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Home Alt Forums Saxophone Lessons “Lip Out” Embouchure Question

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    Michael Spangler

      I am an intermediate player (Tenor) and have been working on developing a lower lip out embouchure. I have studied numerous videos on the subject including Johnny’s and it is not clear to me if the lower lip is totally unsupported by the lower teeth. When I push my lower lip out and try to provide some support to the lower lip with my lower teeth I can’t find a stable position where the lip doesn’t just slide off the inside of the lip and pinch it. Can anyone provide some clarity to this?


        Embouchure for classical saxophonists
        Classical saxophone embouchure first involves having the lower lip pulled tightly over the lower teeth to form a cushion. Only a small part of the red portion of the lip should be pulled over the teeth. If too much of the lower lip is put over the teeth, then the reed won’t be able to vibrate as well. 
        The cushion (that is, the lower lip) is where the reed is going to rest. You should make this firm by pulling the jaw downward, having it remain flat. The corners of the mouth should be pulled outward toward the cheeks and downward toward the jaw so that the lower lip remains taut.
        The upper teeth, meanwhile, should rest directly on top of the mouthpiece. This means that the upper teeth directly touch the mouthpiece (note that this is not the case for the lower teeth, which are covered by the lip).
        One good analogy for the classical saxophone embouchure is to imagine it as a drawstring bag, applying equal pressure from all sides. If you can visualize this, you will be well on your way to forming a good classical saxophone embouchure.
        The last issue relating to embouchure is how much of the mouthpiece should be placed in the mouth. The answer to this is that your lower lip should be placed on the reed at the area where the reed meets the mouthpiece, and whatever amount of mouthpiece ends up in your mouth from doing that is right for you. This allows you to have more control over your sound. You can tell where the reed meets the mouthpiece by looking at the side of your mouthpiece while the reed is attached. If you take in less mouthpiece than this, your tone might seem to lack color, while more than this might make your tone seem to honk.

        Embouchure for jazz saxophonists
        The classical saxophone embouchure serves as a good foundation for jazz saxophone embouchure, but there are a few key differences. The biggest difference is that the jazz saxophone embouchure no longer has the lower lip covering the lower teeth. Instead, the lower lip should be rolled outward. 
        The second difference is that jazz embouchure requires significantly less jaw pressure than the classical embouchure. The compensates for outwardly turned lip, and will allow you to avoid putting your lower teeth directly on the reed.
        Finally, a proper jazz embouchure is making constant adjustments. While a classical embouchure stays relatively constant, a jazz saxophonist will usually apply more jaw pressure to higher notes and less jaw pressure to lower notes.

        Michael Spangler

          Thank you for your input. I will continue working on this embouchure as you clarified and pull my mouth out of the mouthpiece slightly to compensate for the forward lip position.

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