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Unlocking the True Potential of Playing the Saxophone with Belly-Controlled Airflow

Have you been playing the saxophone for a while and find that you constantly run out of air during the middle of a big phrase? Playing the saxophone with control and volume is a key element to creating tasteful and enjoyable music, you really cannot have one without the other. Playing loud and soft takes awareness of how you are breathing as well as how you are holding the mouthpiece in your mouth.

As a saxophonist you will be asked to play softly and quietly depending on the music and the environment that you are playing in. This could be a melodic section on your sheet music in a band, or it could be a solo saxophonist playing at a private party. Whatever the case may be, playing with control and volume is a key element to being a good saxophone player.

Let’s break this down….

To play softly you have to provide enough pressure from your diaphragm to provide consistent air flow through the horn. You can do this by building up pressure in your diaphragm and physically holding on to it. You may see saxophone players take a big breath before playing a melodic phrase or solo. This is them filling up their diaphragm with a lot of air. This is the foundation for playing with control.

Bonus Video

Watch the video below to learn about 2-Methods for playing the Saxophone in Tune, subscribe to the Saxophone Workshop YouTube channel to learn more about the saxophone.

Once you have the air built up in your diaphragm and are holding on to it, it is time to release the air through your horn and start playing with volume. As you release the air from your diaphragm, you can control how quickly or slowly you release the air from your body. How quickly you release the air is directly related to the volume level when you play the saxophone. This is how you control your volume. The quicker you release the air, the louder you will play, the slower you release the air, the quieter you will play. You can control how quickly the air is released through the mouthpiece by holding it back in the upper part of your chest and in your mouth, then releasing it at the right time during your song or performance.

If you continuously have challenges playing soft and low, you might be playing on a reed that is too big for this technique. If your reed is too big, and you are not pushing enough air through your horn, it will restrict the reed from vibrating on your mouthpiece. Try playing on a reed that is a half size down to improve your control and volume. Breathing correctly when playing any instrument will positively effect your tone, sound and volume.

How do you control your volume and air pressure?

Leave your opinion in the comment section below.


Bonus Material

Practicing is an important way to work on your breathing skills. It takes dedication and knowledge of how to practice in order to become a great saxophone player. To help with this, the Saxophone Workshop has put together a practice routine outline to help you structure a meaningful and productive practice session. Click the button below to download your FREE practice outline


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