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Beginner’s Corner VI

Paul R. Coats Family

From Phillip:

Good morning, Paul. I have enjoyed reading some of your articles on the web. I began playing saxophone when I was in the 5th grade and played all through high school, college and in a few bands after college. The problem began when my career took off and my "sax time" became less and less! Now twenty years later I want to get reacquainted with my sax but I am not sure how to go about it. It has been a long time! Is there hope? Any suggestions about getting started again. I would love to find someone to take lesson from in NYC. ( I also need some advice/direction on a repair shop as I have a Selmer Mark VI which I purchased new in 1972 which is in need of a tune up.) I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best Regards, Phillip W.

Paul answers:

Hey, Phillip!  Nice to hear from you. 

Well, yours is not the first such letter I have received… you are in good company, let me assure you!

For repair of your horn and lessons in the NYC area, I will fwd your letter to friends in the NYC area.  I am sure they can advise you on this. 

Well, you have played quite a bit, you are not starting from scratch, so that is good.  I have several things to advise.

First, as you plan, have your sax repadded, and brought up to top playing condition.  While that is being done, start on blowing the mouthpiece as per my Tone Production article (find this on the main page of sax on the web, www.saxontheweb.net .   This will help you produce a centered tone, with just the proper amount of embouchure tension, minimizing your intonation problems.

Second, look at two of my Beginner’s Corner articles…   3 and 4.  This should be a help to you.  So, in this way you can begin to get the embouchure under control without the horn.

You might also want to start back again on a moderate mouthpiece, not an extremely open jazz/rock piece.  Also, not too hard a reed.  Reed strength depends on the mouthpiece facing.  You don’t want a setup that will take an iron jaw, and lead to biting.

I also advise you to join a community band program.  Your playing will improve so much faster if you are playing with others, your reading will improve.  Also, many community bands also have jazz bands.  Find a community band near you by looking at http://www.asband.org/commgroups.shtml .   If you are able to join a community band, make sure you are using a suitable mouthpiece and reed setup… in other words, do not walk into the concert band with your biggest, baddest metal jazz piece…. Nor for jazz band, a Selmer C*.  Use a mouthpiece for each genre that will allow you to just play the music, not have to excessively work the mouthpiece. 

While on the main page of Sax On The Web, scroll down on the left side, and click the Sax On The Web Store.  There you will find a great book, the Bible of saxophone players, The Art Of Saxophone Playing, by Larry Teal.

Let me know how you are coming along, and if you run into any roadblocks, feel free to shoot me another email.

Sincerely,

Paul R. Coats

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