Hi everyone, this is Rheuben. I’m going to talk to you about some of the common mistakes made by young saxophonists. And the first thing that happens with most young saxophonists and the most important part of this is that they do not put the mouthpiece far enough on the neck.
On every mouthpiece, saxophone, reed, or player combination, there’s a thing we call the “sweet spot.” That means the placement of the mouthpiece where everything responds the best, intonation is the best and everything works. That “sweet spot” can be a fraction of an inch out or a fraction of an inch in.
Now often times you’ll see people who play real tight [their embouchure] and they’ll have their mouthpiece out at the end of the neck. If you’re only on this far [shows], that’s all that you’re covering with the mouthpiece, the instrument will not respond very well. [The mouthpiece should] be on at least 3/4 of the cork, in that general area and then move it in and out that [fraction of an inch] to find the “sweet spot.” [The “sweet spot” changes slightly for each mouthpiece and/or player.]
One of the other things that we tend to do as young musicians, or as all musicians actually, on the alto saxophone, for example, we tune to the middle F#. That note on the alto sax is an average of 30 cents sharp. So, when you tune to that, that means that you’re going to pull the mouthpiece out too far and then you’re going to have a flat low register. So what you want to do on the alto, the strongest tone, and I learned it from my friend Dan Higgins is the middle B. Right in the middle of the staff. Tune that B and then go up to the F# and you’ll hear the interval better. Then you won’t have the tendency to be sharp.
If you just pull the F# straight out of the air, it’s going to be sharp. So on any instrument, you want to find the best note to tune and you want to make sure the mouthpiece is on the instrument far enough to respond. And I will be covering things in other videos shortly. Thanks so much.