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Jazz Sax Lessons: Hand Position Basics

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[MUSIC]
Well,
welcome back.
Thank you for checking out this
hand position basics lesson.
I took a lesson years ago,
when I was about 18 years old,
from this incredible teacher named
Vick Morasco, in Los Angeles.
I, as most 18 year olds,
I thought I pretty much knew everything,
not only about music but
everything in general.
But he really he watched me play for
about two seconds, and stopped me,
and said you know we have to
work on your hand position,
and where your fingers are and everything.
His point was that you wanna,
logically too,
you wanna have your fingers be
travelling as little as possible.
You wanna make sure, obviously,
it takes It takes a lot more time
to do that then just to do that.
It's a lot more efficient obviously too.
So first of all, you want to make
sure your fingers are nice and
close to the keys whenever you play.
And I was also inspired by watching
Phil Woods in particular when he played.
I saw him play once live and it looked
like he was playing a mile a minute.
And you couldn't even see that
he was playing practically,
because his fingers were so
efficient and so close to the keys.
So as you're playing,
in fact a good exercise for
this would be to play a G major scale.
If you're a basic player, refer to in the
intermediate section, there are the major
scale, the lesson on major scale is in
the PDF you can download and everything.
But assuming you know your G major scale,
and as you play the scale,
just as an example, just be aware
of where your fingers are going.
How far they're lifting up.
Invariably, I would guess most people,
you might be the same,
aren't aware of this particular thing.
So it might be good, actually,
to do this in front of a mirror.
So I'm gonna play this scale,
check it out.
[MUSIC]
And as I play, I'm trying to keep
my fingers in contact with the keys.
I'm actually feeling the keys even when
they're open, even when they're up.
So be aware of that.
Also, as I'm playing, I wanna make sure
I'm aware of the angle of my hands.
Making sure that I'm just
on top of the keys too.
So you want to be keeping your
fingers in contact with the keys and
also sort of on top.
Very often too, people will play with
their fingers kind of straight like that,
where you're pulling the keys
as opposed to pushing the keys.
And pushing the keys, so
to speak, you're kind of top.
Not clawed like a bear but
you're kind of on top of those keys.
Is gonna also make your playing
a lot more efficient, because again,
you've got more of the weight on top, and
it's just an easier, more natural feeling.
Also be aware too that
the thumbs are super important.
Because I guess you've got four different
points in the horn that are keeping
the balance of the horn,
keeping it steady, the two thumbs,
your neck strap, and
your mouth on the mouthpiece.
So, with regards to your right thumb,
you don't want your thumb so far into the
horn and over the thumb rest that you're,
again, you're behind the keys and
not able to push down from the top.
So, I've kinda,
I don't know if you can see this.
Hopefully you can see this.
But I'm kinda, there we go, I've got
almost my thumbprint on that thumb rest.
So it's right here, so again,
not too far off, but enough so
that I can bring my right hand over it.
And then with my left hand,
hopefully you can see that as well.
This is really important.
I have a lot of students
who play like that.
And number one,
it's super inefficient as far as being
able to press the octave key in general.
But you want it basically, so
the top of your thumb is just
over the octave key itself.
Just like that.
So that enough of your hand is forward,
so again, just like the right hand,
you're able to be over or
on top of these left-hand fingering keys.
And than bring your
fingers down like that.
Cool, the other thought
too is to make sure, and
it's very logical,
you wanna make sure that your hands are in
such a position that you can
travel as little as possible.
For instance, if you're
playing like a high F,
[MUSIC],
in order to have your hand.
Well, let me put it this way.
You wanna have both your hands
in general in the position so
that you can get to everything as
easily and as efficiently as possible.
That's the whole lesson, really.
I mean explaining everything but
that's basically the deal.
So with a high F going say down here,
with this side high F key,
I guess that'd be side E and
then F is over here.
You don't wanna be using this part of your
finger to press this key down because
if you go from E, or F, and you have
to come back down to one of these keys,
you're gonna be doing that,
and that ain't gonna work.
[MUSIC]
You gotta do,
[MUSIC].
Again, not gonna work.
So, make sure that your hands are in
such a position that you're able to,
while you're playing the front keys,
the one two three one two three.
That you can use the side of this
finger to hit the high E key,
the side C key, and
the side B-flat as well.
And so you can come up with all
kinds of different exercises.
That one I just did, all sorts of things.
Playing the bisque key, for instance.
For your alternate B flat fingering,
actually, a common B flat fingering.
Make sure that when you're going for
that fingering,
that you're able to, I'm not a bisque
key roller like a lot of people are.
My rule of thumb is that, if I'm gonna
go from B to B flat, I use side B flat
cuz it's in my personal opinion,
it's kind of inefficient to do that.
I know a lot of guys who do
that quite well but I don't.
It's always been a problem area, and for a
lot of people that I see and I work with.
So, just if you're gonna go from B flat,
it's just a matter of using
the bisque key B flat rather.
You wanna make sure your
finger is right there, so
that it covers both keys, and
not making a huge difference in position.
So there's some ideas.
If you've got any other questions,
hand position is a pretty broad subject.
So if you have a question like in so
many of these lessons,
be sure to send me a question,
a video exchange and address your issue,
and I'll send you back a quick
Video Exchange Response.
So, hope that was helpful,
see you on the next one.
[MUSIC]