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I've been praciticing sax for about almost one year, I always pratice longtones as my first warm-up from the lowest to the highest note I able to hit. The issue is everytime I play a song which uses mid to high register (notes with octave key), my lower lip muscke starting to get stiff and move from its position then mess up my whole embouchure. This always happens almost everytime eventhough I have spent more times to practice longtones on mid to high register. Please help me to solve this problem. Thank you
 

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Allesandro, I think you are on the good road, but developing a firm embouchure takes time. My advice would be to just continue what you are doing and things will work out in time. A slightly softer reed might help also a bit in the process, together with a more relaxed embouchure (less biting).
 

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I've noticed in comments here - and I certainly found - that getting into overtones can often help getting tone production in the higher register sorted. I don't know what more experienced folks think?
Playing the 2nd register without the octave key is somewhat less forgiving and your embouchure has a stronger contribution.
 

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Keep in mind that for the most part the same embouchure is used from low Bb to high F. Going higher in the register does however require a faster air stream. The more work you do with your "breath support" (pressurized air) the less work is required of the embouchure.
 

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Allesandro, I had a horrible time with getting my high register to sound decent. I am now 2-1/2 yrs in, and finally my high register notes are sounding a whole lot better.
Like everyone suggested, just stick with it, and anything you're trying to do, will come. When I find something in a tune that gives me trouble, I just keep going over it, again and again, and weeks later I wonder why I was having so much trouble with that!
 

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I like to use ballads for this, as the importance of a lyrical approach helps my ear zone in on the most appropriate timbre for those scary notes.

Get there with a nice lead in and hold it till it sounds right.

Somehow making the notes fit in context is easier for me than scales.

Play the same bits all up a half step, listening for the breakdown in the character.

It may be easy for some folks, but it is a hell of a fight for me.

"Relax. Warm air. Make that damn thing sound pretty. Now, that's not thinking relaxed ... . Try again a little slower."

[Also, make really sure that your horn is in regulation. Have the best sax player you know play a few of the ugly high notes on your horn to test it.]

I doubt that there is anything wrong with you that is not wrong with anyone who picks such an instrument to play.
 

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I am gonna chime in here and say something else: We need more information, Alessandro.

I would not be inclined to say 'just stick with it' if the "It" is something you may be doing wrong. In some way your description suggests it might be. You have been doing long tones up and down the registers for a year and this issue still remains. So I am not certain just keeping on that path will solve anything.

My interpretation of your post = when you play songs you have identified that your lower lip does something different than when you play long tones up and down the registers. Is that right ?

So, something I would want to know is:

when you are doing it 'incorrectly', as you feel you sometimes are - what is the result ? Do the notes sound bad (thin/raspy/etc) ? Do the notes waver ? Can you not hit the notes with consistency ? Do you squeak ? Etc....

Is it harder to hit the octave notes when the note before it is in the lower octave ? Or is it as difficult as if the note before it is also in the same octave ?
 

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[Also, make really sure that your horn is in regulation. Have the best sax player you know play a few of the ugly high notes on your horn to test it.]
Yes, must be mentioned. The replies you are receiving here assume your sax is pretty much leak-free and in proper regulation. If you are not sure it is, at least have a more experienced player try it and see if they feel it is OK.
 

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I've been praciticing sax for about almost one year, I always pratice longtones as my first warm-up from the lowest to the highest note I able to hit. The issue is everytime I play a song which uses mid to high register (notes with octave key), my lower lip muscke starting to get stiff and move from its position then mess up my whole embouchure. This always happens almost everytime eventhough I have spent more times to practice longtones on mid to high register. Please help me to solve this problem. Thank you
1). Do not stress about your lower lip moving for the higher registers. For the sax, your embouchure should be a bit flexible. Worrying about having to change your mouth a bit could be making your sound problem worse.....and if you are getting a good upper register sound, but only concerned about your embouchure changing, don’t worry about the embouchure changing any more...it isn’t a problem.

2). I found that for higher register notes, I had to provide more airflow. My natural tendency was to stiffen up on my embouchure (tense up) and provide less air. What I really needed to do was provide more airflow. Try focusing on opening up the back of your throat to get a more full stream of air. (Adjusting your neckstrap/horn angle can possibly help with this). When you play longtones, it is easy to get the sound out when providing little air and a stiff embouchure. You might want to try focusing your longtone playing with a looser embouchure and more air flow.

3). I know someone here made a comment about going to a softer reed. The opposite could be true, also. If you are on a ‘beginning’ mouthpiece with a small tip opening, you might actually need to increase your reed stiffness by 1/2 to get the higher register to play. The correctness of reed strength is always relative to the tip opening and facing length. If I use too soft of a reed, when I attempt to play my highest notes, I get a buzzing/vibrating sound coming off of the reed and echoing out of the horn. If this is happening to you, your reed probably needs to be stiffer.

If the person who provides advice to you is a clarinet player, you might be getting bad advice on what a sax embouchure should work like. My Community Band leader is an outstanding clarinet player and she has made recommendations that are totally wrong for the sax....but if I were a clarinet player, the advise would be good. Our reeds look the same, but sax and clarinet embouchure are very different.
 

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Do not stress about your lower lip moving for the higher registers. For the sax, your embouchure should be a bit flexible. Worrying about having to change your mouth a bit could be making your sound problem worse.....and if you are getting a good upper register sound, but only concerned about your embouchure changing, don’t worry about the embouchure changing any more...it isn’t a problem.
I agree with this point. However, it's difficult if not impossible for us to diagnose and help you solve embouchure issues over the internet 'airwaves'. And that's assuming it is an embouchure issue, rather than any number of other possibilities already mentioned in posts above (leaks in your horn, reed too hard or too soft, not putting enough air in the horn, biting, and the list goes on). But be careful about taking certain 'rules' about what you mouth, lips, tongue, embouchure, etc, should be doing too seriously (this is where a teacher is useful to deal with you as an individual--see below). Use your ear as a guide.

Long tones are fine, but as you've discovered, there is a difference between playing a long tone and playing musical phrases that move up and down the horn and from the lower to higher register.

I'd strongly suggest getting a few in-person lessons if at all possible.

Finally, one year is a very short period of time in terms of learning to play a musical instrument. Patience and perseverance are among the most important and necessary ingredients, so yeah, keep at it. It takes time... But Jaye's point is well-taken; you don't want to hammer in bad habits. So it would be a good idea to look for a teacher who can help identify any problems and help sort them out for you.
 

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Long tones are fine, but as you've discovered, there is a difference between playing a long tone and playing musical phrases that move up and down the horn and from the lower to higher register.
This point makes me wonder why long tones are even recommended at all. Neither of the teachers I studied with ever did them and sounded great. I've never heard a guy who can swing his tail off who can't hold a whole note, but the opposite, a guy who can play a pretty note but can't play in time or articulate an eighth note passage, seems pretty common. I recognize that the skills are not equivalent in terms of difficulty, but they're also not equivalent in terms of importance within the context of actually playing music, and I would much rather focus on something high yield, especially since I don't have 8+ hours a day to practice.
 

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This point makes me wonder why long tones are even recommended at all. Neither of the teachers I studied with ever did them and sounded great. I've never heard a guy who can swing his tail off who can't hold a whole note, but the opposite, a guy who can play a pretty note but can't play in time or articulate an eighth note passage, seems pretty common. I recognize that the skills are not equivalent in terms of difficulty, but they're also not equivalent in terms of importance within the context of actually playing music, and I would much rather focus on something high yield, especially since I don't have 8+ hours a day to practice.
Following up on this, why not take a piece of music that you are having trouble with, and treat it as a series of long tones? If the long tones sound good, then play the melody one note at a time, as long tones, and slowly (S..L..O..W..L..Y) speed it up so that you are playing in the correct time, all the while keeping your air and embouchure like it is/was on the long tones.
 

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This point makes me wonder why long tones are even recommended at all. Neither of the teachers I studied with ever did them and sounded great. I've never heard a guy who can swing his tail off who can't hold a whole note,
????? is this how you interpret the intention/purpose of practicing long tones ????? so one can 'hold a whole note' ???

because if so, that's ersatz.....
 

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This point makes me wonder why long tones are even recommended at all.
I didn't mean to imply that long tones are not useful. They are. But they don't address everything and the problem the OP describes is probably not something that can be solved just by playing long tones. The way he described it sounds like he can play a long tone in the upper register, yet when playing a passage moving into the upper register he has a problem. So it can't be solved by simply playing long tones, is my point.

I think skeller's suggestion is a good one. Play slowly...and work up to speed gradually.
 

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????? is this how you interpret the intention/purpose of practicing long tones ????? so one can 'hold a whole note' ???

because if so, that's ersatz.....
I'm saying that your yield from playing long tones is low, relative to other things you can practice. If your goal is air support, there are a ton of things you can practice that will emphasize this AND other practical skills for being a musician, improvising or otherwise (playing ballads was a good example used above). I would argue that long tones can even be detrimental in some cases, as taking notes out of the context of music can allow one to compensate for poor habits in order to complete the exercise. For example, when I started with altissimo, I could always "cheat" the note out by biting if I was just playing it by itself. Once I tried to use it while improvising, however, I couldn't gear up to hit the note in the same way, and I had to relearn my technique in order to actually use altissimo in solos.

It's analogous to the idea that permeated athletics for a while, that to increase your power in your sport you needed to do basic exercises like bench presses and squats, even if your sport did not utilize these movements at all. Over the last couple decades, training has become much more functional in nature, with training regimens focused on movements that players actually use during competition. Music should be no different.
 

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Maybe something that isn't mentioned in this thread per sé, is that higher register notes actually require less air. The lower you go you will need more air (flow rate). That’s the nature of the instrument.
Higher notes require you to arch you tongue more (focus the airstream/less flow rate, like a nozzle). This is especially true for altissimo.
Another important thing that can make your high notes less pronounced, is not taking in enough mouthpiece. That chokes the notes off. The reed has to be able to vibrate freely.
And yes, it takes a while to nail them. It took me many years and a lot of frustration.
 
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