Tag Archives: clarinet embouchure

Saxophone Embouchure

This is a Youtube collection of excellent videos explaining saxophone and clarinet embouchure as simple as possible. For further reading check out these posts Joe Allard – Basic Principles & Pedagogy, Developing A Personal Saxophone Sound and Jerry Bergonzi Instructional Videos. If you have any question contact me and I will try to answer.

Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound by Dave Liebman

Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound by Dave LiebmanDeveloping A Personal Saxophone Sound by Dave Liebman is the book which changed my life regarding saxophone playing. I got this book in December 1996 and started reading thoroughly sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter. At that time I already had a degree in classical saxophone from the Zagreb Music Academy and played professionally for four years in the Croatian Army Wind Orchestra, Big Band and in some jazz combos and pop bands. My embouchure and approach were based on French school classical saxophone playing (heavily influenced by Claude Delangle) and when I played jazz I just tried to be more relaxed (now I see that really wasn’t possible). But I realized that this approach really did not work for me regarding sound and flexibility, and I constantly had a sore lower lip, so I couldn’t go on like this anymore and I had to change. I was kind of afraid to do it, but I decided to sound and feel comfortable when I play or I would abandon playing so I had to do it and I began to change my entire approach to the instrument based upon this book. I can’t say that everything was wrong: my tongue position, breathing and vibrato were more or less fine, but my embouchure was definitely wrong. Also I have to admit that studying classical helped me to understand sound focus, precise and clear execution needed for classical playing and musical thinking from the classical aesthetic point of view. Anyway, I will not go into details, but from the first day I felt like I released the car handbrake, although it took me a year to get rid of the bad habits and the evil spirits sometimes even reappeared years after. I had to do it on the move because I had to play in a band and had no time to take a break until it settled, but I made it.

Years later I was fortunate enough to spend an evening with Dave, during his visit to Zagreb, talking about all that stuff and music in general in a relaxed and pleasant conversation, and tell him how much his book helped me.

This book is based on the Joe Allard school of saxophone playing and I have tried to find useful information about this school whenever I have the chance and also from watching this video The Master Speaks – Joe AllardThe opinions other people have about the book read on SOTW forum. Another great book I use as a supplement is Sigurd Rascher’s Top-Tones for the Saxophone: Four-Octave Range.

In Croatia that French school of classical saxophone playing is kind of official approach to teaching saxophone in music schools, but there are a few of my colleagues and students who have become interested in the Joe Allard school, after having similar problems as I had.

Finally I have to say that with Joe Allard school I feel comfortable in classical, jazz or any other style, I just have to change the sound imagination and mouthpiece to facilitate this.

Saxophone Mastery by Jerry Bergonzi – Review

Jerry Bergonzi - Saxophone MasteryThis is a short review of the Jerry Bergonzi – Saxophone Mastery (How to Play Saxophone Masterclass) DVD. After watching a short clip at Jazzheaven.com, I decided to buy a copy. I bought it at Amazon.com for 45 USD including shipping to Croatia and it is worth every penny.

Jerry studied saxophone at Berklee College of Music with Joe Viola and he took a few lessons with Joe Allard, so I assume his approach is the best of both worlds. He explains basically all the things about saxophone playing from the sound production, embouchure, tonguing, vibrato, intonation, finger/hand placement to alternate fingerings, multiphonics, altissimo and overtones, with simple words and camera close up to his face and hands, so it is clearly seen what he is doing. There are some more chapters on technique and practicing scales/modes and modal sequencing. The DVD is accompanied with two pdf files with fingerings charts and scales exercises.

I think this DVD is a great value and it is affordable, so I would recommend it for all levels, from the beginners to advanced players/pros, no matter jazz or classical players. I wish I had such a video some thirty years ago.
Keep on practicing! 😉

Jerry Bergonzi Instructional Videos

Thomas Trulsson did a great job and compiled playlist of Jerry Bergonzi’s instructional videos on YouTube, produced by the D’Addario Woodwinds (Rico) company. Here is the first video from the playlist.

Joe Allard – Basic Principles & Pedagogy

Joseph Allard was a professor of saxophone and clarinet at The Juilliard School (1956-1984),
Manhattan School of Music (1970-1987), New England Conservatory of Music (1970-1987),
Mannes School of Music (1971-1976). He worked with Red Nichols (1931), DuPont Cavalcade of America (1935-1957), Red Norvo Orchestra (1936-1939), Bell Telephone Hour (1940-1965), WOR Radio Orchestra, Cities Service Band of America (1947-1957), NBC Symphony Orchestra (1949-1954), Voice of Firestone (1949-1956), SymphonyJoe Allard – Autograph of the Air (1954-1963). Among his famous students are Michael Brecker, Eddie Daniels, Bob BergWillie Schwartz, Dave Liebman, Stan Getz, Paul Winter, Marty Ehrlich, Victor Morosco, Eric Dolphy, Harvey PittelSteve Grossman, Lee Konitz, Ray BeckensteinPaul Winter, Harry Carney, Kenneth Radnofsky, Teo Macero, Pete Yellin, Dave Tofani, Billy Kerr, etc.

Art has to have variety. Unless a tone has variety of color and variety in volume, unless vibrato has variety in pulse, you don’t have art. —Joseph Allard

When the effort is lost in the result, the latter is said to be artistic. —Joseph Allard


More resources about Joe Allard pedagogy and concepts