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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

I'm new to this forum and hence this is my first post. I've played recorder as a kid and did all my exams to the point that I had to choose another instrument to continue (which I never did until last year). I'm thus fairly new to saxophone playing and took some classes last year in which my teacher taught me the proper embouchure, which is to have a relaxed bottom jaw. Zombie face, he called it. I have 2 problems though.

I have a guitar tuner and he showed me how to get my low C in tune, but warned that I shouldn't use the tuner for getting the right embouchure for any of the other notes. I should merely keep the low C embouchure when playing the other notes with only airspeed changes to stay in tune, which is what I'm doing. Problem is that to be in tune for the low C, my jaw is so low that it is not relaxed. Rather I need to almost stretch my lower lip to keep it that low whilst still applying enough pressure to keep my lips closed around the mouthpiece. That's hard to do.

I play a 1959 The Martin with a Martin one star mouthpiece and I've read that the place on the neck where the mouthpiece attaches is a bit small/thin (and my cork is a bit warn thin on top of that). I've suggested to my teacher that I have the cork replaced with the hope that I can pull the mouthpiece out a bit to get it less sharp, but he insisted that I keep it the way it is assuring me that it will be okay after I got my mouth muscles stronger. What do you think?

My second problem is that, different from other tired mouth threads I've read, it's not the muscles in the corners of my mouth that gets tired, but my lower lip and chin muscles. From where the lower lip attaches to my face to the bottom of my chin. This happens regardless of whether I try to play in tune or not. It's not so much of a problem on my soprano though (bought a cheapie out of pure frustration on the alto). Why is this? Am I doing something wrong? I don't even get to the tired corner of the mouth muscles mentioned by others, which means I cannot play for longer than 10 minutes at a time. I've tried to play a couple of minutes every hour or two all day long and hoped to build some sort of muscle fitness that way, but it just gets more tired every time I pick it up. What else can I do? This is really holding me back.

Any help appreciated. Thanks
Amanda
 

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Do chimpanzee exercises. "Oooo ... Eeeee" - just with your mouth, no need to make a sound. Exaggerate, that is, really stick your lips out a lot for "Oooo", and pull them far back for "Eeee". Hold each position for 5 or 10 seconds, do 10 reps. Your mouth will be tired.

Do that every day, and very soon you will be focusing on less elemental, but no less important, things. :)

BTW, listen to your teacher. It sounds like he is giving you good advice. Has your teacher played your horn to make sure it's in good shape?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Steve. I'll try that. And yes, my teacher has played my horn. But I'm still wondering why my mouth doesn't get tired at the corners of my mouth. Am I not doing something wrong?
 

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Thanks Steve. I'll try that. And yes, my teacher has played my horn. But I'm still wondering why my mouth doesn't get tired at the corners of my mouth. Am I not doing something wrong?
As an amateur recorder player, I found I have to keep the corners of my mouth firm to keep air from leaking out. Especially to get low notes voiced correctly. So you may have stronger corner muscles than you think!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You might be right. I watched some YouTube videos today and think that I'm trying to hold my jaw to low, which puts extra strain on my lower lip and chin muscles. I think I should have that cork replaced so the mouthpiece don't have to go in all the way, which will help me to play in tune.
I played 4 times today (each time just until I really can't hold out any more) and it seems to be better now that I'm not holding my jaw that low. But still, lower lip and chin's feeling it, not corners of my mouth. I'll keep trying short practice sessions each day for the rest of the week. Hopefully I can nail this one soon.
 

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Jazzlab makes a silencer that fits on the mouthpiece so you can exercise the embouchure without the horn attached. Would bore me to tears, personally, but might work for you if you can't pick up the horn and just blow.
 
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