Friday, March 7, 2014


Just a small observation: I find that many saxophone players have very little or no punctuation process in their playing. For some, there isn’t a well enough defined attack at the beginning of phrases and sustained tones – at least to my ears. Sometimes complete lines are slurred throughout, which does little to detail the separation between statements. Listening to this kind of playing is similar to reading text written by people who construct sentences without commas, periods, question marks, exclamation points, or any other important punctuation elements. Everything tends to run together.

Many of my current students come to me directly from other teachers who actually discourage any type of tongue or breathing articulation whatsoever. I won’t criticize this approach, but my opinion differs entirely and I feel that it can be debilitating in some cases. Many of these very students have a great deal of difficulty in playing certain passages which require more defined attacks. So I feel that instructing them to eliminate ANY approach is wrong and limits their ability to execute specific articulation requirements. Long story short, I feel that it’s a teacher’s responsibility to present a broad and diverse variety of materials to students and then allow them to process the information and make good use of the material while in development of their individual voice. I don’t consider it to be my job to force them to comply with my ideas of what’s right and wrong – and by that I mean telling them NOT to address things which may be necessary for them to master in order to be a contender in this competitive world of music performance.

So, to any student that has articulation problems, please make a point to inquire to your teacher about specialized tonguing and finger coordination exercises which will help your timing, attacks, breath control, air stream evenness and phrase definition. Every teacher has their methods and if you feel that your progress is slow or if you don’t find their direction and instruction to be very helpful, don’t hesitate to go elsewhere for other opinions from educators and players that you respect. No one knows everything and if your teacher were a doctor and you weren’t satisfied with their diagnosis, you’d probably want a second opinion then as well.

1 comment:

  1. One Response to Articulate!

    1. Seth Bohen says: 
January 29, 2010 at 5:24 pm 

    This is a good point, not necessarily strictly for articulation but playing as whole. I spent years with one instructor because he was a great teacher and knew what he was talking about when it came to guitar; however I found myself solely taking on his style of playing and not branching out much. When I went to college I was introduced to a multitude of professors and teaching styles, this took my playing to the next level. Now I feel strongly about exposing myself to as many learning experiences as possible so that I can continue to grow as a musician. Thank you Greg for expressing this to the community.