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Blending Your Instrument Properly with Other Players

After a saxophonist improves their own sound, the next step is blending that sound with other players. It's similar to a baseball team. You can have a player who performs exceptionally well on their own, but they still need to play well with other teammates.

You can have a great sax sound, but it may not blend well with your sax section at school. If this happens, you need to start thinking as a team rather than as an individual.

From phrasing to how notes start and end together, attentive listening to every section is essential to blending well with others. If you're only listening to the alto, it might be too loud, or the tenor performers might not be filling their instruments up with enough air.

Pitch is quite typically the first thing people notice when trying to blend with other players. If you're not in tune, your contribution to the section will stand out negatively. For this reason, saxophone players should always have a tuner nearby. There are all kinds of tuner options available that are compact, affordable, and can either clip onto your instrument or have a small clip on microphone that can be used during rehearsals.

Tuner

If you want to blend well as a section, you need to make sure that everyone is in tune before starting. Every performer should be concerned about pitch, and for this reason, every performer should own a tuner.

Knowing the piece that you're playing is also critical to the performance. Playing an incorrect rhythm will make you stand out like a sore thumb, so be sure that everyone is aware of the same rhythms and notes. Doing so will also make it easier to concentrate on phrasing. Phrasing includes everything from tonguing and slurring to breathing, accents, dynamics in soft and loud sections, as well as long or short notes.

If performers are honking loudly on music that is marked as soft, you might want to suggest playing softer. If parts of your section aren't listening, blending becomes a lot more difficult. Players need to work together as team to ensure a smooth and strong performance.

A pyramid is the key approach to sound. You need a good bottom first in order to blend a saxophone section in concert band. Far too often, the biggest saxophones are performed on by the weakest players. It's crucial to have a good baritone sax player that is also a team player who's meticulous about staying in tune and getting a superb tone.

Acquiring some sectional time can also help. With no section time, you can't establish a section sound. If the band doesn't have routine sectionals, try setting something up outside of your normal school schedule. To hear each other better, set up in a circle and listen to everyone. It takes ambition and passion to make a great sax section come to life.

Depending on the musical style and group involved, you might have to make some changes in equipment. For more edge and volume, a new jazz saxophonist might need to purchase a new jazz mouthpiece. For concert bands that require a darker sound, consider getting a classical sax reed to ensure a better blend with that section.

Award-winning groups and sports teams don't happen by accident. In the grand scheme of things, it all comes down to working together, and doing what's best for everyone involved.


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While Woodwind & Brasswind compensates writers for their editorial reviews, the views expressed by the writers in those reviews are their own.

Author

Greg Vail

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