A brief discussion on the use of breath when playing saxophone

Release time:

Mar 20,2019

Everyone knows that playing saxophone is inseparable from breath.And the control of breath directly determines the level of saxophone you play to some extent, which is the so-called “timbre”.Let's talk about it from several aspects:      

1. Breath control in the bass or treble area      

Many beginners, including friends who have been practicing for a period of time, often experience that the bass is not easy to blow out, and the treble is extremely prone to the situation of insufficient tone (sometimes similar to the kind of “screaming”).This is the typical breath control problem.      

Since everyone didn't have the guidance of the teacher at the beginning, they were all blowing by feeling.Therefore, when playing the high and low tones of the saxophone, the same mouth shape control method as “whistling” is adopted, that is, “the higher the tone, the tighter the mouth, and the more breath.”In fact, the sound level of our saxophone is already determined by the buttons, and all we have to do is to “pump” the saxophone and cause the whistle to vibrate.The more this kind of air is sent, the more complete the vibration of the whistle, and the fuller the tone will be.      

In order to achieve this, when playing the high notes, we must relax our lips to control the strength of the flute head, and open our throats to put the breath on top as much as possible.When playing the bass, the mouth is also relaxed, and our throats are also opened, allowing the breath to be delivered to the saxophone slowly and fully, allowing the whistle to vibrate in the low frequency zone.At this time, if your mouth is too tight, or your breath is too tight and too short, it will affect the vibration of the whistle in the low-frequency area, but it will change its vibration frequency so that the bass cannot be blown out.      

Qi "promotion”: Refers to the fast speed of breath      

Qi "slow”: Refers to the slow speed of air supply      

Whether it is “promoting” or "slowing down", you must ensure that you have enough breath when playing the saxophone.So when we play the high notes, the breath is “quick and full”, and when we play the low notes, the breath is “slow and full”.When we beginners can't control these two mouth shapes and breath well, it will make the treble sound either unable to be blown out, or the tone that comes out is “dry and deflated”, and the bass is easy to break.      

2. Stability of breath      

Breath stability training is an extremely important subject.This determines whether you can rely on your own control of your mouth shape and breath to blow out a relatively stable saxophone sound quality.This kind of training is a process that must be experienced to learn saxophone.Because only with such a large amount of practice can one's breath be practiced with sufficient stability, otherwise the sound blown out will be “floating and untrue.”      

The stability of breath training depends on several factors:      

a) The breath is uniform (the intensity of the breath remains the same)   

b) Fixed mouth shape   

c) Sensitive hearing      

These three are indispensable.Especially hearing, the level of the sound we blow out depends entirely on our ears to make judgments and feed back to the brain to command our breath to control “fine-tuning”.This exercise can be achieved not only by playing a long tone, but also by playing any etude.This depends on the accumulation of time and experience. As everyone's blowing time increases, the control in this area will get better and better.