02. Relaxed posture and embouchure

You play best with a relaxed body posture. I often tell my students: ‘If your posture looks strange while playing, you are not playing relaxed’. You frequently see, for example, that someone is playing with his/her head slightly bent forward. This way you unnecessarily put stress on the neck; you also squeeze your throat a bit. And it also looks pretty weird, not cool, to say the least. It is also wise to stand upright; seems so logical…

A little test:
Just stand up, hold the sax crosswise in front of you and lift it a little so it doesn’t hang from your neck. Now pay close attention to your posture, whether you are standing comfortably without tension, turn your head once quietly to both sides. Then lower the sax so that it hangs on the strap and therefore on your neck, and try to keep the same position. Now bring the mouthpiece to your mouth very slowly, not the other way around, so don’t bring your mouth to your mouthpiece! Calmly blow a long note and feel whether you are still standing straight and relaxed. Repeat this once in a while. When breathing, let your shoulders hang; then you automatically start breathing lower, which ultimately gives you better breathing support.

A relaxed embouchure is also very useful! Look in the mirror and see if your face doesn’t change too much when you start blowing. So no excessive tension in your cheeks or corners of your mouth. And with two mirrors, you can also see whether you move your lower jaw forward or back when you start blowing. The fewer changes the better.

It is of course not possible to pay attention to every detail (at the same time) while playing. Take some time to consciously look at your posture every now and then.

In recent years, much attention has been paid to the design of ‘healthier’ saxophone straps. The traditional straps pull quite a bit on your neck and because we spend so much time behind the smartphone and computer, our neck has become more vulnerable. A good alternative is the Saxholder. Looks a bit strange at first but works very well; the sax now hangs on your shoulders and seems lighter due to the construction. I have seen a lot of users by now and use it myself most of the time. If you google you will find a lot of different straps; it is good to try out whether one suits you well, it depends on your posture and physique. And whether you play sitting or standing a lot and whether you want to be able to move your sax quite a bit.

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