Saxophone/Extending the range

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The generally accepted range of the saxophone (transposed) is Bb to F two octves and a fifth above. The most comfortable range for playing is somewhere in the middle. A competent player however can play with ease throughout the range, and even above, into the altissimo range. The first step is to breathe from the diaphragm. The are a few ways to learn diaphragm breathing. Breathe as if filling up a bucket, ie. from the bottom of your lungs. To do this keep your shoulders level, and as your diaphragm lowers you should feel your stomach sink and your ribcage expand. Another way to learn is to visualise sleeping. You breathe from your diaphragm when sleeping, so try practising saxophone while asleep to achieve positive breathing technique. Another step to achieving ease throughout the saxophone's range, is a solid embouchure. Many beginner saxophone players, automatically tense their lips when playing up high, and drop their jaw and loosen their lips when playing low. However this creates intonation problems. To overcome this use the same embouchure and lip strength from low Bb up to high F. This may make the lowest notes harder to play, and the higher notes sound weak. So when playing very low or high (especially below C or above Eb) use a strong stream of air to sound the notes. Using a stable embouchure will fix most intonation problems, and keep your saxophone in tune throughout your range.

To increase proficiency in playing below low C try these exercises.

1. hold low C 2. play C#, B and Bb in turn, playing low C in between each (play each note as a quaver or eigth note, creating an eighth note pattern within bar of 3/4) 3. check intonation with a tuner 4. start by playing slow and gradually increase the speed by playing with a metronome

To increase proficiency in playing above high D.

1. hold high D 2. play Eb, E, F and F# in turn, playing high D in between each (play each note as a quaver or eighth note, creating and eighth note pattern within a bar of 4/4) 3. check intonation with a tuner 4. start by playing slow and gradually increasing the speed by playing with a metronome