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10 Quick Tips to Improve Your Saxophone Playing

saxophone tips 10 quick tips improve playing

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#1 Ken Ng

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 12:55 AM

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I am in love with the saxophone. I have been playing the saxophone for five years, and below are some of the tips that I have learned from the various people I have been taught by and have learned through trial and error. Whether you play with the alto saxophone, the tenor saxophone or the baritone saxophone (or all three!) these tips will help improve your playing without too much effort on your part.

Number 1: Post your fingering chart where you see it on a daily basis

For me, there are always one or two very high notes that I forget if they aren't in the music pieces I am working on. I have posted my fingering chart by my bed and see it before I fall asleep at night. If you don't have a fingering chart, buy one! They are small, inexpensive and readily available at most music stores.

Number 2: Wet your reed before you play

The first thing I do when I pull my case out is pop the reed I want to use in my mouth, and keep it there while I assemble my saxophone and sheet music. This helps your reed vibrate more efficiently right when you start playing.

Number 3: Pick a position and stay with it

Depending on who taught you to play the saxophone, you either hold your instrument between your legs or to the right side of your legs. There are merits to both methods, and it is completely personal preference. Try both methods, and then pick the one that you prefer. But either way, stick with it!
Changing your position constantly will hurt your ability to play. This is because you will be concentrating on how to reach that difficult fingering through a different hand position instead of a perfect vibrato or even tone. When you switch positions, the angles change. This changes everything!

Number 4: Posture

Remember when you first started classes or lessons, one of the first things you learned was to sit up straight? We're back to basics for this tip. By sitting up straight, your diaphragm has more room to expand. This means the ability for longer and more powerful notes, and stronger vibrato and tone.

Number 5: Tighten your Ligature

Have you ever gotten that awful bubbly noise of water under your reed? It will completely destroy any piece you try to play, and sometimes it isn't possible to stop in the middle of a piece. Turning your ligature joint an extra half turn can make all the difference in the world.

Number 6: Make sure your reed is the right level of hardness

Have you ever stopped playing for about a month, and you start to play with your favorite old reed, and you're like "Wow! I don't remember having to push this hard last time I played"? And that is because you didn't! Your embouchure (the way you handle the mouthpiece and reed in your mouth or the muscles controlling those motions) has grown weaker over the month you've been away. On the flip side, if you've been playing more than usual your embouchure will have grown stronger. Make sure you get the strength of reed that corresponds with your strength for optimum tone!

Number 7: Use a neck strap

Using a neck strap, especially when you're playing standing up, is crucial. Distributing the weight off of your thumbs enables your fingers to move more swiftly and efficiently.

Number 8: Cite-read a piece before you start learning it

There are special competitions for cite-reading, for both individuals and bands. Being able to look at a piece of music and run through it a few times, and then being able to play it fairly well shows musical prowess. Cite-reading sometimes, even if you don't want to compete in it, is a great way to stretch your music reading muscles. I tend to cite-read a piece of music that I am going to learn to play, before I start breaking it down measure by measure. I've noticed a dramatic increase in my music reading ability since starting this. To top it off, once you get the hang of cite-reading it is really fun!

Number 9: Play in an area with good lighting

There is nothing worse than playing in an area with subpar lighting. You can't see the notes right. Playing in the sunshine or in a well light area just improves your mood. I play below a window and have a lamp by the window for playing at night.

Number 10: Invest in high quality reeds

Have you ever had a reed splinter in your mouth? It hurts and tastes really awful. Since then, I have always purchased a higher quality reed. Originally it was to avoid another "Fantastical Exploding Reed" but my tone quality has improved so much. And please, none of those fiberglass reeds. Only reeds made of cane or other natural materials for better tone and control!

I hope that the quick and easy tips above help improve your saxophone playing. Good luck and happy playing!

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#2 liuzhipeng34

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 05:56 AM

thanks for sharing

#3 inesuki

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 03:04 PM

Thanks for the tips.



#4 gidjunab

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 04:29 PM

nice tips. Thanks!



#5 gidjunab

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 04:29 PM

nice tips. Thanks!



#6 gimcalim

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 04:32 PM

ty



#7 shoz955

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:54 PM

Very nice, and don't forget your SCALES. Best practice for both fingerings and improvisation theory.


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#8 manylam

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 06:08 AM

for tips 10, I would like to ask, since my teacher tea me to use some plastic reed, (beginner for ~1 year)

the quality is fine by me. but if I'm going to install some new with good quality reed. Any suggestions / other good ways to select?



#9 rgeiv01

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 09:24 PM

Thanks for the tips.



#10 Soprano13

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 02:56 PM

Thanks!



#11 SammTheClown

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 01:51 AM

cool thanks



#12 astormingus

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 06:21 AM

Nice guide!!!!!



#13 bAgO

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 08:08 PM

thanks



#14 Scarsax

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 11:09 PM

On wetting the reeds, I keep my reeds in a solution of mouth wash and water to about half way up the reed.  The reeds are always ready to play and last longer and do not buckle.  I got the tip from a pro.



#15 MrSaxobeat

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:55 PM

Thanks for sharing :)



#16 SERGIOGIO

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 06:02 PM

thanks. dis is great stuff :D ^_^



#17 afellin

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 04:53 AM

Wonderful post!  Great tips...thanks!



#18 nitio

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 08:15 AM

thx ....good to knw 


v.elie


#19 mariomarcelo

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 03:54 AM

thanks



#20 Emi

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 03:09 AM

tys for the info,

 

a question i have for point 3

"Number 3: Pick a position and stay with it"

 

is one necessarily better than the other?







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