Temporary Saxophone Switch

I am a tenor sax player. However, if I can make a fast and clean switch to the soprano in about a month, I can play a solo at graduation. Any tips for making this transition? I have the middle range pretty much good, but below the D and above the octave B I start to struggle unless I am doing scales. Please any advise is welcome! Thanks!

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May 11, 2010
Fred's Top Sop' Tips
by: Malcolm Lappin

On the sax we normally blow the low notes down. Most sopranos, however tend to be shrill at the top, so I would blow up a bit the low notes and try to blow down those above top A.
Air speed is the key, so make those abdominal muscles work. You should feel them at the end of a session on sop'.
When you practice the low notes, practice also the move from low Bb to C, then low Bb to D, then low Bb to E and so on. Try to elide, rather than tongue the moves. Try to build up the range you can do.
You can get a beautiful sound out of the sop', but not everyone who plays the sop manages it.
With the high notes, build up fom top D to F (or F#) over a period of time. If you can't get a high note, change something(sahpe of the mouth, the throat, the angle you seem to blow -imagine the air gioing out of the back of your head or out of our chin. Try to use the throat, not biting, to get top notes.Don't persevere too long: come back to those high notes later and try again.
Keep up your sight-reading, people write challenging parts for the higher saxes.
I am grateful to Paul Harvey and Fred Summerbell, (and also Joe Proctor), excellent teachers, for anything I know about the saxophone.Any errors or bad advice is down to me, though.
good luck.

May 11, 2010
Thank you from writer
by: Anonymous

Thank you for your advice! I have been practicing a lot lately. Some of the notes are coming easier now. One problem is that I didn't have a hard enough reed. :P But now it is just getting it so that the low D and E stop fluctuating between octaves. Thanks for the tips on getting those clean though!

May 12, 2010
by: Malcolm Lappin

Choose the instrument carefully.
Intonaion is an issue, especially with the high notes: the distance from the back of your throat to the tone hole is so short that changing the shape of your mouth and throat makes a huge difference.
Of course, the modern instruments such as the Yamaha do not have the intonation problems that were inherent in the early instruments (and which were always said to be the reason for Sydney Bechet's very wide vibrato.
Practise with a chromatic tuner when you stsart on the sop is my advice.
Good luck.

May 12, 2010
by: Malcolm Lappin

Check pads are sealing and the reed is good, of course.
Then the Paul Harvey advice, that I think he won't mind me passing on, is:
loads of air in the abdomen (all round, not just in the front);
tongue the note decisively and blow louder rather than softer;
throat open;
lower jaw relaxed; in fact you can drop the lower jaw a bit, so long as the embrouchure doesn't weaken;
loads of air in the mouth (but no puffing of the cheeks);
try to get air between the front teeth and the upper lip;
no biting the teeth into the top of the mouthpiece; in fact you might try with the top teeth not touching the mouthpiece;
bang down the right index finger (F key) as you tongue the note;
try banging down the low note you are playing and the F-key as you tongue the note;
build up the air pressure before you tongue - just release the reed with the tongue;
feel the note in your mouth, get to know what it feels like;
if you are coming up to a low note, think of the feel in the mouith before you play it.

By the way, everybody should read Paul Harvey's little book, "The Saxophone" to improve knowledge of the history, the players, and the repertoire of the saxophone.
Good luck,

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