Index of Questions:

Q1. What is the status on the sale of your compositions. Also, what is your setup for classical music?
Q2. Vintage Baritone Saxophones.
Q3. Is Blue Caprice available on CD?
Q4. I'm having difficulty hitting the notes below low C on Tenor Saxophone.
Q5. Problems with extended amounts of practice.
Q6. What will cause the first year clarinet student to play consistently flat?
Q7. The break and palm keys on the saxophone.
Q8. Harmonics and the altissimo range on Saxophone.
Q9. Doubling on Clarinet and Tenor Saxophone.
Q10. Tenor and Soprano Saxophone setups.
Q11. Anchor tonguing.
Q12. Starting Clarinet upper register notes cleanly.

What is the status on the sale of your compositions. Also, what is your setup for classical music?

Now available is:

  • Blue Caprice
  • Six Contemporary Etudes for Saxophone in Duet Form
  • Benedetto Marcello's Oboe Concerto in C Minor transcribed and ornamented for Soprano Saxophone
  • Entrata for Soprano Saxophone and Piano
  • The Bay for Alto Saxophone and Piano
  • Big Sur for Alto Saxophone and Piano

    and for Saxophone Quartet:

  • Christy
  • Baroque Blue

    We're working hard to get the remaining pieces out as quickly as possible

    My setup varies depending on the time of year and the climate. Historically, I've used:

    Alto (on my previous Yamaha 62S):
    Mouthpieces: Yamaha 4C stock, Brillhart 3, Selmer C**
    Reeds: Vandorens 3 - 3 1/2 (javas, V16s, regular) depending on weather

    Soprano (on my previous Yamaha 62):
    Mouthpieces: Yamaha stock 4C, Selmer C*
    Reeds: Vandoren 4s

    Currently, I'm finding success with a Brillhart 3 and Vandoren 3 Standard (Blue Box) reed on my Keilwerth alto.

    I was just perusing your very informative home page and have a question to submit. I'm in the process of looking for an affordable bari sax (if such a beast exists) and someone has offered me a vintage Conn, circa late 1920's. They're asking $500, it needs a new pad job, and I've noticed it's extremely sharp in pitch when used with my selmer mouthpiece. I don't know if this is just an incompatibility with the selmer mouthpiece or an idiosyncracy inherent in the instrument.

    What do you know about these vintage instruments? Is it worth repairing? It does have a nice sound, and since I can't afford an expensive Selmer bari at this time, I'm wondering what other alternatives I have.

    I don't profess to be an expert about vintage instrument It is difficult to give a straight answer without seeing and playing the instrument. You may need an older mouthpiece for the instrument to tune decently. Some of the old instruments have a nice sound but are terribly out of tune.

    I already have your "Double Exposure" so I know what "Blue Caprice" sounds like. By the way, I love that recording. It's one of my favorites. I was wondering if that would be put on CD soon?

    Thank you for your interest in the music and kind words about the Double Exposure album. The album is now available and can be found in the recordings section.

    I have been playing for about 8 months myself (King Zephyr Tenor), and have gone through a couple of mouthpieces. The last one I used was a metal Brilhart 9. I was playing 2 1/2-3 reeds on it (different brands), but was having difficulty hitting the notes below low C. So now I use a metal Otto Link Super Tone Master 7*, which I like a lot better, but I find that I am much more comfortable with 2-2 1/2 reeds on this mouthpiece, and I'm wondering if maybe this is wrong. Maybe I should force myself to play on 3-3 1/2. Part of my problem is that I live in an apartment, so I'm forced to play as quietly as possible. I can play a 3 reed on my current m.p. if I play loudly, but playing quietly I can't comfortably play past low D on a reed that stiff. Am I right to be using a softer reed on this mouthpiece? I am a beginner, so am hungry for all the info I can get. I do have a private teacher, but he always advocates playing as loudly as possible, and hasn't really given me much info on this reed dilemma. I appreciate any help you could give.

    The Brilhart Mouthpiece you were using is very open and would require a much softer reed than you were using. The Link mouthpiece has a much longer facing and is closer than the Brilhart making it easier to play the low notes. I find this facing to be a little bit long for my method of playing and reeds seem to warp more easily. A 2-21/2 reed seems about right for the amount of time you have been playing and the opening of the Link. On the Brilhart it would have to be even softer. The strength of reed you play depends more on the facing of the mouthpiece and climate conditions where you live than how expert a player you are. My preference is a Ponzol Mouthpiece 110/M1.

    I am a saxophonist from Australia and I have a question regarding my bottom lip and embouchure. When I practice for quite long periods of time (about 3 hours during a day) over a couple of days my bottom lip gets quite sore and tender on about the 4th or 5th day or so.

    This is typical of a dramatic increase in practice time. Give it some time and see if it improves. If it doesnt improve I would suggest you look into some sort of teeth guard to protect your lip (often a dentist can make one for you). It's impossible for me to diagnose this aspect of playing with email, my embouchure training routine would certainly be worth looking at. If you can give me more information about your location in Australia I might be able to recommend a teacher. If you're finding no improvement it would probably be best to take a few lessons with a local teacher to see if there's something fundmentally incorrect about your embouchure causing you pain.

    What will cause the first year clarinet student to play consistently flat?

    The most common factors for this would be too soft a reed. Many teachers recommend a soft reed and closed mouthpiece for first year players. This alone causes the pitch to be flat. The reed does not support the pitch. This is compounded by the student dropping his/her jaw down (which causes flatness and a poor sound) due to the reed being too soft that it closes against the mouthpiece. Try using a medium setup,and the jaw imitating the motion of saying the letter "V".

    I was practicing stuff on the alto this evening and noticing that a lack of smoothness was stemming from tension in playing across the break from C to D. It seems I really grab at the horn. This probably stems from years of worrying about squeaks, etc, etc but it seems difficult to break this and get relaxed and fluid in this transition. What's your advice on this?

    You have already begun to solve the problem by noticing the tension. Awareness is the most important element in this. Practice C# to D raising the fingers very high until you begin to play it without slapping the keys. Then do C to D in the same manner. You should not hear the pads pop.

    There's another problem in going to the palm keys. It seems my whole left arm wants to move in both motions.

    For the left hand palm keys keep the wrist as steady as possible and try to play only moving your fingers. You will find that you will soon be playing faster as well. It will take some practice but "bravo" for noticing this on your own.

    I am a saxophonist and I am having technical problems with the prduction of harmonics. In a few weeks I will be performing Fantasia by Smith and the Super E is still uncomfortable.

    I use a Selmer Super Action 80 Series II Alto and Selmber C* with Vandoren #3 reeds. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    There may be more than one problem affecting the playing of these altissimo notes. The most obvious to me from your message is that I think a #3 Vandoren is too soft for a C*, particularly since you are getting into your colder season. Without trying your particular set up since the tip openings on Selmer mouthpieces vary I would try a little stiffer reed, or a Selmer C** mouthpiece.

    I'm a legit clarinet player. I also double sax and have often had difficulty with soft articulation in the lower tenor range.

    My current clarinet setup is a Ridenour MV with Vandoren 3-1/2 or 4. On tenor I use a Selmer C* with Rico Royal 2-1/2. Do you have any suggestions?

    The Selmer C* is a very closed mouthpiece and as such would probably play better with a harder reed than the 2-1/2 Rico Royal you're currently using. If you're having trouble with low notes with this soft a reed the two things I would look at immediately would be whether you're taking too much mouthpiece into your mouth and whether you're dropping your jaw. Practice playing the low notes with your top teeth off the mouthpiece (note, this does not mean a double lipped embouchure). This should help you feel if you're dropping your lower teeth.

    The lower you play on the instrument (and this applies equally on clarinet) the less mouthpiece you should have in the mouth. Another way of thinking of this is that you get closer to the tip of the reed as you get lower on the instrument.

    I played clarinet many years ago and am beginning to play again. A few years before work overtook me, I purchased a Selmer Mark VI tenor. Now that I am starting to play again, I find that the clarinet is coming back easily, but I am having trouble on the sax. What mouthpiece would you recommend for the tenor? I am looking for a rich, easy playing tone. I now have an Otto Link (rubber) 6 (using 2 1/2 or 3 reeds). P.S. I have the same question for a new soprano sax I just purchased. Someone recommended a Meyer 7M and 2 1/2 reeds, but I find that the tone is more difficult to control than I would expect.

    I think it's great that you are starting to play again. I don't know where you live ,and sometimes climate and altitude will effect the choice a great deal. If you live in a moderate climate and close to sea level I suggest a Ponzol 110/M1 for the tenor. Someone has advised you badly on the soprano, but then again that's why the instrument is often so badly played, I suggest a Selmer C* or a C** with a 3 1/2 to 4 "Vandoren" reed. I would not play anything but a Vandoren reed on the soprano.

    I've ordered the mouthpieces you suggested and I can't wait to try them out. By the way, I tried the soprano with the stock mouthpiece and a #3 Vandoren reed (as opposed to the Meyer 7M with a 2 1/2) and I found the tone much easier to control.

    You don't mention which brand of soprano you play. I played on a stock Yamaha 4C mouthpiece (also with a Vandoren 4 reed) for many years when I used a Yamaha 62 soprano. It was, in fact, the mouthpiece that came with the instrument. Don't be so quick to give up on stock mouthpieces, especially Selmer and Yamaha. I still recommend harder reeds than the 3s you are using, but it's a good place to start.

    I'm an eighth grader in middle school and I am wondering, would you have any suggestions for tounging the clarinet. I have a slapping sound when I tounge, (anchortip) which I think might be caused by the placement of the tip of my tongue, or the portion of my tongue that hits the reed.

    The best suggestion I can make without hearing and seeing you play is to take a look at my first excercise for clarinet and saxophone.

    Try just saying the words "heh" and "teh" without the instruments. You will find that with the tongue dropped below the teeth (which I'm assuming since you used the term "anchortip") you're unable to pronounce the words properly. Find the tongue position that allows you to pronounce the words properly and then try to apply that position on the clarinet. This may move you completely away from anchor tonguing, but if you find better results you may want to consider abandoning the anchor tongue approach.

    If you decide to stick with the anchor tonguing, you may be able to solve some of your problem by relaxing the tongue. The tongue shouldnt feel stiff and rigid when tonguing. A slapping sound would indicate that your tongue is bent down so severely against your teeth that you are striking the reed too far back on your tongue.

    Either method of tonguing requires a relaxed tongue with no more tension that when you are speaking the word "teh".

    When I play the upper register there is a sliding sound common in jazz which I use in the jazz band, but I am pretty sure its not caused by my tongue. In the upper register there is also a subtone, but only if I tongue. I have learned to give the illusion I am tonguing by'huffing'. Is this acceptable? I tongue the same way on the saxophone, but I don't hear the slapping sound.

    It sounds like when you are tonguing your lower jaw is moving/bouncing causing the gliss. When you tongue your jaw shouldn't bounce or move. Rather than "huffing" I would use the word heh as a breath attack to learn to start the notes without the gliss. This, however, is for learning purposes only. Actual music calls for the use of the tongue.

    Practicing my Excercise #1 and paying meticulous attention to the written instructions will be the first step in solving your problems.

  • © Morsax Music 2012