Tone is obviously one of the essential parts you must get right when playing the saxophone. While most people know overtones are a great way to improve the overall tone of your sax, they don’t necessarily know how to use them part of their exercises.
When you are playing the sax, you are essentially creating vibrations in the air to produce the sound. You might know that the air inside your saxophone is vibrating and generating the stunning – hopefully! – noise, but did you know air inside your body is also vibrating?
Air inside the saxophone and your body are vibrating simultaneously. By influencing the air inside you with your mouth and throat muscles, you can influence the sound. This is called voicing and the below exercises help you utilise this in your playing.
You can start by practicing overtones in scale form. You’ll simply be playing the different overtones, but moving from one overtone to the next without a break.
This exercise is especially helpful to noticing the minor differences in sound and finding just the correct point of the note. It’s also going to improve your embouchure technique.
If you are already somewhat used to playing overtones, you should try this exercise. It’s all about being able to hold the correct note for 30 seconds.
Simply play each overtone for 30 seconds, maintaining a clear and crisp sound. Start from the lower overtones and work your way up as high as you feel comfortable.
As soon as you start feeling tired, remember to have a break. If you work your muscles too much, you’ll start making more mistakes and you can easily pick up a wrong playing technique along the way.
When playing the overtones, pay special attention to your lip and the way it can influence the sound. When you are holding a long overtone, use your lip vibrato to hear the difference in sound.
If it makes the note sound distorted, then your technique needs working on. Get back to the lower overtones and work your vibrato to a fluid and easy sound. After a while, try the higher overtones again the see if your technique has improved.
Furthermore, you should also exercise without the saxophone. Just pick your mouthpiece and do the following practices. A word of warning though, the sound won’t be very pleasant, so you’d be better off doing this exercise when you don’t have a house full of guests!
Take the mouthpiece and try to hold a single note. Try not to move the lower jar and experiment with different tongue positions to find the right tone. Once you are good with single notes, you can move on the scales and arpeggios as well.
The above exercises will help you notice differences in tone easier and they’ll add a lot more depth to your sound. Use them as part of your regular sax lessons to take your sound to the next level!Are you a guitarist? Check out our full range of online guitar lessons