It is very important that not only as you develop your sound you need to be able to play that sound in tune!!! After you have a good warm-up tune your F# and G on alto and bari, C and B on tenor and soprano. Go through each note chromatically and write down on a piece of paper where each note lies with the tuner and mark what you have to do to bring it in tune.
If the notes are sharp you have to lower your jaw and if they are flat you need to tighten your embouchure or make a more compact formation. Most of your pressure support for your embouchure should be on your top teeth on the mouthpiece. You should never bite up from the bottom lip, it is only there for support. Biting causes reed vibration to be cut off. Furthermore, you will have sharp palm keys and a very unresponsive lower register.
On some notes that are very flat you may need to add some keys to bring the pitch up. Middle B, C, C# you can add side Bb to bring the pitch up. Low G is sometimes flat, so add the alternate F# key in the right hand to bring that in tune. You can also push some keyes down to lower notes that are extremely sharp. For high C or C# you can add the first, second or all three fingers down in the right hand to lower the pitch. If middle D and E are too sharp to adjust with your lip then finger D and add the low B key and that will lower it 10 to 15 cents.
I like to use a sounding pitch tuner to tune so I get the correct pitch in my ear before I play it. I believe this is far more beneficial than using a strobe tuner. When you play your saxophone in tune it makes playing with ensembles much easier as well. In theory if everyone knows their instrument works at playing it in tune then when an ensemble gets together it makes playing in tune as an ensemble much easier. Playing in tune also makes the notes on your instrument resonate much more, giving it a bigger, fuller sound. So learn to play your instrument in tune, keep developing that sound, and enjoy making great music!!
Cory,This is a great post.I actually have been using my tuner and checking every single note on my saxophone to see where they are and what adjustments i need to do.In my casee,i found that some of the notes are flat and have had to make some pressure using the corners of my mouth,is that correct?or should i use the top teeth to make that pressure?I find it a lot easier to use the corners of my mouth to get the notes in tune.
I also find that in my saxophone,i get better intonation on the bottom register that in the higher register,but in overall my horn is in pretty good shape.I havent written down the actual pitches of the notes like you suggested,but i will be working on that soon.
Thanks for another great post.
I'm glad your checking things out on your horn. Yes you are correct bring the corners in more when your flat use a more compact embouchure in general when your flat. I talk about using top teeth pressure because some people use a lot of bottom lip pressure instead of most of the support on the top teeth followed by support on the corners and then some lower lip support. The embouchure should be in a circular formation. Jazz saxophonists though do change their embouchure to get different colors and effects.
Hi cory barnfield,
I have been practing always with a tuner/metronome during my routine. I make light changes in my embouchure because i experienced that in order to play in tune and have a great intonation you have to make changes like " throat position, tongue, air stream and pressure". Some teachers tells me to do not make changes, but you need to have flexibility in your embouchure. My question is... How much flexibility do i need to have in order to play sax ??? i have to make changes?? Hope you can help me cory because i work hard every day and im, worried of making bad habits with my embouchure. Thanks cory... i would like if post something about " bad habits"