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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been told time and time again by various teachers: don't squeeze the reed with your lower lip. One teacher suggested that I practice vibrato to aid this issue.

Wait a minute, back up--so, first, I use as little lip pressure as possible to get good tone. Alright, fine. Then, I lower my jaw to produce vibrato. Suddenly, once I lower my jaw, sound stops coming from my saxophone. Why? Because my lip has virtually left the reed.

Am I missing something here? This is one of the most frustrating fundamental concepts that I have been trying for months to understand, only to see the problem get increasingly worse. I've noticed recently that, when I use vibrato, I tend to pinch the reed slightly to get the pitch to waver. It sounds horrible, as you might imagine, but I can't seem to get it to stop. I can't figure out how to do vibrato the correct way, either; I feel like I must put extra pressure on the reed with my lower lip in order to be able to lower my jaw enough to perform vibrato.
 

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Master.America said:
once I lower my jaw, sound stops coming from my saxophone. Why? Because my lip has virtually left the reed.
Move your jaw only, not your lip. The lip should remain in the same spot at all times and vibrato is made with a combination of the up and down movements of the lip and tongue movement. Say yee-aww, the yee is tounge position when the jaw is in normal position, the aww is the tongue position when the jaw is lowered.
 

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A good vibrato involves more than just the jaw, it also involves the 'throat' (soft pallette, etc.). However, if you concentrate on the throat, it will usually involve too much 'throat'... It's an art/craft. It's a system. If your jaw moves enough to affect the seal on your reed, it's too much. Also remember that vibrato is from the actual pitch down. Vibrato should not go above the pitch.

Maybe if you try to slow the vibrato down...

With a metronome at 120, try to do a vibrato on quarter notes, then eighth notes, then triplets (the last is about the fastest you would want). Try wide, try a narrow.

It won't sound musical, just get familiar with the sound.
 

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hakukani said:
A good vibrato involves more than just the jaw, it also involves the 'throat' (soft pallette, etc.). However, if you concentrate on the throat, it will usually involve too much 'throat'... It's an art/craft. It's a system. If your jaw moves enough to affect the seal on your reed, it's too much. Also remember that vibrato is from the actual pitch down. Vibrato should not go above the pitch.
I've been thinking about this the last few days. My vibrato is pitch-down-pitch like you say. But how does that work against stringed instruments where vibrato is pitch-up-pitch? Won't a sax and a guitar (for example) always tend to sound out of tune with each other if both are using heavy vibrato? I would have thought this would affect orchestras too. I'm throwing this in because I know your background will enable you to answer the question, h. :)
 

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RootyTootoot said:
I've been thinking about this the last few days. My vibrato is pitch-down-pitch like you say. But how does that work against stringed instruments where vibrato is pitch-up-pitch? Won't a sax and a guitar (for example) always tend to sound out of tune with each other if both are using heavy vibrato? I would have thought this would affect orchestras too. I'm throwing this in because I know your background will enable you to answer the question, h. :)
Nope, string vibrato is pitch down pitch down. (This comes from years of listening to the first wife, who is a professional cellist, practice vibrato)

Only guitar vibrato is pitch up pitch up.
 

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hakukani said:
Nope, string vibrato is pitch down pitch down. (This comes from years of listening to the first wife, who is a professional cellist practice vibrato)

Only guitar vibrato is pitch up pitch up.
Ok. Guitar/Sax ? How's it ever going to match?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Alright... what I have been doing, I think, is this "yee-aw" technique. When I make the "yee" noise, though, the pitch goes up.

Also--I have a really hard time tonguing while doing this. Not sure why.
 

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I learned it this way :

start on a middle E or F. Play a long note. Drag it down slowly until the tone stops (what you've been doing already, jaw movement)

Play that note again, drag it down but make sure you don't pass the point where the sound stops. Hold down, and move it up again (like 2 sec tone, 1 sec down, 1 sec tone)

Repeat process while going down the scale (on D-C-B-... you get the pic)

Repeat process but speed up the down-up movement.

This has given me a fairly acceptable vibrato. Now I still have to do the finetuning. I'm working on it with my teacher.

succes!
 

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hakukani said:
With a metronome at 120, try to do a vibrato on quarter notes, then eighth notes, then triplets (the last is about the fastest you would want). Try wide, try a narrow.

It won't sound musical, just get familiar with the sound.

This is an excellent learning method. Work through this every practice session for a month or so (no matter how terrible it sounds) and I'll bet you find at the end of that time you've made progress.

Like everything else fundamental about technique, you have to go through an awkward phase in which you are hyperconscious of the technique and its effects before you absorb it and become able to execute it without having to think about it. This process is of the essence: in the end, it will be as if your ears are directly wired to your hands and your jaw and throat and lungs etc. without the conscious mind necessarily being involved at all; but in order to get there, for most of us anyway, there is this other phase in which we think too much. That's the reason for the repetitive nature of exercises like this.

Good luck!
 
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