Received another question about saxophone embouchure from Chester asking how to strengthen it quicker.
Q: I was wondering if you had any exercises for strengthening the embechoure [embouchure] I make my own exercises and it’s effective but extemeley time consuming.
Why I plan to do is go through the twelve major scales holding each note for twelve beats at around one beat per second, while alternating dynamics on each note crescendo one note, and decrescendo the next. I was wondering if you had something that could work better without taking up as much time?
Hey Chester, if you’ve got an exercise that’s effective, you probably should keep it up for a little while. And if you’re still mastering the major scales, the exercise will help you get them down in a really solid way.
The basic answer is that there aren’t really any dramatic shortcuts to getting a stronger embouchure. But there are a couple of things you can do…..
It’s similar to strength training any muscle group, there are two basic approaches: many repetitions (and more time) or harder exercises (faster).
Long tones are probably the thing we play on saxophone that is most taxing on the embouchure and therefore develops it the most. However, whatever playing you do will develop your embouchure on sax. So play more long tones to concentrate on it and just play more in general to work on it while you work on other dimensions of your playing.
You’ll be able to play a certain amount of time before fatigue and if you continue past that you may hurt your lip. You can push yourself to some extent, but don’t push too far!
One thing you can do is take breaks in between. You’ll be able to do more long tones that way. It’s like doing pullups, you can do more and increase your strength faster if you take breaks.
You might do some long tones at the beginning of your practice and at the end.
Another option is to practice long tones for some time and also work on ballads and slow music that has a similar effect to long tones. That will be more interesting and continue to strengthen your embouchure. Maybe even focus on ballads for an extended period of time. It will definitely help strengthen your embouchure.