I have difficulty playing low C and below without squeaking or not getting a sound. I always try to loosen my embouchure but it is not consistent.
I play an Alto sax with a 1.5 Vandoren reed. I have been playing sax for two years and recently passed Grade 2 exam. Can you give me some tips/exercises that will help to overcome the problem.
(Playing alto sax for two years, practices 3 or 4 days a week)
Great question. Playing the low notes on saxophone, especially at a low volume can be a little difficult. Something that many of us have to work on. And they tend to be a bit harder on tenor compared to alto.
It’s actually useful that you told me what size reed you are using since that can be a factor with low notes and high notes. Since you’re using a 1.5 reed, that should be fairly soft. And in general, it is easier to play low notes on a softer reed (and a bit easier to play high notes on a harder reed).
It’s possible your saxophone has some leaks, in which case you should get it checked out and possibly fixed. Any leaks in your horn compound and will be most noticeable in the low notes. And with some horn/mouthpiece combinations it can be easier to play than others. But for now, let’s assume your saxophone is in good shape.
I would say you should practice sustaining the low notes. Might need a little more air than other notes.
It often is easier to move from another note to the low notes that are more difficult. So you could start on low D and move down chromatically. Try doing this at different volume levels. It will be more difficult to do softly, but you can develop more control by doing so. Do not slam the keys down at any point, maintain control of your fingers. Keep them curved and move them as little as possible.
And one thing you should pay attention to is the attack. You should not attack these notes in a way that is a lot different than other notes. You want them to feel like any other note. So don’t change your embouchure too much for the low notes.
After practicing transitioning to the the lower notes, you eventually want to be able to play them on their own without problems. Focus on them some in your practice time.
And practicing every day will help a lot of problems get better.