Hello everyone! I decided I will try to make a guide on this site about how to become a better player through the eyes of an amateur. As I am only an amateur and do not know everything about the sax, this should be very interesting. So without further ado, here is the first (and possibly only) installment of How to Play Great: A Guide from an Amateur Player.
When I first began playing alto, I would play very, very quiet. I was scared of making a fool of myself in my high school band. Being the only freshman saxophone player, the natural tendency to try and play loud completely dissolved out of my mind. Another reason might have been the fact that I had only been playing for two and a half months when I joined my high school band.
Taking lessons, I slowly built up my confidence in the playing volume area. Or at least that is what I thought. However, my private lesson teacher told my a different story:
"Sara, every day that we have a lesson, the same thing happens. We start playing and you are playing as timid as a mouse. I tell you, 'Play louder and use more air,' and by the end of the lesson, you are playing with a nice, full tone and at a great volume. A week passes and you come to the next lesson. Well guess what? You have gone back to playing like a mouse. It is almost as if you lose your power and confidence over the week when I am not there."
He was absolutely right. It seemed that I would try to play loud in band, but be told to quiet down by my director. Why? It appeared that the rest of my section liked to play with a quiet, airy sound too! I had succumbed to peer pressure without even realizing it!
So how did I get over my horrible habit of playing with an airy, quiet, timid sound? I simply began to force myself practice with a louder fuller sound. I have found that by building this habit, I naturally play louder, use more of my lung capacity (and am slowly building it's capacity) and sound more confident. Also, my overall tone has improved, and I don't sound so "airy" anymore. So what is the lesson of this entry of the guide? Use more air to improve your tone, lung capacity and sound more full.