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Discussion Starter #1
I'm tired of mouthpiece makers lying to players telling them that they can get a potential customer to sound like someone, that's a bunch of BS. I'm laying out what I learned from Joe Allard, Herk Faranda, and Vick Morosco here and I’ll elaborate if some of you guys practice them and report back to me. My feeling is that the books and exercises available for sale are unnecessarily complicated. So, here's some stuff just to get started.

Play middle F without the octave key and using your throat, "slide" it down to low F. There’s no rhythm so hold the note for as long as you have to until it sounds low F but do it with the air stream and while opening your throat and supporting your diaphragm. It should be CLEAN and don't use your embouchure. If there's a gurgle or some distortion in between then keep trying until it's CLEAN. Use your diaphragm and open your throat more as you go to the low F and keep the diaphragm SUPPORTED. Do this exercise chromatically down to low Bb. It gets harder as you go down but the benefits will come by just practicing it. You should probably do it on F and E before you venture further down the register but trying to do it on D or Eb won't hurt because it's harder and may give you insight as to how to do it but if you're not successful then stop and take a break because you don't want to reinforce bad habits.

Also, practice scales on your mouthpiece when you can't have your horn with you. Remember, use your throat. The embouchure should be as loose and relaxed as possible.

Joe Allard used to tell me that the only pressure should be from the bottom of the mouthpiece using your teeth. Just enough to FEEL the reed through the bottom lip with your teeth using the muscles in your JAW, not your facial muscles and this "posture' should remain FIXED. The jaw muscles are much stronger than the facial muscles thus easier to control. This doesn't necessarily mean that you won't use your facial muscles at all but it’s just meant to lead you in the right direction.

Also, from now on, don't think of the extreme upper register as being hard to get, think of it as being easy, it’s in fact so easy that one thinks that you have to “try” in order to get them to play. The change in your embouchure stature should be SUBTLE, understand? I can get a variety of notes out using just one fingering but I don't change my embouchure, I alter my throat cavity and I hear the note a moment before I play it. Also, this is VERY important, take as much mouthpiece as possible. This may feel uncomfortable at first and the sound will be unrefined but in a few days it will feel natural and you will find the place where the mouthpiece will give you the optimum results.

I've watched many great players and the great majority of them take huge amounts of mouthpiece. Do this stuff for a few weeks then get back to me and I'll give you an exercise that along with these will enable you to play any mouthpiece and essentially sound the same. YOU will be the maker of the sound and not the mouthpiece or horn. By the way, do this as much as possible but if you don't have a lot of time just do them for a few minutes when you start your practice session and a few minutes at the end. If you're having a long practice session the try and do it in the middle too.

Phil
 

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I've watched many great players and the great majority of them take huge amounts of mouthpiece.
Phil, of course, has interesting things to say here...

I've wondered about this one though. I studied with an Allard student once, and his philosophy was that you take in the mouthpiece to where the facing and the reed seperate. (In other words, where the flat part of the table ends and the facing curve begins.) So, if you have a shorter faced mouthpiece, you take less in. Also, it's somewhat dependent on anatomy as well...if you have a larger oral cavity, you need more mouthpiece to get it to resonate properly.

I'm not saying that you're wrong, but I am saying that it may be more relative.
 

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Phil,

In regards to the "as much mpc as possible". Would you specify any location as maximum? Basically, the point on the mpc where the mpc starts curving and going away from the reed I've always called the 'neutral' point. I'm sure it has a real name by you mpc guys.

But i've always taught that this point and before is the optimum location to play it. I was taught this many years ago, not in that exact language but i've interpreted it into that. I've seen many players use a location too close to the tip and hurt their tone as a result, and need too much pressure and top pressure, etc.

for myself, I can play play a scale and hit it's octave by diaphragm /throat changes - basically Bb, 8va Bb, B, 8va B etc. I also hum scales and other tunes alot while (inadvertantly) using my sax emb. bad habits die hard .. or in this case good habits
 

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I think the thing about taking in more mouthpiece is that most beginners play/ bite right on the tip. Even if they're playing on short facing curves, they're not taking nearly enough mouthpiece. The sound just opens way up once you take in enough.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
J.Max said:
Phil, of course, has interesting things to say here...

I've wondered about this one though. I studied with an Allard student once, and his philosophy was that you take in the mouthpiece to where the facing and the reed seperate. (In other words, where the flat part of the table ends and the facing curve begins.) So, if you have a shorter faced mouthpiece, you take less in. Also, it's somewhat dependent on anatomy as well...if you have a larger oral cavity, you need more mouthpiece to get it to resonate properly.

I'm not saying that you're wrong, but I am saying that it may be more relative.
I agree but most players don't take that much in. However, I studied with Joe and we both agreed that you can't take too much. Phil
 

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Jmax .. teaching-wise i've heard immediate tone improvement by students who take in too little mpc and move more towards the neutral zone, as i mentioned above. I can't see how you can get bends, etc going above that point though.

above that neutral point is also a good test of how intune your horn is. no emb variation to cause a conflict.

in other words, i don't see what improvement there could be above that point either. but for me, small mouth, etc, taking in ALOT of mpc is just a choking effort.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
ZenBen said:
I think the thing about taking in more mouthpiece is that most beginners play/ bite right on the tip. Even if they're playing on short facing curves, they're not taking nearly enough mouthpiece. The sound just opens way up once you take in enough.
I'll add that 99% of tenor facings all start at the same place, a little less than an inch. I think it's fair to say that since I make mouthpieces I can see the Allard theory very clearly because I understand how a mouthpiece works. As in Joe's theory, my theory is that a mouthpiece would best be played with no mouth on it at all. Now before the crap starts hitting the fan here I just want to say that I'm really not interested in hearing anybody's BS and I'm not going to respond to the usual know-it-alls on here. I just posted this to help and because I felt it was overdue and that the books available don't do Joe justice. One popular book was written by a player who clearly in not using Joe's theory and when looking at him is as tight as a drum and plays out of tune. Now don't hand me any crap now. I really don't want to hear it. Phil
 

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Jmax .. teaching-wise i've heard immediate tone improvement by students who take in too little mpc and move more towards the neutral zone, as i mentioned above. I can't see how you can get bends, etc going above that point though.
That's been my experience also...I think that it helps them to open the throat also, which gives more resonance. Just trying to get clarification.
 

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One popular book was written by a player who clearly in not using Joe's theory and when looking at him is as tight as a drum and plays out of tune.
Yeah, I think I have that book...

Another thing I've often wondered: Nothing against Joe Allard, who was a fantastic teacher and player, but he has turned out a couple of famous students with some...odd...implementations of his teachings. There are many good Allard students, but there a few who just didn't seem to catch on, but thought that they understood. I wonder if what Mr. Allard was trying to teach them was just above their heads.

I can tell the difference because I've studied with both a good one and a bad one, and the ideas were just fundamentally different.
 

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A lot of players, having mouthpieces with LONG facings, (and open ones), compenstate by using stiffer reeds and BITING.

They are, in fact, closing up the facing and, instead of playing an 8* or 9, are playing a 5 and they dont realize it.

There are some "brand name" players, old ones, who play this way.

I feel that it is incorrect and while I am a bit too young to have taken lessons with Joe Allard, I have studied, and been around many players who have & have been lucky enough to pick their brains about Joe & his approach.

I think Phil is right on the money, and, before some of you start to object, just think about the concepts & try some of the exercises first.

Youre NOT going to have OVERNIGHT success, and, infact, alot of times, when making a physicial change in playing, it takes a month or two for you to adjust---and sometimes that can be daunting & discouraging, but...if you stick with it, everything will pop in & you'll notice a BIG change.

I'm of the opinion that most of the tones or the players that you like are using Joe's approach, some, as say, in the case of Dexter Gordon, probably arrived at that way of playing on thier own, I think Allard checked out these players & thought up his theory, as a way to describe what he was hearing.

I know my friend told me of Allard, showing him a picture of Coltrane playing, and Stanley Drucker, (Principal Clarinet, New York Philharmonic) and showed him the similarities in their embrachoures.

He also said, "Play the reed, not the mpc", which, I think, is what Phil is talking about.

DON,T KNOCK IT, 'TIL YOU'VE TRIED IT.

IT WORKS!!!
 

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J.Max said:
That's been my experience also...I think that it helps them to open the throat also, which gives more resonance. Just trying to get clarification.
I teach people how to open their throat & correct O embouchure by blowing air and getting no tone. Then change your Emb, throat, etc and you can hear the "air rush" difference becoming fuller.

of course, emb-wise you have to teach them that the mpc pushes up, etc but the above is a good training tool that students CAN hear and practice

back in the day, I really didn't understand my high school teacher and univeristy teacher, but as time and experience went on I understood it. Luckily they taugh me right. I'll have to look at the Allard method to understand what you guys are talking about.
 

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Phil Barone said:
...
Also, from now on, don't think of the extreme upper register as being hard to get, think of it as being easy, it’s in fact so easy that one thinks that you have to “try” in order to get them to play. The change in your embouchure stature should be SUBTLE, understand? I can get a variety of notes out using just one fingering but I don't change my embouchure, I alter my throat cavity and I hear the note a moment before I play it. ...
Good advice there. I've just been discovering this myself lately. As I worked up the overtone series, I was actually defeating myself by "trying" too hard. This translates into more tension, too radical of an adjustment, or a combination of the two. I found that if I conciously try to minimize the change - and especially, try not to introduce additional tension - I have more success.

I think we probably all have images of brass players exerting themselves to get high notes. Saxophone is different - it's much more about control of subtle embouchure and air adjustments than added exertion.

But this is probably old hat for most of you.
 

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FYI: To me, the "O" embrouchure or "Embrouchure Wheel" as taught by Larry Teal (& is described in his book) is NOT part of the Allard concept.

It implies equal pressure on all sides of the mpc, whereas Joe's thing, as I understand it, says that you the top & sides of your mouth are only there to act as an AIR SEAL & should not be a factor in playing except for that.

Anything more is adding excess pressure, where it doesn't need to be, and adding exra variables to the whole tone production process. (Thats why, "double-lip" is also not part of Joe's thing, it deals with your lips approaching a NON-vibrating part of the mpc--whats the point in that?)

I first learned from one of Teal's best students, and learned the Teal way, but, when I got to UNT, I encountered the Allard approach & had to change.

I think, that they are more similar than different, but, the "O" thing is the one big difference.

They both produced great students though....I know for a fact that Teal was VERY proud of teaching Joe Henderson & considered him one of his all time favorite students--not too shabby:)
 

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chitownjazz said:
I think we probably all have images of brass players exerting themselves to get high notes. Saxophone is different - it's much more about control of subtle embouchure and air adjustments than added exertion.
Images? I wish it was only that. I work with some of those guys. It's the basis of a recurring nightmare.
 

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Selmer's_glu said:
FYI: To me, the "O" embrouchure or "Embrouchure Wheel" as taught by Larry Teal (& is described in his book) is NOT part of the Allard concept.

It implies equal pressure on all sides of the mpc, whereas Joe's thing, as I understand it, says that you the top & sides of your mouth are only there to act as an AIR SEAL & should not be a factor in playing except for that.

Anything more is adding excess pressure, where it doesn't need to be, and adding exra variables to the whole tone production process. (Thats why, "double-lip" is also not part of Joe's thing, it deals with your lips approaching a NON-vibrating part of the mpc--whats the point in that?)

I first learned from one of Teal's best students, and learned the Teal way, but, when I got to UNT, I encountered the Allard approach & had to change.

I think, that they are more similar than different, but, the "O" thing is the one big difference. .......
So that's the Allard method.

I was taught at UM & high school of the Teal method
 

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I'm quoting this guys post from the "Teal vs. Joe' thread, because it is an excellent explanation of the Allard thing...and is coming from my friend, Andrew Sterman, who is one of the people who told me a lot about Allard. (Although I had been using the Allard approach for many years, before meeting Andrew)

Benny said:
......This information came from a much email correspondence and a lesson I had with Andrew Sterman who was a student of Joe's and who explained pretty much everything in great detail.

The lower lip is put into place by saying the letter 'v' continuously - "vvvvvvvvv."
This leaves a little lips over the teeth, but it is really more against the teeth than over them. When you place the reed on your lip the lower lip needs to spread out on the reed.
Because the top and sides of the mouthpiece are hard and non-flexible there is no need to put muscle pressure on them. The reed is the only things that is flexible. The top lip needs to be relaxed and this can be achieved by pulling it up to show the top teeth whilst you are playing (like a bunny rabbit kind of face).
The lower lip and jaw always move together as a single unit and you NEVER drop the jaw.
The reason you need to spread your lip on the reed is that the higher partials reside in the thicker part, the lower partials in the thinner part. By moving on the reed (physically sliding it on the lower lip) you can access these different colours and make over the range of the horn easier. You play a descending interval you simply move slightly on the reed. This negates the need to drop the jaw or to make a big shift in your throat.
You need to free the sides of the reed by removing tension in the corners. This can be done by putting pencils or fingers in your mouth (whilst playing) right next to the reed on each side. You need to learn not to fight it.
The pressure put on the reed is not a tight, biting or pinching pressure. It is a stable, integrated pressure that knows what the reed is doing.
The embouchure is identical for all the saxes and clarinets. The thing that does change between these horns is where you put your lip on the mouthpiece just before the reed and mouthpiece come together. This way you can roll either up or down the reed depending on the part of the horn you are playing in and the colour you want to achieve.
The moving on the reed is the real hallmark of Joe's students.
There is no heir to Joe's teachings. Everyone has taken it in their own direction and there is no one authority on this subject.
 

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I'm enjoying this discussion, but a couple of phrases have confused me:

Phil, what do you mean by "... a mouthpiece would best be played with no mouth on it at all"?

Selmer's-glu, how does one "play the reed, not the mouthpiece"?

Thanks, all...
 

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I made the swtich to a double lip embouchure about a year ago after 30+ years of single lip. Selmer's glu is right about these kind of physical changes taking time. This took me 3 months with extensive coaching as opposed to teaching. This was having my teacher repeat things over and over as I played until my goal was clear to me at all times whle playing.
This change has resulted in my discoving how to keep my embouchure extremely relaxed. The attendant benifits include better tone, more tonal continuity, more ease of articulation and dynamics throughout the entire range etc. While the double lip is a key part of this I think it is true that a relaxed embouchure opens up the opportunity to play with more resonance and a greater degree of expression.
I did a lot of practice that involved playing at the very tip of the mouthpiece, so close as to be impractical for normal playing. The intention of these exercises, mostly long tones on low Bb at pp is to tune into the horns own resonance and learn how to create a big sound with very little air or volume. But this is just an exercise although a useful one and obviously more of the mouthpiece has to be utilized in normal situations. Meaning I pretty much think Phil is on the money here.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
J.Max said:
That's been my experience also...I think that it helps them to open the throat also, which gives more resonance. Just trying to get clarification.
Yeah yeah yeah, let's keep this going! 90% of the players that come to me don't take enough mouthpiece in their mouth. Let me point something out. If you have a bad habit such as not taking enough mouthpiece, take MORE than enough, in other words exaggerate the new habit and you'll end up in the right place. Phil
 
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