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A Set of Mouthpiece Exercises to Boost Your Tone, Big-Time

practicing on your saxophone mouthpiece

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Did you know that playing on the mouthpiece alone is a great way to train the muscles in your mouth and throat to respond extremely effectively in getting you the best and biggest sound you can possibly get? If not, I’d recommend checking out this article.

Although the article I just pointed you to contains some great tips and techniques to help you as you learn how to play on the mouthpiece alone, with the exercises posted here, we get a bit more specific. These exercises, to be played on the mouthpiece alone, actually originated with the legendary saxophone teacher, Joe Allard, but have been shared with us courtesy of professional saxophonist, faculty member at the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich, and author of several educational music books, Evan Tate.

Here’s what Evan had to say about the exercises:

“Although the exercises are marked for soprano saxophone (I first used these while playing soprano during my lessons with  Joe Allard ), they are for all saxes. The exercise is actually in concert key. The “C” is concert regardless of which saxophone mouthpiece is being used. You can produce and perform these exercises in concert key.

“The main thing here is to be able to slide the mouthpiece back and forth in your mouth in order to produce the pitches. So, those saxophonists with bite guards or tape on their mouthpieces may want to consider removing those in order to practice this.

“Of course, these exercises are to be practiced slow, and ideally with a piano nearby. One can hold the mouthpiece with one hand and play the piano with the other.

“These exercises are not by any means exhaustive. Joe Allard had a few more pages of these that got really abstract. I’ve kept these exercises relatively basic.”

When I asked Evan to elaborate on moving the mouthpiece in and out of the mouth, he had this to say:

“Joe also taught about the possibility of the embouchure being so loose you’d be able to slide in and out. If you watch Steve Grossman closely, he does this! While studying with Joe, I was learning about doing this, but I couldn’t imagine doing it myself. Luckily I was taking some private lessons from Steve at the time and I was amazed! Then I understood the concept.”

Evan also reminds us that while it is OK for the mouthpiece to move in and out of our mouth, we must work to keep the jaw in place with as little movement as possible.

So with no further ado, the exercises!


To learn more about Evan, visit his website at

Category: Best of the Blog, Best Saxophone Tips and Techniques

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About the Author

I've been playing the sax since the late 80's, but my musical journey has run quite the gamut. The musical rap sheet includes tours with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and reggae master Half Pint, center stage at the L.A. Music Center, cozy cafes, raucous night clubs, gear-drenched studios, and the pinnacle of any musician's career - playing weddings in New Jersey! (duh). There's a lot of other stuff too, but you should be reading these blog posts and leaving comments instead. Now off you go!

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