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5 Air Support Tips that Will Make Playing Sax a Bit Easier


How you hold your sax is important, of course. Posture is a key component for any musician when it comes down to it. But there's another important technique saxophone players need to practice: proper breathing. Also known as air support, no sax player should underestimate the need for proper breathing and abdominal support when playing.

Plainly put, if you don't have the correct air support, your playing will suffer and who wants that? Nobody, that's who.

Why is that?

First, incorrect air support and breathing means you will have trouble reaching higher notes, or if you do reach them, they will sound weak and thin. Next, proper breathing lets you slowly build up to longer practices. Finally, it ensures that you have control over every note you play so that you can create the right feeling for each song, bar, and note. And who doesn’t want that?

So how can you increase your air support? Here are five tips to make your playing both easier and better.

Breathe in 

We do it every second, but when playing jazz saxophone, you need to take a little care. To breathe properly, breathe from your diaphragm, which means making sure your stomach expands so that you can feel pressure. Do not let your shoulders rise. This ensures you are getting a deep breath and lots of air.

Also, to keep your embouchure position, breathe in without removing your bottom lip from the reed.

Breathe out

What goes in must go out, and that includes your breath. Breathing out helps you learn to play long tones with intention and strength. To work on this, try playing long tones while pulsing your muscles, as well as with different dynamics.

Also, practice low tones without the tongue.

Stand up straight

Didn't your mother always tell you? Well, she was right on this one. Your posture helps control and maintain air flow. The better the posture, the more your diaphragm can expand, which means the more air you take in.

Diaphragm: remember the balloon

As stated earlier, breathing from your diaphragm causes you to use both the lower and upper part of your lungs, which gives you more air and better control. Pretend you are blowing up a really large balloon while breathing in through your nose and exhaling out your mouth.

Embouchure: control the air

Regardless of whether you use single or double-lip embouchure, you can control your air flow by applying and releasing pressure on your reed. Too much pressure can cause a squeak, but practice will strengthen the muscles in your lips.

Playing the jazz sax needs a steady air flow, deep breathing, and the right pressure on your reed. If you have problems with any of these aspects, your performance will be affected - and not for the better.

Take the time to learn these proper air support technics, and watch your voicing take off!

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