saxophone embouchure

29Aug08

There are several schools of thought on this: One way would teach you to put your bottom lip over your bottom teeth ever so slightly, then wrapping the mouth around the saxophone much like a clarinet. The one I learned focuses on making the embouchure into a meaty cushion that keeps the bottom teeth completely away from the reed. The benefit of this is that it keeps the students from biting and allows for the darker, warmer tone that is so characteristic of good “classical” saxophone.

The fun part about testing kids for instruments is getting them to do the things you want them to do, which getting too technical. I want so badly to talk about deep breathing and cushioning the reed and where exactly to place teeth on the mouthpiece, but I can’t. I don’t even want to say the word “embouchure” for fear that the kid will glaze over and I’ll never get a good response out of them.

Not to mention, of course, that testing kids requires appropriate set ups. It’s very difficult to test kids for clarinet using a saxophone mouthpiece, which is, of course a rough cut beginning mouthpiece with a too hard, too dry reed.

All told though, I’ve seen some kids with great smooth chins that can make an “o” face that has lots of wrinkles in the lips. This is important to creating that cushion. The mouth has to seal around the mouthpiece like a drawstring, and having plenty of elasticity in the lips makes his much easier. Thin-lipped people need not apply.

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