Hello, I’m a beginner in saxophone and have a very specific question about the involvement of front teeth while playing the saxophone.
After around a month of practicing I had an unfortunate accident and 2 of my front teeth (one central and one lateral incisor) are broken. I didn’t get implants but did root canal treatment, which means the nerves are taken already, but the vibration of the sax when I want to practice still makes them hurt.
There is no medical solution to this, and I’d like to ask a more functional question: Should I go ahead and try different embochures, or need to give up the sax? I noticed if I cover my front teeth with my upper lip for example, they don’t hurt much.
But since I’m a beginner I’m not sure if it’s alright to get experimental like this. Are there absolute no’s when it comes to embochure? Thank you very much in advance!
Some people do play without their top teeth touching the saxophone, it can be done. Might be what you want to do given your situation.
Not how I play, but it’s an option.
Sometimes it’s called a ‘double embouchure’ or ‘double lip embouchure’
Try looking it up to learn a little more, also just experiment with it to see what works for you.
One (older thread) I found was on http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?5504-double-lip-embouchure
If you use a double embouchure or know something about more about it, please leave a comment to help out Merve!
Mark O'Shea says
Just a brief thought…I played a long time w/o putting front teeth on top of mouth piece because I couldn’t stand the vibration. I now put a rubber pad on top of all my mouth pieces with significant comfort. You may want to try that to reduce vibration
Where did you get the pad for the top of the mouthpiece
Steven Giger says
I did the same than O’Shea with full efficiency.
It really comfortable and provide for my part, more feeling to the quality of the played notes.
Try it, I’m quite sure it will help.
Thank you Steven
Dan Sheets says
I think the rubber pad will help a lot. I think that in a couple of weeks the teeth will become less sensitive as well which will solve the problem. Without knowing you I wonder if you may be putting too much pressure on the mouthpiece with your teeth instead of relying on the throat and stomach muscles to stay in tune. As you progress your throat is going to be a big part of your playing especially with altissimo notes. Just experiment around with a few things and I’m sure it will work itself out.
I always play with the double embouchure – no teeth on top, but that’s from playing bagpipes for many years.
My thinking is that we’re told to relax when playing, and clenching with the teeth go against that, but I’m just a beginner.
Interesting, thanks Andrew. Even with teeth on top, you don’t want to have more pressure than necessary, hadn’t thought of reducing tension to go that far, but I can see how that would help with one potential problem.
Uko Edet says
Well I have been playing for seven years now. And I can say in all seven years, I have never used my teeth except when I need it for tethering effect. First I did not like the vibrations. Second I got irritated by some plastic mouthpieces I see with bite marks. So i developed my lip muscles to play. First I used to put my top lip over my teeth. That becomes uncomfortable with time, there was a time I would bleed from cuts I get for playing for long. So I later practiced with straw and water.
The technique works just fine. Put water in a glass. Draw up enough to fill your mouth. With full suction, hold up water in the straw without loosing the one in your mouth nor the one in the straw. You can apply the tongue to keep water in straw. Practice that increasing the number of minutes you can hold up
Dear Uko Edet,
I’m willing to begin playing alto sax using only my lips (no teeth at all), any tips on how I can quickly improve my playing “teethless”? I have a lot of teeth problems due to sax playing and I’ll almost stop if I don’t find a way to not use my teeth.
Your thoughts will really save my life!
I haven’t had any accident with my front teeth but couldn’t stand the vibration through them when I played. You can get rubber pads to put on the mouth piece and they really help. D
on’t buy the really cheap ones as they don’t last.
pelumi onpoint says
thanks y’all but for me I play both ways but actually started without teeth, later I learnt correct way is to teeth I played both alternatively and discovered no difference in my tone just that my embrochure muscles are more relaxes while teething but the vibration is a PISS OFF for me, so went for the pads.. now very okay with teething..
Just like to add to this conversation.. . I’ve done a little research online and haven’t found much information concerning playing wind instruments with missing teeth, or no teeth at all (my personal situation).
I played both Alto sax and Tenor sax on highschool, flute in Jr high, still had my teeth.
I hadn’t played for about 30 years up until 1 year ago after purchasing myself a new alto sax and a flute, and at this point in time I only had 4 bottom teeth left in my mouth. It took some time to get a good enough embouchure to play well, although it did happen!! About 2 months ago I had to have my last 4 teeth removed, now I have no teeth at all, although I’m being fit for dentures. Funny thing is that my embouchure is easier now without the four teeth, maybe something to do with alignment or something…. although now I’m having to relearn embouchure for my flute.
Just like to say, it Can be done with lots of practice, effort and perseverance. Don’t give up, plenty of times I went to bed crying and saying I was done! After getting some well needed rest, my mind was ready to go at it some more …if you really want it, keep trying, don’t give up because of a bad day. Some days it will feel as if you went 1 step forward and 10 steps back, but after time you’ll be amazed at your achievements!!! Just remember if I can do it, then you can too! Just take time, hard work and patience! It will pay off!!
Thanks for sharing Jacquelyn