This is my first ever blog post, and I wanted to talk about sound. Many people may disagree, but this is my take on it...
Finding your sound on your instrument is one of the most important processes a musician can undertake. It doesn't just reflect your personality but it also provides the foundation for your musical creativity to flourish.
When I started playing the Tenor saxophone (around the age of 14), I quickly started to adjust my embouchure to create a more pleasing sound, which subsequently made me want to practice more often. However, my inexperienced self didn't realise that in adjusting the sound by manipulating my embouchure, I was creating technique problems that I would later have to face further down the road.
Never the less, once I was happy with the sound I was producing, I quickly learnt that mouthpiece choice also plays a huge role in tone. So, with the help of my mum's ear, I set off to my local music shop, searching for the mouthpiece that would make me sound like a 'Class-A' musician. I soon found the one I was after. A Lawton, Bell Bronze with a 7* tip opening. Beautiful! MASSIVE!
NOT good for someone who hasn't sorted out his embouchure. My lower lip was tucked under like that of an Oboist's and instead of using the muscles in my cheeks and lips, I was tightly clamping my jaw, bighting my lower lip to the reed. So much so, that when I walked off stage of my final performance at RWCMD Junior Course, my lower lip was cut and bleeding. I was so focused on getting 'The Sound', that I had sacrificed my health and possibly my future lip function, for the tone that would leave everyone talking.
My 'rehabilitation' came during my time at Chet's when I was given classical lessons with saxophonist Andrew Wilson. He saw the damage I was causing myself and persistantly (and very patiently) aided my technical rehabilitation. I know feel a lot more comfortable with my embochure, and I'm pleased to say I haven't had any bleeding lips since then, and neither have I sacrificed my sound! If anything It's grown along with me; getting more more mature as I walk through life.
The bottom line is, is that when someone says "get your language/technique down first", you should think about the following. What's the first thing that someone hears when they listen to you?
Answer? Your sound. People aren't going to be able to look past it if it doesn't reflect who you are. Find the sound you want and keep working on it. But always be careful not to injure yourself while you do it!
There's plenty more to say on this subject, but for now this will do. If you have any thought about this subject or want to talk about it in further detail, head over to the Contact page to share your ideas with me. I'd love to hear them!