Every sax player struggles to play low notes. Some end up creating a dead sound, while others produce much higher notes than the intended octave.
Some saxophone players, on the other hand, have problems with articulation and intonation.
No matter what your issue might be, know that you can successfully achieve the lower register. All you need to do is follow these three tips for playing low notes on saxophone.
Proper Air Flow Will Help Your Tone
There are two sets of stomach muscles that help you blow air: the abdominals and the intercostals.
Following the scientific explanation, the abdominal muscles are best used for producing better sax music because they are bigger and stronger.
Sadly, most players only take a shallow breath whenever they’re playing sax. As such, they find it harder to make a low note.
To prevent this from happening, you need to remember to lower your diaphragm when you take a breath. Be sure to use your mouth, not your nose!
This way, you get to inhale more air without making a lot of noise.
Once you do this, you get to increase the pressure in your lungs. This is what your abdominals need to push up on as you play low notes.
Whenever you breathe in, try to fill your lungs fully. You’ll feel the pressure building up, which is what you need to control the sound.
Likewise, you should find it easy to blow out air.
It shouldn’t seem like you’re blowing out the candles on your birthday cake when you do this. Instead, you should do it as if you’re fogging a mirror.
When you do this, you’re sure to achieve an open throat. It can also help you lower your tongue, so it’s out of the way.
All in all, this should help you create a round and more open tone. This will make a big difference when you play low notes since you get to control air flowairflow.
Here’s another breathing tutorial that you could try to improve your breathing:
- Start with the low E note.
- Take a full breath, minding the tips stated above.
- Set your embouchure and blow air as if you’re fogging a window. Make sure to use your abdominal muscles as you do so.
- Repeat the process for all the long tones you wish to practice.
Try the Low B Flat When You Play Sax
If you often play the lower notes, you know that the low Bb boasts of the richest sound. This is because it uses the entire horn.
Granted that you have a simple setup and you breathe correctly, you can achieve this low register at a mid-to-high volume.
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To do so, you need to focus on your saxophone embouchure. It would be best if you kept your mouth flat and relaxed relative to the reed. Make sure that the sides of your bottom lip don’t go up or towards the mouthpiece.
Continue with the same style while comparing the other long notes.
As you continue to practice, you’ll become more consistent while you play melodies. Not only will you master the low Bb, but you also get to enhance your low C and low D.
Voicing Matters in Sax Playing
When using a wind instrument, you need to do more than just maintaining air support and keeping the embouchure firm. It would help if you minded your voicing, which is the process of shaping your cavity.
Even if you free-play sax all too frequently, you may still fail to maintain the good shape of your oral cavity. This may lead to an open voicing, which in turn leads to a lousy timbre.
You need to play the overtone above the low notes before bringing it back down to avoid this. The overtone is the higher pitch that you can create in terms of fingering.
So when you hold the B flat, you can make one that is an octave higher. You also get to produce the F above this and the following B flat, and so on.
Simply put, practicing overtones can help you develop your sound by improving the tongue position.
In essence, this will help you hasten the stream of air that’s coming into your cavity. In addition, you also get to keep the embouchure in a more relaxed state.
When it comes to honing your voicing, you should try practicing the following exercise:
- Start with the lower B flat by commencing with the starting note.
- Bring the octave to overtone sans the use of an octave key.
- Slur the note back down in one breath. Maintain your embouchure position as you try to play your sax.
- Continue upwards. Remember to check yourself regularly so that you keep on producing the same melody.
As long as you practice these steps, you can improve your saxophone playing in a short while.
It’s hard to reach the lowest note, but it’s possible with a lot of practice! By working on your airway and voicing, you can play low notes excellently.