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My son is 11 and has been playing in his elementary band for 2 years. We just recently purchased him a YAS-23, which sounds great. The middle school band director told us that he'd like him to get a Selmer C*S80 mouthpiece and a Rovner ligature. Up until now he's been playing with whatever mouthpiece came with the student sax and has been pretty much squawk-free for at least a solid year. So we picked up the new mouthpiece and ligature and he gave it a whirl the other night. Even to my untrained ear it does sound very different (better), but it does seem more "tempermental" in that he is occasionally squawking again now ... particularly after he's been playing for a while, and/or when he's transitioning quickly between low and high notes (apparently he subtley changes his mouth to play them differently?). Is this just a matter of the better mouthpiece being less forgiving on his embrochure (i.e., if there's something even a little wrong it will squawk, whereas the other mouthpiece wasn't as sensitive), and/or just a matter of him having to adjust his mouth positioning a bit to account for a new mouthpiece? When he blows long steady notes up and down the scale and is really concentrating on just that, he doesn't squawk at all; it mostly comes into play when he's playing a song. That's what makes me think it has something to do with the discipline on his mouth as he's playing. The other thing we did notice is that the mouthpiece diameter is larger than his previous one, so it doesn't fit as snugly onto the cork and he has to push it on a bit farther. Could that be contributing?

Thanks for any tips!

Sondra Ailinger
 

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Well, after two years of playing on the mouthpiece that came with the sax... If he's anything like me, bad stuff happens. Some of them are real pieces of trash and you can learn pretty bad habits on them (happened to me on the clarinet...). So, either he's adjusting, or the new mouthpiece is a defect. Check it for chips or anything. Make sure the ligature isn't broken, too.
 

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Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
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Hi. The new mouthpiece itself should be fine (assuming it's not damaged) but the exact positioning of his mouth and especially the lower lip relative to the m/p will be different from his previous m/p and it may take a little time to adjust. The positioning of the m/p on the cork does affect tuning so when he's happy with making a consistent tone with the new piece it may be necessary to adjust the cork or have the neck recorked so the mouthpiece fits snugly and in the right place for him to play in tune. All the best.
 

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Having taught for 32 years I can say from experience that what your son is going through is entirely normal. The more "professional" Selmer mouthpiece probably has thinner side rails and a slightly more open tip than his more forgiving student mouthpiece therefore requiring a bit more embouchure control. Two weeks of practice every day is usually all it takes to adjust to the demands of the better mouthpiece. The effort is certainly worth it because his tone and dynamic range will improve dramatically on the better mouthpiece---with good playing habits, of course.

You are to be complimented for caring enough to provide your child with such good quality equipment. Believe me, it makes a big difference in the success rate with music students. Good luck. Hope this answers your question.

John
 

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What reed brand and strength (hardness) is he using?
 
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