when you first start listening to yourself back on recordings it is a painful experience. I know that for many years I have cringed, but it is has gotten easier as time moves on and I get used to the process. I think it is a wonderful thing to do, and often, you will notice many different things that have been previously overlooked
You should record yourself slurring everything and listen back.
If the reed is pushed too hard against the tip rail on the mouthpiece when you
tongue, the sound will get cut off very hard and abrupt between each note. A good exercise is too play a open C# and use your tongue to stop the reed but keep blowing. You want to keep a passage way for the air you are blowing while stopping the reed from vibrating at the same time. When you release your tongue from the reed, the reed will start vibrating again and the note will start. This exercise will show you how little pressure you need to stop the vibrating reed. If you practice tonguing in this way, it should smooth out some of what you are hearing back. Just try to keep the air flowing even when you tongue.
I also agree with tenorocity that long tone will help you tremendously.
good luck,
B
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hang on, so when you tongue your not trying to close the reed but simply stop it vibrating, is that it, just simply touch it. I think that may be the problem if thats all your tonguing for
Steve
 

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simso, use the tip of your tongue against just the tip of the reed. A delicate touch is good!

And I liked what Bar-Ron said about phrases. Maybe you can use it with your daughter - turn it into a game and get her to "say" a sentence of notes "C, D, E, F, G" and then get her to play them like she spoke them. Then get her to speak them a different way "C, D, E -stop- F, G" and play them like that, etc.

A while ago, someone posted a link to a computer programme aimed at teaching kids about music that everyone said was excellent - I don't know what it is but it might be useful. It wasn't specific to saxophone though.
 

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simso said:
Hang on, so when you tongue your not trying to close the reed but simply stop it vibrating, is that it, just simply touch it. I think that may be the problem if thats all your tonguing for
Steve
Yes, you just touch it enough to make it stop vibrating. You don't need to push any harder than that. Hopefully this will help,
B
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I saved maryanne and was going to post it here as an mp3 file, the length is only about 20 seconds, but even as a mp3 format its 385 kb.
So no luck for posting then.
Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Okay, Ive taken some advice and tried a few things. Firstly I set the metronome on 40 and let it start swinging. I played each note from high c to low B including flats and sharps for a count of 8 swings and 1 swing to get my breathe back between each note. It was easy to start with but as I got down to mid treble clef range A it started to get hard, as my recuperation time between notes was compounding but I did it and it was satisfying in the end so this is a good exercise I guess for me. I did the other test where you blow a note and try to just lightly touch the reed. I was really surprised with the results, I found that even though I was confident and happy with my tonguing technique and so is my sax teacher, I found that I just about completely cut the airflow of and was struggling to keep it going. Now I breathe from the lungs and dont actually conciously breathe the note but try and control the collapse of my chest air for the sound. I roll my lip over the bottom teeth, but try and try and try I did but even in the end I was still significantly cutting my airflow off. I tried to play with pursed lips no teeth support and I can blow the note and tongue without really disturbing the airflow. What does all this mean. Is my tonque probably to big for my mouth. I can play all my songs with pursed lips but they dont sound as nice and clear as they do with teeth supported bottom lip
Recommendations Anyone
Steve
 

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Steve,

Those low notes are harder as you need much more air support to keep them going. You may try and go from low to high (get the harder ones out of the way while you're fresh) and see if it's a bit easier to do.
 

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You are probably improving and you are having the newbie critique and impatience problems.

All takes time, and believe all these folks as you take there advice, you are probably improving as your brain begins sorting and applying all this info.

Play your recorder and sing the song how you would like it expressed. Then, play your sax trying not to cripple yourself with too much thinking and play. Intentionally express yourself with the same way you would have as you sang. Listen to the recording and hear if you came close.

Do it again and again with a little experimentation trying to sort out what techniques get you to the point you desire. Don't keep doing it the same if you are not happy with it.

Express your inner voice with the same emotional and expressiveness you would have liked to have sung it. Think Song, try not to think notes.......
Be a witness to your techniques as you stumble upon new ones and keep the ones that work. Be intentional but freely just play and hear what happens on play back.

Your brain and you will grow together as you freely begin to awaken your technical and inspirational thought processes.
Your lungs will develop as you take on longer phrases and blow long tones and see how long you can sustain them ...in tune.;)
 

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All good advice. But I have a question. Are you avoiding slurring between notes altogether? There is nothing wrong with slurring some of the notes, depending on how you want to play a phrase.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yep, first up as everyone has already pointed out its the newbie impatient stage, you know, where you want everything to happen at once. I havent slurred any notes unless they say to be slurred. My reasoning for that is that thats the way they want it to be played "the person who wrote the music". As I said, I thought my tone was really good. Example when I play maryanne, I can feel myself within the bell "does that make sense" and all mellowed out with the tune. But when I record and play it back its notey. After experimenting yesterday my tune has improved a bit now that I am aware of this problem. So now Ive got to find a way of overcoming this. My biggest issue which Ill bring up with my sax teacher this thursday is keeping the air flowing threw the reed when im tonguing the note with lips tucked. If there pursed I can keep the air flowing just fine, but my tone is shot, with the lips pursed the note is hard to start and the volume is up and down ect. But with the lip tucked its nice tone but notey because I keep disturbing the irflow when tonguing
Thanks for everyones advice. This site has been invaluable in my learning of the sax, and I appreciate everyones time
Steve
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Ive actually posted this in two different sections here so please forgive me if you end up reading this twice. Okay follow up on my earlier post. Im glad the wife got me a digital recorder, because I thought I sounded great. But by recording myself I found a problem with my technique. As I pointed out I sounded notey which led me to discover that I couldnt use a tucked bottom lip and tongue the notes without significantly cutting my airflow off, trhereby giving a puffy sound to each note being blown. But with pursed lips I could do it just fine but my tone wasnt as nice. I have a spare mouthpiece so Ive been practising tonguing and not disturbing the airflow with a tucked bottom lip all day today, when Ive been watching the tele Ive been practising. The end result is I can now with a tucked bottom lip tongue the reed without hurting the airflow to much. The problem was quite simply my tongue is to big for my mouth and mouthpiece. So the trick ive developed in the end is I lay my tongue along the bottom of my mouth and roll the tip back under the mouthpiece back towards my throat and then let the tip touch the underside of the reed about 2mm away from the end. Little bit awkward to start with but good end result.
Thanks for everyones help, its been appreciated
Steve
 
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