Tenor Sax Lesson 1 - Putting it all togetherWhat do you need to play the Tenor Saxophone?
Tenor Sax BodyThere is the Body of the Tenor Sax that has all the keys on it. Because there are so many working parts there are many things that can need adjustment. Even with a brand new Tenor Sax, minor adjustments can be needed from bouncing around during shipping. I always advise taking any new or used instrument into a Sax Repair Man to make sure the Sax is playing well so you have a good chance of getting a good sound right away.
Repairs can be costly if the instrument needs much work, so buyer beware when buying used or cheap, no-name Sax Makers. The lamest Saxes on the planet are made in China, look just like a Sax and can be a complete waste of money. The Saxes made from Taiwan have come a long way and are pretty good instruments now. Repairs can run from 50.00 for minor adjustments to hundreds of dollars for a complete overhaul. It really helps a lot if you can get a third party involved when shopping for a New Sax. A local Sax Teacher or Sax Repair Man can keep a great deal from costing hundreds in repairs and adjustments.
The Saxophone will go out of adjustment with time and it is recommended that you have it checked out every season. Before School starts, before Christmas concerts, in the spring before the big festival season and after school is done for the year. 3-4 times a year is normal and minor repairs will be needed to keep the Sax working at its best. When the Sax is working well, it will be more rewarding to play and more fun. If the Sax is messed up, you can try really hard and it can still sound horrible. If you get it checked out regularly, it will not cost that much and your practising will be noticed because you will be improving. It makes for a happy Tenor Player!
Tenor Sax Neck
The Neck goes on the top, smaller side of the Tenor Sax tube. It needs to fit snug and the adjustment screw should tighten the Neck so it does not move. If the Neck is too loose on the Sax Body, air leaks will make every note hard to play. Necks can be adjusted to fit tight if they are loose by any compitent Sax Repair Man.
The small side of the neck has cork wrapped around it and the Tenor Sax Mouthpiece should fit pretty tight on the cork. If it is too tight, cork grease is the first thing to try. If the Mouthpiece still fits too tight, you can get the cork sanded down a bit to better fit that Mouthpiece. You can do this yourself but need to be very gentle so you don't take too much cork off, damage the finish or damage the cork. A Sax Repair Man can adjust the cork in moments for very little money.
MouthpieceThe Mouthpiece goes on the Cork end of the Neck. Most provided Mouthpieces are fine for learning on. They will have a smaller tip opening so the blow pretty easy. The thing that holds the Reed on is called a Ligature. The can be made out of metal or a thick material and have screws to tighten down the Reed onto the Mouthpiece.
Sax ReedThe Reed is actually cut from Reed Plants and looks like a small piece of wood. Reeds are very delicate and can break very easy so they must be handled with care. To work right, you have to suck on the Reed for a minute or two to make sure it is not all warped.
Ligature and AssemblyI usually put the Mouthpiece on the Neck first. I have had the Reed in my mouth for a minute so it is ready. I place the Reed on the Mouthpiece and use my right thumb to hold it in place, right hand holding the rest of the Neck with the Mouthpiece on it; as I 'carefully' slip the Ligature over the Reed and Mouthpiece.
You want to get the Ligature in place with the Reed right to the tip of the Mouthpiece. Then tighten the Ligature till it is snug. It does not have to be as tight as possible, just tight enough to keep the Reed from shifting when adjusting the Mouthpiece to play in tune.
Neck StrapThe only other thing you need is a Neck Strap to help support and hold the Tenor Saxophone up without making your hands all tired and sore.
Body and Sax PositionYou can sit or stand when playing. You can hold it more in the middle or on the right side of your body.
You want the position of the Sax to be very natural with your body. The angle of the Neck, Mouthpiece and Neck Strap height should be adjusted to comfortably go to you. If you are hunched over and leaning to the right with your right shoulder lifted higher than your eyes, you are going to make it really hard to get the Sax to play for you. You want to sit naturally in a chair, then bring the sax to you, adjusting it to do the work of getting to you. You don't want to have to bend and tweak your body to get in place on it. I think you get the picture.
This is all pretty general and very basic. To deal with your personal issues when trying to get your Tenor Saxophone working, you will want to seek help from a private teacher. Private lessons can be set as needed. I suggest new students get some help to learn the basics right from the beginning. You can take lessons for a month or two, then play in school band for a while until you think you need some more help. It is your choice and your money so you can start and stop when you want to. Some kids may want to stay with a teacher for a few years and that's great if you can afford to do so.
The little stuff that should be included here are Mouthpiece Covers, Cork Grease and a soft, none treated cloth for wiping finger prints off after each use.
Tenor Saxophone Lessons
Tenor Sax Lesson 1 - Putting it all together
Tenor Sax Lesson 2 - How to Blow the Tenor Sax
Tenor Sax Lesson 3 - Fingering the Tenor Saxophone (Virtual Tenor to Play!)
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