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Jazz Saxophone Lesson: Making High Notes Sound Good

High notes… Just the idea of playing certain high notes can intimidate some saxophone players. Although tricky to make sound good, they are very important to be able to play especially in jazz. So how do we make them sound good? In this sample lesson from Online Jazz Saxophone with Eric Marienthal, he gives some great tips about how to get a good tone when playing high notes.

When playing saxophone, it's important that you use your air properly so your notes sound good. The way to make your high notes sound good as every other note on your horn is to play them in the same way. So just like playing the easier lower notes, you want to be moving your air forward - and make sure your reed is vibrating.

All you're doing when playing high notes is picking out the top overtones in the natural sound of the horn. These overtones are being created by the vibrations in the reed.

So as slowly as you need to, practice each note individually and make sure they sound good. 

jazz saxophone lessons with eric marienthal

One thing to keep in mind is the ratio of pressure between your lip (embouchure), and your air that you use to vibrate the reed. It should stay about the same, and so Eric recommends having about 60% air, 40% embouchure in your playing.

Here’s another way to look at it: your air is what’s driving the reed to vibrate, while your embouchure helps to deaden the reed and put pressure on the reed. So while need you definitely need that pressure, make sure to have the right amount of air when you play.

Your throat also plays an important role in making high notes sound good on saxophone. Make sure your throat is open when playing, this will help improve the entire sound of your instrument.

After you practice these tips, be sure to send in a video to Eric so he can hear how your playing. If you’re not a member of the Online Jazz Saxophone school, you can find more information and free sample lessons at the link below.

check out free jazz saxophone lessons from Eric Marienthal

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