Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
54 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
i've been playing alto for a couple of years...

is it a good idea for me to double...... with clarinet or another instrument?? to further benefit my alto playing

i play guitar already.......... but i suppose it doesnt help much besides finger dexterity..

thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
259 Posts
It depends on your goals. I would have missed a large number of opportunities had I not started clarinet and flute in high school. And I was already playing alto, tenor and bari by then. Jazz bands and pit orchestras normally demand doubling.

It also depends on your skill level on alto. If you (or better yet, your teacher) feels you could start one of the other woodwinds by all means go for it. And it depends on your available time. Keep in mind that you will want to concentrate at the beginning on the new instrument as if it were the only one in order to get up to speed quickly.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW member
Joined
·
4,673 Posts
bigbari62 said:
...to further benefit my alto playing
There is this persistent myth that you need to learn the clarinet in order to play the sax :? As if the clarinet is the sax's predecessor :?

They are two different instruments with different embouchure, tonguing, resistance, fingerings etc....The sax has probably more similarities with the oboe than with the calrinet.
If you're interested in the clarinet itself, then go ahead but if your main goal is to benefit your alto playing then there is nothing like practicing alto.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
2,666 Posts
I've never heard anyone say that one needs to learn the clarinet in order to play the saxophone. I agree with you that one learns the saxophone by studying and playing the saxophone. That's common sense.

That said, I've found that each of my doubles transfers something to my saxophone playing. For example, I've found that playing bass clarinet is like a kind of weight training for tenor sax. That is, after playing bass clarinet when I pick up my tenor it feels easier blowing than when I'm just playing tenor. Also, if I didn't play clarinet it might not have occurred to me to use a string ligature on tenor sax. The flute is also a good breath support builder for saxophone.

Never the less, I don't double because I think the other horns may help my saxophone playing. I double because I have a deep love for the clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, and alto flute.

Roger
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,163 Posts
I've never thought of doubling on one horn as helping my ability on another.

Doubling definitely increases your musical awareness and appreciation, but if your goal is to improve your alto, you should spend as much time on that as possible. The more time you spend on one horn means less time on another.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,544 Posts
I, too, double because I am ADD...I always want to learn the 'next' instrument and have been that way for 50 years (since my first piano lessons), so unlikely to change now.

I agree with Roger...playing alto flute has made the soprano feel like a toy, and I can now play for hours without the shoulder cramps I used to get, as I had to work out the ergonomics and correct some things on flute that were never quite 'critical' with only the soprano.

I also find that each instrument develops slightly different embouchre muscles, and that playing different ones regularly keeps my face more well-developed. This is even true if you only play tenor, but switching from a very small diameter metal mpc to a big fat one (like going from a modern Berg to a Woodwind NY K).

jeff
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,839 Posts
If it's just to improve your alto sax playing then I'd say no, although I like to think that doubling helps my sax playing. One thing I like about doubling is the variety. For legit playing I prefer flute or clarinet over sax. A downside is your sax playing may not be quite as good as if that was your sole focus. It's hard to tell, who knows? One advantage is when you go to jam sessions there's sometimes a lot of sax players, so I sometimes bring flute or clarinet just to be different ;)

I remember once turning up to my lesson to see my teacher playing the trombone. Another time I saw him playing trumpet on a gig. He also apparently played bass. He reckoned he did these things out of boredom.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
2,666 Posts
Jeff,

I agree with you about developing slightly different embouchure muscles. However, it's also more than that. There are differences to be found in the shape of the oral cavity.

Lately, I've been using Nina Perlove's method of warming up on flute with the singing/playing technique. The difference this has made in my flute sound (alto flute as well) is truly remarkable....much bigger and resonant!

It seems to me that this warm up method has nothing to do with my embouchure or breath support. Rather, it's about the inner shape of my mouth. I've found similar tonal differences on clarinet and saxophone in experimenting with oral cavity shapes using single and double lip embouchures.

Working with my doubles in this way I've found ways that I can shape the inside of my mouth to give me a bigger sound....including on saxophone. This is another example of where I've received benefits on saxophone from working on my doubles. That said, a strong foundation on saxophone comes from a lot of focused effort on that instrument.

Roger
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member and Columnist, Forum Con
Joined
·
3,801 Posts
There are so many variables as mentioned by my esteemed colleagues already. But I must mention that successfully adding instruments means that one has to be willing to spend more time than you do now practicing. I've been trying to add clarinet and flute for going on two years now. But I really don't have the time it takes to become the clarinet and flute player I would aspire to be.

Wish I had done this when I was younger. I wasted so much time playing football and basketball, things that I can't do now that I'm in my fifties. I had so much more time before I started the work world. But somehow my bosses expect 40+ hours from me a week. :cool:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
"There is this persistent myth that you need to learn the clarinet in order to play the sax As if the clarinet is the sax's predecessor."

For real! I've never heard that, and pardon me for being blunt, but that's just dumb. I learned to play clarinet, then started playing tenor sax in high school for marching band. I doubt it would have made any difference the other way around, since I know a lot of people never learned to play clarinet.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW member
Joined
·
4,673 Posts
QueenB said:
"There is this persistent myth that you need to learn the clarinet in order to play the sax As if the clarinet is the sax's predecessor."

For real! I've never heard that, and pardon me for being blunt, but that's just dumb. I learned to play clarinet, then started playing tenor sax in high school for marching band. I doubt it would have made any difference the other way around, since I know a lot of people never learned to play clarinet.
I'm not the one perpetuating the myth, I'm just saying that the myth is out there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,469 Posts
QueenB said:
"There is this persistent myth that you need to learn the clarinet in order to play the sax As if the clarinet is the sax's predecessor."

For real! I've never heard that, and pardon me for being blunt, but that's just dumb. I learned to play clarinet, then started playing tenor sax in high school for marching band. I doubt it would have made any difference the other way around, since I know a lot of people never learned to play clarinet.
Yeah--I totally agree with what you've both said. In some circles, I've definitely noticed this weird attitude that being a great doubler, makes you a great saxophonist. Believe it or not, there are a lot of great saxophonists who don't double and instead focus their energy on one instrument (rather than a bunch of different instruments). Eric Alexander is a good example of this. Instead of spending time on flute and clarinet, he spent more time with the saxophone, transcription, harmony, developing his jazz conception, etc. Doubling does however, open up a lot of different doors in terms of gigs you can do (musicals, certain types of studio work, etc). The guys who do it well constantly amaze me with their versatility! Different paths to the same place :)...making beautiful music!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
I'm not the one perpetuating the myth, I'm just saying that the myth is out there.

Oh, I wasn't saying you were, I was just commenting that it was ridiculous. I got where you were coming from. :)
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member and Great Bloke.
Joined
·
2,968 Posts
Learning clarinet does help your playing, it isn't as forgiving as sax on poor technique. It is a wonderful instrument in it's own right and needs to be thought of as another main instrument, not just a double before it really starts to work for you. Work with a great teacher and then you will notice improvements in your playing.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW member, musician, technician &
Joined
·
4,983 Posts
One friend of mine changed teachers after about a year of playing saxophone. His new teacher imediately gave him a clarinet and told him to play only that for six months. Then he returned to saxophone (alto & soprano) and playing clarinet helped a lot. It's been many years since then and he almost never touched a clarinet again. So playing clarinet for a while really helped him, but this same teacher also have excellent students who started on sax and never played clarinet. So my conclusion is that playing clarinet might or might not help :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,469 Posts
Playing clarinet might help your saxophone playing...but I think that playing the saxophone would help the most (sometimes what is the most obvious, turns out to be right). Also, if you're going to play jazz--having a good understanding of the keyboard (jazz voicings, etc)...at least this is what I've been taught.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
I agree with the majority ... U gotta practice the instrument u want to improve... HOWEVER,,, I strongly believe that playing the clarinet inproves your harmonics tremendously. I play clarinet and tenor sax, i sometimes borrow my friends alto nd i can get notes way up to the stratosphere - with a good tone.... I can only attribute this to playing the clarinet, as the clarinet requires much more mouth control especially with its top tones.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2016, The official SOTW Little S
Joined
·
5,472 Posts
I've thought many times to play clarinet, but I just really want to be good at the saxes.
I'm going to start it one day...perhaps over the summer.
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top