Seems my saxophone playing has entered a new phase. I’m sounding brighter, clearer and even the low notes are sounding less raucous. Why? Well the two pronged relax and drop-your-jaw approach is finally paying dividends.
Last mouth my tutor told me to expand the area inside my mouth – in effect create a larger chamber in my mouth – I did this by adjusting my jaw “from the back” and this helped for sure.
Now I am also dropping my chin to avoid clamping the reed – this means the muscles around my lips have more work to do and this means that control is also trickier…
The final piece of the jigsaw is learning how to relax – this is the most abstract and difficult task to get to grips with. If I am not relaxed when I play then all the technique in the world won’t help my music.
It seems relaxation and core strength (your core muscles are your abdominal muscles and diaphragm) are not only essential to saxophone playing but many, many diverse activities – from breathing (low breaths aka diaphragm breathing) to motorcycling (using your abs to support your torso relieves your wrists from carrying the weight of your upper body leaving them free to manage directional control) – being relaxed also means you will tend to suffer fewer injuries.
Alas your relaxation technique will probably be different to mine – infact how you relax may even differ according to the task you will undertake. For many athletes doing muscle stretching before an event or workout is common whereas pianists tend to shake their hands. I’m still experimenting to find what works best for me – you’ll have to do the same!