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The following is a list of checkpoints for the saxophone embouchure:
  • The mouthpiece should come straight into the mouth; not tilting down. The head remains level.
  • The teeth should be even, upper teeth directly above lower teeth
  • Top teeth go on the mouthpiece
  • Lower lip forms cushion between teeth and reed
  • The lips hold the mouthpiece with only enough pressure to keep air from escaping
  • The lip position is like sucking on a milkshake, or sucking your thumb
  • Position the mouthpiece in the mouth so the teeth are over the point where the reed first contacts the mouthpiece
       You can find this position by slipping a piece of paper between the reed and the mouthpiece tip.
       Move the paper up the opening until it stops.
       Place your thumbnail on the reed at this point.
       Put the mouthpiece in your mouth to where your lip is against your thumb.

Embouchure Exercises

These exercises will strengthen the embouchure muscles and enable the embouchure to remain stable while playing the sax.
  • Assemble the mouthpiece and reed. Using the mouthpiece only, position the mouthpiece in the mouth using the checkpoints above.
    Blow through the mouthpiece. With correct pressure, the concert pitch that should sound is:
       on alto sax: the second A above middle C
       on tenor sax: the second G above middle C
    Do this exercise a few minutes at the beginning of practice sessions until this feeling is well learned.
  • With the mouth closed, bring the teeth to their even position (described above). Keeping the lips sealed, separate the teeth until you feel the lip muscles working. Hold for 10 seconds; rest; repeat the exercise.
  • With the mouth closed and the teeth in their even position, compress the lips, pressing them together while keeping the teeth in position. Hold for 10 seconds; rest; repeat the exercise.
  • With the mouth closed and the teeth slightly apart, contract the muscles around the lips evenly. The effect is like drawing a string at the top of a cloth sack. Perform the movement 10 times, then hold for 10 seconds. Rest; repeat the exercise.

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©2014 Brad Johnson
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