Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tonguing Your Way to a Great Sound!

One of my least favorite things to practice on the saxophone is tonguing. I'm note sure why, but I think it might have to do with the fact that it feels so physical, and the fact that I never been good at it.

Tonguing is, however, great for sound development and tightening the corners of your embouchure. The reason for this (and this is just my theory, not a scientific fact) is that every time the tonque touches the reed, it slightly pushes the mouthpiece forward, causing your embouchure to slightly tighten its grip.

To see it in another way, try this experiment: Take your left hand and grip your right. Next, try to pull your right hand out of the left hand's grip, but never letting your hands separate, and repeat this motion several times. You'll notice that your grip in the left hand gets slightly firmer as this yanking motion occurs. This is sort how tonguing works.

One exercise I like to do on soprano is to play a lot repetitive notes in the lower register. For example, as sixteenth notes play: DDDD,DDDD,DDDD,DDDD,DbDbDbDb,DbDbDbDb,DbDbDbDb,DbDbDbDb,BBBB,BBBB,BBBB,BBBB,

I'll repeat this exercise several times without taking a break, until I physically can't play it anymore, which I usually count as one set. In general, I like to do around four or five sets of this exercise. Buy the end you'll really notice you upper facial muscles and corners starting to burn, which is always a good sign.

As they say,"No pain, no gain."

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