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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My daughter,grade 5(2years playing),puffs her cheeks. She uses a Keilwerth SX-90 lacquered tenor w/ a Rouassuea NC3 mthpc(hemke 2 reed). Her private teacher and I(30 years playing)think she will outgrow it. She has won a $500 sholarship. 1st place for playing spanish dance no2. The judge who is a bassoonist cautioned her about the perils of cheek puffing. My sister in law who toke a chinese kodai music course but never played in elementary school or jr sr high for that matter,really makes a big deal of it(she hates foot tapping too). I wonder if the great sax/mouthpiece helps mask the problems caused by puffing. She sounds great despite puffing. Her younger sister who is in 3rd grade and played since kindergarten has a well formed embouchure(she plays quite a bit of soprano-a yani sc-991).
 

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Congratulations on having such talented children and encouraging their musical development. The only "bad" thing about puffing the cheeks while playing the saxophone is that it indicates that the muscles in the corners of the mouth are not firm. Without the saxophone, have her tighten her corners (like she is trying to hold two pencils in the corners of her mouth) and try to puff the cheeks. It is impossible to do when the corner muscles are working.

Please realize that there is not a consensus among saxophone players as to how tight the corners of the mouth should be or for that matter whether the cheeks should not be puffed out sometimes. Generally speaking for "classical" playing the corners of the mouth are pushed in against the sides of the reed as in saying "OO" and the cheeks do not puff out. However a bubble of air can travel to the upper part of the cheek and stay there while blowing with the corners still firm. This can help the tone by opening the oral cavity.

When playing jazz styles in which the tone is less focused and refined, often the player will expand the cheeks for certain tonal effects such as subtone, scoops, or falls. This may even take place automatically with the player just focusing on the desired sound and not consciously thinking about puffing the cheeks.

Just suggest to you daughter that she put more "OO" into her embouchure when she plays, and I think the problem will be solved. The real issue is not whether she puffs her cheeks when she plays, but that she can control her embouchure and make the cheeks go out when she wants them to.
 

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I have a book with transcriptions of Stan Getz solo's. On the cover there is a picture of Getz with puffed cheeks suggesting that it does not prevent one from playing tenor rather well.
 

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jbtsax said:
When playing jazz styles in which the tone is less focused and refined,.
Yes, us jazzers are such a sloppy unrefined bunch...
 

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I've always been taught and teach that under NO normal playing circumstances must one puff their cheeks. The same applied when I was learning the bugle in Boys' Brigade - no puffing allowed. Of course, the exception is in circular breathing (which I can't do - I've even tried the straw in water exercise and can't do it) and the photo of Stan Getz may have been taken when he was doing circular - at least that'd be an excuse!
 
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Circular breathing

Now that we've established the answer to the original post, I have another one but sort of related.

Can one do circular breathing on the sax without puffing cheeks? (... not that I have any ambitions of learning circular breathing myself.)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you for your responses!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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If you puff your cheeks regularly for years, you do actually stretch your cheeks out... check out Dizzy Gilespie. :p He always played with puffed cheeks.

 

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It's just another embrouchere that sax players use.

I dont see the point in telling her that a particular style of playing is good, or bad. Just that if she's happy with the tone that she makes, its good.

And whats wrong with foot tapping?
 
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