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Saxophone Playing Tips Source: SaxShed.com By Anthony C. Salicandro and Skip Spratt

1. Anchor the weight of your head and teeth down onto the mouthpiece approximately 3/8 inch.

2. Never remove the teeth or top lip from the mouthpiece.

3. Drop the jaw to take a breath.

4. The natural resting position for the tongue is on the reed (ready to be released).

5. Keep your body position straight, head erect and always bring the mouthpiece to you. If yourhead is straight the mouthpiece should meet your lips in the middle.

6. Support the instrument with your right thumb, keeping it away from your body slightly. The mouthpiece should enter at this angle:

7. Keep the saxophone to your right side, not in the middle.

8. Hand and finger position:
a. The natural position of the hand forms a "c".
b. Place tips of fingers in the center of the pearls.

c. Keep the fingers on the pearls when playing.
d. Squeeze keys down, don't hammer.
e. Don't bend the first knuckle of the fingers. Keep them slightly arched, as in playing the piano.
f. Relax hands.        


1. Form an "O" or "Ou" position, evenly around the mouthpiece.

2. Turn corners into the mouthpiece while pulling down slightly.

3. Drop jaw from the hinges (near ears). The jaw must be relaxed.

4. The jaw and lower teeth pull away from the reed, while the lower lip lifts up onto the reed in the opposite direction. (like exaggerating the letter F)
This dynamic of the jaw, lower lip and teeth working the reed with just the correct amount of opposite tension, is one of the most important elements in playing the saxophone.
Perhaps the saxophone embouchure can better be described as an "Ouf" position.

5. If the position described in step 4 is correct, it should create an opening in your mouth when playing, as if there were a ping-pong ball in your mouth.

6. Bottom lip must be rolled in enough to create a good cushion to work the reed, but too much will damage the ton and your lip. Don't swallow your lip. Just go by the natural formation you get when saying "F".


1. Put the index finger on your bottom lip. Press lip over bottom teeth and pull down. This will hurt unless you resist by lifting your bottom lip up and away from the teeth, using the facial muscles in conjunction with muscles in the bottom lip. (F)

2. Play long tones with upper lip off the mouthpiece.

3. Bring the corners down as far as you can, independent of all other facial, lip and chin muscles.

4. Integrate all of this with the long tones, embouchure studies and scales throughout the full range. Keep a stationary embouchure.

THROAT- Open in "Hee" position.

BREATHING- Stomach muscles press against the resistance of the diaphragm.

TONGUING - "ee" position. The tip of the tongue is placed on the tip of the reed. (approximately 1/16-1/8 inch from the top of the reed). This is the natural resting position of the tongue when the mouthpiece is in your mouth. Form an embouchure - apply air pressure and then release and return the tongue. The tone should sound full if the support is sufficient and the release is accurate. All the while air presssure must continue from the abdominal muscles, even when there isn't any sound, due to the placement of the tongue on the reed.