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Discussion Starter #1
For the past week I've been trying to practice, and about halfway through, I just gag. I don't understand why. Its never happened to me before in the past. I searched up some old forums saying that I just needed to rest and relax my throat. So I've been doing stuff like drinking warm honey water. I stopped drinking hot and cold stuff because that shocks the throat. I've mainly been drinking room temperature water. Been resting and everything. Yet every time I pull out my horn this week, I can't help but gag after maybe 5-10 minutes. When I play softly, the urge to gag comes slower and when I play fortissimo it almost chokes me a few seconds later! :( Its definitely not a sore throat either because I can't feel it. I had the nurse look at my throat when I was getting a rabies shot, she said it was just slightly red, nothing major. I can still practice flute with no problems. Just not saxophone.

The biggest problem...I have a gig tomorrow. Help!!
 

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Here is some information that may be helpful. How to Suppress the Gag Reflex. If this reaction never happened before and just started recently, it may be anxiety related if you have an important gig coming up.

Either that or you may want to stop taking Phil Barone's advice that "you can never take too much mouthpiece into the mouth". :mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen: (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Seriously, do some research on the "gag reflex" and if it doesn't go away soon, seek medical attention.
 

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How long have been playing sax? If you have a gig tomorrow, you've probably been playing a while ... is this the first time you've ever experienced this?
 

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Maybe try taking in less mouthpiece or possibly synthetic reeds? It could even be the profile of your mouthpiece. Maybe something with a smaller shape like a Guardala would help.
If that doesn't work maybe you could take lessons from Linda Lovelace?
 

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Seriously, do some research on the "gag reflex" and if it doesn't go away soon, seek medical attention.
Well, it says in the article it could by psychologically related. So...stress? I guess I have been. Past 3 weeks have been exam weeks. Plus, if you didn't see my other post a few days ago, my dog ate my mouthpiece. That was quite a stressful episode.

How long have been playing sax? If you have a gig tomorrow, you've probably been playing a while ... is this the first time you've ever experienced this?
I'm a bit of a late bloomer. I've been playing for 5 years and I'm aiming to be a jazz major in the fall. And yes, this is the first time I've ever had this feeling. In the past 5 years of playing on any performance, competition, or gig, its never happened.

Seeing a doctor is safest, but whiskey is a good bet for what ails ya....
I'm underage to drink anyways :p I haven't seen my doctor yet. So far just a nurse. But I don't think I have enough time before the gig tomorrow to schedule an appointment...

Maybe try taking in less mouthpiece or possibly synthetic reeds? It could even be the profile of your mouthpiece. Maybe something with a smaller shape like a Guardala would help.
I've got a legere I can slap on tomorrow morning. I definitely like my cane reeds more. But if it'll get me through the gig, I'll use that. But I've been taking in the same amount of mouthpiece I've always been taking in. So, I don't see why not.

I'll rest up tonight and hopefully be at least recovered enough to play tomorrow.
 

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You could be grinding your teeth in your sleep with the stress, messing up the throat region with tension. I have found throwing a baseball for an hour with a friend loosens up the throat region if it is because of my teeth grinding. Playing fetch with a dog can work as well.

You may want to try a reed that is half a strength weaker and see how that goes.
 

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Seeing a doctor is safest, but whiskey is a good bet for what ails ya....
im a big whiskey fan myself. started collecting whiskeys a few months ago and now have about 12 bottles on my shelf from bourbons to scotches. hot toddy is good for a lot of ailments. just a cup of tea with two shots of whiskey(id recommend something sweet like chivas regal 12), a slice of lemon, and if you want, some honey. drink that once or twice a day and see if that makes a difference. it helped me get over a bunch of ailments, including the gag reflex. but seeing that youre underage, i guess that wont really fly. :)
 

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Man after my own heart. I'm on the bus tonight and tomorrow so no worries about drinking and driving. Just drinking and playing and I'm kinda used to that. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Guys! I can't believe it, my gig actually went without me gagging, and the audience loved us! Although when I got home and tried to play again to see if it was fully recovered, I was still gagging a bit. I drank honey water last night and right before I left my house today. During the full gig, I had a tiny feeling, needing to gag, but what I did was take the horn out of my mouth, quick breather, and get right back into playing. Afterall, some space in solos are good. :) I would guess it must've been the adrenaline and the fact that I was really digging into what the rhythm section was laying down.

But seriously, thanks to all. I don't have a gig to play for about a week-ish. I'll take the advice and spend the week resting.

im a big whiskey fan myself. started collecting whiskeys a few months ago and now have about 12 bottles on my shelf from bourbons to scotches. hot toddy is good for a lot of ailments. just a cup of tea with two shots of whiskey(id recommend something sweet like chivas regal 12), a slice of lemon, and if you want, some honey. drink that once or twice a day and see if that makes a difference. it helped me get over a bunch of ailments, including the gag reflex. but seeing that youre underage, i guess that wont really fly. :)
I am originally from Southern California, but I currently live in another country where they do not check ID at all at any bars or clubs or purchase of alcohol. "Technically" speaking, I could go buy alcohol and drink a bit, but I haven't yet :p cause by US standards, I'm still underage. One would think a teenager would go have the time of his life partying and getting wasted. Nah...I'll spend my time doing scales and long tones... Stuff like that :D
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So its been about a month and a half since this gag problem has been going on. I've seen the doctor twice. The first time, she gave me some meds to take care of it. My throat recovered slightly. The gagging with a tiny bit less severe, but it was still there. So I discussed it again the second time with my doctor. And we were thinking that I might've actually strained my throat. My throat feel perfectly fine now, but if I talk normally throughout the day, then my voice feels extremely tired. And that has never happened to me before. Lately I've been minimizing my talking and my throat feels better. So I thinking, I need to go on a rest for my throat. Singers call it "vocal rest." A friend of mine did that and he basically rested well and drank warm lemon tea with some honey everyday for 3-4 months before his voice fully recovered. If i did this, I wouldn't play any saxophone. I can still play flute with no problem.

The second option, my violin friend suggested. She broke her left wrist and couldn't play violin. Even after the doctor said her wrist was fully recovered, whenever she played, there was intense pain. So she said she eased back into it. Playing 5 minutes a few times a day. Then after a week or two, she could play longer. Then after a month she was going a solid 40-60 minutes. And now she's back into her normal routine with some light pain that has been receding. I feel like this might be an option to take as well. Of course I would still rest my throat just like in the first option, but I would play some saxophone at least.

So I can either rest up, which will take longer but safer to go. Or the latter, which might slow down recovery. The only problem is I have placement auditions for college at the end of August/beginning of September. Concert band, saxophone ensemble, and jazz band.

I feel like trying the latter method of trying to build back into my regular playing chops. What do you guys think? I hope in the long run, I'll still be able to play.
 
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